Adding Scale Details
The first thing you must decide when building a scale helicopter, obviously, is which full-size helicopter you want to duplicate. Once you have decided this and picked a fuselage, you have to choose a color scheme that you feel you can recreate. Get lots of pictures of the real thing and you’re set to go.
Once you’ve received your fuselage, you’ll realize that there are very few scale details such as panel lines, rivets, hinges, vents etc. This is where scale building really starts to get interesting and the only limits are your own imagination and creativity.
In this section, I’ll let you know some of the items and methods I have used.
The base of the antenna is made from 7/16” wood dowel that was covered with Spot Putty, sanded, primed and spray painted with automotive white lacquer. The front part is a piece of 1/16” steel pushrod. The front portion is removable, as the helicopter is too long for my truck with it on. It is held on with a grub screw that goes into the dowel from the bottom. At the rear end, I’ve added two wires that run into the fuse as the real thing uses.
Left Cockpit Window:
A new window was made to replace the original flat one that came with the fuselage. The Coast Guard 212 has a bubble window on the left for use when long-lining. I made this using a small vacuum former and .030 plastic.
The small window was also added to duplicate the real thing. The glass was made to fit the curve of the door with the vacuum former. You can just make out the two gauges placed on a shelf inside for the pilot slinging from the left seat. The reason for the left seating position is because on the right seating position the collective stick is uncomfortable to reach while stretched out into a bubble window.
The bearpaw is made from a piece of 1/8” plastic shim material used for setting stones in building construction. It was cut and shaped to match the original and then sanded to give it a dull look. The mounting hardware is copper strap and angle from the hobby shop.
Emergency Floatation Kit:
The emergency floats are made from pink Styrofoam epoxied to 1/8” aircraft ply. The ply was soaked in water and clamped down during drying to create a curved shape to match the curve of the fuselage. The real floats appear to be covered in a rubberized canvas material. To try and copy this, I covered the Styrofoam with a light cloth (triangular bandage from a First Aid Kit) being careful not to pull it too tight. The real float covers have wrinkles on them. The cloth was coated with Finishing Resin, primed until most of the weave of the cloth was filled and topcoated with Rust-O-leum Grey paint.
Because the front doors of the rear cabin do not open on my model, I made the hinges out of .030 plastic sheet. Each piece was cut out and sanded to shape. The hinge pin is a copper pin.
Panels Lines: These can be made by placing 1/32” or 1/16” tape on the fuse and spraying a few coats of primer over them. Carefully pull the tape off, lightly sand and re-prime and you’re done.
Rivets: Rivets can be made quite easily using a syringe and white glue. Lay out your lines using photos of the original and place a drop of glue on the fuselage where you want the rivets. Be careful not to let the tip of the needle touch the fuselage. With practice, you’ll be able to lay done equally spaced rivets all the same size. The best part is that, if you make a mistake, just wipe them off with a damp paper towel. Common mistakes when applying rivets are:
- Rivets not placed correctly in the corners of panels
- Rivets too big. The rivets should almost seem as though they too small before the paint goes on. The paint will magnify them. The idea here is not have rivets that are visible from 15 feet away.
- Too many rivets! If you are going to apply the exact number from the original, be sure the rivets are small so the effect is not overpowering.
Other methods of applying rivets include stick-on rivets and rivets that are inserted and glued into holes drilled into the fuselage.
There is really nothing you cannot make. Lots of people make instrument panels out of card stock or playing cards. For sport scale, you can cut the instrument panels out of pictures in magazines. Super Scalers are known to include everything in their cockpits, including having the correct frequency dialed in on the radios and transponder. While I cannot create a finished product quite like them, they are great inspirations to me and challenge me to better.
No matter how much detail that you add, from sport scale to super scale, the most important thing is to have fun doing it.