After some really nice modern Russian figure releases, Sergey Traviansky
, the creative force behind Evolution Miniatures
, decided to venture into a completely new direction… the Vietnam War. American Helicopter Pilot, Vietnam (EM-35024) is the first figure in “Fight at Damaged Helicopter” series released by Evolution Miniatures… Sergey announced a two figure pilot/copilot set to compliment this kit and I’m sure, once released, both kits would make a great action Vietnam Airmobile vignette.
The figure arrived in a well designed and very firm cardboard box. The box features a nicely painted box art and lists Sergey Traviansky as both the sculptor and box art painter.
Upon closer inspection the figure looks great. It consists of 10 resin parts which are perfectly cast in gray resin; the resin is completely clean of any imperfections... there are no air bubbles, no flash or seam lines. The parts include:
- full body with legs
- 2 different heads (one wearing SPH-4 helmet)
- left arm
- right arm with M60 attached
- 2 M60 bipod parts
- 7.62mm ammo belt
- Aircrew Survival Knife
- Air Force Revolver Holster with sidearm
Casting plugs are intelligently placed on bigger figure parts, but be careful when removing all the small and delicate parts from their carriers as they could easily snap.
The figure depicts a US helicopter door gunner firing his M60 and providing support to rest of the crew bailing out from the damaged helicopter. The next figure set in this series was announced by Evolution some time ago and it will include the pilot figure carrying the injured copilot; that set is going to compliment the door gunner figure nicely…
This is the first Evolution figure I had some problems putting together. I had to maneuver the arms to fit the body part well and to get a tight grip on the weapon… it wasn’t easy, especially since I used putty (without any glue) to join the parts in order to take pictures for this review. Be patient and test fit the parts several times before gluing the pieces. My advice would be to join the left hand tightly to the weapon handguard and then manipulate both arms together to get a good fit to the torso. Some gaps can still be seen on the photos, and those would have to be filled with more patience before painting the figure. I didn’t attach the ammo belt; you’re going to need some experience for bending the resin ammo belt and I feel it should be done after the rest of the figure is secured and glued firmly.
This figure really shines after you manage to build it. The anatomy of the figure is perfect and the action pose is nicely balanced. The details are sculpted to the highest standard and the facial expression shows the emotions well; this guy means business!
The figure wears tropical combat uniform which was introduced in 1963. Patterned after the WW2 parachutist’s uniform, the tropical combat uniform was made of cotton-poplin, which was suitable for Vietnam’s range of climates. The loosely fitting garments offered good protection against insects and other tropical hazards, as well as being cool and quick-drying. The tropical combat boots (“jungle boots”) were introduced to Vietnam alongside the tropical combat uniform. The boots were one of the most successful innovations of the war; the leather of most of the upper portion of the boot was replaced by cotton/nylon fabric which was cool and fast-drying. The figure wears an Aircrew Small Arms Protective Body Armor. The armor was designed specifically for helicopter crews and introduced by the US Army in 1968. The armor, popularly known as “Chicken Plate”, was a two part cloth carrier with large external pockets containing rigid ceramic plates. Two versions of the Aircrew Body Armor existed, with either a single frontal plate for pilots and copilots, or with both front and back plates for door gunners. The armor featured quick-release snap fasteners with non-slip buckles on both shoulders, wrap around Velcro waist flaps and a front nylon chest pocket. One of the heads included in this kit sports The Sound Protective Helmet 4 (SPH-4). The SPH-4 was introduced in 1969 replacing the two Army aircrew helmets, APH-5 and AFH-1, which were deficient in noise attenuation and retention capacity. The SPH-provided excellent sound attenuating characteristics due to the fact its headset was mounted in 6mm thick plastic earcups, and also featured superior crash protection because of its thick shell made of fiberglass cloth layers bonded by epoxy. I compared both the “Chicken Plate” and SPH-4 helmet sculpted on this figure to the references and found a perfect match; the sculptor really did a great job on those. The only thing missing is the microphone boom for the SPH-4, but that problem could easily be solved using thin brass wire.
As for the extra equipment, this kit includes the side arm in US Air Force Revolver Holster and Aircrew Survival Knife. The leather handled survival knife featured a 5-inch long steel blade with a serrated top edge. It was issued with a leather sheath, which had a pocket for the sharpening stone and two small eyelets at the bottom for a leg lace.
The figure is carrying M60 General Purpose Machine Gun. The M60 machine gun is a gas-operated, belt-fed, air-cooled weapon which fires from an open bolt and in automatic mode only. Fed by a disintegrating belt of 7.62mm ammunition, it boasted a cyclical firing rate of 550 rounds per minute and an effective range of approximately 1,000 yards. The M60 weighed 23 pounds, three and a half times the weight of an M16A1 rifle, and was nicknamed the "pig". Widely used by U.S. infantry units in Vietnam, the M60 was also mounted on various vehicles and riverine craft.
The M60 in this kit looks great and the bipod is perfectly cast. A 100-round 7.62mm ammo belt is also included in the kit and you’ll need some patience and hot water to bend the belt, load it into the feed tray and drape over the figure’s left forearm. Be careful when bending the resin; the belt is very delicate and it could easily snap during the process. One might want to replace the resin belt with some of the PE offerings to ease the handling and bending, but I have never been too fond of PE ammo belts as they are way too flat in this scale. Taking the time with the resin ammunition belt would definitely give you more realistic results.
The figure is perfectly cast and, although you’ll need some patience when building it, this figure has a look and “feel” of a desperate helicopter door gunner using his M60 to provide fire support for his crew members bailing out of a damaged helicopter. The details on the equipment are spot on and the two head option is definitely an added value of the kit… the SPH-4 helmet is perfect and painting a colorful helmet art or adding peace slogans to the “Chicken Plate” could definitely enhance the Vietnam feel of the figure.
Thanks to Sergey from Evolution Miniatures
for this review sample.
Vietnam: Us Uniforms in Colour Photographs (Europa Militaria); Kevin Lyles
Ground War Vietnam Vol1 1945-1965 (Squadron Publications); Jim Mesko
Ground War Vietnam Vol2 1965-1968 (Squadron Publications); Jim Mesko
Armies of the Vietnam War Vol1 (Osprey Publications); Lee Russel, Mike Chappell
Armies of the Vietnam War Vol2 (Osprey Publications); Philip Katcher, Mike Chappell
Vietnam Airborne (Osprey Publications); Gordon Rottman, Ron Volstad