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H04S Helicopter
(Sikorsky S-55)

by Geoff McDonell


H04S Helicopter
(Sikorsky S-55)


Italeri's 1/72 scale H04S Helicopter
is available online from Squadron.com




Here is Italeri's H04S Helicopter (Sikorsky S-55) in 1/72 scale.

Having an affliction for all things Canadian, I could not resist a “quick build” on this fine example of the Royal Canadian Navy’s helicopter fleet. The fairly simple colour scheme and the availability of the Belcher decals rendered this model project as a straightforward exercise.


Some of the minor corrections required for this kit are:

  • Remove tail boom stiffeners along upper quadrant on either side of the tail rotor shaft housing.

  • Add various antennae to suit the particular helicopter being modeled.

  • Add large step and frame at lower edge of main cabin door.

  • Add reverse facing air scoops at rear upper cabin on outside of fuselage, both sides

Depending on the particular helicopter, and time of service in the Royal Canadian Navy, there are many other details that may need to be considered:

  • Torpedo rack on port side.

  • Winch assembly above cabin door at starboard side of fuselage.

  • Different antenna fittings.

The interior was built up straight from the box and detailed slightly with the addition of lead foil seat belts and some dry brushing to show off the well molded details that Italeri provides. Fit of all parts was great, with the exception of the nose gear bay insert in the bottom of the nose dome. There were gaps and a “loose” fit here, which required some filling and plugging of gaps so paint wouldn’t get sprayed inside the model afterwards.


The clear parts were test fitted and with some minor trimming and sanding they fit flush into the openings provided. I also lightly scribed a line around the outline of the raised rims of all the fuselage windows to allow myself a “cut line” for applying the masking around these things. The actual aircraft had raised black rubber frames around the windows, so these needed to be painted somehow. The technique I used was to mask the clear parts of the windows, then airbrush on some flat black around the windows, then once that was dry, add more masking on top of the windows and the raised frames using Bare Metal Foil which I cut out along those “cut lines” I’d scribed earlier. Then the rest of the model colours were airbrushed on, and the “over masks” were removed yielding a nice sharp black outline around the windows.



Painting and Markings



The model was painted using Xtra-Colour paints, with Light Sea Grey used for the lighter colour, and Extra Dark Sea Grey for the topside dark grey. Xtra-Colour Trainer Yellow was used for the tail-band and rotor tips. This resulted in a nice gloss finish upon which the decals could be applied easily. Small details, like the brake lines to the main wheels, were added, as well as a formed wire pitot tube glued onto the top corner of the cockpit.


I’d purchased a couple sets of the Belcher Bits Canadian Helicopter decals and it was a good thing I had a spare sheet, too.

The decals appeared to be cleanly printed with nice colour density, but lacked the fine stenciling found on most of the aircraft depicted. The roundels and numbers were applied to the relatively flat surfaces of the roof, sides and bottom and seemed to go on nicely. I did find that the clear carrier film was quite stiff and required generous applications of Solvaset to persuade the decals to snuggle down into the recessed panel lines. The stiff carrier film led to major problems applying the large day-glow nose number and the “Royal Canadian Navy” lettering along the tail boom. The first time I tried to apply the big “3” to the nose, I got nothing but grief - it would not conform to the compound curves, would not lay down or even soften enough with straight Solvaset to manipulate it onto the model. I ended up using another decal from my spare Belcher Bits sheet, cut it up into individual small sections, and managed to apply it that way. Similar issues, but to a lesser extent, were encountered with the large fuselage side numbers. The tail boom lettering took three tries (thank goodness for those two decals sheets) before I could get the decals to lay down straight, and conform to the reinforcing strake on the tail boom. I ended up getting the decals to settle into their spots and then applied a mixture of white glue and Solvaset to make sure the decals stayed down.


I have to say I was disappointed in the decals. I tried soaking the decals in very hot water to try to soften the carrier film, but to no avail. Straight Solvaset wouldn’t even faze them. I will give Belcher Bits high marks for an interesting, well printed set of markings, but, whew! - not user friendly at all due to the stiff carrier film.

Weathering and Completion

I obtained small stenciling from various spare decal sheets in the spares box and applied some weathering to the model prior to an overcoat of a 50/50 mix of Testor’s Dullcote and Glosscote to get a satin sheen. The main rotor hub was airbrushed with Floquil’s Old Silver and assembled straight out of the box. I did add the prominent hard-eye ring on the top with a small bit of formed wire, though, just to dress it up a bit. Some minor additional weathering with some brownish grey water colour was added to highlite some of the surface detail. The last bit to be added was the antenna wire to the underside of the tail, to which I added a small red decal “flag”.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view full-sized images:

Model, Description and Images Copyright © 2004 by Geoff McDonell
Page Created 26 February, 2004
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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