1/32 Eurocopter BK-117 "Medicopter 117"

Medicopter 117. Being one of my favorite TV shows, I couldn't resist building the model when I came across it. This project actually started back in 2009 and was supposed to become my first detailed model.

Now, having given new life to my hobby, I decided to give it another go. Bought 4 additional kits amongst many other aftermarket parts that would all be turned into one. A project of massive proportions that took an interesting direction when I was challenged by a friend. Philipp, this one is for you!

Kit by Revell

This project started on 26 May 2014 and was cancelled on 01 December 2019.

Photos of this project can be found here:

The Making of

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That's it, that's all

01 Dec. 2019 | Stoughton, UK | By Niek Nijsen

That's it, that's all. The end of the line. After having stashed the model in a box under my desk for the last 4 years, it saddens me to inform you I've decided to cancel the project all together. With so many other models in my stash waiting to be build for which I have a lot more motivation than the BK-117, I realised I would never complete it. So as a part of moving house and clearing out, the model went.

I would like to thank you all for your fellowship on this build and look forward to have you again during my future endeavours, it's been a real joy. Be sure to take a look at the current projects to stay up-to-date on what I'm working on at the moment.

See you there!


Slower than slow

06 Aug. 2015 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Although some work has been done, I've never made such slow progress as on this project. To be honest, I've reached the point in that I've put it aside, as I'm getting too frustrated to continue. So for now this will be the last update on the BK, but I'll let you know when she's back in the workshop.

Basically the last few months of work on this model have consisted of filling and sanding. To fit the sliding doors, I had to widen the body. This was accomplished by adding plastic strips to the side. These were then filled with filler to achieve a smoother finish. Next step was to sand it all down to a nice, rounded shape as on the real aircraft. Sounds like a simple job, but it required many hours of sanding and refilling to achieve the desired shape. So although there’s been a lot of hours spent on it again, it surely doesn’t show.

I thought it would be a nice detail to add LED lights to the model. This allows me to represent the model as if it's performing ground runs during maintenance. Slight issue with fitting these lights is that I've already build part of the model. Guess I'll have to cut it open again to fit the lights and wires. As if there's not already enough to do...

I've aslo started working on the fully PE cockpit. I was looking forward to it, until I got going and the parts turned out very small and fragile... More and more frustration and stress were starting to show itself. A good indication to me to put it aside for a while. Time to start with a different project.

My main focus will be on the King Tiger for the time being, but the BK will return in the future to be finished. Until then!

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Progress is slow, very slow

26 Mar. 2014 | Kibworth, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Slow, very slow… That’s how this project is progressing. I’m sure some of you have already given up on this project, wondering if it will ever finish. I must admit that at certain points of this build I thought the exact same thing and was ready to bin the whole thing. But I can’t, simply because I made a promise to someone who has done great things for me. Let’s get going with this build!

A large period of time has passed since the last blog update (a staggering 5 months!) and I did manage to get a few things done (or a large part of it). A short list of things are

- Merging both halves together
- Rear interior almost finished
- Cabin seat detailed and painted
- Cabin bags shaped
- Nose bay opened
- Cockpit detailing
- Floor adjustments
- Engine cowls and scoops
- Skids rebuild
- Building a temporary stand
- Winch made from scratch

Turns out I have done quite a lot lately. Time to get into the details.

First off was merging both halves of the fuselage in order to get the shape right before I could proceed with anything else. A task I hoped would take a lot less time to achieve, but sadly the model had different ideas about that. It took me the biggest part of 2 days to get it all lined up and looking right, with all the dimensions being correct. Biggest problem was actually to make sure the model would stand up straight once put together. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to merge the BK117 with the EC145 halves, but I must say the end result is worth all the troubles. What followed was hours of filling gaps, sanding and filling more gaps before sanding it again. What did I get myself into this time…

The rear interior is now almost completely finished and waiting to be added to the model. I’ve added the rear seat (bench) and decals before giving it all a nice satin coat to seal it off. I’m happy with the results, although I’ve learned a few things I’d do differently on the next project. The final cabin isn’t ready yet however, as I’ll be adding medical bags, a stretcher and a few other bits and pieces once it’s placed inside the model.

