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Discuss helicopters and other rotary wing aircraft from any era.
160th SOAR Littlebird Info
HeavyArty
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Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 08:38 PM UTC
The 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 AH-6 (Attack Helicopter) gunship 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. 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.

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 Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan 2001-2014), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011), and Operation Celestial Balance (2009) in which US Navy SEALs were sent to Somalia to kill terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.

Original, Y-Tail AH-6C


HeavyArty
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Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 09:08 PM UTC
The version used in Operation Gothic Serpent, Somalia '93, that was made famous by the movie Black Hawk Down was the H-6J. There are two versions of it; the AH-6J gunship version known as the "Killer Egg" and the MH-6J MELB (Mission Enhanced LittleBird) transport version known as a "Six-Pack" with planks on the sides that can carry up to six passengers externally. Besides the weapons systems/mission equipment, there is no great difference since they are both equipped (or can be equiped) with the same electronics. The H-6J was based on the MD 500E, with a single, five-bladed main rotor and a T tail with a single blade tail rotor.

AH-6J

MH-6M MELB


Some Operation Gothic Serpent Littlebird info:

AH-6J Gunships - Barber Flight - 51 through 54
51 AH-6J 88-25357 (Bad Boys emblem on the nose)
52 AH-6J 90-25362 (Moe Betta on the nose, FLIR - only AH with it)
53 AH-6J 90-25679 (Harley Davidson emblem on nose)
54 AH-6J 90-23683

Crews for the AH-6J Littlebirds are believed to be as follows:
Barber 51; CW5 Randy Jones and CW3 Hal Wade.
Barber 52; CW3 Larry Kulsrud and CW2 Paul White.
Barber 53; CW2 Tom Rinderer and CW2 Jerry Harp.
Barber 54; CPT John Harrison and CW3 Chris Smith.

All AH-6Js had the downturned exhausts
All AH-6Js had the internal extra fuel tank
All AH-6Js had two M-134s and two M-260 seven shot pods
It appears the majority of the AH-6 Little Birds flew with the FLIR mount fitted but with the FLIR turret removed.

MH-6J MELBs - Star Flight - 41 through 44, carried 4 four-man Delta Chalks on planks
41 MH-6J 81-23648, CW4 Jones deployed from the aircraft and collected two injured crew from first crash site. (Jones flew the MH-6 in the Black Hawk Down scene of this event)
42 MH-6J 81-23652 (May have had Dagger on the nose)
43 MH-6J 81-23653
44 MH-6J 81-23635 (Dagger on the nose)
MH-6J 90-25359 Spare

Crews for the MH-6J MELBs are believed to be as follows:
Star 41; CW4 Keith Jones and CW3 Karl Meier.
Star 42; Tom Wiese and Mike O'Connor (Ranks UNK)
Star 43; CW5 Bob Fladry and CW5 Rob Witzler.
Star 44; CW5 Joe Spencer and MAJ Ron Cugno

No MH-6Js had the downturned exhaust

Other Little Birds believed to have been present in Somalia:
319; 84-24319
361; 90-25361

A compiled list of AH/MH-6 Littlebirds with features and pilots of each by Jakob "JakobJakepilot" on ARC.

OGS AH/MH-6 Littlebirds List

As to building one of the above, there are a few options.

AH-6J gunship:

Older DML AH-6J kit.


Or the newer Kitty Hawk Models version. Reviewed here on Aeroscale.


AH-6J walkaround.

MH-6J MELB options:

DML AH-6J kit and Cobra Company conversion.
Cobra Company made an MH-6J MELB conversion. The planks are of a different design than the ones in the walk-around below, but still look good. The set also has lots of other goodies in it to upgrade the kit. Unfortunately CC is out of business. Lone Star Models has bought the CC originals and plans to offer them all, eventually. Keep checking back with them. The set is intended for the above DML kit.

I used it on my MH-6J MELB.



Kitty Hawk's kit can also be built as an MH-6J MELB since it has parts for either version in the box.


MH-6J MELB walkaround.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 09:21 PM UTC
The newest version Littlebird is the M model. The M has a six-blade main rotor system taken from the MD600 and a "cruciform" four-blade tail rotor that is similar, but not identical to the AH-64 Apache's. It also has an all-new, digital "glass" IP.

The fuselage is slightly longer and based on the MD530F verses the original MD500 or 369FF.

The rear cargo door has been significantly widened and reshaped.

The upper Vertical Stab has an add-on "sleeve" making it notably wider and deeper which forced them to move the nav lights onto the lower half.

The overhead canopy windows are darkly smoked (tinted) and the seats and belts are black instead of OD.

The "Bench" for the MELB version is also different. It is not the older slab type, it has a concave strip down the length and a hollow bottom with diamond cross pattern.

AH-6M



MH-6M MELB



A current MH-6M Walkaround can be found here.

To build a model of an M, you have to convert it from a J model as there are currently no M model kits available.

Black Ops Models out of Australia has released conversion sets for both the AH-6M and MH-6M. They are both very nice and complete. They are designed to be used with the Dragon AH-6J kit, but should work with the Kitty Hawk kit as well.

