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1/35 scale MRC + Cutting Edge OH-58D Warrior ďThugsĒ

by Floyd S. Werner Jr.


OH-58D Warrior ďThugsĒ


HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Meteor Productions





The history is not on the Kiowa Warrior but on my experience with it. I was first introduced to the Kiowa Warrior in 1995 when the last of the unarmed versions were transferred to my unit in Germany. They were great little helicopters with power and easily maintainable in the field. I first flew one of these aircraft in Bosnia in 1996 and loved it. It wasnít my Cobra but it was a fun helicopter to fly. When we turned in the aircraft and deactivated the unit in Hungary in 1996 I was asked which aircraft I wanted to fly, Warrior or Apache. Now I was only four years from retirement and as a maintenance test pilot I thought to myself, ďSelf if you go with the Apache you get big guns, rockets, and Hellfire missiles as well as lots of maintenance time and youíll have to work long hours for little return. Or I can fly Kiowa Warriors and have a smaller gun (relative term), still have rockets and Hellfire and not work nearly as hard. Work hard or fly a lot?Ē In the voice of the knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, ďI chose wisely.Ē

Learned to fly and maintain the helicopter and then it was off to Ft Hood, TX to 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. I was familiar with this unit as I served in it during Desert Storm flying Cobras. Interestingly, my Cobra (79-23221) was still there when I arrived but I never got a chance to fly her again. Once we turned in those Cobras it was time to train up on the Warrior. The training was interesting and fun. Wish they would have let me shoot more gunnery but hey I at least had a job.


I flew the OH-58D(R) version of the Kiowa. It was equipped with the then Allison C250R3 engine and it was the latest and greatest Kiowa Warrior yet. We worked out lots of bugs which was fun and interesting. It was during this time that I built my first Kiowa Warrior; see my earlier article at http://www.kitparade.com/features00/Warriorfw_1.htm and also my article with photos from my Bosnian adventure http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/bosniafw_1.htm .

After being certified (not certifiable) as being qualified as a unit we trained hard and a lot. Eventually we went off to Bosnia in 1998. It seems that the Apache unit was having a hard time keeping up with the OPTEMPO. As we prepared to deploy I was the Production Control Officer (PC Officer) so I made the stencils for the SFOR and made sure that they were positioned the same for everyone. After all I was a model builder and would have to model this helicopter in the future.

Bosnia proved that the Warrior was a deployable and dependable helicopter. Our overall mission rate for the year was over 95%. We only were late for one mission do to material failure and none from maintenance. Lest I forget that not all of the time was fun and games. During the initial training we lost a Warrior (95-00017) that crashed into a tree during gunnery, no injuries. While deployed we lost another one (95-00013) again no injuries.

Why build this model now?

MRC 1/35 scale
OH-58D Warrior ďThugsĒ and the
Cutting Edge Update/Upgrade Set
Reviewed by
Floyd S. Werner, Jr.
IPMS# 26266

Well that is a two part story. The first being that I had a customer who wanted one. Not just any customer, but the Kiowa Warrior Project Manager who helped me when I was the PC Officer. He was a great help and a good friend. I felt I owed him at least something.

The other was more poignant. As a senior warrant officer it was my responsibility to interview and recommend people for flight school. One of my first interviews was one of my armament dawgs, SGT Wells. He was a motivated, articulate and professional soldier. I heartily recommended him to be a warrant officer. He went off to flight school and he elected to fly Kiowas. In 2004, a friend told me that SGT Wells had been killed in Iraq, one of the first Kiowas downed over there, leaving a wife and two lovely children.

During the same phone call I was informed that a very close friend, CW3 Cody Sharp had been shot down and was at Ft Sam Houston undergoing his 13th operation. Cody was flying right seat as the Pilot in Command and was just entering a right turn when AK-47 fire erupted into the cockpit. The first round penetrated his right forearm. Another round took off part of his left thumb. The left seater quickly took the controls as Codyís right arm was useless and that is the one that controls the cyclic. Despite being wounded in the arm himself the copilot was able to land the helicopter and get Cody out of the helicopter. They had been supporting a Stryker unit and the Stykers quickly secured the crew. The helicopter had to be destroyed. Cody is doing better but may never fly again. To show you the amount of support that the troops have, Cody is from Texas and Ross Perot offered to have his personal surgeon do the operations at no cost to Cody. General Cody, who led the first Apache mission during Desert Storm, offered Cody Sharp a job on his personal staff if he couldnít fly again. It seems Cody Sharp was the Generalís pilot when he was a young battalion commander and he never forgets good people. Cody Sharp is only two years from retirement. My model is dedicated to these great Americans who I had the privilege to serve with and who gave everything they had.

