Boeing MH-47E SOA Chinook
by Anthony "Pappy" Papadis
Originally conceived and designed in the sixties, the venerable Chinook has continued to keep pace with the times and today still serves with many armed forces and civilian users.
The subject of this build is the MH-47E “SOA” , a variant used by the United States special forces to operate deep behind enemy lines. Although based on the CH-47D, it would be like comparing the family Commodore to a HSV special, outwardly similar but that’s all!
The MH-47E features composite rotor blades, enlarged fuel tanks, an extensive sensor suite (including active and passive countermeasures), upgraded avionics for instrumentation and navigation, radar and two miniguns for self protetction. Externally, the prominent recognition features are the larger fuel tanks, the in-flight re-fuelling boom, the radar pod on the left hand side, a longer nose to house more radar and the plethora of antennas.
Oh and it comes in any colour ……….so long as it is black!
Italeri originally issued the kit, however it has been re-boxed by Revell. The italeri kit is about half the price of the Revell kit, but the Revell kit includes a more extensive decal sheet printed by Cartograpgh, however it is about twice the price for essentially the same kit! The MH-47E does not have extensive markings applied, so I decided to save money and opt for the Italeri boxing.
The big difference here is that the MH-47E has a “glass” cockpit, including an instrument panel with with four prominent MFD’s (TV screens). The Italeri panel represents an analogue panel that is not even close. I therefore decided to scrape off the panel ‘detail’ and begin again. I made the four MFD’s using squares of .005” plastic sheet, and simulated the remaining analogue gages using squares of .005” sheet whose centres had been punched out with a punch and die set.
- I also added wiring looms to the rear of the instrument panel and four ‘boxes’ to represent the MFD rear sections.
- The seats had armor added to their sides
- A bulkhead and iring was added to the rear of the nose radar
Incidentally, the instructions show the instalation of the collectives (part 3A) facing the opposite direction. The correct orientation is with the handle facing to the rear, opposite to what Italeri have depicted in the instructions.
As the rear doors would be raised, I decided to barely detail the cabin. I limited myself to simply applying some wine bottle foil to the forward cabin section that I had embossed a ‘diamond’ pattern onto to represent the sound proofing, and a couple of intercom leads for the loadmaster/gunners.
To represent the red seat webbing, I simply painted the red strapping onto the window interiors.
Italeri provide the larger fuel tanks (60/61D), however to install them, you must cut along the engraved line provided. I was loathing this step, and began with several light passes using an Olfa P-cutter. I was soon rewarded with a very neat opening which I only gave a few quick swipes with a file to clean up any burrs. The new, larger fuel tanks were offered up and a very neat join resulted.
Although this part went well, later when the fuselage halves were mated, I found I had alignment and fit issues with the lower belly section (36A). If I was to build this kit again, I would suggest that the cabin interior is dry fitted and that the belly section is temporarily attached after the two fuel tank sections are glued to their respective fuselage half.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
The flat cabin windows were added at this stage, but I left off the bulged windows, as these could be added at the end and it would simplify masking. Similarly, the gun mounts (90D) were also left off. The cockpit/cabin section was added, and the forward and aft rotor shaft assemblies (G &F) were also trapped in between the fuselage halves. This was then set aside to dry.
The Mh-47E is fitted with composite rotor blades. These differ to the earlier metal blades in having a broader chord ie they are wider, and they also have a 55° blade cuff at the root. Italeri have correctly supplied the wider chord blades, however the blade cuffs are still at 90°. I made a simple 55° template and cut the blade roots. A few quick passes with a file corrected cleaned these up.
Whilst looking at my references, I noticed that Italeri had got the front and rear rotor hubs confused.
The yaw dampers should trail the blades. The correct part for the front rotor hub is 73A, whilst the rear rotor hub should be part number 71A.
It pays to check your references!!
The engine pods and their inlet ‘bullets’ were assembled, however the exhausts were not added to simplify the painting. I also left of the conical air filters (58A,59A). After the glue has set, I found that no filler was required.
The fuselage was re-visited at this point. I cleaned up the upper fuselage seam, and again no filler was required. I then added the forward and rear sections of the rear rotor housing (19A &20A).
At this point I noticed that there was a step between the rear section (20A) and the rear rotor housing. It was not great but it was annoying. In retrospect, I think it would have been better to attach these parts to one fuselage half, let them set-up overnight and then when the two fuselage halves are attached. Card shims could be used to ensure good alignment. The step was remedied with a small amount of filler and the panel details were re-scribed.
The engine access panels on the forward and rear rotor housings are also a little too deep. I used several coats of Mr Surfacer 500 to fill them up a little and make them less prominent.