The cabin seat itself received PE seatbelts (left over from the Chinook project) and was painted all by hand. The seatbelts were so small I couldn’t really use the airbrush for this, since masking all of it would take an immense amount of time. The only thing I need to add to them later is a pair of headsets, which I still need to make, for the passengers and patient.

While working with putty and clay to merge both halves together, I shaped the stretcher and created a bunch of medical bags to add to the details and realism of this model. Still a lot of work to be done on these (like adding straps, decals and fine details) but the rough shape and red paint is done.

This project originally started off as a challenge, were part of the terms were that I’d add the electronic components in the roof of the cabin. However, by doing this, I’d have to lower the entry hatch for this, thus blocking the view inside the cabin. A bit of a shame if you ask me, so after some negotiating, we agreed that I would leave that hatch closed, but would open the nose bay and rebuild all the components in there. So I started cutting and sawing, slowly opening the nose bay without damaging the fuselage too much. Overall not a bad job, although both halves turned out to have slightly different dimensions once cut out. Great, more sanding and gap filling later on…

The cockpit has also received some attention in a long while. I’ve added a few bits and pieces which will later become part of the ventilation system. Careful cutting of the openings in the nose and many small pieces of plastic card were needed to achieve a (somewhat) resemblance of the real machine. Still a lot of more work to do there once the 120 EURO (!!!!) cockpit upgrade kit is in. Better make sure I don’t do anything stupid there…

The floor has been sanded completely and is now basically a flat piece of plastic. I’ll have to add all the details again by using PE parts from the EC145 upgrade kit as well as plenty of scratch building. I’m probably going to make a second (very thin) floorboard to go on top of this one, or do a lot of filling and blending later on to have a smooth transition with the fuselage openings (like the doors and walls). Still haven’t decided what will be the easiest way of doing this, so it’ll have to wait until the fuselage has taken more shape and I get to see what I’m dealing with.

Work on the engine cowls never seems to finish and I’ve been scribbling panel lines and thinning the walls near vent openings. Additional openings were created for air intake scoops, but will require a lot more work before that’s done. Measuring and cutting of the fire walls inside the engine bay has also been done, but I’m not completely convinced this will be in the final product. I’ll probably have to add the roof to the fuselage first before I can cut them to size and.

I’ve recently shifted my work to the lower halve of the model again, shaping the skids. The biggest problem with this model is the fact that Revell didn’t get their measurements right. The model is sitting way too high on the skids (about 4 mm in scale, which resembles 13 cm in real life) and are too far apart. So I started by building a stand which would allow me to get the correct attitude for the aircraft. I then bended the skids to the correct shape by heating them up and added a lot of detail to them using plastic strips. Overall a solid 5 hour job, which I then threw in the bin… Why you might ask? Well, as soon as I released the clamps that held everything in position, the skids jumped up, floating in the air at about 3 mm of the ground. Turns out that Revell made a few other mistakes as well, not having the entry of the skids into the fuselage at the right place for instance. I agree, should have measured that before wasting a set of skids and time on that, but it’s a bit late for that now. Anyway, I’ve made new holes in the fuselage for the skids (thus allowing me to use the standard skids and not having to bend them while still getting the correct shape) and am in the process of adding all the details to them again. More on that next time.

The stock Revell winch is also a piece of ****, nothing close to the original. Sometimes I just wonder where they get there dimensions and references from, must be a different aircraft then the one I’m trying to build?! I decided this would look awful on the finished model and got going with my own version of it. Luckily I was able to use most parts of the winch though, be it heavily altered. I cut holes in the winch itself and added a cable inside. The wiring will be made from scratch and I’ve drilled several 0.3 mm holes to achieve this. The installation itself will be mostly scratch build as well, with a few bits of the original kit on it. There’s still a lot to be done to this, but that will come in the next update as well.

For those who are actually still following this build with great interest, I post (almost daily) photos of the progress on Instagram. But if you don’t have access to this, I’ll try to add photos on a regular basis to this blog as well. So keep checking it, as I may not always post a blog entry when uploading new images.

