Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Building a UH-1D for an FNG Scenario.

For some time now we have played FNG published by Two Hour Wargames. The games have tended to involve the Americans approaching a Vietnamese village and being ambushed by the Vietcong. These games are interesting, but the lack of firepower on the Vietcong side tends to make the outcome pretty clear from the outset, with the only real challenge for the American commander being to suffer as few casualties as possible, before the Vietcong are either wiped out or do the sensible thing and scarper!

Having spent a couple of hours, one afternoon last year, watching Blackhawk Down on DVD, I came up with the idea of creating a Vietnam scenario where a helicopter had been shot down and the crew had to be rescued before the local Vietcong could get their hands on them. Clearly, such a scenario would need a nice helicopter model as its centrepiece.

Looking round my usual wargames suppliers proved a fruitless search, as I couldn’t find anything in 20mm scale and, even if I could, the usual white metal or resin casting wouldn’t really fit the bill in terms of ‘distressing’ the model to make it look as though it had just taken a tumble from 500 feet!

Reluctantly, I started to search for a 1:72 scale model kit that I could use for the job. I say ‘reluctantly’, because I’m not really into constructing model kits and I’ve always been pretty useless at it anyway. It was this last point that convinced me that this was going to be the best way forward as I did, after all, want a model that looked as though it had been badly battered in a ‘Blackhawk Down’ sort of way.

After a quick search on Google, I found a UH-1D model made by Italeri. I really know precious little about Vietnam War helicopters, so I just hoped that this was the appropriate model I needed to play the role of my downed helicopter.

I enclose a picture of the box simply because I think the art work is really good and also because I am genuinely sorry to any Vietnam aficionados, veterans or other interested parties if I’ve been a complete idiot and bought something that is totally wrong for the purpose I intended it for. If that is the case and you are not happy then please read no further.

To be fair, I did spend a lot of time searching round for information about the UH-1D as used in Vietnam, but at the end of the day, my model was only intended for use on the wargames table and not as an exhibit in a museum, so I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out.

This, indeed, is how it turned out. I think with hindsight, I might have done quite a bit more ‘distressing’ but, as construction developed, I got quite fond of the model and found it distressing to do the ‘distressing’! So, I sort of snapped a few bits here and there and tried not to worry too much where I made a mess of things with the polystyrene cement.

Leaving out the wind shield was one of the easier parts of ‘distressing’ the model!

Application of the decals was something of which I had no previous experience, so I assumed that if they were in the box then they must be appropriate for my Vietnam UH-1D.

The wasp decal for the front of the helicopter was the bit I enjoyed doing most. Even it’s not right for my Vietnam scenario it is there to stay because I really like it!

The crew figures for the scenario came from Britannia Miniatures and, as usual, they were easy to paint and quickly ready for action.

With the model complete all that remains is to find the time to fight the battle. If my Vietcong get as close to the ‘Huey’ as this on the day, I shall be very pleased, however, I think the fire power of the crew and the impending arrival of the rescue party might just prove too much for Kung Po Phat and his brave band of warriors!

 I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together.

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