The engine pods were attached to the fuselage, and some filler was needed to fair these into the fuselage. Once done, the intake ‘bullets’ were attached, making sure their alignment was correct.
The fuselage lower section was attached at this point. It seems that my lack of foresight when gluing the larger fuel tanks now came back to bite me. The fit was poor around the sections that the forward wheel units attach to, and there was a largish gap at the front right. I used bits of plastic card to shim the gap and once sanded back, the remaining seams had super glue applied and they were all sanded back. The panel details that were lost were re-scribed, a simple matter as they are basically just straight lines.
The rear ramp and door wee added, and a small amount of filler was required around the upper door corners. The various lumps and bumps representing the IR and missile launch sensors were added to the rear rotor housing. I also noticed that the instructions would have you fit some of these bits (101D and 55D) too far forward. They should sit further back, at the trailing edge of the rear rotor housing (20A).
I was not happy with the large antenna array on the left fuselage. Apart from not wanting to clean up the mould seam on these small parts, the parts are overscale.
I replaced the antenna (97D) with a new item bent from brass rod. The antenna supports (98D) were made replaced with plastic rod.
The legs of the flare ejector units (44D & 48D) were replaced with fine wire.
The sensor underneath the chin (95D) was too short and incorrect, so a now item was made from plastic rod
An additional sensor was added next to it as Italeri forgot to include it
The position for the two landing lights was drilled out. After painting, two acetate lenses were added using a punch and die set.
Grab handles were added to the fuselage right hand side.
Fuel caps were added from punched out styrene discs
The windscreen wipers were replaced with scratch built items.
A set of the mesh screens on the rear rotor housing was filled in as these are not present on the MH-47E. The front of the rear rotor housing had a central seam inscribed to represent the clamshell doors.
The moulded on mesh screens of the rear rotor housing were replaced with some fine brass mesh from K&S. The front rotor housing had a fine mesh screen added to its rear as this item was not represented by Italeri.
The winch support arms were replaced with new items made from fine brass. The prominent external wiring was represented with fine wire and lead foil. The winch also had a clear window added to the front using scrap acetate and a punch and die set.
Italeri represents the sensors in the forward rotor housing by simply moulding some depressions in the transparency (169C), which I found unconvincing. The sensor bay area was cut out, backed with plastic and new sensors made from plastic sheet. A new transparency was made from some clear plastic I sourced from some scrap acetate packaging.
The antenna on the front of the rotor housing (60A) was replaced with a new item made from fine wire.
The miniguns had some electrical wiring added. Their spent shell ejector chutes (104D&106D) should have a prominent ribbed appearance. Most of this detail will be lost after the mould seam is sanded off so I replaced it by wrapping fine wire around the kit items. The ends were drilled out to make them appear hollow. These minigun assemblies were then put aside.
I began by spraying the upper fuselage with flat black acrylic. I then masked out the upper fuselage walkways.
- The kit was sprayed overall with Tamiya NATO black acrylic. Once satisfied, I then used a mixture of NATO black lightened about 20% white. This was thinned and sprayed into the centre of the panels
- The same treatment was applied to the rotor blades
- I then used a mixture that was lightend about 10% to blend the two areas.
- A panel wash of dirty black was run into the panel lines using oils.
- Future floor wax was applied to the areas where decals (what few there were) would be applied.
- The decal was applied directly to a puddle of Future and then immediately sealed with another layer of Future. This sandwich method can sometimes appear & foggy and cloudy, but as it dries it will dry clear!
- The masking was removed from the upper walkways, and some ground pastels (applied dry) were added for a slightly dusty look.
- Small paint chips were added to high wear areas using a fine brush and thin yellow paint, some were highlighted further with silver.
The decals were added. I used the kit decals except for the “UNITED STATES ARMY” legend on the fuel tanks. This should be in olive drab, however the decals have this printed in black. Cobra company make a decal sheet that just has “UNITED STATES ARMY” printed in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scale olive drab letters. After unsuccessfully attempting to buy this sheet and the following flurry of e-mails, some fellow U.S modellers (Alby Moore and Grant Little) helped me out .
- A very thin (80%thinners) mixture of NATO black was applied over all the deacls to tone them down a little and tie them into the main scheme.
The window masking was removed and the sub-assemblies were added, ie wheels, in-flight re-fuelling probe, antennas etc. I also picked out details like the navigation lights, winch wiring etc.
Overall, the Italeri kit provides the basis for a good replica of the MH-47E. A couple of pitfalls await the unwary, due to the errors in the instructions, but hopefully my experiences will prevent others from making the same mistakes. I thoroughly enjoyed the build and the kit was built in about a month of weekends over the Christmas break. Out of the box a good model will result, however with some extra work, a fine replica will result,