Updated: September 16, 2011
OH-58D is one of those helicopters that look great on paper; it's a scout and lasing platform, escorting the bigger, heavier Apache into combat, using its mast-mounted sensors to spot and illuminate enemy targets. The only problem is, in reality, it could be shot down with a single 12.7mm bullet, which is why you never saw it debut in actual combat. Oh, it was used, only far from enemy lines, in liaison roles just like the original 206 JetRanger.
Enough talking, let's see this gallery.
I've made several helicopter models during my plane kit days, and never liked any of them except my Kiowa model. Even so, it's far from being the most elegant model, probably because in the 1/72 scale it is only half as big as most modern fighters, making for an awkward assembly.
My model was made by Italeri, and it was one of their cheaper kits. The box had very few parts, with quite a bit of tolerance. The rotor head, the skis and the weapon pylons were particularly difficult to piece together, refusing to stay in place even with a liberal use of glue. On top of the actual assembly problems, I had the drama dilemma. The model was supposed to be painted in olive green, the dullest color you could think of.
So I did the same as with F-104 Starfighter. I strayed from the original paint job and went wild with my own camouflage scheme, going for a dark brown and happy yellow, a sort of thing you would see in the Middle Eastern theater. I also decided to arm the helicopter, with a pair of Stingers and a 7-round 70mm Hydra FFAR launcher.
Another thing was paint the glass panes in green. Supposedly, I've read military articles where special ops helicopters used for covert and night operations practice this kind of thing to reduce both the visual glare and the radio signature of the cockpit instruments.
Again, to make it more interesting, I left the cabin doors open. Italeri made a very meager inside, so no pictures of the cockpit. Moreover, the decals left smudgy outlines on the paint. Then again, this could be due to considerable age of the model, as it gathered dust between 1993 or so and 2000 when it was finally completed.
The only part worth quite a bit of effort was the rotor head. Notice the silver and black complementing the dull brown quite well. The mast-mounted instruments would benefit from more work, though. Still, it's decent enough.
Here's my Kiowa from the rear side. Notice the slight sooting of the engine exhaust. Another detail that my draw your attention is the tiny bulge at the end of the rotor blade, toward the tip, on the right side. That's not a stray piece of plastic pruned badly, that's a feature, not a bug.
Indeed, using the paint to offset the model's plain look was the biggest differentiator that I had. You may notice the camouflage looks dirty. This is on purpose, as I wanted a combat-proven helicopter rather than a spotless manufacturing line example.
All combined, this is possibly my worst model. I'd rate it 5.5/10. There's nothing specific I could pinpoint, but the fragile rotor and weapon pylons, as well as the boring cockpit really made it hard for me to create an exciting project. I stepped on a limb with the paint and by leaving the cabin doors open, but even so, the model does not stir a flame in my heart. You might actually disagree and think it's a very good miniature. But then, I'm a harsh judge. And we're done here.