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600 size OH-58A Kiowa Build


Well-known member
A few months ago, I picked up a blade 550X at a swap meet, and have been trying to figure out my next project. After some consideration, I bought a Funkey 600 size Jetranger fuselage for it, and stretched the 550 to a 600. However, I didn’t want to build your run of the mill Jetranger. Instead, I will be converting it to a Vietnam War OH-58A. Although most of these scouts were unarmed, a select few were equipped with a side mounted M134 minigun.



Here is the overall to-do mod list for the moment:
Scale cockpit with cockpit doors removed
New tail fairing
Move Tail rotor to left side
Scale blade rotation
New extended mainshaft
Surface detailing and add minigun

Plenty of work to do here, so the build will probably be pretty slow. But, it will be an interesting project, and I’m hoping to have it airworthy for the summer season of flying events.


Well-known member
Thanks guys, Glad to be building another heli again! Started off the modification to the airframe today as well as finishing up a few things with the mechanics. One of the great things about working with a blade 550x, is that the shaft doesn’t have a step machined into it like the Trex version. So, making your own mainshaft is simply drilling 2 holes in some 10mm rod. Right now, the head is sitting a bit on the high side, so I’ll go back and drill a lower hole later. Also got to test fit the blades. Not only are the blades scale, but they have an assymetrical airfoil, and are designed for CCW (scale) rotation. Hoping that this will allow me to lower the headspeed enough where it begins to sound more realistic in flight.

On the airframe side of things, I got the doors and intakes cut out, and the old tail fairing chopped off. The lack of doors really takes a lot of structure of the hatch, so it will definitely need some sort of reinforcement. I am really debating the next step for the tail boom as well. Most OH-58As few without the tail rotor driveshaft covers installed, so it would be more realistic to cut it off. However, that would mean a LOT of fiberglass work all the way down the boom... the driveshaft would make a great place to run the tail rotor pushrod though, hmm..


OH-58 without driveshaft cover:

On a final related note, I found a very cool reference for a lot of the cockpit detailing and layout; a copy of the original OH-58A pilot’s manual! Planning to start CADing up the panel and console next.


Wake up! Time to fly!
Nice start to another cool project. I will be keeping an eye on this as it goes. Have you managed to get any more air time on the Apache or has weather grounded you?


Well-known member
Nice start to another cool project. I will be keeping an eye on this as it goes. Have you managed to get any more air time on the Apache or has weather grounded you?
I've gotten in a few more flights in early December. I've been grounded for a few weeks now, due to a trip home for my brother's graduation and Christmas, and then subsequent bad weather. Today after work looks like a possibility though, it's the only day in the forecast so far that looks flyable. I'm still trying to diagnose and fix my tail rotor hold issue on the Apache in left sideward flight. That makes it very iffy to fly on windy days. My Little Bird on the other hand, handles winds up to 17 mph without any issue, and I'm hoping the Apache is capable of a similar flight envelope.


Well-known member
Thought you had worked that out. Probably should bounce to that thread for this discussion tho huh.
Yeah, probably but I'll make it quick here. I thought I had it fixed for a few flights in a row, there was no sign of any issues. Then, on a gusty day it happened again. Conditions were definitely more extreme, and it was only a second or so, but that feeling of your bird giving an commanded input is well.. not good. Luckily, its very easy to get out of if you know what's happening, just lower the collective and get some forward speed. My biggest concern is losing tail for a second near the treeline, and losing orientation. The green paint blends in very well, so you really rely on it going exactly where you tell it to when its at long distances. I'll see what happens on the flight today, if I get it again, I'll post something on the other thread.


Well-known member
Finally got back to this project this weekend. One of the main changes I wanted to make to the airframe was to remove the tail rotor driveshaft cover to replicate most OH-58s in Vietnam. The majority of aircraft flew with them removed for both the weight reduction and ease of maintenance.

First, I cut the driveshaft covers from the tailboom, leaving a large open gap in the top of the boom. Using some 1/32 balsa, I filled in the gap to create a solid base for fiberglassing. I then applied 2 ply of fiberglass cloth, and did a wet layup over the balsa wood.

After a bit of trimming and sanding, I now have a round boom with no drive shaft fairings! Still have to do some priming and sanding to get the finish smooth though. Next will be the tailcone fairing and bearing blocks for the false drive shaft, which will conceal my tail rotor push rod.