Monday, 7 March 2011

Modeling Canadian CH-46s

Mmodeling Canada's Bboeing Vvertol Hhelicopters


In March of 1956, the Vertol Aircraft Corporation began development of what eventually became the CH-46. I wonder if Vertol had any idea just how significant, this helicopter would become?  What started out as a turbine-powered follow-up to Frank Piasecki's H-21 "Flying Banana" ended up as an aviation notable still being flown more than 50 years later.   The first Canadian airframe, 10401 was taken on strength by the Royal Canadian Air Force on 24 September 1963.  Renumbered to 11301, the same airframe was also the last operational Labrador. 11401/301 Was delivered to National Aviation Museum, Ottawa July 27, 2004 only two months less than forty years.

For the modeling community variations of the CH-46 have been around for years with newer larger, more detailed versions continuing to make their way to modelers as this project slowly works towards completion.  Kits, new and old, allow modelers to build a wide range of variants, but a lack of research material thwarts modelers in their desire to portray a Canadian variant with any degree of accuracy.  This project changes that.

 “The project” originally started out to be a paper document, then to a CD then an e-mail attachment for those interested in the subject then finally it dawned on me that it was time to get with the times. The project was and still is meant to be a detailed source of information for those modelers interested in modeling Canadian variants of the CH-46. Specifically, “the project, now blog” will show and explain to the modeler the differences, common traits and evolution of both the CH-113 Labrador and CH-113A Voyageur into essentially one helicopter.  “The project” was initially intended to reference strengths and shortcomings of the various kits that I am familiar with, however as I worked through the project, I quickly realized the “kit” component of the project is a large project in its’ own right and deserves separate consideration…which I hope to do another time, particularly since there are a ton of people who know more about the kits available to modelers.  “The project” will be the modelers’ Canadian CH-46 variant resource.

While my preferred scale is primarily 1/72, I believe the information imparted here is workable for all scales.  “The project” focuses mainly, but not entirely, on the period 1963 to 1997.  This is for two practical reasons.  Firstly, my knowledge (not expert by any measure) and experience is framed by this period. Secondly, the time from 1997 to the time the airframe was retired in 2004 is as I have seen very well documented whereas the early years, sadly, are not.  A search of the Internet provides the modeler plenty of resources to model “post SARCUP (Search and Rescue Capability Upgrade Program)’ Labradors and Voyageurs.  For modelers, the proof is the number of 113 models seen on the Internet that are SARCUP birds. SARCUPs outnumber by a wide margin, the number of early 113s, whether it be Labrador or Voyageur. Like a lot of modeling projects, the early years lack reliable resources so there in lays the impetus for my effort here.

As I worked my way through a pile of pictures, newspaper and magazine articles and books I realized there was considerable “lag and overlap” with changes in paint schemes and modifications. This probably has a lot to do with inspection and maintenance schedules and cycles to say nothing of unexpected repairs and of course operational commitments. What resulted was a fleet of aircraft that changed in both looks and operational capabilities in a seemingly random fashion contributing to confusion for the modeler looking for any degree of accuracy.

It is my hope you will find this endeavour of use and welcome comments that you believe will allow for updates with even more detail. Several areas of this document deserve more detail, however a lack of credible resources, particularly pictures, prevents that for the time being. If you have pictures and/or documents that you feel will be useful in enhancing this essay, I would welcome and be grateful for your input, my e-mail address is enclosed. Finally, if you would like to comment on the essay or have questions please do not hesitate to comment.!



  1. Hi there,

    I quite enjoyed reading through your CH-113 material. You gave me some good reference info to check for a CH-113 modelling article in a future issue of RT, IPMS Canada's quarterly journal.

    Steve Sauve
    RT Editor
    IPMS Canada

  2. This is just great. Thank you Randy!


  3. Thank you Martin, glad you enjoyed.