Rhodesian UH-1 Cheetahs

Rhodesia obtained some clapped out IDF UH-1s and refurbed them for use in the Bush Wars. I’ve seen one photo with a twin .303 mg set up in the left side door. Was there one on the right side? One photo looks like it might be a 20mm Mauser like the SADF G-Car. Was that an option? What other mods did they do during the rebuilds? I heard something about solid bench seats. ( looks like them in the photo)
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Found some more pics.

Bigger pic of above.

It also looks like there are pieces of plywood or something over the troop seat frames.

Could the guns be M1919 Browning LMGs?

The bench seats have a metallic shine. Aluminum? Light steel? ( help keep getting your nuts shot off by ground fire… even if it is only psychological.) As for the guns, the SADF G-Cars had twin .303 chambered Brownings (ala Hurricane/ Spitfire). Looks like the interior is black. Yes?

Yup, interior looks all black. The benches could be covered by steel, makes sense.

The twin mount was only fitted to the port side as per Alouette so helos could always orbit in the same direction over target while firing. The MGs are not M1919 they were .303 ex aircraft MGs. The new rear seats were thin metal sheet only not armour. I have about 40 photos of RhAF Cheetah from various sources but you have posted the few that clearly show the weapons and mount.

The twin MG mount is very similar to that fitted to RhAF Alouette G car (less the seat) and there are 4-5 really good photos of these mounts that have been published. I will post them tomorrow.

I built a 1/35 Cheetah but never got around to making the MG mount as I was more focused on their unique vehicles.

Edit. A great source of information on Rhodesian modelling at ww.newrhodesian.ca/viewforum.php?f=48


I found an Eduards set from their Lyander kit that looks pretty close.

What colors would work for the exterior? RAF Dark EarthGreen? Or the Hataka SADF aircraft colors?

There must have been an interior colour change as I have seen photos with both dark and light colour scheme. I went with the light grey insulation, dark grey floors and dark green seat tops. Photo shows my Cheetah surrounded by 1/35th Rhodesian vehicles.

AF1F3F4F-BD46-4B70-BE11-F003F9C55155_1_105_c by tankienz, on Flickr


Any joy on those photos of the twin .303 mounts? should be getting the gun set soon.(Guy I ordered them from provided “free Shipping” … you get what you pay for! I get stuff from the Baltic/ Ukraine faster.) On of the above photos looks like the gunner had a high back (armored?) seat. Any thoughts on the pilots seats having armor, like the US ones in Vietnam?

Well, I still major in enamels, but if I was using Dark Earth I’d mix a touch of sand into it. The green, well I reckon something approaching Humbrol Light Olive. I’m sure these would equate to other paint ranges with a bit of digging.

Whilst these colour suggestions are just that - suggestions - they’re based on my recall of a tour in Zimbabwe 1981; the colours on helicopters, as far as I could make out, replicated some of those on their vehicles. Sadly, I seem to have mislaid my photos from that time where amongst my shots of vehicles (and pretty extensive they were too) I had a couple of pics of some Alouettes - none of which helps right now - of that I’m fully aware (!)

A bit more information. RhAF Cheetah were only flown by a single pilot and a technician/gunner (Winds of Destruction by PJH Peter-Bowyer). RhAF Cheetah colours dark earth / dark green with similar pattern on each side. No national marking or exterior serial number. Rotor head natural metal with some green components. All blades green with yellow tips. Warnings yellow. Rear skid earth and yellow (The Air Forces of Zimbabwe and Rhodesia by A Thomas, Scale Aircraft Modelling magazine Aug 1982). It is not clear from photos but it does appear the starboard pilots seat has armour. Winds of Destruction does mention aircrew wearing US pattern bullet proof vests (page 296) parched directly from the US.

Photos of the MG mount:

When Iwas looking at the first photo I was thinkingthe orange outlined area was the back of the gunner’s seat.
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But with your info looks more like the yellow is the gunner’s seat and orange is the pilots armor (?).
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Almost looks like the gun mount/ seat are one unit, kind of like this.

One thought: I would think the MGs would be on the pilot’s side of the ship so they are on his side when orbiting. I know the norm with OH-6s in Vietnam was pilot and gunner/observer both on the right side. Right hand orbit would have both looking directly out, not someone having to look through the helo.
As for the rotor blades, One photo I found showing a nose on view , the blades are dark… black. I did the tail rotor with Vallejo 70.889, olive brown (FS34084). Not a good photo, but …

I agree with your interperation of seat verse pilots seat armour. Alouette was flown from right hand seat hence my suggestion for Cheetah. The Army commander sat on the inside of the best view of the ground when orbiting. The traditional (non RhAF) command seat/single pilot for Iroquois operated by twin pilots is the right hand seat. For Alouette aircrew and army commander got seat armour (Winds of Destruction) so was Cheetah the same?
Edit. In Counter-Strike from the Sky by JRT Wood page 59 discussing introduction of Cheetah “and after armour and twin .303in machine guns had been fitted they could only transport eight troops.” so yes to seat armour. The book also contains two interior photos showing the pilot was seated in the right (starboard) seat and one shows the curved edge of pilots seat armour.

Here’s the Cheetah’s cabin thus far. With the limited photo reference on the armor for the pilot’s seat I had to take a SWAG on it. The twin 303s should be here Monday. I can start coming up with a game planfor that then.

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Ah! Christmas is in the air. USPS is doing Sunday deliveries. The twin 303s arrived and the Anti Strella kit. It is the US one and the side covers are different than the Rhodesian ones. US one has a couple flat plates and vented on al 4 sides.

. Rhodesian ones looks like a tube , closed at both ends and bottom. Open at top to vent? Or is it totally sealed off?
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The reason for the Schield is not to “vent” but to “hide” the hot metal parts from “view” of heat seekers, particularly of the SA-7 vintage. Both ends are likely open, as you do need to vent the engine bay.

The Rhodesian’s did some interesting odd and mods on birds.

Doent look very open to me.
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Cant find the photo of the front end but it has the same flat plate as the rear. Yes the shield is to “hide” the heat signature. BUT if it is covering vents there still needs to be air flow to cool … or why would there be vents to cover in the first place? Shield for the oil cooler is mounted about 4-5 inches from the skin of the aircraft to allow air flow. US shields are about 2-3 inches off the vents , again, to allow air flow.
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Does anybody make decals of the yellow tail rotor warnings? All I’ve seen are the usual suspects… red with white letters/ white with red letters.(in English. Seen Crylic ones in yellow/black.).

Most definitely the IR covers were open at both ends as seen in this photo.

And I don’t believe open at the top. While this photo is not conclusive I can’t see any upper opening. Note this aircraft has an external winch fitted on the starboard roof.

Ah. Great. Other photos I’d seen looked like solid ends. Must have been angle/ lighting. Got the paints yesterday. Painted the rear part of the tail boom to see how they looked. Went with Hatakas SADF aircraft set’s BS381C-450 Dark Earth and BS381C-298 OD. Pics ( one taken with Mk I Spitfire) dont show it well, but there is a bit of a difference from the WW2 DE/DG colors. (probably coulda got away with the WW2 colors.)