Until next time!

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Detailing like never before

18 Oct. 2014 | Kibworth, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Welcome back to another long awaited update on the BK-117 project. After being at work for 2 weeks, I was ready for a healthy dosis of cutting, sanding, painting and glue sniffing.

Having posted an update on the ARC forum as well (follow here), I received a lot of interesting comments that made me think hard about the project. As someone pointed out very clearly, the TV series used 2 helicopters throughout the seasons. Now the issue with that is as follows; One of them (D-HECE) is an actual EMS helicopter while the other one (D-HEOE) is a police helo. Thus resulting in 2 very different aircraft if you look closely. The main differences can be seen in the tailboom, interior and engine air inlets on the engine cowl doors. Another difference is the window in the left aft door (EMS version). So before I could continue with my model, I had to decide which one I'd be replicating. After saving a lot of photos of both aircraft, I made the choice to build D-HECE, as used in the pilot episode of the series. This is the version that got me hooked to the show in the first place. What followed were hours of (re)watching the pilot episode and taking as many screenshots as I could to get the needed photos of the interior and close-up details. Must have seen it 6/7 times by now, I can almost finish any conversation in the episode (and no, that's not a challenge I'll accept!)

So since D-HECE doesn't have all the fancy GPS boxes and antenna's mounted to the tailboom, I had to redo the whole thing. Good thing I bought multiple kits with plenty of spare parts. First off was grinding the right side of the EC-145 tailboom to match the shape of the BK version. Using the new dremel tool this wasn't as much work as the previous time, although it still took me quite a while to achieve a result I liked. Once the basic structure was put together, I started adding PE parts to it, as well as antenna's and other bits and pieces. Details can be found in the photos. It's almost finished now, all that remains is adding a few PE parts to the vertical stabilizer, adding the strobe light and painting the whole thing.

The interior also received a lot of work. I ended up building 3 interiors, consisting of a stock BK version, a EC version with some BK parts and the final version, which is basically a widened BK interior with EC parts here and there. A lot of work has gone in to this and kept me busy for 2 full days. Once the basic shape was finished, I added the first scratch and PE parts, such as the equipment board to the left side and rails on the roof for the storage box mounted there. It has been sanded and is ready for it's first layer of paint. Should be interesting as it will become the first part painted using my new airbrush and compressor. Perhaps I should practise a bit on some old parts first... The stowage box on the rear door has been removed as it didn't look like the real thing at all. A new box was build completely from scratch which is a lot better. It needs a little more work in regars to detailing but I'm very pleased with the result so far. Good thing the ADAC still uses the same box on their BK helo's and providing the needed photos to get the angles and size right. All this work on the inside required me to remove parts of the outer, newly merged fuselage as it didn't line up anymore. What I'll do is place the interior inside first and then line the BK fuselage parts up with it.

In terms of super detailing this model, I began building the M/R gearbox from scratch. I've managed to buy a copy of the official maintenance manual which contains very detailed drawings of all parts and components. What I've build so far is made up of parts from a Space Shuttle, an EC-145, a BO-105, a BK-117 and some plastic sheets. A lot more work has to be done (see drawing in the background of the photo to the left) before it's finished, but a start has been made.

Continueing on the super detailing subject, I spent 3 hours on detailing the medical equipment board that will be mounted on the left side of the interior. Using parts from the BK, EC and a lot of scratch material such as wiring, strips and rods, I managed to get a pretty good representation of the real thing. Unfortunately there are not many (useable) photos of the actual Medicopter interior, so some of it is based on other models and imagination / logic. I'm very pleased with the result and think it's a good indication of just how detailed this model will be in the end.

A lot has happened in the past 2 weeks, but it's time again to put the project to rest and get ready for the harsh weather in the Shetlands. Please let me know what you think of the project so far (or if you have any suggestions). Feel free to send me an email, text, fill in the form on this website or give a ring, all comments are really appreicated and keep me going! See you in 2 weeks with another update.

