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Paul A H

P-3C Orion US Navy Anti-Submarine Aicraft - 1:72 Hasegawa

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P-3C Orion US Navy Anti-Submarine Aicraft

1:72 Hasegawa


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The Lockheed P-3 Orion is a long-distance maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft which has served with a surprising number of air forces and navies around the world for the last fifty years. Just like its British equivalent, the Nimrod, the Orion was developed from a civilian airliner in this case the turboprop-powered Lockheed L-188 Electra. Unlike the Nimrod, however, the Orion was developed while the Electra was still under development. It differed from the civilian version in having a shortened fuselage, internal weapons bay and a long tail extension which housed the Magnetic Anomaly Detector. The Orion is able to carry a range of torpedoes in its internal weapons bay, as well as a variety of air-to-surface missiles and rockets on its underwing hardpoints. A plethora of general and mission-specific upgrades have kept the Orion effective throughout its life.

As you might expect for an aircraft produced in such large numbers (757) and with such a long service history, the Orion has seen action in a number of conflicts over the years. The Orion saw service during the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Odyssey Dawn. Orions belonging to the air forces of Portugal and Spain also took part in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, while US Navy Orions have been deployed against so-called 'narco sub' smuggling operations. Despite the appearance of a replacement in the form of the P-8 Poseidon, with upgrades and maintenance programmes still underway, the Orion fleet looks set to serve for years to come.

Hasegawas Orion is almost as long-lived as the aircraft it is designed to represent, with 2015 marking the kit's 35th year. As you might expect from a Hasegawa kit, the moulds are in good shape, although there is a little flash here and there. Surface structures are generally represented by raised pane lines and for a large kit, the part count is fairly modest, meaning detail is a little on the light side. All told, the kit's 153 parts are spread across four sprues of white plastic and a single clear sprue. Although it falls someway short of a modern tooling, it still looks impressive on the sprue and has a clean, precise feel which inspires confidence.

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Hasegawa kits of a certain vintage have a reputation for somewhat spartan interior detail, but this kit is reasonably well-appointed, especially when you consider that you won't be able to see much through the cockpit windows. The flight deck is comprised of the floor and rear bulkhead, the instrument panel, control columns and three crew seats. While no match for a truly modern kit, the basic shapes are all there and decals are provided for the instrument panel and consoles. There is no interior detail to speak of behind the flight deck, so all you need to do before joining the fuselage halves is add the distinctive sonobuoy launch bay just aft of the trailing edge of the wing. There is no bomb bay provided, so if you want to add this feature you'll need to resort to scratchbuilding or hunt around for the Eduard photo etched brass version.

The wings are next, but they won't up the build as they are made up of just three parts; a single lower wing span and separate port and starboard upper wing halves. The engine cowlings are quite straightforward too, but pay attention to the instructions as the Canadian variant has an extra air intake on the inner engines. The wing tips also differ between the two variants, and some cutting and sanding will be needed to fit the alternative versions used with the Canadian example. The tail planes are straightforward affairs and neither the elevators nor the rudder are poseable.

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With the major components of the airframe assembled and joined together, all that remains to do is take care of the undercarriage, underwing stores and transparencies. The undercarriage is both accurate and reasonably detailed, and the entire nose gear bay slots into place from the outside, so you can assemble and paint the whole thing separately to the rest of the aircraft if you so wish. A full set of underwing pylons is provided along with a smattering of ordnance in the shape of an ALQ-78 ESM pod and a brace of Mk.46 torpedoes. The nosecone is moulded separately, allowing you to add the nose weight at the end of the build. A whopping 30g is required, and a tail prop is provided if you can't quite squeeze enough in. The clear parts are pretty decent and all fit into place from the outside of the airframe. Finishing touches include a plethora of small aerials, so make sure you use the correct ones for the version you are building (the instructions are very good in this regard.

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Two marking options are provided on the decal sheet:
Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion 161765, VP-40 "Fighting Marlins", US Navy ; and
Lockheed Martin CP-140 Aurora 140101, No.407 Sqn, Canadian Armed Forces.
The decals look good enough on the sheet, but there are a few aftermarket options if you fancy something a little different.

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Conclusion

Although not the most modern kit around, Hasegawa's Orion is still able to hold its own (thanks in part to being the only game in town in this scale). The raised panel lines will put some off, but for your money you get a reasonable helping of detail and a kit that will still build up into an attractive model. If you can shop around and get one for a good price, then it may well be worth your while.

Review sample courtesy of logo.jpg UK distributors for logo.jpg

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When I was a boy, these could be seen flying over my school almost every day out of NAS Glenview.

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An observation on the Hasegawa P-3C: the mould has been corrected at some point since the original release, as the escape hatch window above the wing on the right-hand side has been moved up. Needless to say I have the original mould and need to correct it! There are also weapons, intakes, aerials and pylons with the fuselage runners there are not present in the original boxing.

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A good kit, but you will need to go for aftermarket decals if you want a Canadian one as the greys on the Hasegawa sheet are quite a few shades off and the big "CAF" and "101" for under the wings were dark grey, not black as seen on the kit decals.

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I built this when I was 14. I'm 48 now! While I have no objection to old moulds being reissued, I dare say Hasegawa are still charging a hefty premium for the pleasure!!

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