1/72 Italeri Hughes 500M

Gallery Article by Orlando Sucre Rosales on Nov 14 2013



Hello, fellow modelers.

This time Iíd like to share with you my third helicopter gallery article on ARC, it's the tiny Italeri 1/72 scale Hughes H-500M, in the ultramarine blue early livery of the Spanish Navy (Armada EspaŮola.)

Although Italeri has been widely praised for their helicopter models, this particular kit has several shortcomings, namely:

  • The OH-6A Cayuse version canít be done out of the box, because the rear door windows are too big and misshaped, while the rear roof windows are too small for this version. This fact leaves the OOB modeler with two marking options: the one from the Spanish Navy, and other from the Italian border police (Guardia Di Finanza.) Nevertheless, the kit does include decals and guns for an OH-6A of the U. S. Army.

  • The cockpit structure is about 1 mm narrower than the fuselage interior, this fact produces a big fit problem. I opted to glue the structure to the port fuselage side, leaving a gap inside the starboard side.

  • The door windows are very thin, and thus also very fragile. I made several little cracks on the port rear window when I was removing it from its sprue. (I donít imagine myself working with one of those delicate vac-formed canopies.)

  • The door windows are somewhat bigger than the openings where they are going to be glued, so one has to file each opening and check the fit several times until each opening becomes big enough for its corresponding window. In this process the delicate windows can be marred. I think it would have been wiser to mold the doors and their windows together as clear parts. It would also make it possible to pose any door opened, not only the port front one as I did.

  • The instructions have several mistakes, the most important are: the location of the tail surfaces is wrong (they should be glued at the very end of the tail boom, and protruding about 0.5 mm away from it,) and the yellow and green colors of the Italian version are reversed, as can be checked on photographs of the full size subject at the Internet. Moreover, I think that the recommended green is very different that the one on the full size subject.

On the plus side, the cockpit interior is well detailed for the scale, and the fuselage is well detailed with tiny raised rivets.


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I chose to build the Spanish version because I havenít build a Spanish subject before, and because I love ultramarine blue. At first instance I planned to build my model OOB, but as soon as I found pictures of the full size chopper on a number of the Fuerza Aťrea magazine from Spain, and later at the Internet, I decided to add several details particular to the Spanish version that the Italeri kit missed, specifically:

  • A small structure located at the chin of the fuselage that holds the bottom formation light.

  • The bottom and top formation lights.

  • The upper cable cutter.

  • The pitot tube (common to all versions.)

  • A box-shaped structure that goes below the tail boom and holds an antenna, and the antenna itself.

All these items were scratchbuilt from spare plastic, except the pitot tube and the antenna, which at first trial were fabricated from thin flexible copper wire, but the antenna was later replaced with one made of a leftover piece of my sonís electric guitar thinnest string wire, which is stiffer and therefore keeps its shape. I also made the red tail-rotor chevrons from one of the OH-6A version decals, and opened a hole in front of the cockpit canopy to represent the ventilation intake, though I didnít represent the inner ducting. Unfortunately, when the model was nearly finished I accidentally pushed the pitot tube little wire into the cockpit through the hole I previously drilled to attach it, and I couldnít recover it, so now the pitot tube isnít outside the helicopter, as it should be.

Through my research I found that Spanish Navyís Hughes 500M earlier choppers didnít have the inflatable flotation devices that go over each one of the landing skids of later versions. As Iím still not very confident with my scratchbuilding skills, I decided to leave these devices off. Therefore, my model had to be painted as one of the earlier Spanish choppers. Fortunately, the serial number provided with the kit decals (01-602) corresponds to this early version, and I could use photographs of Ď01- 605í as references.

í01- 605í was painted in bright ultramarine blue overall, with satin black skids. For my ultramarine blue, I used Humbrol colors (Hu15 Midnight Blue and HB11 Sea Blue Gloss) mixed in 1:2 proportion. Itís interesting to point out that the version with the inflatable flotation devices is painted in a lighter and less bright shade of blue, which in turn was recently replaced with what seems to be Dark Ghost Grey.

My photographic references show that the instructions for the painting of the tail rotor and for the location of the Spanish Navyís insignia decals were wrong, as were the instructions for the painting of the tail rotor from the Italian version. Furthermore, the instructions didnít indicate that the navigation lights for the early Spanish version were located at the very tips of the boarding steps. These lights are very tiny and barely can be appreciated in the photographs.

The kitís instructions recommends using Gun Metal for the main rotor head and the tail rotor axle. In my photographic references the correct color can hardly be determined, so I followed the instructions. I used Humbrol Metal Cote Gun Metal, which can be applied with a brush and then polished with cotton buds, and with a small stiff brush for hard to reach areas. I really like the contrast between Gun Metal and flat black near the main rotor head!

I made a mistake by painting the roof windows Tamiya clear green, after the kitís recommendation of using opaque bright green. I now think that these windows would be better painted with at least two coats of clear smoke, because the photographs show a very dark brown shade. Although I applied clear smoke over clear green, the green shade still shows.

In conclusion, although the build wasnít free from mistakes, fit problems and accidents, Iím very satisfied with the outcome of my humble researching, building, painting and scratchbuilding efforts, and Iím also happy for having at last a Spanish aircraft in my collection.

I dedicate this model to my cousin Ubaldo Rivas Sucre, who for a long time flew Hughes 500 helicopters while working as aerial school-of-fish spotter for tuna fishing ships, and who by the way has been living in Spain for several years.

Greetings from Caracas, Venezuela, a country where nowadays a Ĺ oz. bottle of enamel paint costs the equivalent of 31.74 US dollars (computed at the official Venezuelan exchange rate.) Just try to imagine the cost of one of those recent big 1/200 scale battleship kits or a good dual action airbrush, if you can find one here!

Orlando Sucre Rosales

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Photos and text © by Orlando Sucre Rosales