by: Gino P. Quintiliani [ ]
Little Bird HistoryThe H-6 Little Bird (nicknamed the Killer Egg) is a light helicopter operated by the United States Armys 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), Night Stalkers. It draws its roots from the original OH-6A Cayuse helicopter from the mid-1960s, a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) that performed personnel transport, escort and attack missions, casualty evacuation, and observation. After the April 1980 failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission, Operation Eagle Claw, it was determined that the US Army lacked aircraft and crews who were trained and prepared to perform special operations missions. To remedy this shortcoming, the Army began developing a special aviation task force to prepare for the next attempt to rescue the Iran hostages, Operation Credible Sport. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), also known as Night Stalkers, was born. Even though Op Credible Sport was cancelled when the hostages were released in January, 1981, the Army saw the wisdom in having such a force and their associated aircraft.
The Special Operations version of H-6 helicopter entered service with the US military in 1980. It was originally based on a modified OH-6A with a single, four-blade main rotor and a Y tail. Later, it was updated to the MD 500E, with a single, five-bladed main rotor and a T tail; the H-6J of Black Hawk Down (Op Gothic Serpent) fame. The current version is the H-6M which is based on the MD 530F and has a single, six-bladed main rotor, a four-bladed tail rotor, and the T tail. It can travel at 175 miles per hour, has a range of 232 nmi, and a crew of two; pilot and co-pilot.
Both the AH-6 and MH-6 have extensive modifications to their avionics and provisions for mounting specialized equipment and weapons. The MH-6, known as the Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB), is unarmed and can carry up to six passengers on external planks as well as the 2-man crew, and can mount a support system for Fast Ropes. The AH-6 (Attack Helicopter) version can carry two M134 miniguns, two M260 7-shot Hydra 70 2.75 FFAR pods, four AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, four FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles, two Mk-19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers, two .50 caliber machine guns, or almost any combination of the above.
Since entering service, the H-6 Little Bird helicopter has been involved in a number of missions including Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada (1983), supporting the Contras flying missions into Nicaragua (mid-80s), Operation Prime Chance to guard merchant ships after a Kuwaiti oil tanker struck a mine in the Persian Gulf (1987), Operation Just Cause invasion of Panama (1989), Operation Gothic Serpent during the Battle of Mogadishu (Black Hawk Down) in Somalia (1993), and most recently during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003), and Operation Celestial Balance (2009) in which US Navy SEALs were sent to Somalia to kill terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.
The kitBlack Ops Models is a new resin company out of Australia that has broken into the market with an extensive set to convert the 1/35 Dragon AH-6J to the current MH-6M (MELB) Little Bird with Fast Rope attachments as flown by the 160th SOAR. The set comes packed in a very sturdy, top opening box with packing peanuts inside to keep all the delicate parts safe. Further, the parts are bagged in Ziploc bags labeled A through F with each bag listing the parts contained in it and for what subassembly they go to. This makes for a very nice and tidy packaging and it is easy to keep track of all the parts. The more delicate parts like the instrument panel and rear wall are also wrapped in bubble wrap to keep them safe.
The set contains 52 resin parts, a section of brass rod for the tail stinger, and a section of plastic rod for the control linkages on the rotor head. All of the parts are finely cast with no flash or broken pieces. Also included is a very nicely done 10 page instruction booklet that clearly shows how to modify and build the MH-6M. The booklet breaks it down into 9 steps to complete the build. Each step clearly shows what needs to be modified or added. There are also extensive measurements shown so you can accurately cut or place parts onto the Dragon kit pieces. All of the pieces fit the Dragon parts perfectly with little to no sanding or modification s needed.
Black Ops has really made some nice pieces here. Every part is very delicate and full of details. The set pretty much replaces the entire interior of the Dragon kit. The only parts still used are the center wall and a few of the black boxes added to it, and the floor. These new parts include a new, very detailed instrument panel with FLIR screens, seats, collective and cyclic control levers, yaw pedals, armored plates for the floor, a new rear wall with integrated fuel tank and engine cowl, and cross fuselage support plank. Also included are all new parts for the tail, to include the four-blade tail rotor and gear boxes, and a six bladed rotor head. The parts for the passenger planks capture the look of the actual articles excellently. They even show the honeycomb support pattern on the underside as well. The support bars for the Fats Rope system are thin and accurate with rivet and bolt details accurately reproduced. Lastly, there are ample antennae and sensors for the fuselage and a very nice FLIR ball mount for the nose.
conclusionThis set is very complete and will allow you to build a very detailed and accurate MH-6M (MELB) model. The parts are perfect and fit the donor kit excellently.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.