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Drastic cutting and more

19 Sep. 2014 | Kibworth, UK | By Niek Nijsen

It has been a long wait again, as I moved to my new apartment in the UK and with work keeping me away for 2 weeks. However, after setting up my new workstation and getting all my new equipment, I was ready to get back to work. And boy, did I create myself some extra work...

Having had a short discussion with Anthony about my brilliant idea to combine the BK and the EC fuselage, we came to the conclusing that the EC was slightly wider than the BK one. However, they do share a lot of the same measurements at the bottom, top and rear part. So after measuring all these sections for a significant period of time, I drew out the section I could use and started cutting. Now that all parts were cut, I could see the huge amount of work I just created. A lot of sanding and filling will be required to make this a perfect fit, but I'm pleased with how it looks at the moment. I did made a serious cutting error on the right half, which requires me to fill a gap with some extra scratch building to make sure the window fits again later on. But that's something to worry about later.

While the fuselage was now resting after some serious amputations, I decided to give the new PE parts a try on the rear doors. Let me tell you, these parts are a major pain in the behind, as they are very small to handle and tend to be very fragile. It took me a good few hours to get the doors to their current stage, where the PE parts have been added and some of the storaging as well. Still a lot more detailing to do later on.

This morning I gave the fuselage a shot again and merged the BK and EC parts together. Using some strips on the inside, I was able to add some extra (and seriously needed) strength to the fuselage. Once the floor is in it will be a lot stronger, but for now this should hold if handled with care.

That's it for now, hopefully I get to work a bit more over the weekend as I'll be leaving for work again on Tuesday. Stay tuned and enjoy the photos I've added of the progress so far. Until the next update!

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And so it begins

24 May 2014 | Enschede, The Netherlands | By Niek Nijsen

Finally, after many months of waiting, my modelling equipment has arrived and I was able to set up my work desk. I’ve been doing a lot of research in the meantime on the subject and managed to get a lot of good information. Once my desk was set up, I got busy.

Starting with unpacking the boxes and sorting out what I collected during the previous few months, I got a good look at the massive size of this project. A few years ago, before moving to the USA, I started a kit of the BK-117, although not planned to be as detailed as now. I discovered that I already had cut out the doors on one of the sides, which was great news as I can new use this. I had to cut out the other half however. Took quite a while before I had them all cut out and lost one of the halves in the process, but the doors came out which was the ultimate goal. I now have one good set of doors and one good shell. The right side will remain closed, both doors and upper cowls, as I think this will add more to the realism than having all doors open.

Using the EC-145 upper engine compartment, I came to the conclusion that the BK-117 model was in fact 4mm too small… After fitting the front window, it appeared that 4mm would be too much and I opted to go with 3mm, as this would perfectly align the front window with the frame of the helicopter. I added a 3mm strip to one of the halves and things seem to fit a lot better. This does mean that the upper part of the helicopter will need a lot more work, as this is still 1mm too wide to fit perfectly. I should be able to solve this nicely with having one side open, allowing me to play a little.

I chose to use the EC-145 tail section, as the BK one lags a lot of detail. Not exactly the same as the BK version, but after I changed a few things they look exactly the same, except that the new one has a lot more details to it.

That’s it for now, but as you can see it’s starting to show the huge size of this project. Good thing I found someone through a forum from New Zealand who is willing to help me by providing a lot of needed information. Thank you Anthony, I’m very grateful. As always, photos can be found through the link at the top of this page. I’ll be away for a week, but once I’m back, more updates will follow and the build will start taking shape. See you then!

PS. I already got my hands on the next project, which will be a limited edition (only 800 were made) of the “Tiger II”, better known as the King Tiger. Being scale 1:16, it’s simply massive in size. I’ll try to set up a page for it in the near future, where you’ll be able to find more details and photos.

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Challenge Accepted

04 Aug. 2013 | Titusville, FL. USA | By Niek Nijsen

After being challenged to take this project to the next level of detail, I started collecting parts and additional kits to achieve this goal. Follow my progress on this build as I try to work my way through it.

To add a new dimension to this project, I will be presenting a time-lapse at the end. I've tried it a little and it's pretty good looking. A sample is posted in the photo section.

As soon as I'm finished with my U-96 project, I will be posting more updates here.