The Model

The MRC model is based on the earliest version of the Kiowa Warrior. It is accurate for the early version based on the 1985 time frame. It is molded in light grey plastic with lots of rivet detail and recessed panel lines. The Thugs gives you the option of building any of the armament options that a Kiowa Warrior carries. The Black Death offering is exactly the same except that you donít get the ATAS or rockets. There are large clear parts for the windscreens and various lenses. A small decal sheet is included. A PVC piece of gun chute is provided for the .50 caliber option.

The Cutting Edge Update/Upgrade set

I cannot be objective to this update set as I designed it.

All versions of the modern Warrior contain the new inlets so I mastered the inlets. You be the judge if you think they turned out well (of course they did). Besides the new inlets you also get a new ALQ-144 pedestal and mount, armored side panels, IR lights, APR-39 antennas, Engine Barrier Filter (EBF), mount for one of the IR lights and a GPS antenna.

The instructions are illustrated with our aircraft in Bosnia so there is no question on how this stuff is suppose to look on the real thing.




Letís get started

I am going to walk you through the assembly process so that you can correctly update your Kiowa.

Step 1-Everything is flat black, very boring so add variations and detail paint the circuit breakers and switches. There are of course variations of flat black through out the cockpit. Donít attach the anti-glare panel yet. Wait until you get the window on. If you donít it could create some serious issues with the windscreens later on. Donít use part B-72 or B-73. They create a fit issue with the fuselage and doors. You wonít see them anyhow. The back doors are always closed except during maintenance. I recommend that you donít have them open. The boxes in the back seat are not too accurate but do approximate the busy feel of the stuff back there. I did add some buttons to the cyclic and collective with white glue. I used some Tamiya Clear Green for the MFD (Multi-Function Displays) in front of the pilots and Tamiya Smoke on the screen on the top center of the instrument panel, forgot the name. Must be getting old.

Step 2 has you finish off the front cockpit. I made a first aid kit out of epoxy for the right side of the pedestal, opposite of the fire extinguisher. This was painted a light green and attached.

Step 3-Donít use part B-66. It does not fit and canít be seen anyhow. Everything back here is Flat Black as well. Most of this stuff is not seen even if you are an IPMS judge with a flashlight.

Step 4-Is the engine and transmission compartment. Wow, this is a little gem? The engine is a great place to super detail but I elected not to go overboard. I just painted it and weathered it appropriately. Before you assemble the transmission add the assembly to the cockpit and fill the area where the mount pins come up from the bottom. The actual color for the epoxy coating for the area under the transmission is a fluorescent green Iíve never seen anywhere else. I used Tamiya Yellow Zinc and called it close enough.


Step 5- Assemble this as per the instructions but donít add it to the model yet. Wait until after you have the complete rotor system built up. You may want to leave off part B-29. This will help you during transportation. Part B-34 is light grey but the rest is, you guessed it, Flat Black. I dry brush with a light grey artist oil to bring out the highlights. Look at the picture of the completed assembly carefully. Remember part B-44 should be facing aft.

Step 6- is the pilot figures and I left them out. They look pretty good. That is your call. The flight suits could be sage green, desert tan, or woodland colored. Check your operational theater. Boots may be black or tan.

Step 7- has everything on the inside being brought together. The fit is very good. After everything was assembled I added some bent metal on the back of the seats to represent the seatbelt channel. I also used the Cutting Edge USAF/USN Ejection Seat Poseable Harness Set, CEC32099, to represent the seatbelts. These are perfect for this aircraft and the scale. Remove them from there flimsy backing with a sharp knife and slightly undercut them. Cut by pressing down numerous times. Do not draw the blade over the surface as you will rip and tear the material. The belts can be posed as you want which added a sense of realism. I painted mine with a very light tan color, Tamiya Deck Tan, if I remember correctly. I then added some Floquil Old Silver to the buckles and Model Master Leather under the belt latches. I threaded the seatbelt over the back of the seat and tacked it down with superglue. Then I posed them as I wanted them to look and used superglue to tack them down in the front. I was very happy with the results and will use these belts again, especially on a large scale airplane. Nothing looks as good.


