Review with Mick Stephen
Based on the 2007 release of the Chinook HC Mk1, (this is also the same plastic you will find in the 2008 Revell re-box) our friends at Italeri re-released an HC Mk2 update in early 2018, combined with options for CH-47F and CH-47J versions. From what I have read and on closer inspection it seems the plastic is identical to the HC Mk1, with just the addition of two sprues with all the minor external differences captured, but I will get into that shortly.
Don’t let the box top fool you at first glance, an HC Mk.2 is not a CH-47F, let me explain…..
The British variants
We all know what a Chinook is – right? Made by Boeing, this large, tandem rotor helicopter is operated by the RAF as a series of variants based on the United States Army’s Boeing CH-47, the RAF Chinook fleet is the largest outside the United States, currently over 60 aircraft. RAF Chinooks have seen extensive service including fighting in the Falklands War, peace-keeping commitments in the Balkans, Northern Ireland and action in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The Chinook operates in three active duty RAF Squadrons and one OCU:
· 7 Squadron – Joint Special Forces Aviation Wing
· 18(B) Squadron
· 27 Squadron
· 28(R) Squadron – Joint Chinook and Puma HC.2 OCU
Sometimes lovingly referred to as a “Wokka Wokka”, the current Chinook fleet is expected to remain in RAF service until the 2040s.
Chinook HC Mk1
In March 1967 an order was placed for fifteen Chinook HC Mk1s, standing for Helicopter, Cargo Mark 1, for the Royal Air Force to replace the Bristol Belvedere. This original MK1 variant was to be based on the CH-47B but the order was cancelled in a review of defence spending in November 1967.
UK Chinook procurement ambitions were revived in 1978 with an announced requirement for a new heavy-lift helicopter to replace the Westland Wessex. Thirty Chinooks were ordered at a price of US$200 million. These helicopters, comparable to the CH-47C with Lycoming T55-L-11E engines, were again designated Chinook HC Mk1, and entered service in December 1980. Eight more Mk1s were delivered from 1984 to 1986 with the CH-47D’s Lycoming T55-L-712 turboshafts.
The replacement of the Mk1’s metal rotor blades with aluminium and glass fibre composite rotor blades saw these aircraft designated Chinook HC Mk1B. All surviving aircraft were later returned to Boeing and updated to the Chinook HC Mk2 standard for further service within the RAF.
Chinook HC Mk2
The US Army’s next generation Chinook, the CH-47D, entered service in 1982. Improvements from the CH-47C included upgraded engines, composite rotor blades, a redesigned cockpit to reduce pilot workload, redundant and improved electrical systems, an advanced flight control system (FCS) and improved avionics. The RAF returned their original Mk1s to Boeing for upgrading to CH-47D standard, the first of which returned to the UK in 1993.
Three additional HC Mk2 Chinooks were ordered with delivery beginning in 1995. Another six were ordered in 1995 under the Chinook HC Mk2A designation, the main difference between these and the standard Mk2 was the strengthening of the front fuselage to allow the fitting of an aerial refuelling probe in future, resulting in deeper and differing shaped side sponsons. You’ll need a lot of scratchbuilding to get a HC2a out of this kit.
Interestingly, one Argentine CH-47C was captured during the Falklands War, and used by the RAF as a training aid. The rear fuselage was later used to repair a crashed RAF Chinook in 2003.
Chinook HC Mk3
Eight Chinook HC Mk3s were ordered in 1995 as dedicated special force’s helicopters, which were intended to be low-cost variants of the US Army’s MH-47E. The Mk3s include improved range, night vision sensors and navigation capability. The eight aircraft were to cost £259 million and the forecast in-service date was November 1998. Although delivered in 2001, the Mk3 could not receive airworthiness certificates as it was not possible to certify the avionics software.
The avionics were unsuitable due to poor risk analysis and necessary requirements omitted from the procurement contract. While lacking certification, the helicopters were only permitted to fly in visual meteorological conditions and subsequently stored in climate controlled hangars.
After protracted negotiations to allow them to enter service, this Fix to Field program was to install the Thales “TopDeck” avionics system, however the MoD announced in March 2007 that this would be cancelled, and instead it would revert the helicopters’ avionics to Chinook Mk2/2A specification. The programme was estimated to cost £50–60 million. In June 2008, the National Audit Office issued a scathing report on the MoD’s handling of the affair, stating that the whole programme was likely to cost £500 million by the time the helicopters enter service. On 6 July 2009 the first of the eight modified Chinook HC Mk3s made its first test flight at MoD Boscombe Down as part of the flight testing and evaluation phase of the HC Mk3 “reversion” program.
Chinook HC Mk4 / Mk5 / Mk6/6A
A programme to upgrade 46 Chinook Mk2/2A and Mk3 helicopters was initiated in December 2008. Called Project Julius, it includes new digital flight deck avionics based on the Thales TopDeck avionics suite, comprising new multifunction displays, a digital moving map display and an electronic flight bag, installation of a nose-mounted FLIR detector, and upgrading the engines to the more powerful T55-714 standard. Upgraded Mk2/2A and Mk3 aircraft will be re-designated Mk4 from Mk2/2a, and Mk5 from Mk3.
The Chinook HC Mk6 designation has been assigned to the 24 (later reduced to 14) CH-47F-derived Chinooks ordered in 2009. In December 2015, the fourteenth and final Mk 6 was delivered to the RAF.
In July 2017, it was announced that the 38 HC4 Chinooks would be upgraded to a HC6A standard, with the replacement of the analogue flight control systems with the Boeing Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS).