Black Hawk by Kitty Hawk – MH-60L 1/35 ReviewDN Models
Black Hawk Down is one of the very best war movies ever made. The flawless production, as well as the dynamics in the movie, made it one of the crown jewels in Ridley Scott’s portfolio. Not only that, but it made the Battle of Mogadishu famous Worldwide, and strengthened Black Hawk Helicopter fame as well. Black Hawk helicopter didn’t need any introduction even before that cinematic masterpiece, but after that, people somewhat started to respect the bird even more.
Kitty Hawk released 1/35 Little Bird helicopter with a boxart that was a scene from the battle of Mogadishu, which was a sign more or less. For Black Hawk lovers is was most definitely hope. In 35th scale, Academy’s obsolete toolings were not enough for the contemporary modeler. The market too, needed a new tooling of a modern helo in 35th scale, and alongside the most famous birds – AH-64 and Mil Mi-24, Black Hawk was very good contender.
So after an early announcement and the regular several release date changes, we received a new tooling of the Black Hawk from Kitty Hawk. Now let’s take a closer look at this kit and how well Kitty Hawk managed to deal with the challenge. Being the first one of a long line of versions, this deserves fair amount of attention.
Battle of Mogadishu seems to have been the basis for the boxart of this kit. The whole appearance: color-wise, action-wise, etc., seems very close to the Little Bird release of that same company. The movie, as many of you might remember, had some sort of grim appearance, probably based on more black color used overall. The boxart creates that same feeling.
It is very important for many, how the boxart will look. Kitty Hawk made their effort and the boxart here looks fantastic. That goes for the whole box of course, but the first thing that catches the attention in the picture of the top of the box, and here we have a brilliant execution.
Kitty Hawk make their instructions in an odd manner, placing the color schemes just in the middle of the booklet. That leave you no other option but to remove them for which some craftsmanship and thick tweezers will be needed most likely.
Overall, everything seems arranged nicely, however, it lacks a lot of information for this to be called satisfactory instruction sheet. By that I mean the fact that this helicopter is crammed with details on the inside, and there is not enough information about what is what and how it should be painted properly. There are basics, but this kit is massive, thus this will be all visible – no room for errors, half-measures or mediocre work. Especially with that price tag.
The interior itself is enclosed in a capsule of a sort, which is placed in between the two halves of the Black Hawk. That capsule will be the most challenging part of the build in my opinion. Actually, it probably won’t be for Black Hawk experts and those who have the option of being in touch with the bird in real life. But I feel the need to remind Kitty Hawk that not all of the modelers live nearby Black Hawks, nor reference material is accessible for everybody easily. It is not free either.
So some improvement on that part of the instruction sheet is definitely needed. I can understand why this is skipped in an airplane model, but this beast here demands further explanation. Besides there are engines which /if you stick only to Kitty Hawk’s instructions/ will be left partially painted and will look under-detailed just because nobody gave enough attention to the instruction sheet regarding that section.
With that said, I can understand that Kitty Hawk is not Zoukei-Mura, but again – with that price – Kitty Hawk should’ve added more. Maybe booklet with picture references at least. Anything. Just not leave it like it is.
The plastic is light grey, with very good detailing overall and qualities, that have been well-accepted by modelers over time. With the fact that Kitty Hawk are not one of the old and established manufacturers, they’ve done pretty good choice with the plastic.
Engineering-wise there are some questionable decisions and you can get that simply by looking at the sprues. There is /at least to my understanding/ better approach to build a helicopter with an interior, plus the fact that there is way too many sub-assemblies, but the two halves of the kit could’ve been separated into more sections, for example the tail boom and/or the nose section. Probably the focus that Kitty Hawk had was oriented towards something more innovative. Who knows?
Fit is yet to be tested and that requires more than one opinion. I am mentioning that because quite often, there are praise words said and written about a kit, that later appears to be with questionable qualities overall. That might be the case here too. Although I doubt it in all my honesty. Maybe there will be some tricky areas, but I can trust Kitty Hawk in general. Probably that was one of the reasons for the two huge halves of the fuselage as well. We’re soon to find out. But again – wait for what at least few modelers have to say about it.
The experience that I have and have shared with others in regards to Kitty Hawk clear parts is overall satisfactory. As with the grey plastic, there are some odd engineering decisions, but I can live with that. The thing that might be challenging is the fact that even though nicely packaged, some of the clear parts arrive with slight damages and some detached from the sprue. It is not that often, but it happens.
That is the thing that will eventually bother some modelers. Contrary to that, the plastic is clear and does not bend the light too much, although in general is far from perfect. Actually, the execution here is so-so, but as mentioned above: satisfactory. Definitely not the best nor the worst out there.
DN Models has a mask set for the clear parts, and most likely will follow the whole line that Kitty Hawk is about to release. The main reason for that is the number of windows of this Black Hawk and the challenges that this might present to the modeler. Not only in real life, but in modeling, helicopters are complex machines and require additional attention compared to fixed wing aircraft. So this set might come as some form of relief.
Two PE sheets are included with this release. One of them is filled with equal elements, representing two types of seat belts. The other is filled with various parts, and they all look great. They are not thick and the material is OK to work with. Besides, there is some sort of a challenge, even only at first glance.
Not that Kitty Hawk are overly famous with their photo-etch, but with this release I think that they scored very nicely. The best thing about it is the variety of different parts /only on one of the sheets though/, that will definitely spice up the Black Hawk here. I am rarely thrilled with photo-etch, but I liked the inclusion here a lot.
As with the photo-etch elements, the decal sheets are two. One of them is representing the dashboard and the side panels of the Black Hawk and for many will be useless. Master modelers usually prefer to paint, weather and modify the cockpit by themselves.
The other one features the stealth-insignia, the aviation art and the technical markings. Some of the latter ones are yellow, there are white lines too, but dark colors dominate the decal sheet. Now, as you might imagine, black helicopter with darker colored decals will be a challenge. First, to make the decals visible despite the fact that the colors will be awfully close. Second, the carrier film is very challenging on a dark base, which is the case here.
With that said, I must add that there is no complaints regarding Kitty Hawk’s decals, so whoever has experience will be perfectly fine with that. That, and the fact that at first look the decals look very nice indeed and it is probably one of the highs of this kit.
All of the variants included in this released are from 1993, Somalia. All of them are Special Operations helicopters and all seems like gunship oriented vehicles. The difference is the numbers and the small aviation art on the sides of the Black Hawks included.
On the boxart though, there is the logo of Werner’s Wings, which is a hint, that promises a lot more upcoming. As we know Fl. Werner Jr. is one of the Gurus of helicopter modeling and we can expect not only decals, but resin add-ons and variations based on that release.
Not that four variants are not enough, but in general they are very similar one to another and that might cause some frustration among modelers. Of course, if you are devoted fan of the Black Hawk, there are many more that you can explore, but for the regular MH-60 fans, Kitty Hawk placed all the bets on Somalia ’93.
First and most important is how this kit compares to Academy’s tooling. And the answer is simple: it is way better. Especially detail-wise. This is a kit that follows all the trends in scale modeling and possesses all the qualities that modelers require from the detailing of the surface. Both, inside and out, the kit is superior to Academy, but that is only logical if you compare the prices of both toolings.
As a stand-alone release, this kit is one of the best works from Kitty Hawk. Although not with the smartest engineering and with some unusual complications in different areas, this should turn into a very decent representation of the Black Hawk in 35th scale. Maybe some aftermarket will try to improve the tooling here and there, but overall Kitty Hawk deserve a praise.
Prise-wise this is one of their boldest attempts in any scale, but considering the need for a new-tooling 35th scale Black Hawk, that price is most likely justified. If you are not ready to pay what they ask, you will have to struggle with Academy and the results will hardly be comparable.
Even with everything mentioned above, the kit is good and is a must for every helicopter modeler in 35th scale. There is no information for another tooling of the Black Hawk upcoming, but there is a line coming up from Kitty Hawk with various of Black Hawk’s siblings. That should say enough.