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!
2 weeks ago