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1/72 Westland Lynx AH.3 RNZAF


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I got a bagged Frogspawn Lynx minus instructions and decals a few weeks back and I had no intention of building it OOB, so with the help of numerous builds here and photos online I decided to fudge a hypothetical Army version.

Here's the backstory:

Westland Lynx AH.3

- Export version designed for the Royal New Zealand Air Force with 835 kW (1,120 shp) Gem 41-1 engines and uprated gearbox. 12 produced and delivered 1986-87. Later upgraded with BERP blades. Now replaced with AH.9.

As 1985 began the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) issued a requirement for a light battlefield helicopter to replace its Bell Sioux, which had entered service some 20 years previously. Six manufacturers tendered their options: the Aerospatiale AS.250 Squirrel, Agusta A.109, Bell with their 406CS Combat Scout, Bolkow’s B.105, the McDonnell Douglas Defender, and the Westland Lynx. The entries from Bell, MDD and Westland emerged as front-runners on paper.

A landing accident in August meant MDD’s MD530MG prototype would be unable to make the competition, so a civilian MD530F was hastily converted to roughly –MG specs and shipped to New Zealand. Some quarters saw the Defender as the best option as there was considerable mechanical expertise in the country from 10+ years civil use of the aircraft, it was highly manoeuvrable and difficult to spot.

Similarly the Westland Lynx AH.1 had been proved by several years of service with the British Army Air Corps and Westland had refined the aircraft into the AH.5 variant which was being trialled by the AAC. Another variant, the AH.3, was suggested by Westland as a cheaper alternative to the costly AH.5 and proposed AH.7 for the RNZAF.

Bell showed their commitment to the tender by shipping their Combat Scout demonstrator to New Zealand and flew a demonstration tour of RNZAF/NZ army bases throughout March 1986. Unlike the other two front-runners though the 406CS had neither service nor civilian record to its name, but the similar Kiowa Warrior was in service with the US Army.

At the end of November 1986 the RNZAF formally announced the results of the competition, with the Westland Lynx AH.3 winning the contract. An order for 14 aircraft (12 operational plus two attrition/spares airframes) was placed in December, with deliveries to start in mid-1987 and be completed by 1989. The aircraft would be used by the new 9 Squadron, generated at RNZAF Woodbourne specifically for battlefield support. The aircraft would be nominally based there but it was intended pairs would make “combat detachments” for exercises around the country, so they would rarely all be at “home” at any given time.

In 1993 the aircraft were upgraded with British Experimental Rotor Programme blades for improved performance after concerns were expressed with full loads.

The aircraft were upgraded by Safe Air to AH.11 standard – an RNZAF version of the British Army AH.9 but with skid landing gear – with LHTECH CT800-4N engines and a stronger gearbox to allow higher take-off weights, starting in May 2007. Rather than have the entire fleet grounded to allow the upgrades to take place the combat detachment pairs were instead rotated to Safe for the process. The upgrades were completed in November 2008.

First step was to find a replacement for the moulded-shut doors with the prototypical three windows.

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Inbetween cutting out the doors I hack up the Italeri 1/72 Bell 412 doors:

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As anyone who knows the kit is aware, the interior is two seats, an (open?!) instrument panel and and a floor for the cockpit. So I improved on it a bit:

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Cabin seats donated by the Airfix Lynk Mk.8 - more on that later - as well as spares box controls, scratched armour plate and Airwaves PE for the panel.

You may be able to see the gun mount (already attached) and GPMG/M60 I've scratched, a rescue winch and the two new doors. Also the Navy Lynx interior, but ignore that if you'd be so kind.

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I'm having fun with all the scratchbuilding, detailing etc and seeing as how several BMer builds have been inspiration/reference I thought it only fair to share my progress thus far.

Edited by k5054nz
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<High Pedantry>

Your backstory is great, but if you really want to be plausible you can't call it an AH3. The marks were sequential regardless of whether for Army or Navy:

AH1, HAS2 / 2 (FN) , HAS3, 4 (FN), AH5, AH6 (a specific version for the Royal Marines - folding tail, deck harpoon etc. - that was never built), AH7, HMA8, AH9 and so on.

So if Westlands proposed it, they wouldn't have called it AH3, cos the RN Mark 3 started from well before 1986.

</High Pedantry>

Sorry; I'll shut up now!

Edited by Ex-FAAWAFU
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