by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ] (photos and kit history by Alan Bussie)
Welcome to the first review of the late-great Aurora Model Company range of 1/48 helicopters! Kaman HOK-1 “Egg Beater” was kitted in 1956 as kit Nr. 505-69; “-69” was the MSRP of 69¢, and one got a cool model for that. We’ll judge this venerable kit today.
Special thanks to Alan Bussie of Old Model Kits for his contribution of kit release notes, as well as making this model available for this review.
Kaman HH-43B Huskie/HOK-1
Aurora’s Kaman Model K-600 (Kaman Aircraft’s designation) model is of a unique helicopter flown by the United State’s Air Force, Marines, and Navy. Decals are included for all three of the services, as well as for the US Army, for which I can find no history of. Although Aurora marketed it as the USMC HOK-1, as it was essentially the same aircraft (Except the HOK-1 was powered by the R-1340-52 radial piston engine engine while USAFM’s Husky had a turbine engine), I offer USAFM’s history of the machine.
We are happy to announce that Oldmodelkits.com has received exclusive license from the French Line to produce and sell the 1/350 SS Normandie Ocean Liner model kit! The first batch are ready to ship. These are limited run kits in resin with photoetched details.
Photo of the first production model, built by Ken Friend
If you have ever wondered what goes into making a model, then please read on! If you plan on buying a 1/350 Normandie, please continue so you will know what went into your personal model.
Alan: In 2007 Ken Friend and I decided to make a model kit. It was not a sudden decision, but the result of two life-long dreams. I had been seriously investigating making a number of unique models but I lacked certain necessary skills. Ken had wanted to produce a model also and did possess the numerous skills that I lacked- IPMS National Award Winner, CAD expert, early 3D printing engineer for GM and a mold maker/caster.
by: Frederick Boucher (with kit release notes by Alan Bussie)
Welcome to the final review of the late-great Aurora Model Company series of 1/48 missiles! “Nike Hercules Guided Missile with Launching Platform” was kitted in the late 1950s as kit 379-129. “-129” was the MSRP of $1.29, and one got a lot of model for that. We’ll judge this venerable kit today.
Aurora Nike Hercules dated 1958
Development of the MIM-14 Nike Hercules took place in the early 1950s and deployment commenced in
Two locomotives met at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869, signaling the completion of the transcontinental railroad. This is now the Golden Spike National Historic Site located in Utah north of the Great Salt Lake. Replicas of the two engines meet there again during reenactments. The wide open spaces and the gently rolling hills make it a beautifully poignant location.
The completed models
When I saw a model of the General offered for sale on the Internet, I thought it might make a very cool model of the Golden Spike meeting. Of course I would need two models. I have a garden railroad in 1/29 scale and my father and grandfather worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. I have specialized in 1/32 scale aircraft for many years. In other words, I like modeling and railroading so this was a great project.
In the salad days of the early atomic and jet ages, Cold War fears pushed the envelope of aerospace design and an atomic powered strategic bomber was seriously considered. Convair, Lockheed and Northrop (perhaps others) submitted proposals for such a plane and reactor-fuel concept engines were built. And if a nuclear powered jet bomber isn’t growling-Geiger counter-cool enough for you, consider the zany nuclear powered Mach III SLAM (Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile) of Project Pluto† streaking just above the tree tops, spewing radioactive particles in its wake and lobbing H-bombs. Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s dream come true!
SLAM (Project Pluto), three popular Atomic Bomber concepts and the nuclear turbojet engine (click any to enlarge)
USAF was not the only air force to explore an aerial nuke plant- the Soviets did, too. And Hawk was not the only model company to kit a fanciful model of that radiant subject. Aurora kited the Russian Nuclear Powered Bomber shown below and also reviewed on this website.
The original magazine article and the resulting Aurora Kit (click any to enlarge)
Your humble reviewer built this marvellous model aeons ago – I still have the parasite fighters from it! It was, in the lexicon of the era, one cool kit!
“hawk” or “Hawk”?
OK, was it hawk or Hawk? Their logo was ‘always’ spelled in lowercase. Yet the company name as printed on the instruction sheet is capitalized. While I personally want to use hawk, henceforth I will punctuate it as a proper name: “Hawk.”
Hawk, like Aurora, liked to be first to put new concepts into a kit. Combining Atomic Power and the parasite fighters, Hawk issued this kit in 1959, shortly after conceptual drawings of Nuclear Powered Bombers appeared in popular magazines. The first issue was in a sturdy hardbox (a thick cardboard upper box lid and tray, with the top covered with a lithographed paper ‘slick) and was given part number 514-98. This exact artwork layout was used in the second issue (roughly 1961) with no changes other than the part number. It was changed to 514-100.
In the chill of the Cold War a golden age of aviation inspired many new aerospace vehicles, including surface-to-air missiles. One was the supersonic, long-range anti-aircraft Bomarc missile. The USAF originally categorized it as a fighter aircraft and designated it F-99. Later they re-designating it IM-99A and IM-99B after 1955, and finally CIM-10 after the McNamara Sept. 1962 dumb-down.
Bomarc Base #1 with missiles in launch position (courtesy Wikipedia)
Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it isn’t so strange that I never saw them at my hometown hobby outlets. In fact, I was not even aware that many existed until the advent of online sites.