AH-6M conversion.

MH-6M conversion.

Black Ops Models also offers a conversion set for the AH-6M and MH-6M for Dragon's standard OH-6A or MD-500 kits, as opposed to the Dragon AH-6J kit.

AH-6M


MH-6M
Trisaw
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Posted: Saturday, December 16, 2017 - 08:07 AM UTC
I thought the AH-6M was just a refurbish of the AH-6J and doesn't have a new or longer fuselage...I thought it's the same helicopter with a new cockpit instrument panel and more rotor blades.

Looks like the actual instrument panel came out differently than what was originally envisioned.



The MFDs are a huge improvement over the analog dial instrument panel on the AH-6Js.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Sunday, December 17, 2017 - 06:10 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I thought the AH-6M was just a refurbish of the AH-6J and doesn't have a new or longer fuselage...I thought it's the same helicopter with a new cockpit instrument panel and more rotor blades.



It is actually both. New-build H-6Ms are on MD530 fuselages, while rebuilt Ms are on older H-6J fuselages.
Trisaw
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Posted: Sunday, December 17, 2017 - 09:36 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Quoted Text

I thought the AH-6M was just a refurbish of the AH-6J and doesn't have a new or longer fuselage...I thought it's the same helicopter with a new cockpit instrument panel and more rotor blades.



It is actually both. New-build H-6Ms are on MD530 fuselages, while rebuilt Ms are on older H-6J fuselages.



I didn't know that. Thanks, Gino.
r2d2
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Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 06:11 AM UTC
Hi Gino, can the Kittyhawk kit be made to the M model?

List to convert
1. 6 blade rotor
2. 4 blade tail rotor
3. optional FLIR
4. do you have to widened the rear opening doors?
5. Arials
6. do you have to have a different console panel

Anything else I forgot?
HeavyArty
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Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 06:28 AM UTC
With lots of work, yes. The M does have an updated, all-glass IP. You would have to widen the rear doors. It also has a different vertical tail plane, skids supports, and a few smaller items.

It would be much easier to get the excellent Black Ops M conversions. They have both for an MH-6M or an AH-6M.

Or just wait a little while. I have it on good authority that KH plans to eventually release an M version as well.
r2d2
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Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 06:41 AM UTC
Hopefully the wait won't be long. The Blackops conversion do have the tail section as I can see on their pictures and the rest that you have mentioned. The fuselage is the same donor kit which you will alter the back door opening and the skid support remains the same, isn't it?
HeavyArty
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Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 08:32 PM UTC
You are correct. Black Ops still doesn't correct the skids. The skids really just have a shroud around them. You could add them with sheet styrene or lead foil. The KH fuselage has the cut-outs for the rear doors already scribed into it (for the future M kit), so cutting them is really easy as well.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 07:09 AM UTC
Kitty Hawk has announced an M version Little Bird as a future release. The box art is a J model though.



The built-up pics show a proper M model though.

knewton
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 12:53 PM UTC
Ok, KittyhawkS AH/MH 6M arrived today, thanks to Hobbyeasy, and it is a great little kit! Having gone over it with the optivisor, there is a little flash here and there, but nothing too major. The details are all there in beautiful 3D styrene, the figures, which sold me on the purchase, are, from the looks of it, all sculptured, not scanned. About my only gripe, and this has already been established, are the instructions. These point out options, without explaining how they fit in to which model. Check your references, I guess.

I am still more than a little amused that the box art does not reflect the box contents, ie the figures. But no matter. The kit has great potential, with excellent parentage from Kittyhawk and Floyd Werner. I may yet break down and grab another.

Nicely done, Kittyhawk.
HeavyArty
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 01:02 PM UTC
The kit is great, the boxart no so much. The boxart misses the mark totally as it shows an AH/MH-6J model, not an AH/MH-6M model at all. The figures look great, but in my opinion are not appropriate for a more modern M model. They look to be more appropriate for Somalia '93/OP Gothic Serpent time frame due to gear and weapons. They should be with a J model Little Bird.



Same figures shown with their upcoming HH-60G kit.
knewton
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 03:06 PM UTC

Quoted Text

The kit is great, the boxart no so much. The boxart misses the mark totally as it shows an AH/MH-6J model, not an AH/MH-6M model at all. The figures look great, but in my opinion are not appropriate for a more modern M model. They look to be more appropriate for Somalia '93/OP Gothic Serpent time frame due to gear and weapons. They should be with a J model Little Bird.



Same figures shown with their upcoming HH-60G kit.




Totally agree with you, Gino... but was the SCAR around then?
HeavyArty
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Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019 - 11:59 PM UTC

Quoted Text


Totally agree with you, Gino... but was the SCAR around then?



No, SACR has only been in use since about 2010. I didn't notice it. The SAW is definitely dated though with the skeletal buttstock. The helmets may be newer too. On first look, I though they were the older Delta helmets as worn in Somalia in '93 (below). Maybe they are a more modern timeframe.