I added some weight under the instrument panel area. It was a large round lead weight that I smushed (technical term) and then carved to fit in the open area which would be under the front part of the fuselage. Be careful not to interfere with the fit of the instrument panel. The area wonít be seen when the chin bubble is painted. Test fit this with the fuselage half.

Step 8-One of the best things about this kit is the rotor system. It is EXACTLY the same as the real thing. Care and test fitting will be rewarded with an excellent representation of the real thing. A few words of caution though. Caution 1-The Pitch Change (PC) links are offset 45 degrees from the pitch horn. This is not pointed out very well. Caution 2-The blades are the correct shape but for some reason they molded a recessed panel line on the trailing edge of the blade, on the top and bottom. This should be filled in with your filler of choice, mine was super glue. Advice 1-Before filling the blades it is a good idea to get the droop on them. I used really hot water on the blades, cook for one minute in water that is real near to boiling. I then removed them and taped them to a 12 inch skillet around the outside. Once I had them all on there I ran the pan under cold water to set everything. I liked the way my droop looks. It is very realistic and adds to the models appeal. Caution 3-The Quick Release pins, part C-42, are painted silver but they are not placed on the same place on each blade. That is they are not always on the leading edge pin or trailing edge pin. Check your references, but if I remember correctly, the green pin is on the rear pin and the rest are on the front.

Step 9- is a little overwhelming. Lots of stuff has to go on here. First off, before you do anything else it is time to use the Cutting Edge Upgrade set. Follow the instructions very carefully and remove the forward cowling. This is fairly straight forward. Use a BAF, to true the aft surface once the cut has been made. What is a BAF? A Big Ass File, of course. I have a large file that Iíve learned to love. Donít forget to remove the flashed over center of the cowling. This is easily carved out and cleaned up with some sandpaper. This part will be added later but you have to cut it out now.

The next big thing is the ALQ-144 mount. The kits is not accurate. The Cutting Edge set provides the pedestal, the mount and the base for the ALQ. They also provide a picture of the blanking plate in case you opt not to put on the ALQ from the kit. I did forget to add the oval access panel on both sides of the pedestal. Sorry about that. I added mine out of .005 plastic. The cut of the kit is the hardest to get correct. I feel it is better to cut into the kit mount and then sand as necessary to get it to fit. I ended up cutting too much on both of mine and added plastic and then carved it to fit under the pedestal. This is really the hardest part of the upgrade so go slow. Do not use part D-21 which is the base of the ALQ. The part is reproduced in the upgrade to have the open slots and mounts. The assembly should go like this; pedestal, mount, and base, then kit clear parts. Check the reference photos from the upgrade set for the correct orientation it is not squared off but offset a bit. Holes are provided for you to add wire if you so desire. Attach the ALQ pedestal with superglue and then it is time to bring everything together.

Part 40 is not used on current aircraft. It is the Doppler antenna and since the introduction of the GPS antenna is not mounted.

When you make the rear avionics compartment you will have to break off the top part of C-32 or it wonít fit. Again this is an area that is representative of an early version but not current. You have to assemble it as it keeps the door aligned but it really isnít too important. While you have the door in your hand there are two cutouts, one on the bottom and one on the aft part of the door, these need to be filled in. Leave the cooling grills but fill the round recessed areas. These were for the original aircraft when they were experimenting on things.

If you are going to build an Operation Iraqi Freedom aircraft donít open the holes for the AVR-2 antennas, part D-31 and D-32. These antennas are laser detectors and were removed from every unitís aircraft that I know of.

For an OIF aircraft leave off the clothesline antenna under the tailboom. It is the holder for the HF antenna and is not used. Just cut some square styrene to cover the holes. If you are building a Bosnian aircraft leave it on. If it gets bent or crooked this is actually preferred. The real things were hollow and frequently bent from handling and crew chief backs hitting it while walking under the tailboom. We left ours on more as a way to protect the APR-39 blade antenna on the tailboom than for anything else.

Leave off the front doors unless you have an aircraft that is flying in the winter. The greenhouse effect makes it very hot inside relatively quickly so the doors were removed to facilitate cooling plus visibility is markedly improved with them removed.

I recommend that you donít add the UWP (Universal Weapons Pylons) Part 19 & 20 until after painting the fuselage.

Before you assemble the fuselage I recommend that you add some strips of styrene on the bottom such as you would do for a vacuform. There is a lot of play if you donít you will have some issues as the area is flexible.

Time to bring it all together. If you did everything properly you should have no big problems closing it up. Once everything is good to go, add the forward cowling after you paint the inside a yellow zinc color or the fluorescent green. You may have to fill a little bit. I recommend super glue. I built two and the two of them needed a little filler in different spots. Nothing too drastic though.

