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Italeri's 1/72 scale
MH-53E Sea Dragon

by Jeffrey Brundt

 

MH-53E Sea Dragon

 


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Introduction

 

The newest military version of Sikorsky's H-53E/S80 series, the MH-53E Sea Dragon, is the Western world's largest helicopter. The MH-53E is used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with a secondary mission of shipboard delivery. Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) missions include mine sweeping and ancillary spotting, mine neutralization, floating mine destruction, channel marking and surface towing of small craft and ships. Additional mission capabilities include air-to-air refueling, hover in-flight refueling, search and rescue, and external cargo transport operations, in both land and seaborne environments. The MH-53E Helicopter also has the ability to perform Vertical Onboard Delivery (VOD) missions as well as transportation of personnel and cargo.

 

 

Construction

 

A few years ago Italeri introduced this kit in 1/72. It is a very nice offering from them. Unfortunately the kit is no longer available so you may want to try ebay.

Iíve always like the 53 and the ĎEí model Super Stallions are the baddest looking helos of the class.

Interior detail is a bit sparse so if you like to scratch build you can go wild here. The exterior though is nicely done and there are the extra antennas and bits that make the Sea Dragon unique. The entire nose is molded in clear plastic which makes the front windows easier to do. The only issue is how well this clear nose section fits to the rest of the fuselage. Some putty is needed here to fair things in. Since there is a lot of glazing to allow viewing of the flight deck some detailing may be in order for those of you that may not want the spartan furnishings Italeri provides.

 

 

I opted to build this kit OOB so I left things as they are. Iím not that good super detailing in 1/72. I wish I could say the use of putty was minimal (minimal when compared to a 1/32 sized kit I guess) but there are some areas where the fuse halves join that need some filler.

The one thing you notice with the Sea dragon is the massive rotor head. It takes a few sessions of dry fitting to make sure you have things lined up right. The instructions could be a bit better here. The landing gear is a bit fiddly but thatís mainly due to itís small size. Leave it off until after painting.

 

 

Painting and Decals

 

Of course before the main color went on I masked all the glazing with Tamiya tape. I also painted the intake mesh areas on the engines black and when that was dry I mased the unique pattern on the intakes with small strips of tape. This was the most time consuming but the effort is well worth it. I painted the overall color Model Master Gunship Grey. Iíve have learned since this is not the correct color for Sea Dragons but when compared to the photos I had it looked a pretty good match. I wanted it darker anyway since the low vis decals are printed in a shade of grey that is quite close to the correct color of the airframe. Italeri has done this before and I got burned painting the model the correct color only to have the decals become Ďinvisibleí when applied because the base color matched the decal color almost exactly. The rotor blades where painted with Floquil grimy black. Wheel wells were gloss white. And thatís about it for the colors. A gloss coat of clear lacquer was applied and then it was time to decal. The decal sheet is quite complete and includes markings for the Navyís HC-4 ďBlack StallionsĒ squadron and for a JASDF bird. The only real decal trouble you may have is with the black walkway stripes. Just take your time. As a hint, leave off the #3 engine so you can apply the walkways easier. Once they are done then you can install that engine.

I didnít heavily weather this bird because the paint they use on it holds up rather well and the Sea Dragons are still relatively new in service. Then it was time to add all the bits like landing gear, mine sweeping rig, gear doors and the rotor head. Once they were in place and paint touched up I gave the model a final coat of Testors Dullcoat.

And there you have it. In my opinion the Sea Stallion is just one plain, bad ass looking helo.



 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2003 by Jeffrey J. Brundt
Page Created 11 April, 2005
Last Updated 11 April, 2005

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