Here we take a look at the diorama in a box from ICM featuring the huge CH-54A heavy helicopter and released as Phu Bai Combat Base 1968.


The introduction is as supplied by ICM:

The CH-54A heavy helicopters in Vietnam were mainly used for transport and occasionally for carrying the M-121 high explosive bombs. These bombs were modified with an extended nose fuze to detonate about 3 feet above the ground, effectively clearing forests for helicopter landing sites.

One notable operation involved a CH-54A helicopter from Phu Bai Air Base, also known as Camp Hochmuth, in central Vietnam. The US Armed Forces started operating this base in 1963, initially as a communications radio station. The base later hosted US Marines, paratroopers, and special operations forces, and an airstrip was built using M8A1 steel airfield plates.

At one point, the airfield also accommodated US Marine Corps aircraft and helicopters. Despite frequent attacks by the Viet Cong, the Phu Bai base remained operational by the US military until the end of 1972.


ICM has really pulled out all of the stops with with this multi kit release, that features on this occasion their 1/35th Sikorsky CH-54A with M-121 bomb. 2 previously released figure sets and their newly available M8A1 landing mat. To begin, anyone who has tackled one of the CH-54 kits in 1/35th scale will know just how big the kit is and will require a decent amount of space to display. All aspects of the model are of a very high standard, although I do believe that some after market sets have been released to improve details in some areas. I did question the detail of the M-121 bomb that was previously released, however members on the site were able to provided me reference to show that it was correct. As regards to displaying the model, the only issue that I am aware of is that the modeller will need to impart the sag on the blades that should be present. 

The 2 figure sets in this release provides 4 pilots, and 4 ground crew/maintenance. The ground crew are wearing soft caps, combat trousers and boots which from looking on line would appear to be typical wear in Vietnam. As this style of clothing is best suited for this environment. The pilot set provides 2 crew members in flying suits, with soft peaked caps and helmets are also included in the release. The other 2 figures are not in flying suits, instead having the combat trousers and light material cotton jackets with the arms rolled up. One thing I will say is that ICM has done a very good job with these figures. The landing mat, which is the new elements in this release features full length and half length individual metal plates that lock together and these are made of aluminium I believe rather than steel as indicated, and are still in use today from what I can see. The amount of plate provided covers a decent area either side of the CH-54 and is a little longer than the wheel base of that helicopter. If you wish to add a larger base ICM has released the landing mat as a stand alone item.


This release from ICM provides a very large diorama in a box, with supporting figures,  a display base and a very large helicopter model. I would have liked to have seen some ground equipment provided in order to give this release a fully rounded look, but then again I suppose the modeller needs to do something to make their finished offering unique.  The figures and set overall is very pleasing leaving little that the modeller needs to consider seeking out.



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