The concept of the door gunner originated during the Vietnam War, when helicopters were first used in combat in large numbers. A door gunner is a crewman tasked with firing and maintaining manually directed armament aboard a helicopter.
The personnel who served as early door gunners aboard CH-21, UH-34, and UH-1 helicopters in Vietnam, were enlisted men, with a designated and specially trained crew chief serving as both maintenance manager and door gunner. Another enlisted soldier served as a second door gunner such as on a UH-1 and UH-34, which used two gunners. Later, as the war progressed, the door gunner position sometimes used a non-aviation rated/trained soldier or marine, that volunteered for door gunner duties.
Initially, the weapon of door gunner was M-1919A4 .30 caliber MG, then M-60 7.62mm MG became the standard helicopter door armament system. MG weapons were mounted on pintle mounts or bungee cords which allowed gunner increased firing angles.
Door gunners were normally restrained for safety within the helicopter, by either using a standard lap belt, or if the gunner wanted freedom of movement while still being retained, he used a monkey harness, which was a GI safety harness worn on the torso, and anchored to the helicopter floor, or cabin wall. The monkey harness allowed a door gunner great movement, including to lean outward on the helicopter skids, to get a better firing angle.
B6-35083 U.S. Heli Door Gunners Nam
includes two Vietnam War helicopter door gunners in action poses. Kit has another improved version B6-35069
with two gunners and a M23 Armament Subsystem
packing & casting
Within standard BRAVO-6 cardboard box, two body parts, small parts like arms and weapons are inserted into seperate transparent zip-lock bags and PE parts are secured in a fourth one. Backside is labeled with a humorous photo of Nixon wearing a helicopter pilot helmet explaining how to assembly PE microphones.
Casting quality is very good. No mistakes, air bubbles or excess resin on review samples. Slightly visible seamlines on arms can be easily carved or sanded. Helmet sides may need a little work too.
Door gunners are sculpted in 1/35 scale and cast in grey resin. First, I will mention on the common points on figures, then tell about the differences of Figure A and B.
As headgear, both figures wear AFH-1 - Aircrew Crash Ballistic Protective Flying Helmets. Providing an improved crash and fregmantation protection and relief on rotor noise with laminated ballistic nylon fabric shell and and polystrene plastic lining, this helmet was better than APH-5 known as Brain Bucket. Helmet has a retractable shatter resistant clear visor, M-87/AIC mics for communications. When slide-down as in Figure-B, heavily tinted visor gave the eyes some relief from small fragments and splintered windshield plexiglas besides sun and glare protection. ; AFH-1 was issued in olive drab. Aircrewmen often painted their names, slogans, unit insignia, home state flags, and humorous pictures on their helmets.
They both wear Chicken Plate Armor vest, a two-part cloth carrier with large external front and back pockets containing rigid ceramic plates, also known as Bullet Bouncer. It has quick release snap-fasteners with non-slip buckles on both shoulders, wrap-around velcro waist flaps and big front pocket for maps. Details of the vests are well defined on figures.
Both have GS/FRP-1 Flight Gloves made of olive drab Nomex offering a high degree of flame protection. Palms and inside fingers were faced with light gray leather to aid sweat resistance and manual dexterity.
As footgear, gunners have 1st type leather direct-molded sole combat boots. Helicopter pilots tended to wear full leather boots because of fears about the nylon boot melting in a fire, also the lack of heavy lugs on the boot soles prevented aircrew from getting hung up on things such as rudder pedals. Trotters are inserted into boots on figures.
They carry Smith&Wesson Model 10 in leather holster on the right hip and Air Force Survival Knife in leather scabbard on the left hip. This knife has a 5-in. blade with serrations on the top edge to cut through an aircraft's aluminum skin and scabbard had a whetstone pocket.
Posed firing his M60 as the left door gunner, he show nice facial details with a stressed expression. He wears 3rd pattern Tropical jungle uniform of jacket with two chest and two lower bellows pockets - all with flap covers, and trousers with cargo pockets on thighs. Uniform and vest details, cloth folds and M1956 Pistol belt partly seen under the vest are all well defined. His arms are long sleeved and gloves cover cuffs. Hands are cast with grips of M60 inside his palms.
Right door gunner is posed to slightly lean forward left like checking field targets or unloading soldiers or helping pilots during take-off or landing. Most of his face is covered with visor but visible facial details look nice. He wears wear two-piece Nomex Flight Suit of Hip Length Shirt and Trousers. The uniform was made of flame resistant Nomex nylon in Olive Green Army Shade 106 color. Shirt has long sleeves, fold down collar, zip fastened fly front, two breast pockets with concealed button flap closure and cuffs with velcro adjustable fastening pads. These pockets were designed to allow easy access when sitting down and when encumbered with body armour and straps. A small pocket with a vertical zipper slotted for pens is sewn on the upper left arm. Trousers has zipper fly, front and back button flap pockets, two large Velcro secured pockets with vertical openings on the front of the thighs for large maps and smaller pockets on the sides of the calves. Trousers are designed to be worn with high combat boots and trotters are closed with Velcro tabs. Uniform details and cloth folds are well defined. Right arm grasps one grip of M60 as left arm is posed to put on his seat.
PE Parts : A small metal sheet with parts for three PE mics is given to assembly with guide on box cover.
I believe this kit will fully fill the need for 1/35 scale Vietnam War Door Gunners. Poses are great, assembly is easy with less parts, sculpt is well detailed and crisp, cast is flawless and PE mics are supplied.
To build a best looking Vietnam War UH-1D, this kit can be used together with B6-35068 M23 Armament Subsytem and B6-35073 U.S. Helicopter Crew.