Thursday, February 18, 2010

"1/144 Heliborne Vol.4 - F-Toys (Analysis)"

Some of you may not have seen the recent set of comments regarding the Heliborne series, so I have taken the unusual step of reposting these are a primary article!

I hope you find them useful and interesting as I did, there is lots of useful information regarding the helicoptors in the Heliborne 4 series and some of the oppertunities and challenges faced with potential conversions:

Dear Friends,

It’s delightful to see that the new F-Toys heliborne edition is coming. I found some better quality pictures on the website, which I used as a references. Before the new models will land on our desks, let me give some comments about the chosen types. I owe You an explanation, that I have started to write these comments just after first message at Kampfgruppe 144 website, but it took me a bit of time, so some informations can double the later posts.

EC-145 / BK-117 -
First let me tell that the designation used by the company is a little confusing, as it refers to the same family of helicopters, but to very different versions.

The BK-117, designed by then MBB in West Germany (currently Eurocpter Germany) and Kawasaki in Japan around 30 years ago, is still one of the most successful helicopters of its class, especially as HEMS/Rescue, corporate or oil rig service rotorcraft. It’s final model, designed at the beginning of new Millenium is the EC.145, which in official factory documents is still named as “BK-117C-2”.

However both these models differ from each other as much as Spitfire Mk I and Mk XVI, or – to look into the cars’ world – VW Golf from 1974 and 2008. The older variants have characteristic box-like fuselage, with its usefulness winning over beauty – see:

The EC.145 fuselage is not only slightly larger, but also more streamlined and stylized. So, retaining all the values of older models, the newest one is also more pleased for an eye, see

So if anyone of You would like to add a real BK-117 into his/her 1:144 collection (eg. famous TV star Medicopter 117, or military Iraqi one), the only chance (except from self – building) is an old Revell snap-tite Mini Kit which is approx. in 1:150 scale. (see the last picture)

The F-Toys model is definitively EC.145 only. However the new model gives us nice opportunities too. The company makes it in three interesting variants, two of which are really very special.

The olive one is an “Americanized” version UH-72A (former UH-145) “Lakota”

This newly introduced type serves as an utility transport / medevac vehicle in continental USA and soon should be seen in Europe. To improve the model I recommend changes of antennas and skid steps plus addition of wire – cutting blades over and below the windscreen and optional rescue winch.

The yellow one is operated by German HEMS company under the name of German National Automobile Club ADAC. Model looks basically correct, especially with its different nose, housing weather radar. However the oversized steps on the landing skids need correction again, see

This ADAC models gives nice opportunities for conversions into the other rescue variants, eg. Swiss REGA (note rescue winch and absence of radar nose) or French Gendarmerie and Securite Civile:

And finally – some pictures of Doctor Heli copter:

Kawasaki – Vertol KV 107 II

This medium weight twin rotor transport helicopter was built by Kawasaki under Boeing Vertol license. It was operated by all three services until the end of 2009. Some examples found their way to civilian operators.

The F-Toys launched the model in three JSDF forces colours and models display both sub-variants of undercarriage sponsons. The smaller are used in non-amphibious variants, while the bigger “sausages” are provided for water landing.

The available models represent three versions:
1) Army Tactical Transport

2) Air Force SAR (Search and Rescue)

3) Navy utility and minesweeping
(note different undercarriage sponsons)


These models will offer interesting opportunities of conversions:

The only problem is the different shape of rear end of fuselage, according to placement of APU turbine.

Compare the following pictures:

It’s important to check the particular example of helicopter, You would like to build.
The perfectionists will show their skills using resin and/or putty, the rest of collectors can just forget about it, turning their models into helicopters operated by:

- USMC or US Navy

Swedish Armed Forces (note unusual radar mount)

Canadian Armed Forces, famous rescue CH-113 Labradors

The history of colours of Canadian Voyageurs and Labradors could be found at the modelers website

Saudi Arabia

Not to forget civilian variants – passenger “air buses” from 1960-ies and 70-ies

…and current workhorses in North America:

AgustaWestland EH.101 (currently AW.101)

The biggest problem is that Japan has purchased this helicopter (plus license rights) in the version originally designed as civilian (passenger), Consequently the airframe has the largest number of windows of all the EH.101s ever built.

It doesn’t matter if the model will represent one of a bit over dozen examples operated by Japanese Naval S. D. Forces(JMSDF) for maritime patrol, minesweeping or sub polar areas research support:

and some more nice pictures at the AgustaWestland’s own website:

However the third member of F-Toys family is something far away from reality.

Its colour suggests Royal Air Force version. But if You would like to add a realistically looking “Merlin” HC.3 to Your collection, some work will be necessary.

First – to correct number, size and shape of all fuselage windows. The more experienced modelers can fill the unwanted “holes”, cut new ones and make an observation “bubbles” e.g. from the transparent foil used for medicines storage (sorry, I don’t know the shortest popular term to describe that thing). Less experienced can just repaint the whole side of fuselage and imitate the windows with black or blue decals.

The British variant will need some more details – RWR receivers, flare launchers and – not every example – the aerial refueling probe.

If You will feel Your window-making skills as well practiced, the next challenges will be easy to face.

The conversions to Canadian CH-149 Cormorant

or Portugal Mk 512
will need careful window check and addition of undernose radome, FLIR head, rescue winch and specific antennas.

The Danish rescue version is more difficult with its unusual asymmetrical nose:

What is rather too big a task is to rebuilt F-Toys model into Naval variant (eg. British Merlin HM.1 or Italian one), due to very different fuselage shape, with completely redesigned rear :

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that I have not bored You with this long comment and that You will find my notes useful.

Best regards,


TonyG said...

Good analysis Milosz,
My prime interest is the RAF Merlin but its a damn shame that getting is a problem.

Although I'm hoping the kit with the Anigrand Nimrod MR2 will fill that gap....

Anonymous said...

The Anigrand one is very nice but we are still short of the navalised version.