The war in Vietnam was the first in which helicopters weren’t mainly used for resupply missions or as flying ambulances, but were a central element in newly developed tactics. In ‘Search & Destroy’ missions, helicopters flew troops into countryside controlled by Communist insurgents in order to, well, seek them out and destroy them. The troops would then be helicoptered to another location to repeat the procedure. I will spare you the details, but the insurgents had their own ideas about this and things often didn’t work out all that well.
My latest model represents a US Marine Corps Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse helicopter on just such a mission, picking up troops from a rice paddy somewhere in South Vietnam. The helicopter most people will associate with the war in Vietnam is the UH-1 Huey. Consequently, there already are really nice LEGO Hueys out there. I wanted something different, so I built the Seahorse instead. Because this will be part of a larger collaboration, the model represents something of a departure from my normal style. It is minifig scale, I built the helicopter with only a few visible studs and I’ve used some third-party accessories in the form of BrickArms weapons and helmets.
Rotary-winged aircraft are probably not the first thing to come to mind when contemplating the excitement of naval aviation (who remembers seeing a helicopter in Top Gun?). But these whirlybirds are the unsung heros of navies across the globe. The UH-2 Seasprite is a perfect example, painstakingly detailed here in LEGO form by TBB’s own Ralph Savelsberg.
The Seasprite entered service with the United States Navy in the early 1960s and played a vital role rescuing downed pilots during the Vietnam War. This particular model, Ralph explains, is an early model UH-2A which served aboard the USS Forrestal in 1965. After a complete rebuild, this helicopter was delivered 50 years later to the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Ralph is no stranger to building military aircraft, particularly naval models — check out how he does it and his recent LEGO Sikorsky HH–60G Pave Hawk. His newest creation is no less accurate or well-built than his others. Every angle and shape of the Seasprite has been captured. The coloration and markings also help bring this beauty to life. In fact, it’s so realistic it looks late for an important mission. After all, naval planes may get the glory, but its naval helicopters which get the work orders.
The Sikorsky HH–60G Pave Hawk is a twin-turboshaft engine helicopter in service with the United States Air Force, and TBB’s own Ralph Savelsberg has chosen to depict this versatile helicopter in ‘European One’ camouflage colours. The amazingly accurate shaping of Ralph’s model was the first reason this model caught my eye. I have flown in Blackhawks and seen them close up in my previous line of work, and I instantly recognised the Hawk family resemblance. There are a few details that I particular like, for example Ralph’s clever solutions to using a limited palate of dark bluish grey, dark green, and olive green means the hubs on the wheels are actually dark green minifigure heads!
See more of this amazing LEGO helicopter
Devid VII recently shared his version of an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter packed with plenty of firepower and details. We’ve seen several good examples of Apaches in the past, and the builder pays homage to them while also incorporating some personal touches. Details particularly worth noting are the techniques used to achieve the shaping of the fuselage, the slanted cockpit and nose sensor array. The Apache’s slanted, quad-blade rotor is nicely recreated as well. Armed with a 30mm automatic cannon, guided missiles and rocket pods, this chopper is ready for action!
Daniel Siskind, creator of many advanced military scale models, has revealed his latest Mi-24 helicopter. Just look at this beauty!
There are so many awesome features of this helicopter, but the best of all is its perfectly balanced design. No matter which part you’re examining, every single piece, slope, or tile was meticulously chosen and placed. Canopies of rather peculiar shape work perfectly for the Mi-24’s cockpits, while a smooth row of tan and dark-green slopes along the body of the helicopter is aesthetically pleasing. Of course, the presentation wouldn’t be complete without a close-up shot of the rocket launchers — a perfect use of the most common of LEGO parts.
And yes, this particular LEGO model — unlike nearly everything else we feature here on The Brothers Brick — is available for sale, from Brickmania (at least until it sells out).
Have you ever wondered what the helicopters of the future will look like? Wonder no more, as mini gray is here to show us one. You may think “Hey, I’ve seen this one among the World City sets in 2003!”. Close, but not exactly. This orange beast features many cooler building ideas, including an awesome application of Technic panels and a brilliant choice of the cockpit windshield. I bet there must be a military modification with a couple of massive guns on both sides, but let us dream about a peaceful future tonight.
For more than five decades, the Sikorsky Sea King has been one of great workhorses of the helicopter world. After returning from the Moon, Neal Armstrong, ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and Michael Collins were plucked from the ocean by a Sea King. US Presidents are routinely flown to and from the White House aboard ‘Marine One’, which is usually a Sea King fitted with a VIP interior.
Originally, however, the Sea King was intended as a submarine hunter and the excellent 1/40 scale model built by Maksymilian Majchrzak ( [MAKS] ) represents one of these, as used by the US Navy aboard aircraft carriers in the seventies and eighties. From the sponsons to the five bladed rotors, it’s as close to real thing as you can get using LEGO parts and it looks about perfect from every angle.
Builder ER0L brings us this remarkably realistic version of the famous Sikorsky/Westland Sea King helicopter, used by the United States Coast Guard in rescue operations. Beyond simply making the model look accurate though, ERoL has fully motorized it using LEGO Power Functions.