Once you have everything filled rescribe the line where the forward cowling fits to the model. There is another area that needs to be scribed and that is around the exhaust area. This area is titanium and broken into two separate parts. You will have to look at reference photos to determine the shape but it roughly fits the shape of the open area. Look at the model photos. Donít be too concerned with how big the area should be. I have seen some that had lots of metal on top and others that had about a 2 inch area, which is the most common. Now check my pictures and you will see the other panel lines that need to be scribed, including the one that goes laterally through the exhaust area. Most of the panel lines are pretty straight and not a big issue.


OK I screwed up. I didnít realize until I was building my kits that I forgot a mod for the armed version of the Kiowas. The aft doors have a cutout. I have since made this and have provided it to Meteor Productions. If you bought this set and it didnít have it write or call them and they will provide it. My fault totally. Completely missed it. The doors were modified when armament was added because you didnít have access to the avionics because the door would hit the UWP. At first you had to pull the pins on the hinges and then remove the whole door. Finally they just made a cut out that allowed you to open the door normally. The new doors and cutout are a drop in replacement that did not need any cleanup.

I left my vertical tail off until after painting. It tends to hit everything and will break off or break the skid. Speaking of skids, I used pins to mount them for support. The horizontal stabilizers should be flat on top and rounded on the bottom. They provide negative lift in forward flight to extend the CG range.

After the entire cleanup is done, I recommend adding the windscreen and chin bubble including the Wire Strike systems. I used liquid cement, sparingly, and white glue to attach the windows. This will aid the masking stage. I then added the glare shield and the instrument panel from the outside. You want to do this as it is easy to get a tighter fit without causing any problems with the windows.

I used the Cutting Edge Black Magic Canopy Masks CEBM35001 for this kit. There are some areas that are very hard for the Black Magic to conform to but overall they worked well. I highly recommend them.


Add the IR formation lights to the appropriate areas. Donít forget to add the mount to the base of the fuselage before adding the light. I had to add a bit of filler with Tamiya putty and then used Mr. Thinner to smooth it in.

Use caution when removing the GPS antenna from the mold block. If you are careful there is a circle under the block that needs to be kept. Add the GPS antenna to the tailboom. Ensure the hole is on the left side just in case you want to add the wire that comes out and goes into the tailboom.

If your aircraft has the Engine Barrier Filter now is a good time to install it. Check the photos on the instruction sheet.

Now is a good time to decide what kind of a weapons load you want to use. Check your references, but a common load is .50 Cal and rocket pods. Another is .50 and Hellfire. Frequently the .50 Cal ammo box is carried regardless of the weapon on the left side. A word of caution, if the Hellfire is to be carried it will always be on the right side. The .50 Cal can only be mounted on the left side. The rockets can be loaded any way, within the limitations of the Hellfire and .50 Cal, or on both UWPs.



Painting and Markings



I preshaded the model with flat black as I needed it to paint the rotors anyhow.

I said this before and Iíll say it again. The only accurate color for a modern US Army helicopter is Model Master ACRLYIC US Army Helicopter Green. The enamel is too grey, but it has its uses. I used the enamel to weather my aircraft. The whole aircraft gets the acrylic green. I then streaked the enamel in a vertical movement to simulate the weathering caused by servicing the engine.

I painted my AVR-2 antennas Model Master Green Drab.

The blades are flat black aft of the line, gloss black on the inboard side and titanium on the leading edge about a third of the way to the tip. Check the photos of the model and references. The tail rotor is flat black with about half of the leading edge being silver, but can be overall flat black. Both the tail and main rotor blades were then streaked front to back with Tamiya Buff and a light grey.

I painted my IR lights RLM 77 and the GPS antenna is flat white. A coat of Future made the model ready for decals.


The kit decals are okay but not great. They have a glue substance on the back the looks bad going on but will dry clear. I used Solvaset because of all the rivets.

I wanted to do an aircraft that Cody and I flew in with 1-7 but there were no decals available for the SFOR, 1st Cav, Garryowen, or Bounty Hunter emblems. I also didnít have decals for the 2-17 Cav aircraft. I did have pictures though. So I had some decals made. I didnít realize until I was decaling that they were about 50% too big. What to do? I just had received some gorgeous AH-1G decals from Joseph Osborn at Fireball Modelworks (http://www.fireballmodels.info/) A begging and pleading email went out explaining what had happened and what I needed. Joseph was able to work magic with the photos. After a few emails to tweak the size and the fonts and literally within a couple of days I had perfect decals. They worked well and reacted well to the Solvaset. Thanks Joseph you saved my butt. They looked perfect. I am working with Joseph to get some more additional markings for this kit. So look for more from Fireball in the future.

