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Ex-FAAWAFU

ZE419, a Sea King HAS5 that (temporarily) forgot how to fly

1,615 posts in this topic

As my ludicrously long Sea Vixen build finally shows signs of drawing to a close, thoughts turn to what to build next. I always try to have two things on the go at any one time, with the other being my never-ending Ark Royal build - but there is a limit to how much 1/350 scratch building and detailing I can stand at any one time, and I need to have something in 1/48 (my aircraft scale of choice) to keep me going. I thought about a twin Buccaneer build - an Anti-Flash White S1 and an Ark Royal (4) final commission S2D. Those will come at some point, since I have the kits and the necessary conversion materials.

But watching the splendid work of Steve (Fritag), Debs (Ascoteer) and others has convinced me that it is high time I built something that I actually flew myself. Sea King or Lynx, Sea King or Lynx... much indecision was finally tilted towards the Queen of the Skies by all the press coverage of its retirement from RN SAR service earlier this year (though the ASaC7 Baggers will soldier on for a while yet), and by markdipXV711's excellent build of an 819 SAR cab which he and I flew in together 20-odd years ago.

So, since 819 (my other Sea King squadron) has just been done, I have finally plumped for an aircraft from my first tour.

Pull up a bollard and listen to a true dit.

820 Naval Air Squadron, 1988, 18 months into my first front-line tour. We were part of Ark Royal (5)'s CAG (carrier air group) throughout my time on the Squadron, and in July 1988 the ship plus 801 (8 x Sea Harrier FRS1), 849B Flight (3 x Sea King AEW2), a detachment from 845 (2 x Sea King HC4) and 820 (9 x Sea King HAS5) set off for Australia, via Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Brunei and Subic Bay (Philippines), and home via Mumbai and Gibraltar. 6 months away, and a bloody good time was had by all...

Less than 2 weeks after we sailed, we were taking part in a NATO exercise in the approaches to the Med; basically we were playing the bad guys trying to force a passage through the straits, and a number of RN, USN and Spanish units were trying to stop us... including HM Submarines Torbay, Otter and Opportune.

The aim of these exercises is not to be 100% realistic, but to make sure that there is maximum interaction, so occasionally there would be a 2 hour pause where the submarines, having come right inside the screen and "attacked" the hell out of the ships, would withdraw 30 miles and start again. We would knock off tracking them and leave them alone to reposition.

In those long distant 1980s Cold War days, ASW was our bread and butter, and on the whole we were pretty good at it. Most of the time we did passive ASW - chucking huge quantities of sonobuoys out of the aircraft and finding submarines that way, often working with our Nimrod and P3C brethren, and often working against USSR boats rather than friendly exercise ones. In my first few weeks on the squadron we rippled 3 (3 cabs airborne 24/7) all the way from Norfolk VA to Harstad in Norway, including several days of tracking 2 Victor IIIs that were taking an interest in our games. It was pretty exhausting, but we could keep it up almost indefinitely.

For the guys in the back, passive ASW was often good fun; 3-dimensional chess, and all that. But for the pilots it was skull-shatteringly dull, flying around at 4-5,000' (nosebleed territory for any self-respecting helicopter pilot) and stooging at 70kts for maximum endurance for hour after hour after hour.

But on this occasion we were doing active ASW, the task for which the Sea King was originally designed. Active ASW in the daytime is enormous fun for the pilots, especially when you are in contact. At night the aircraft flies the profiles for you, closely monitored by the pilots (since you are down at 40', you want to keep a close eye on things in the pitch black; it can be a tad buttock-clenching at night). In the day, however, you generally fly it all yourself ("manual jumps" as the jargon goes) without any assistance from the AFCS (automatic flight control system), and it's a blast.

So there you have the scene. I am 18 months into front line flying, and have reached the dizzy heights of being captain of my own crew. My P2 for this trip is a hugely experienced USN exchange pilot (way more experienced than me, but flying as second pilot while he gets up to speed with RN procedures).

We do 45 minutes of active Torbay bashing, but then reach the pre-briefed pause while she repositions. Rather than disrupt the flying programme, we simply keep going, so we have taken a plastic milk float with us (hi tech, I tell you) and are doing some grappling training; chuck the milk float out of the back and practice SAR with it - much harder than it sounds, cos the milk float thrashes around in the down wash, so it is great training for the back seat in conning the aircraft and the front seat in hovering it precisely.

