The seahorse is a funny little animal. Delicate looking but with bony armour, they swim upright, have no scales, and the female gives birth to eggs which the male then carries before giving birth live young. That’s shared parenthood right there. It’s also not like a horse in any way, but most things in the sea seem to be named after things on land that they aren’t really like.
Cue the Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse, which isn’t really like either the sea or land based versions of it’s namesake either. But it is quite a cool device, being one of the last piston-engined helicopters in use in the U.S Navy, operating from the mid-’50s to the 1970s. This one, built by [Maks] of Flickr, is in a rather fetching (and highly visible) orange due to its use in the arctic, and has been quite wonderfully recreated.
Finding the orange parts needed to construct this model must have been tricky as it’s a rather rare colour, and you can see the excellent fruits of [Maks]’s efforts at his photostream. Swim over to Flickr in an upright fashion via the link above.
The early marine biologists of the world were not inventive in the naming department. It seems many marine animals are simply named after a land animal, but with the word ‘sea’ added before, or ‘fish’ added after, even if there are no similarities whatsoever between the two. The humble seahorse is a case in point. With a mass of just a few ounces, no legs, and reproduction via eggs, the seahorse and regular horse are about as far apart on the animal spectrum as you can get. Lazy marine biologists, lazy…
Military engineers however, are far better at naming things. This is a SikorskyH-34 Seahorse helicopter, and whilst the weird little fish doesn’t have rotor blades, it really does look quite a lot like the H-34. The Seahorse’s strange looks come from the huge 1,500bhp radial engine mounted in the nose, as back in the fifties most helicopters were not powered by the more compact turbine engines that are now fitted to almost all rotorary-wing aircraft.
This enormous power plant meant the cockpit needed to be raised above it in order for the pilots to see, giving the Sikorsky H-34 and the many variants that followed their unusual seahorsey shape.
This particular version of the Sikorsky H-34 is a UH-34D from 1962, deployed by the US Marines in the Vietnam War and recreated beautifully in Lego form in all of its weirdness by Flickr’s Ralph Savelsberg (aka Mad Physicist). Ralph’s superb replica of the famous American helicopter includes a side opening door and some simply awesome detailing, enabled by the range of ingenious building techniques that Ralph is known for.
Head over to Flickr via the link above for all the photos, and you can read our interview with the builder as part of The Lego Car Blog’s Master MOCers series by clicking here.