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Mil Mi-1 soviet helicopters

31 Mar

Mil Mi-1 soviet helicopters,large model aircraft kits

Kit: Mil Mi-1 ‘Hare’ Scale: 1:72

Kit type: Injection moulded Decal options: (five) Egyptian air force, Polish air force, Soviet air force, DOSAAF, Finnish air force UK price: £8.50 

The Soviet Mi-1 first flew during September 1948 as the GM-1 and was given the NATO reporting name ‘Hare’. It didn’t enter production until 1951 and manufacture was then transferred to the Polish Swidnik company, where it was developed into a rugged and versatile machine that saw service with Soviet clients and Warsaw Pact countries in various forms until its demise during the 1970s. The kit is packed in a lid-and-tray type box and portrays the early versions with the small rear windows in order that the Mi-l/lA/lT/lHCh can be built from the box; any other variant will require some conversion. There are 44 parts on two sprues: one very soft and white and one clear and brittle. The latter has a cloudy tinge and has some structural parts included. There is flash present, but nothing that a sharp blade and a pass with some wet-and-dry paper won’t cure. A five-option decal sheet has stencilling, the instrument panel and three tail-rotor warning stripe options. Everything is contained in a single plastic envelope. The bilingual (Russian/English) book-fold instruction sheet is of the ‘exploded’ type with some technical/historical text, parts plan and a colours and markings section with Humbrol paint references used throughout. Surface detail is represented by both engraved and raised lines and accurately portrays the panels of the original; the main rotors have built-in droop. The box depicts a Polish civilian SM-1W with auxiliary tanks, but neither the scheme nor the tanks and tail-boom radome are provided.

The five marking options cover an Egyptian machine from the Yemen civil war in overall sand; a Polish air force SM-1, coded 1014, in olive drab over light blue; Soviet air force ’57 Red’ in dark green over light blue; a Soviet DOSAAF Mi-lU in yellow with a full-length red lightning flash and anti-glare panel (this will require another seat and cockpit controls, but not a second instrument panel as both pilot and instructor used the same instruments); and lastly a Finnish air force SM-lSz (Mi-lAU/TU), coded HK-2, with a large unit emblem behind the cockpit, and in dark green over light blue with an orange tail and nose with black anti-glare panel (a conversion will be needed as per teh DOSAAF option).

Research has shown that some of these options depict later variants and are not really applicable to this kit, so I chose the Egyptian option.
Construction starts by attaching the full-width passenger seat/bulkhead, pilot’s seat (this is tiny compared with the passenger seat) and hand and foot controls to the one-piece cockpit floor. The control column made the seat seem even smaller until I trimmed about 2 mm from its top and replaced the hand-grip with a blob of PVA. The three main nose/canopy clear parts can be cleaned up and assembled; this is fiddly but the end result is fine if the two small sections G4 and 5 are left off until the assembly has thoroughly hardened (there is a mismatch at the extreme nose where these parts go and the holes need squaring off). These parts also needed some trimming to fit and all the joints needed tidying, as a result of which the moulded landing light was lost. There are a couple of glue stains which are still visible even after polishing with a Braun electric toothbrush with an old worn-out head and Jove car haze remover/detailer. After washing thoroughly, the assembly was then dipped in Johnson’s Future/Klear to improve the clarity, but unfortunately the glue stains are still somewhat visible. The rotor support (on the clear sprue) was attached to one fuselage half and the sides closed (there are no locating pins or sockets). I then inserted the partially assembled cockpit floor and bulkhead, and left the whole assembly to harden. The instrument panel was attached (this is flimsy and a bit haphazard) and painted in accordance with the instructions. When the paint was dry the instrument decal was placed in position and the completed clear nose section slid into place. This left a mismatch on the top and bottom, but after forcing into position with a clamp, and after ‘spot-welding’ with superglue, these lined up and the nose section was firmly fixed with liquid glue once it had set. After some trimming, the lower iouvered engine panel was attached and some small gaps were filled with PVA. The PVA was smoothed down with a wet finger, there being insufficient room for conventional filler because of the louvres.
The main undercarriage consists of four delicate parts. When joined, these provide a firm set up. This is followed by the nose leg, which unfortunately proved incapable of supporting the model. It was replaced by a cut-down dressmaker’s pin superglued into holes drilled into the nose-wheel and fuselage and tidied with smears of PVA. When dry, a coat of light grey paint was brushed overall. This highlighted a few errors and once these had been dealt with the grey was touched up and two coats of Humbrol 63 Sand were brushed overall. The main rotor blades were cleaned up and attached to the rotor head. The join area is tiny and benefits from strengthening with superglue. Although the separate swash plate and push rods do help to strengthen the assembly it remains very fragile. After assembly the model was painted as per the instructions. The two-part tail rotor was painted pale blue with a silver head. I painted the red/white/red warning stripes, although these are also provided in decal form. All that remained to be added were the exhausts, aerials and wire aerial supports, steps and tail bumper; the latter also needs supports added from thin rod/wire, as mentioned in the instructions. When these were dry they were painted in the appropriate colours and the whole model given a couple of brushed coats of Future/Klear to give a smooth surface for the decals. This was followed by the pre-painted mainwheels. The axles are weak, causing the wheels to spread slightly, and nothing would keep them in the correct position.

The decals (11 including the tail rotor stripes) are matt with wide film around each subject. They are in register, separated from the backing paper very quickly and went on cleanly using Micro Set/Sol with no adverse effect. After the decals had dried and any solvent residue had been washed off, an overall coat of Humbrol satin varnish was brushed on, leaving no trace of decal film or silvering. The wire aerials are clearly shown on the painting and markings diagram, but my eyesight let me down here, as I was unable to see the ‘invisible’ thread that I was attempting to use! Having sanded away the moulded nose landing light I replaced it with a small, drilled depression, which was painted silver and filled with a blob of Kristal Klear. When satisfied that I could do nothing more, the tail rotor was attached to its shaft to finish the job off. This is my first Gran model and it is nice to see some of the early Soviet helicopters being kitted. It does look the part and the dimensions are spot on, however, it’s a combination of good and bad. I particularly liked the method used for the forward fuselage/ canopy and the decals are first class (they could only be improved by removing some of the options and supplying a few more stencils and warning signs). On the other hand, I did not like the soft white plastic; this only creates problems where it is load-bearing, and it remains to be seen whether the rotor blade joints will stand the test of time without the blades drooping further. Because of this I can only recommend it to the hardened modeller. However, if you are prepared for some work it is possible to construct a very decent replica.

Connected themes: miniature planes, model fighter jets, model kits, Mil Mi-1 soviet helicopters, model shop, rc flight, monogram models.

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