A few minutes into the grapple work, with Jim the USN guy on the controls, the port engine stops... or so we thought. The Nr (rotor speed) decays as the good engine runs out of puff (too hot and too heavy to hover on one engine) and we subside rapidly onto the water yelling Mayday and punching the windows out. Phil Smith, the Observer, says he had never seen anyone strap in as fast as poor old BJ Sandoe, the Crewman who had been lying on the floor of the aircraft with his head sticking out, conning Jim onto the milk float, when suddenly the Atlantic Ocean came up to greet him.

As I reached up to shut down the No 2 engine (cos you sure as heck don't want to abandon a helicopter while the rotors are still turning) it became apparent that the No 1 engine had not in fact failed, but simply run down to flight idle. The fuel computer had developed a fault and tried to shut the throttle, but there is a physical interlock built into the system for precisely this emergency, called the Flight Idle Stop, which is basically a screw jack that prevents the throttle from closing beyond a certain point - the very last thing you do when starting up is to engage it.

So we over-rode the computer and managed the throttle manually, the Nr came back up to where it should be and shot off the surface of the sea like a startled rabbit, downgraded our Mayday to a Pan, and flew back to Mum. A Green Endorsement much later (still on the wall of my loo) and very shaky legs for a few hours afterwards.

Well, it has to be this cab, doesn't it?

So I present to you ZE419 / 014 / R of 820 Naval Air Squadron in July 1988; a bog standard Sea King HAS5. Dark blue (this was just before the days when everything became grey), black markings. Photos of the real aircraft to follow, I expect, but for now she is one of these in the distance (photo taken the day before we sailed from Pompey, so about 2 weeks before the ditching):

bd0a3171c1c72232f568eeda6d67b2b6_zps7zk6

The aircraft will be built much as in this photo, actually; folded, included the tail, with engine blanks in. The cabs in the photo have tip socks on, but I will probably build mine with the more robust blade support system known as "Forth Road Bridge" gear (as in this Mk 5 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum):

DSC_1389_zpsk4d6cvkt.jpg

The basis of the model will be the Hasegawa 1/48 Sea King, using the "Ark Royal HAR5" [no such thing; it should be HU5] edition (which for some reason Photobucket refuses to rotate, so turn your head):

CB42FB87-A606-4320-A068-604A1AD03399_zps

...and the excellent Flightpath conversion set, which contains all sorts of goodies important to this build - notably weapons carriers, assorted aerials and a tail rotor much better suited to having a gust lock fitted to it.

Herewith statutory sprue shot:

B8A8C743-92FD-4CDF-B565-E42F98F27B46_zps

...and pic of the contents of Flightpath box and a couple of other aftermarket goodies:

5E6E9C53-E1FF-40EB-AFE5-8781F5004C33_zps

As it happens, I also have a Hasegawa AEW2a kit (acquired before the Mk5 kit was released, as the only game in town for a future Mk5 build). This will also be useful, since it contains a number of applicable bits such as Orange Crop ESM aerials (removed from the HU5). And since all the Hasegawa boxings are variations on the same theme, the kit already contains some parts that I will use - e.g. the HU5 has the sand filter in front of the engine intakes, but in my era we simply had the "barn door"; similarly the HU5 has the sonar removed and a blanking plate fitted. The kit contains both a barn door and a (sort of, -ish) sonar.

[i also have a second complete "Ark Royal HAR5", designated eventually to be an 819 SAR aircraft... but not yet].

There will not be much progress for a few days, while I get the Vixen over the line....

Herewith photo of the appropriate log book entry (bottom line:

4B61171D-2A3D-4918-9578-38DDE9FAC943_zps

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU
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...and since you ask, yes I have started fiddling.

This is the Hasegawa rotor head:

Top:

C3A780D8-B6D2-4D00-BCC5-D3CBA37CCA2A_zps

Side (dry fit):

F2EEAC93-3635-4445-A73A-7E040A7FF162_zps

Underneath:

93566356-0B23-4B90-A02E-9E445F264A7E_zps

This is a real Sea King rotor head (from a German cab judging by the stencils, but they are identical):

3587_zpssrafianq.jpg

Those flattish plates on the underside of the kit part are meant, I think, to represent the droop stops, which are the thingies with dayglo red spots on the end of them. Real droop stops are nothing like flat plates, so that is where I am starting.