From the very first sight of it, Sergey Antokins‘s scale model of a Mi-171 helicopter charmed me with its neat design. Its structure is skillful enough to surprise you with a couple of unusual building techniques, but at the same time, stays clean and straightforward and looks totally like a slightly refurbished LEGO City set. I give bonus points for this pleasing white and blue color scheme — we finally have a model of a civilian aircraft to blog!
Click through to see more photos of this great helicopter
Over the years several people have constructed mechanisms to get coaxial rotors on their helicopters to spin in opposite directions, including Henry Oberholtzer. Recently one of his ingenious creations was successfully adopted by Matt Hacker for his AH-5 “Chogenbo” (Japanese for Kestrel). The end result is one of the coolest and most believable near-future helicopters that I have seen in a long time. Matt unveiled the model at Brickfair Virginia in August, where it won the ‘Best Military’ category. I have been eagerly anticipating him posting pictures of it ever since.
Let me apologise for the info dump in advance, but there is no denying that I am a bit of an aviation geek. (It’s fewer than 4000 words, I promise.) Coaxial helicopters are cool. There is a fundamental limit, of about 400 km/h, to the forward speed of conventional helicopters. This is essentially set by the blades being swept forward reaching the speed of sound -this is a bad thing- and the blades being swept aft, also known as the retreating blades, moving too slow through the air to generate lift. This is called a retreating blade stall and is also a bad thing. That going faster is difficult is evidenced by the longevity of the current record, set by a modified Westland Lynx as long ago as 1986. If you want your helicopter to go faster, you’ll have to get creative. However, coaxial helicopters, with two sets of counter-rotating rotors on top of each other, do offer the promise of considerably faster flight. The retreating blades on a coaxial helicopter do suffer from retreating blade stall, but the resulting loss of lift is compensated by the lift generated by the blades of the other set on the same side of the helicopter moving forward. To see the coaxial rotors on Matt’s helicopter in action, check out his video.
A lot of people start their builds by fiddling around with a few pieces until they find an interesting-looking combination. This then becomes the starting point for a cool new mecha or spaceship. That’s not how I do things. For most of my models, I start by planning, followed by a lot of procrastination and getting side-tracked into building other (easier) things and then some more planning, lather, rinse, repeat. Once I start putting parts together things move quickly, but the planning process can take several weeks or, in the case of Airwolf, as long as two years.
In the eighties, starting with Knight Rider, there were several shows that featured some sort of hi-tech vehicle as a central plot device or even as a character. Both Blue Thunder and Airwolf featured helicopters, but Airwolf was definitely the better show. It had one of the best theme-tunes in the history of television and, though they now appear terribly dated, the plots were a bit darker and more interesting than in most of the other shows, often dealing with espionage and the Cold War. Furthermore, the helicopter itself was based on the super-sleek Bell 222 and was armed to the teeth, with retractable guns and a ventral missile launcher.
The reason why the process took so long is that I don’t start building until I have convinced myself that I can build the model to a suitably high standard, which in this case meant building that sleek shape and those cool retractable weapons. What finally sealed the deal was finishing Blue Thunder, the realisation that I could replicate the shape using various new curved parts and by hinging the cockpit windows, as well as a video I saw of the missile launcher retracting on an RC model.
Our resident Lemur recently got asked how contributors to this blog are selected. Of course, much of the process is top-secret, but I’m pretty sure a contributor should add something new and distinctive to the team, even if that something new and distinctive is a cute bushy tail and a willingness to take care of the paperwork. However, most of us share that we got into this because we like building our own models. Fan-built models are the bread and butter of this blog and knowing a thing or two about building definitely helps.
In the last two years, I have been working on a large collection of movie and TV vehicles. I have close to fifty of them now, but there are still plenty of cool and interesting examples left that I haven’t built yet. I already had a jet, but I did not yet have a helicopter, for instance. With Blue Thunder, that has now been rectified.
Blue Thunder was a fictional high-tech police helicopter that starred in the eponymous 1983 movie. Its pilot was played by Roy Scheider, who is probably better known for his role as the police-chief in Jaws. The movie lead to a short-lived TV series, which I used to watch religiously as a child. Although the plots of the episodes and the dialogue were undoubtedly cheesy, the helicopter was one of the coolest things ever. It didn’t talk or have a red light scanner bar, but it had a tail-mounted fan instead of a conventional tail rotor and a Gatling gun that was slaved to the pilot’s helmet. Two flyable helicopters were used in the filming: Aerospatiale Gazelles, painted in a largely dark blue colour scheme and modified with a nose-mounted pod housing sensors and the Gatling gun, an ‘armoured’ cockpit canopy consisting of flat panels and a few other gadgets.
The cockpit canopy was the trickiest bit of the build. Building a rectangular structure is fairly easy. Building something that is rounded is also doable, by stepping plates or by using combinations of slopes. Building a faceted structure, however, is just plain awkward and getting it more-or-less right took a lot of trail-and-error.