Monday, August 13, 2012

Tomahawk Assault Transport Helicopter

I never owned a Tomahawk as a kid.  It was one of the few items I would really have loved, but just never managed to save up enough allowance for.  So while completing my Dragonfly restoration, I started accumulating the parts for this project.  I've actually had them all for a little while now, but the backlog of other projects has kept me from diving into it until now.  Like the Dragonfly, I wanted to pack as much 'real world' detail in as I could manage, so I knew it wouldn't be a matter of slapping new decals on and calling it 'done'.

 
Day One (08/12/2012) - The entire helo was disassembled and the decals were stripped off.  A fellow customizer suggested that I use WD-40 to soften up the crusty old adhesive residue.  I had used Goo Gone for this in the past, and it worked far better than the WD-40 did in this case - however, the Goo Gone tended to strip away the factory paint and I really didn't want to have to fix it afterward.  So WD-40 and elbow grease was the name of the game.  It took a while, but eventually it got the job done.  Once I was satisfied with the adhesive removal, I washed every single piece in warm water using Dawn dishwashing liquid to scrub them clean.  This entire process took a few hours, so when I was done, I laid out all of the parts to dry overnight and called it a day.

Day Two (08/13/2012) - Today I spent a while Googling images of the interior of military troops transport helicopters to augment the memories I had of a few hundred flights I took in the Marines.  It turns out that not very much has changed in the twelve years since I left active duty.  The interior of every modern helo I looked at was light grey, so I spray painted the insides of the engine covers and the two fuselage halves with a light primer grey. Not only is this more accurate to real military helos, but the lighter color should help to make the interior details far more visible.

 
As long as I was spray painting, I took the detachable engine pieces and spray painted them a metallic gunmetal color.  It's not too different from their original color, but now they look metallic, rather than grey plastic.  I taped off the tail ramp and sprayed the deck surfaces with this color, as well.


Day Three (08/14/2012) - I taped off the areas around the sculpted engine panels on the fuselage halves and spray painted them black.  Once dry, I gave them a light shot of the metallic gunmetal.  While they were drying, I move on to detailing the deck plate.  The seat covers were painted flat black in accordance with my reference photos.  I added the cockpit decal along with some extras.  I did the same thing for the troop bay, painting the sculpted details and adding some extra decals.




My next step was improving the weapons package on this thing.  I love that they included door guns with this, but they looked like some sort of weird lasers, so I chopped them off and kept the mounts.  A little work with the X-acto knife and the mounts were able to support an M-2 .50 caliber machinegun on the port side and a Mk-19 40mm machinegun on the starboard side.  Not only are these both real world weapon systems, but they are a significant upgrade to what we started with.



Day Four (08/18/2012) - Today, I added a little more detail to the interior - especially the cockpit.  It's a little hard to get a decent camera angle that will show the cockpit instrument panel, so you'll have to take my word for it.


I also started adding the ordnance.  I decided to spruce up the larger white missiles with some yellow striping, a painted fuse tip and a small decal so that they bore a reasonable resemblance to the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile.



The smaller grey bombs are being repainted in a 'standard' HE paint scheme - olive drab with yellow markings and silver fuses.  I hope to have those done by tomorrow.

Day Five (08/19/2012) - I finished up the bombs when I got home from work this morning.  Once they were added to the wing pylons, all I had left was a bit of weathering.  I used steel paint to touch up anywhere that the camo had been scratched off by the original owner.  This was done for two reasons; first, to simulate the normal wear and tear that all military equipment experiences and second, because it was easier than paint-matching the original color!  I used a butane lighter to carefully darken the areas around the engine exhaust. This is a trick I picked up years ago while customizing Star Wars vehicles. It simulates the carbon build-up around the exhaust ports reasonably well and can be wiped away with a wet paper towel if you decide you don't like it.  Once the helo was finished, I just needed to add the pilot, Lift Ticket, and the co-pilot, Glenda.







When I have some time, I will find a good spot outdoors and do some 'combat photography' with the Tomahawk.  This project was a lot of fun. I hope you dig it!

12 comments:

  1. This is going to be incredible!

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    1. Man, I sure hope so - because I've built it up to epic proportions in my mind!

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    1. I have a feeling that this is going to end up frustrating me endlessly, because I'll have less time to work on it than I'd like. Most of the time, I can finish a figure (or multiples) in a couple hours. These vehicle projects always take so much longer...

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  3. It's even better cuz I contributed parts to it

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    1. And I appreciate your contribution, Wert!

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  4. i like what im seeing so far the gun up grade is awesome!

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  5. Stellar! How did you get it apart though? I didn't want to crack the joints so I just cleaned it up. Very nice work Don!

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    1. It was split when I acquired it. Whoever did it, caused some minor damage, but it was nothing that ended up being visible after I reassembled it.

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  6. Looks great, tempts me to do an upgrade on mine. But as it is the first vehicle I ever bought I think I will leave it as is.

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