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Hasegawa Hughes 500MD Defender ‘IDF’

The successful Hughes 500/MD 500 series began life in response to a US Army requirement for a light observation helicopter.Hughes’ Model 369 won the contest against competition from Bell and Hiller. The OH-6 Cayuse first flew in February 1963.

The 500 series design features shock-absorbing landing skid struts, a turboshaft engine mounted at a 45-degree angle toward the rear of the cabin pod, a fuel tank cell under the floor and the battery in the nose.

The engine exhaust port is located at the end of the cabin pod underneath the tailboom. It has a short-diameter main rotor system and a short tail, giving it an agile control response and is less susceptible to weather-cocking.

Hughes won the US Army’s LOH contest with its OH-6 helicopter by submitting a very low and aggressive price per airframe (without an engine). Due to rising prices, the US Army later re-opened the contest, where Hughes offered the machine at a more realistic price, but was undercut by the redesigned Bell OH-58 Kiowa (military JetRanger). OH-6 helicopters were still ordered by the US Army, though at a much reduced number.

Hasegawa 1/48 Hughes 500MD Defender ‘IDF’

The Kit:
I came across this model kit not too long ago. It was some luck because as fair as I know,  this kit for the moment is out-of-production with the instruction sheet showing a 2004 print date. The Hasegawa 1/48 Hughes MD Defender ‘IDF’ is a little kit compared with other helis and aircraft of the same scale.

It does features a slight mix of receded and raised panel lines with a very nice fit. The cockpit might be a little bit on the bare side for some; in that case there is room to add other scratch built parts especially on the back of the cabin.

I started by the cockpit where the control details are portrayed as decals. No big deal for me, the shape of the windshield on the 500MD will produce distortion and some of your extra stuff will not be clearly visible.

I did a dry fit test, the cockpit can not be slide into the cabin after gluing. The 2 body halves fit is nearly perfect and once they are together, there is little to no gap to fill and sand. A big relief to me, I hate fixing damaged raised panel lines.

Next was the huge windshield which is basically the face of the 500MD helicopter. This is the time to check for your pilot figures posture.

The figure’s helmets are very flush to the clear canopy and you don’t want to commit this clear part to glue without checking that fit. This is to me a very critical step, I don’t use water based glue for clear parts but Tamiya Extra Thin Cement.

Provided with this kit are marking for 2 Israeli versions:

-Israeli Air Force 190 Sqn ”Defender’ 223

-Israeli Air Force 190 Sqn ‘Defender’ 202


The model kit also comes with 4 pilots, 2 of them which will not be used and would be available for your next build. This kit was tackled in around 6 hours from start to the studio for the final pictures. Street price is around $20 to $25, not bad for the usual high price tag on Hasegawa kits.

The kit looks very nice next to my Kinetic 1:48 F-16i SUFA. The base color is Tamiya XF-49 Khaki airbrushed with a Badger Velocity airbrush.

Highly Recommended!

Jeannette Valle
Jeannette Valle

Jeannette has been working with semiconductors companies for the last 17 years. Active in Christian Spanish ministries around the Twin Cities. Avid but selective collector of Coca Cola memorabilia.