A coat of Future and a Model Master Acrylic Flat made the model ready for weathering.


I used a Burnt Umber artist oil wash over the panel lines. I followed that up with some Polly-S Mud on the skids and ammo box. I used silver pencil to chip the paint at various locations including the skids. I also used the silver pencil to ďpealĒ back the area on the silver part of the main rotor blades as these took a beating, especially in the desert. I used the enamel helicopter green to simulate the fuel spilled around the filler cap. An overcoat of heavily thinned Tamiya buff from directly overhead lightens up the top of the model. I used some pastels on various panels and in the exhaust areas. Another flat coat sealed everything.

Special attention

I need to talk about some areas that required special attention in regards to painting. First is the MMS, the Mast Mounted Sight, ET, or the thing that gives the Kiowa big balls, no sorry that is the pilots. The small opening is the side for the TVS system. I glued a light blue transparent bead to the inside. This was followed up by painting the area inside of the area for the clear part the Acrylic Helicopter Green. Once that was dry I added Future in multiple applications until it was level with the face of the sight. For the TIS (Thermal Imaging System) I tried something a little different. This side is opaque and reflective. I painted it gloss black and then used a thing called Pearl-X (available at Wal-Mart) Iridescent Gold. It is a powder that is rubbed on the paint. Well it looked great and was exactly what I was looking for.

The ALQ-144 is a multi-faceted IR jammer. I decided to try Alclad red to gold paint. I painted the gloss black and then the Alclad. I found the color pigments to be too big but decided to go with it anyway. I then applied the Pearl-X. It looks good but not great. I then added some Tamiya Clear Orange and Red. I was happy with the results but I think it could have been better. If I had to do it again I would skip the Alclad.

Final steps

I removed the masks and polished the canopy with Tamiya polish. There was a marginal bit of overspray that was removed with a toothpick and some Aeromaster Paint/Decal remover and some careful patience.

I had no big problem in assembling the weapons. A tip for gluing the ammo chute to the gun, use vinyl glue available at Home Depot. Comes in a small tube and works great. The .50 Cal was painted flat black and then dry brushed with some silver. The cage around the gun was painted semi-gloss black. The ammo box got the aircraft green color.

The Hellfire launcher got the helicopter green for the launcher. The missiles were flat black and after a gloss coat were decaled as shown. Remember that live missiles have a brown square at the aft end. This indicates a live motor. The yellow on the tip indicates a live warhead.

The rocket pods were assembled as the instructions showed. I did elect to fill the seams on the end pieces as well as the halves. The end caps were painted Magnesium. The rockets themselves were Olive Drab.

Finally everything is brought together at the UWPs. I did have an issue with the angle of the UWPs. They cause the ordinance to be angled in too far. A little angle is ok but this is too much. I havenít figured out how to fix it yet.





Wow! That took a long time. From the time I mastered the original cowling to finishing both kits was about a year and a half. Iím happy with the way they look though. They are impressive. I feel the upgrade is essential and makes the difficult task of converting the Warrior to modern standards exponentially easier. I will not make a recommendation on the upgrade. You will have to make your own conclusions.

The kit itself is a challenge but not something most builders couldnít master. It is the perfect vehicle for super detailing. There is a lot more things I would like to do next time. I wish the UWPs were better angled but that is my biggest gripe.

The masks were very useful and made that task a lot easier. Highly recommended.

The poseable seat belts were wonderful and easy to use. Highly recommended.


The decals from Joseph were a Godsend. Thanks again for the help. Without you these models would be unfinished. Highly recommended. Check out his Cobra decals. We are discussing doing a few of the AH-1F Cobras I flew.

References are rare on this vital helicopter. The internet is best resource. I hope to put together a walk around book on the Kiowa Warrior if I can find an interested party and if the demand is there. I have lots of photos that I took and I still know lots of people in the Army who are willing to help.

This little helicopter and the men and women who fly them are always out front in harms way. I would like to think that SGT Wells would be proud of the finished results.

I know he would yell ď Garryowen, Sir!Ē 



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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Floyd S. Werner Jr.
Page Created 18 June, 2005
Last Updated 17 June, 2005

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