|Years ago a friend showed me video footage of an orange Skycrane fire-fighting helicopter in action, that he had filmed in Greece. Very impressive, and I knew I had to build one, one day! About a year later Revell-Germany reissued its Skycrane, and of course I bought it. It even had decals for the Erickson company that operates the fire-fighting Skycranes mentioned above. Overlooking the heavy rivetting for a moment, the model looked to be of surprisingly good quality. But with one exception: the windshield. Other modelers reported that the old Aurora Skycrane was much better. My good modeling friend Eric donated an extra copy he had (thanks again!). For the moment, this page will only contain a comparison of these two kits, in order to decide which one to build, or how to combine them. I have little data on the models, except that the Aurora reportedly came out in 1970, and the Revell in 1969 as H-258.|
|The models taped together provisionally. The Aurora model was severely warped by the way. I did not realise how bad the Revell windshield was until I held it next to the Aurora Skycrane. The differences are obvious. The pillar between the windshield and the door is much, much too wide on the Revell model, and this length is missing in the (sides of the) windshield. Aurora captured this far better.|
|On the other hand, I am not sure that Aurora captured the nose shape correctly, The nose below the windshield looks relatively flat to me, there is hardly a bulge. And possibly the lower edge of the windshield is positioned too high. On the other hand, it has a CH-53 look to it, that I don't see in the Revell nose. But possibly the CH-54 and CH-53 don't have the same nose contours.|
This photo also shows a nasty problem of the Aurora windshield: it has cut-outs for the hinges of the doors. This is of course impossible to repair, and it makes the Aurora windshield almost as useless as the Revell one..
|More differences between the noses. The width of the nose section between the foot well windows, with Revell quite some wider than Aurora. More importantly, look at the cross section of the top side of the cockpit. Aurora is almost square, while Revell is very rounded at the upper edges.|
If I would build a Skycrane straight from the box, I would use the Aurora nose, without a doubt. But in case of a more involved build, I'm not so sure which is better. I haven't drawn definitive conclusions yet, but shown below is a judgement on a number of issues:
Size of the 'nose bulge': I think Revell did a better job here. The Aurora nose is just too flat (although I think it looks nicer :-)
Width of the sheet metal between the footwell windows: Aurora is better, Revell is too wide. The edge of the sheet metal should be slightly outboard of half the width of the windscreen panes
Vertical position of the lower window line: I think Revell wins again, that of Aurora sits too high
Angle of frame the between the footwell windows and the quarter panels: both wrong. Both 'point' at the edge of the door
Roundness of the upper edges: Aurora is better, Revell looks too rounded to me
My provisional plan is to use the Revell nose, and work towards a basic shape that can serve as the master for a vacform master, a la Les Sundt in Fine Scale Modeler. The windshield part should be extended rearwards, simultaniously cutting back the fuselage parts, and the door cutouts brought forward if necessary. Possibly the cabin length is too big? The footwell windows will be extended on their inboard/forward sides, and the 'sheet metal' narrowed accordingly.
The scan below shows the Erickson part of the Revell decal sheet. The green striping is meant for the main landing gear legs; you have to paint the green striping around the lower cockpit yourself, with the white pinstriping provided. N164AC seems unique in having 'Erickson Air-Crane' logos without a white shadow, as all the other Erickson Skycranes have.
I sold both Skycrane models in 2020. The amount of work on either model to bring it up to standards was just too much for me. Instead I will wait for a brave manufacturer to produce a new model.
A few Skycrane links:
1/72 Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane - 2. Prototyp - 1965 by Oliver Zwiener
Pierre Gargani's fantastic Revell 1/72 model on Scale Rotors.
Ron Denning's beautiful scratch-built 1/18 model, also shown on Hyperscale
Jean-Baptiste Verlhac's amazing Revell 1/72 model on Scale Rotors
Philippe Dognon's fabulous scratchbuilt 1/48 model
Damiano Gualdoni's great Skycrane photo page
Airliners Net photo pages (3)
Scale Firebombers website with an interesting Revell build and great photos and information
Heli Kit News, with a good discussion group