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HMS Illustrious and Airwing details. 1:350


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HMS Illustrious
Atlantic Models 1:350


Originally released under the White Ensign label, Peter Hall has now updated this superb set and released it under his own Atlantic Models label. The set no longer contains the backdating parts, so is only for use on the Airfix HMS Illustrious kit in her final mod state. Peter has now added parts that were missed off in the original release, allowing the modeller to make and even more accurate example of the last of the Invincibles. As with the most recently released its, the instructions for this set are contained in a PDF file on a CD, so you will need a printer if you don’t have a computer near your modelling desk.

The single sheet measures 293mm x 211mm and contains over 164 individual parts. As with many etch sets, some of the plastic parts of the kit will need to be modified or removed to allow the etched parts to fit and replace the rather clunky plastic. This is particularly the case of the catwalks, which need the side plates carefully removed so that they are able to be attached to the perforated etched walkways. The first major assembly is that of the 1022 radar array. For this you need to removed the mounting base from the kit part and build the radar on to it. The whole array consists of eight parts, so is much less of a struggle than the bedstead arrays in other Atlantic sets. The completed radar is fitted to the top of the radar mast along with the surrounding platform and combined railings. The mast is completed with the addition of tow forward mounted platforms, the upper of which is fitted with the kits sensor dome. The forward and aft floodlight gantries are then built up and fitted into position along with the forward and aft superstructure railings. The searchlight, signal lamp and lookout platforms are then folded to shape and fitted to the top of the bridge roof, again with the appropriate railings. Under the flyco position, two traffic light gantries are assembled and fitted. The foremast is fitted out with four new yardarms, their ladder supports, ensign gaff, top antenna and another unidentified antenna.


Meanwhile the ships crane is fitted with four new pulley assemblies complete with cables, whilst just aft of the crane a lifering stowage, complete with ring is attached to the deck edge. The main mast is given a comprehensive rebuild with five new platforms with appropriate supports and inclined ladders, new 996 radar face, platform, railings and mechanism, new TACAN aerial, two wire antenna spreaders, and finally the vertical approach light bar. The fore and aft funnels are also provided with new yardarms, ESM sensors, funnel caps, railings, front and rear facings, complete with relief detail plus separate watertight doors, and whip antenna bases, along with a choice of ships badges which are fitted to the fore funnel. There are a new set of antenna and railings for both the aft sensor platform and the mizzen mast, whilst the 20mm cannon mounts are given new netting, and railings. There are also new grilles for the ships sides. The approach light mounting is provided with a new platform and the satcom assemblies, new dishes, which need to be carefully rolled to shape and attached to the antenna back plate. All the liferafts are given new racks, of three different styles, whilst the ships boats are also given a detail makeover with the correct style of blocks for the davits, handrails, propshafts, props, stern rail and rudder for the motor boat, plus steering wheel, stern structure and launching cage for the RHIB. Each of the Goalkeeper cannons are given replacement gun cages, platform netting and railings.

The most complex task, as mentioned above, is the replacement of all the flightdeck catwalks with perforated etched parts, to which the various kit structures need to be added. The catwalks are provided with a full set of angled support brackets, along with additional details such as the refueling and fire point assemblies, plus the cable and hose reel assemblies, which require a short length of styrene rod to be provided by the modeller for the centrally mounted drum. The instructions clearly show where to fit the various lengths of railing that are required for the ships starboard side of the flightdeck, and all the various hull openings. They also show where all the side netting is positioned, around the ship and the ski ramp.

To compliment the ships details, Atlantic models have also released a new set to detail the airwing. The single146mm x 96mm sheet contains new rotors, folded and spread, which are quite complex assemblies for the Merlins, whilst the Sea King rotors are much simpler. Each helicopter also receives smaller details, such as the rear strake on the Merlins, intake shroud, sponson supports plus side and crew doors for the Sea Kings. Both the Sea Harrier FA2s and Harrier GR-7s are provided with new flaps, outriggers, heat shields, pylons access ladders and in-flight refuelling probe for the FA2s and LIDS strakes for the GR-7s. The fins are provided for Sidewinder missiles and the instructions show how to make the missiles body, which will be a challenge in this scale. The set also includes a selection of ground equipment, including the missile support stands, torpedo trolleys, forklift trucks, towbars, general use trolley, fluid replenishment trolley and hydraulic supply rig.


I’m really pleased that Peter at Atlantic Models has re-released this set, especially as he’s gone to the trouble to update it, adding parts that weren’t in the original WEM set. If you want to build the Airfix kit as it is from the box, you really need this set as it provides everything you need to build a museum quality model. The addition of the airwing set is the icing on the cake and although very fiddly will give the aircraft and helicopters a more scale look. Very highly recommended.


Review sample courtesy of Peter Hall of logo.gif

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