And then I have to decide just how much of the hydraulic piping I need to add to make it look busy enough!

More (fairly) soon.

Crisp

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU
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Enjoy!

:popcorn:

Ere! This popcorn tastes like fish!

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I love the background story to the kit build - absolutely fascinating stuff. The photos of the real thing add to it as well and begin to bring it to life. Will be following this build with interest.

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This build will be fun to follow, more so since it will be you tackling this horribly fitting, over priced piece of plastic and not me!

Martin

PS: This is my all time most hated kit, you can tell can't you?

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Just had to check ... last flew in ZE419 on 25/10/93. Wet winching in the Clyde 👍

I still have a few bits n bobs saved from xv711 build. If needed, just message.

Looking forward to this ... carry on 👏👏

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Just after I wrote the above I stuck ZE419 into Google, as you do. One of the things that came up was this picture:

seaking_ze419_zpsgtexsuo8.jpg

...taken at Fairford in 1991, by which time she had left 820 (probably to be converted to HAS6) and joined 814NAS, known as the "Flying Tigers" by themselves and the "Soggy Moggies" by the rest of the Pinging world.

Much more sobering, however, was an accident report. A few weeks before I joined 819 as SPLOT in 1994, this cab ditched at night off the Southern coast of Islay. The two pilots and Observer managed to get out, but the Aircrewman was killed. The accident was before I joined, but the whole Squadron was still very much in shock when I arrived.

This build will therefore also be dedicated to all those Sea King aircrew who were less lucky than I was the day that most dependable of aircraft decided to let me down. There but for the Grace of God...

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Just had to check too......never flown in ZE419 and with only 26 hours on my book it's hardly surprising. By the turn of the century she must have been long gone from 820.

I shall be following along diligently with a half finished version languishing in the box that hasn't been touched for many a year (or decade even!)

If you haven't already check out the seaking STGB from last year in the reference section. I am sure there is some good detail. Also being a diligent grubber I still have trade notes and diagrams on many parts, especially the head! I shall dust them off if you wish.

Can't wait for you to cracked on with this, it'll be entertaining for sure 😊

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That's some back story, and more than most us can muster!

Please tell me to go forth etc, but I think I prefer the socks to the Forth road bridge!

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Ooh aye,I'm aboard for this one Crispy.

I have an "Ace of Clubs" SAR cab done out of the excellent Revell 1/72nd kit with Almark decals.

I folded the main,left the tail alone but never built the Forth Bridge to suit,so shall be looking for

a "how-it's-done" from ye so that I can at last(after about 10 years)regale her with her own Forth Bridge.

Who knows,I might even snap her mug-shot..............

Great dit too and very lucky realising that No.1 had "merely" wound down rather suffered a broken elastic.

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Top narrative to open the build with Crisp. How can one resist yet more naval aviation goodness. Good luck!

Tony

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And then I have to decide just how much of the hydraulic piping I need to add to make it look busy enough!

Glue a chunk of Brillo Pad on there and you'll have a fairy good representation I think Crisp.

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Look forward to this one and enjoyed your introduction Crisp.

You should badger those guys who publish the 'From the Cockpit' books to do a Sea King,Lynx and Wessex.

Richard

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There's no getting away from me Crisp

I'm aboard me hearty!

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And then I have to decide just how much of the hydraulic piping I need to add to make it look busy enough!

All of it of course! With your skills we expect nothing less!

Martin

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Marvellous!

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Also being a diligent grubber I still have trade notes and diagrams on many parts, especially the head! I shall dust them off if you wish.

Ooh yes please! Photos are all very well, but often v hard to interpret (especially since for obvious reasons pretty much all of them are taken from below).

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Aha!

I'm looking forward to this.

Oh and some dit spinning too...If I'd bounced off the Oggsplash in a wobblychopter I don't think I'd ever get airborne in one again!

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Aha!

I'm looking forward to this.

Oh and some dit spinning too...If I'd bounced off the Oggsplash in a wobblychopter I don't think I'd ever get airborne in one again!

You'll be glad my dear that in your 'Erkerleese you didn't sound like a wibbly-wobblychopper driver on t'radio either :lol: :lol:

Ask Sven Fritag about it,he know's what I mean(unless you know yersell that is).

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Better than not bouncing!

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...experts...

No pressure, Crisp!

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No pressure, Crisp!

No disrespect, but not difficult compared to my skills lol

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