1/48 CH-46E model kit

Product # 2226 from Hobby shop

Product Article by Steve Bamford 




This is a new release from Academy and is kit #2226.  The CH-46 is a medium lift helicopter with a primary function of moving troops and a secondary function of moving vehicles and supplies.  It first went into production in 1964 and with the rotors folded it takes up considerably less space, which made it attractive to the USN.  It is used by the USMC and USN and has served in troop transport, resupply and medivac roles.  In combat it can carry a maximum of 14 troops with aerial gunners and for medivac it can carry 15 litters and 2 attendants.  Finally it's Cargo capacity is a maximum of 4,000 pound (2270 kilograms) load.

The first thing that blows me away about this model kit is the size.  In 1/1 scale this is a fairly big chopper....and in 1/48 scale is it equally impressive.....especially if you consider the rotor diameter....which is about 13 inches (32cm).  The fuselage length in 1/48 scale is about 9.5 inches (21cm).....but if you factor in the dual rotor set-up, you get a total rotor footprint length of over 21" (53cm) and a rotor footprint width of 11" (28cm).  So.....consider displaying this next to some other aircraft.....with the rotors extending over the other models in your display case and all will be well.  Sorry....I just had to mention the wonderful size of this kit.....truly impressive and commanding.

The kit itself is full of many parts that will make this a stunning model when complete.  The parts are contained on 6 sprues with one of those being the clear sprue.  You also get a very clear and easy to follow 12 page instruction booklet and a large decal sheet with decal options for 3 different USMC CH-46's.  You also get 2 tubes of looks like your standard tube glue, although I confess I haven't opened the tubes to make sure.   This whole package is encased in a sturdy box with a very solid and strong bottom for the will survive well if you don't get building this kit shortly after you buy it and instead add this kit to your kit stash.  All sprues and the decals are packed in plastic bags with the clear sprues and decals being packed in their own separate plastic bags. many parts you ask.....223 total of which you will only be using 198 parts.....which will keep you busy.  Academy is definitely looking at getting some life out of this mold with different versions, which is a very sound business move. 

Although the instruction don't begin with the cockpit on this kit, cockpit detail is always important to me and considering the amount of glass around the cockpit area, I want to look at this area first.  

The instrument panel has nice raised is not the lovely detail you'd expect to see on the older Monogram kits from the 70's where each gauge has it's own raised-detail needle, but the detail is decent.  You are pretty well committed to using some sort of decal to bring this instrument panel to life.  Here's the rub.......the raised detail will make it hard to get the decal to attach and conform without much persistence with decal solvent.  If you love drybrushing instrument're going to have to not bother on this one and use the decal. consider this following option.  One option for the rivet counters might be to paint the instrument panel and cut and apply each instrument separately. This approach will require much more work....but the end result will avoid all the grief of the decal not fully conforming to the low spots between the gauges.  

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The rest of the cockpit is full of some nice detail and the seats are detailed nicely although you are going to have to add seatbelts.  There are rudder pedals and armour for the cockpit along with other detail bits such as supports to mount the seats to and doorway detail for the doorway leading from the cockpit to the cargo area.  Super detailers might be tempted to cut open the side cockpit windows, but this would require painting/making frames to create the effect of a side window that has been slid back.  It wouldn't be too hard and would give an added level of realism to the cockpit.

The fuselage detail (inside and outside) is near flawless in it's execution.  The gentle curves and detail rich environment of the fuselage was well reproduced on this model kit.  You get lovely recessed panel line detail on the outside and lots of bits and pieces of mechanical detail molded on the inside walls.  Paint....a wash and drybrush the highlights and you'll be looking at some stunning interior detail.   

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There are some sink marks on the interior, but they are in 'easy to reach' places that can be filled and sanded with minimal effort.  The cargo floor has good detail of the tie down points that will respond well to a dark wash.  The side guns are quite decent with exterior gun barrel detail and require no further detailing by the super detailers, except for maybe drilling out the gun barrels.  These guns mount into a gun mount with a trunk below that, giving these guns the ability to turn left to right, which will permit changing the pose of the guns after the model is complete.

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Cargo floor Side guns

The cargo area roof is fully ribbed and will do well with a dark wash to give shadow and drybrushing to lighten the high points.  There are 6 stretchers that mount to the side walls in the cargo area.  You can also use the troop seats that fold down from the wall on the full sized machine.  These troop seats can be installed in the down position or in the folded up position, depending on what you prefer for your particular CH-46E.  Stretcher and seat detail is good, but lacks seat be honest I'm not sure if these fold down seats even have seatbelts.....I'm assuming they do.

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Cargo roof and rotor blade Stretchers

One of the most prominent areas of detail on any chopper is the rotor assembly detail.  This area is right on top and naturally draws the eye to it whenever anyone looks at a helicopter model.  This kit is well detailed in this area.  The parts layout is simple to assemble but Academy decided to mold and upper and lower rotor head assembly as well as separate rotor blades...PLUS separate tiny pieces to add to the rotor head assemblies to further add detail.  Super detailers might want to further add some piano wire and such to give the rotor head assemblies a further level of complicated detail.  If you've ever looked at the rotor head detail on 1/1 choppers, they are very intricate and detailed.  Super detailers have been known to make the rotor heads as separate sub-assemblies loaded with scratch built detail.  But getting back to the kit.....the rotor head detail is great and includes some bolt heads and such.

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The clear parts are packed in a separate bag and are all scratch free....Academy gets two thumbs up for packing the clear parts separately to avoid them being scuffed during shipping.  The nose is molded as one big part....the plan here to to mask the window areas and paint the rest as you would the fuselage.  The design avoids getting glue on the windows as you attempt to glue the windows into the fuselage parts.  This will make things easier for the average modeller to get exceptional results.  All of the windows are posed in the closed position.  The round windows for the side of the cargo fuselage area have flanges to assist in gluing these windows to the inside of the fuselage.  Academy went the extra mile in design on the various clear parts to make installing them as carefree as possible.

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The kit includes 3 decal options.  The decal sheet is quite large and comes packed in it's own plastic bag to avoid the decal sheet getting scratched.....again.....two thumbs up to Academy for such attention to detail.

The featured aircraft include 3 different USMC CH-346E's.  The first is with Marine Helicopter Squadron-1 "Nighthawks" and is a CH-46E, Bu 157861, MCB, Quantico, VA.  This particular aircraft is FS 14097 Field Green with gloss black areas on the tail.  This appears to be the same sort of paint scheme as 'Marine 1' that is used by the President, although I never knew the CH-46 was also part of the Presidential transportation system, but I'm what the heck do I know.

The second aircraft is with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 162, "Golden Eagles" and is a CH-46E, Bu 157713, MCAS, New River, NC.  The paint scheme is overall Light Ghost Gray FS 36375 with some sections painted Medium Gray FS 35237 and flat black. 

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The third aircraft is with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261, "Raging Bulls" and is a CH-46E, Bu 153369, MCAS, New River, NC.  The paint scheme is overall Light Ghost Gray FS 36375 with some sections painted Medium Gray FS 35237 and flat black. 

This is a great kit and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in building this well known helicopter.  Drop by and give their service a try, I've ordered kits from them and their service was excellent.

Special thanks to Hobby Shop for sending me this review sample.   


Photos and text by Steve Bamford