Aurora wasted little time detecting and acquiring information to cut tooling and produce injection molded models of those contemporary subjects. Their goal was to be to market first with the latest – and they were! The Boeing “Bomarc IM-99 Intercepter- [sic] Missile With Mobile Launching Platform- Newest Weapon for America’s Defense” was released in 1958. Aurora scaled it to 1/48. It was packaged in an Aurora standard “long box” carton, a sturdy cardboard conventional lid-tray design. Dramatic box art shows a Bomarc searing skyward from its launcher into the atmosphere to smite commie inbounds. In an effort to maximize mold utilization, Aurora issued this model as two kits (just like the Regulus II). 377-198, the subject of this review, was the Bomarc with a working launching. At nearly double the price, this kit featured completely new box artwork, decals and instructions. The traditional Aurora stand was not included, presumably because the launcher doubles as one.
As the Cold War deepened, aerospace companies developed delivery systems for nukes that lessened hazards to pilots. Cruise missiles and “stand off” weapons were developed and deployed and model companies developed and delivered kits of them almost as fast as the military received the real things – or sooner, as in the case of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal!
Rascal on the transporter
Monogram Models, Inc created this amazing 1/48 model of the Bell GAM-63 Rascal. It was released in 1958, with the kit number PD42-98; “-98” was the recommended retail price of a whopping 98¢! More than just a model attack missile, this kit included a tractor with a transporter loader, and a trio of figures. It also boasted “action” features such as folding missile fins and a positionable loader. Like many of the vintage missile models reviewed, this model was a surprise to me.
PD-42-98 Rascal GAM-63 Missile by Monogram
As amazing as this model is, it was only released by Monogram for a short time, perhaps because Strategic Air Command did not field the weapon. But more likely it was because model missile sales, after great initial success, completely stalled. This lead to very short issues of one to three years on average. This has made them very popular among collectors today.
Your humble reviewer has been planning to present this model for years as the Cheyenne has always intrigued me. The AH-56 was an aesthetically odd helicopter designed in the aerodynamic transient era of rounded and squared contours. It had an airplane propeller for thrust and a great looking airframe behind a goofy looking canopy and nose that resembled a cartoon AV8 Harrier! Yet the machine was so fast that during test flights nobody had a helicopter that could keep up with it. Army aviation had to procure some refurbished WWII P-51 Mustangs to chase this raging rotorwing across the sky! The AH-56 was able to perform aerobatics and there are many minutes of AH-56 video available on the internet.
The AH-56 Cheyenne Story
AH-56 was designed to fit the requirements of the US Army’s Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) program (1964-71). The helicopter won the competition and the first prototype flew (unofficially) in September 1966. AH-56 was expected to enter service in 1968, but the program was terminated and the helicopter never advanced beyond prototype stage.
While the AAFSS was won by the Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne, Bell had entered a scaled-down version of its Iroquois Warrior and the other competitor was the Sikorsky (S-66) (1964) which looked similar to the AH-56A Cheyenne, but had a Rotorprop tail rotor which could rotate on it’s axis through 90 degrees to act both as an anti-torque rotor or as a pusher, thereby transforming the S-66 into a compound aircraft in cruising flight.
In a golden age of aviation tarnished by the Cold War, many new aircraft were produced, including what became known as cruise missiles. One was the mach 2 Chance Vought SSM-N-9 Regulus II. Aurora was always quick to machine molds for injection molded kits of warfare’s latest & greatest technical achievements, and the Regulus II supersonic cruise missile was no exception. Issued in 1958 as kit 132-129, it scales to 1/48. The “129” was Aurora’s MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price $1.29), a part of the box despised by retailers since they often wanted to set their own price by demand. Aurora also issued a kit of the missile with a ground launcher, kit 378-249.
Kit #132-129, still in the factory seal
Most of these kits came out before I was born so perhaps it is not so strange that I never saw them at my childhood hobby outlets: City Cycle Hobby Shop, Bell or Davis Drug Stores, Value Village, Kresge, Woolworths, Sears, or JC Pennys. In fact, I never even knew most such kits existed until the advent of online sites!
Long range commercial aviation was dominated in the early 1950s by aircraft like the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7, Lockheed’s L-749 and L-1069 Constellation and Boeing’s Model 377 Stratocruiser. But the sound of the future could already be heard in the whine of the turbojet engine, which was soon to be powering aircraft such as the deHavilland Comet, Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.
Early reciprocating and jet aircraft kits (click any to enlarge)
But for a time at least, it seemed that there was yet another type of engine that would be suitable for commercial aircraft, one that would bridge the gulf between the traditional reciprocating engines and the new turbojets.
Introduced in 1953, the Vickers Viscount became the world’s first airliner to be powered by turboprop engines. Both Capitol and Continental Airlines operated the Viscount in the US, but with an initial capacity of around 50 passengers, it was seen as a bit too small for some routes. Therefore, American Airlines had asked Lockheed for a similar aircraft that could instead seat 75 100 and their response was their Model L188. Lockheed chose to revive the name Electra for the new airliner from their 1930’s vintage Model 10. The most famous Model 10 was the one flown by Amelia Earhart.