by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Originally published on:
The MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird (nicknamed the Killer Egg or Flying Egg), and its attack variant AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor. The newest version, the MH-6M, is based on the MD 530F and has a single, six-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
The OH-6 was started in 1960 when the U.S. Army issued Technical Specification 153 for a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) that could perform personnel transport, escort and attack missions, casualty evacuation, and observation. Twelve companies took part in the competition and Hughes Tool Company's Aircraft Division submitted the Model 369. Two designs, those submitted by Fairchild-Hiller and Bell, were selected as finalists by the Army-Navy design competition board, but the Army later included the helicopter from Hughes as well.
The first Model 369 prototype flew on 27 February 1963. Originally designated the YHO-6A under the army's designation system, the aircraft was redesignated the YOH-6A under the Department of Defense's new joint system in 1962. Five prototypes were built, each fitted with a 252 hp (188 kW) Allison T63-A-5A engine, and delivered to the U.S. Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama to compete against the other 10 prototype aircraft submitted by Bell and Fairchild-Hiller. In the end, Hughes won the competition and the Army awarded a contract for production in May 1965. The initial order was for 714 aircraft, but that was later increased to 1,300 with an option to buy another 114. Seventy helicopters were built in the first month.
This agile, unarmed helicopter is outfitted with outboard "benches" designed to ferry up to three commandos on each side. There is also a gunship variant, the AH-6. Painted black for nighttime operations, this small aircraft can conduct rapid insertions and extractions of special operations forces into areas its larger brother, the MH-60 Black Hawk, cannot.
Some of the operations that these little bird/nightstalkers have participated in
Operation Gothic Serpent Operation in Somalia
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Operation Celestial Balance Baraawe Raid
In September 2009, two AH-6 and two MH-6 helicopters were used in an operation in Somalia by U.S. Navy SEALs to kill wanted terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.
The box is quite sturdy of cardboard bottom and thinner cardboard top, the artwork is for me is stunning and very much Black Hawk Down film like.
The contents of this box are as follows.
1. Four light grey sprues which contain the main AH/MH-6J and armament
2. One small box containing the cockpit glazing for the AH/MH-6J
3. One small decal sheet
4. Two photo-etch sheets
5. One instruction booklet
The first impressions of opening this kit can only be described as very excited since the day that the news came that Kitty Hawk were going to be doing the Little Bird Nightstalkers I was counting down the days. Opening the box the first thing I saw was the main body of the helicopter I had not realised just how small the AH-6J was, hence the name little bird.
The build itself starts off with the engine and exhaust system before moving onto the office of the AH-6J, looking at the flying controls and main instrument display panel is quite seriously just like the Kitty Hawk Huey it has been really well researched and the detail is absolutely stunning.
So going back to the main instrument panel, all the control dials and instruments are all well represented some with raised faces and dials all of which are very detailed. The central control panel has all the switches and levers as per photos of the real cockpit centre consul of an AH-6J. With good painting skills, it would be very easy to paint the cockpit rather than use the decal sheets provided. The collective and cyclic controls are well detailed and fit into the centre consul along with detailed control levers and MFDs. Another nice looking, touch here is the rudder pedals and the fact that these are built in individual parts that even move! Two separate multifunction display screens one for the pilot and one for the co-pilot, another nice touch is the added decals for the display screens.
Armoured seats for the pilot and crew are provided as well as photo-etch seatbelts.
The engine is a full engine build and can be seen via the clamshell engine doors that can be mounted in an open position, or left off completely to reveal the engine and exhaust system. The engine is well detailed, but some of the detail is somewhat small and fine parts that look easy enough to break without care when cutting from the sprue.
As the build of the engine progresses it is then mounted into its own frame making this more realistic and well thought out by Kitty Hawk this then becomes the bulkhead of the cockpit
The glazing for the cockpit comes next, and as I have already said and gone on about, I wished more companies would place the clear sprues cockpit glazing etc into a cardboard box. The main part is the front cockpit glazing and is very large and at first, I thought that there was some distortion when looking through the bottom of the curve, however, on moving it so I was looking through it at a slightly different angle, it was clear and without distortion. The overall feel and look are good the clear doors are a really nice addition but in most books and internet searches that I have done, I did not find any of the AH-6J helicopters with any doors on them. I am sure there is AH/MH that did have doors just check your own references for this. The clear sprues also carry aviation/ navigation lights.
The floor plan of the helicopter has raised ridges and on the underside of the floor are some locating holes that you can drill out depending on what option you choose to build. For the troop carrier the MH-6J the cross member support and planks can be added, or if you prefer the AH-6J then the intricate lightweight universal mounting platform added for mounting any of the weapons systems. ( I would consult your reference photos at this point)
Some very detailed ammunition boxes are included for the weapon systems that sit in the back of the helicopter.
Once you have decided on your option and built the appropriate parts the interior is then encased in the main body of the helicopter. At this point, it is the various aerials intakes and aviation lighting.
The parts of the tail boom are small (still trying to get my head around the fact that this is a very small helicopter even in 1/35th scale) the tail stabiliser and rotor are detailed.
The main rotor blades I really like not only are they curved very realistically, but the hub in which you connect the blades too, fit into pins on said hub making this a really nice eye-pleasing part. This then fits onto of the helicopter to complete the build.
Weapons that are provided with this offering from Kitty Hawk single piece moulded AGM-114 Hellfires two for each side. The mounts for the Hellfires will need some work to remove injector pin marks to be able to fit the mount on the helicopter.
M260 FFAR2.75” 7-Rocket pods
M260 FFAR 2.75” 12-Rocket pods.
2 x 7.62 MG-134 both of the builds on the miniguns are very intricate but also comes with a very detailed with photo-etch feed chutes.
.50BMG GAU-19 Gatling gun with some photo-etch parts included for this gun.
The instruction book is what I would call typical Kitty Hawk with its full colour pull out profiles which I wished more companies would take on this approach as I feel it really helps when it comes to the time of painting and decals for the aircraft/ helicopter.
The instruction book is 24 pages of which 15 pages are instructions with 23 build parts to it 5 pages being for the double page colour profiles for the five options.
The instructions don’t show everything how it should be certain when it comes to the different weapons or different options that clearly, other than this the actual build parts are clear and straightforward to follow.
1. US, Army, MH-6J, (95-25371) Operation in Somalia
2. US, Army, AH-6J, 160th SOAR (160th Special Operations Aviation Regiments.)
3. US, Army, AH-6J (90-223635) Operation in Somalia
4. US, Army, AH-6J (90-25362) Operation in Somalia
Another great kit from Kitty Hawk A helicopter that is very well detailed and full of options weapons wise. The attention to detail in the cockpit is just amazing and you can see so much potential for not just the aircraft/helicopter modeller but being 1/35th and being so small the armour modeller will see this as a great addition to a diorama.
There is some, what I would call light flash on some of the plastic which I think is going to be very easy to clean, there are some minor issues around the instructions themselves mainly in the options but this should not prove a major issue.
I found so many positives to this kit that I just cannot wait to build it, but first I will do some research and see if anyone has any 1/35th scale crew, more importantly, some 1/35th special forces in a sitting position that could sit on the out riding planks for interdiction/ extraction work.
I am personally very happy with this kit from Kitty Hawk for not just the comments that I have already spoken about, but for the subject itself and the fact it looks likely that further options for different little birds will be added to Kitty Hawk line up in the near future.