The Sikorsky Black Hawk MH-60M is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky submitted the S-70 design for the United States Army's Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition in 1972. The Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected the Black Hawk as the winner of the program in 1976. The UH-60A entered service with the U.S. Army in 1979, to replace the Bell UH-1 Iroquois as the Army's main tactical transport helicopter.
After the April 1980 failure of the Iran hostage rescue mission, Operation Eagle Claw, it was determined that the US Army lacked aircraft and crews who were trained and prepared to perform special operations missions. To remedy this shortcoming, the Army began developing a special aviation task force to prepare for the next attempt to rescue the Iran hostages, Operation Credible Sport. The 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment), also known as the “Night Stalkers”, was born. Even though Op Credible Sport was cancelled when the hostages were released in January 1981, the Army saw the wisdom in having such a force and their associated aircraft. The primary aircraft selected for use was a specially designed version of the Black Hawk designated the MH-60L (MH for Multi-mission Helicopter).
The latest version of Special Ops Black Hawk used by the 160th SOAR is the MH-60M which culminates more than 30 years of technological advancement, improved performance and real world experience. The MH-60M includes all the improvements of the UH-60M design; wider chord rotor blades, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines, improved durability gearbox, Integrated Vehicle Management Systems computer, an all-glass cockpit, better crash protection with improved crash-worthy fuel tanks, energy absorbing landing gear, attenuating gunners’ seats and improved troop seats in the rear, and better ballistic protection against small arms fire. In addition, the MH-60M has the added features that are needed for Special Operations use. These include an external refueling probe, external recovery hoist, folding composite stabilator, a new suite of sensors and aircraft survivability equipment, an upgraded A/N ZSQ-2 Electro-Optical Sensor System (FLIR 2) with day/night views and laser designating capabilities, and a new multi-mode weather/terrain following radar to assist in navigation. The MH-60M is replacing all MH-60L and MH-60K aircraft in the US inventory.
The Cobra Company Set
Once again Cobra Company brings us another great update set for 1/35 Black Hawk helicopters. This set is designed to be used with the Academy AH-60L DAP kit (2217). On first impression, it is really heavy. There is a lot of resin in this set. It contains 74 pieces of very nicely cast resin. There are no bubbles or short-shots, and very minimal flash. The set contains all the pieces you will need to convert a standard Academy AH-60L DAP (actually an MH-60L since the US military doesn’t use the Attack Helicopter - AH - designation with Black Hawks) model into a current MH-60M. The set includes the UH-60M basic airframe conversion (CC # 35033) and the MH-60M specific parts. The Upturned Exhaust System (UES) set (CC # 35035) still remains a separate option for the modeler. Buyers of the MH-60M set will also have the option to purchase the UES Special Edition set (CC # 35035SE) with open exhaust outlets as well. As a note, not all M models have the UES, so either way (HIRSS - as in the kit - or UES) is correct.
The instructions are well written and come on seven full 8 ˝ x 11 inch pages with clear pictures and drawings showing very clearly how to assemble the conversion parts onto the Academy kit. All parts are clearly labeled and laid out well for easy identification. Subassemblies are also shown as the build progresses to demonstrate how the parts are assembled.
The set combines some elements of other Cobra Company sets and all new pieces to make an MH-60M version. The rear cabin takes the sidewall structures and rear cabin wall from their UH-60L Correction / Detail set (CC # 35005). The seamless intakes and turbine faces are also from the UH-60L Correction / Detail set. The exterior has parts from the UH-60 Missile/Threat System set (CC # 35030) such as the front and rear detector mounts. The doors, seats, chaff/flare buckets, cyclic and collectives, and some other smaller interior pieces are from the UH-60 Black Hawk Detail set (CC # 35002).
Some of the new pieces include a totally new instrument panel and glare shield, center console modified to include new mission grips and some smaller panel changes. The overhead console has also been changed to include an additional circuit breaker panel and rotor brake. The crew chief / gunner chairs are the new crashworthy seat design with adjustable bases and a tracked floor. The step sponsons under the pilots’ doors get new end caps and are widened as well. For protection, the set includes new side body laser detectors, smaller APR-39 detectors for the nose and an all new tail APR-39 detector mount. The square, folding rear stabilator has also been totally redesigned to accurately represent the new composite type used on the M model.
The set also includes four new angled tips for the rotor blades. These are the most notable exterior feature on the M model. They have their mating surfaces beveled so they will be easier to match the contours of the Academy blades. The modeler will have to still make four new trim tabs for the blades, but these are easy to do and the instructions show and describe how to do them very well.
The most interesting part of the set is the MH-60M specific parts which comprise 10 individual parts and one large nose section casting that has the multi-mode radar and other sensors already molded onto it. Also included are new sensors for the sides, underside, and rear of the helo and a very nice A/N ZSQ-2 FLIR 2 turret (which was mastered and 3D printed by Werner’s Wings for their upcoming MH-47G set). A note here, as clearly pointed out in the instructions, the side nose sensors are slightly too long on the nose casting. They are easy to correct by cutting the sensor head off, reducing the length of the body, and then gluing the sensor head back on. There is also a note describing how to carefully cut the chin bubble windows to fit the new nose section. With care, they should not be too difficult to do. Also, the instructions are very clear on how to cut the nose off the fuselage and how to add the new nose.
As stated above, this set is very complete. The interior parts replace almost all of the Academy parts. You will be left with very little of the original plastic once done. Additionally, the new parts are much better detailed than the Academy parts. They really dress up the interior. Likewise, the exterior parts are just as nicely done and finely detailed as the interior parts with an expertly cast new nose section. This set is not for the beginner, but an experienced modeler should have no problems making this conversion. I highly recommend this set to build a very detailed, up to date MH-60M. A great addition from Cobra Company.
As an addendum to this review. Cobra Company responded to some of the aforementioned issues here: http://aeroscale.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=19738
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