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Hamiltonian

Another 1/48 Apollo recovery Sea King conversion

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So this is yet another conversion of a Sikorsky SH-3H kit to depict the SH-3D "Old 66" recovery helicopter for Apollo 11. It's the first time I've posted to "Work In Progress". I suspect I'm going to be grateful for input from people with more experience of this aircraft.

 

My starting point is Hasegawa's 1/48 kit:

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I've also got the necessary short sponsons from Belcher Bits, the Starfighter/Old 66 decal sheet, a set of Montex paint masks, and the Hasegawa 1/48 SH-3D instruction sheet, downloaded from Scalemates.

 

On opening my kit box bought from eBay, I discover I've also got two sets of Quickboost seats (if anyone wants one, drop me a PM and I'll post it to you), and an Eduard photoetch cockpit set.

 

I started by doing a bit of scratch building to produce the camera mount and Yagi antennae. I've been helped with the appearance of the camera mount by watching Todd Douglas Miller's excellent Apollo 11 documentary.

The camera mount for Apollo 11 seems to have been a bit more complicated than is often depicted:

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The lower right image is from NASA / S-69-21723; the others are screen-grabs from Apollo 11. There is certainly something mounted outboard of the two video cameras, wrapped with yellow tape. I've interpreted it as being an SLR stills camera with a motor drive.

 

Here's my best effort to sorta-kinda reproduce the appearances above:

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In the Apollo 11 images above, there also seems to be a weapons mount point just forward of the camera mount, bearing some sort of attachment I can't quite make out and which I can't find in my reference material. I'm going to need to scratch build this, too. It seems the same sort of fixing was probably present on the aft mount points on the port side too:

66-port.jpg

 

What was happening on the forward mount points behind the sponsons is a mystery to me. I'll put together another stills camera to mount on the starboard side, but I've no evidence of what this actually looked like, beyond a tantalizing glimpse in about three frames of Apollo 11, as the helicopter drops out of sight on the elevator.

 

 

The Yagi antennae were a bit more straightforward. Here they are with their attached cables:

spacer.png

 

I used the "free" resin seats and photoetch detailing in putting together the cockpit. It's an SH-3H instrument layout, but it looks better than I could manage trying to detail by hand:

 

SH-3-cockpit-2.jpg

SH-3-cockpit-1.jpg

 

The SH-3D instructions were very useful in finding out which lumps and bumps needed to be removed from the fuselage, since that kit used the same moulding as the SH-3H:

fuselage-mods.jpg

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I also shortened the horizontal stabilizer and filled the locating holes for its supporting strut:

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The kit comes with what seems to be a depiction of the dipping sonar retracted into its well, so I carved that out and blanked off the upper end of the empty well with styrene card:

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Finally, I used the Montex interior masks to paint up the inside of the canopy, and added the green panels with Tamiya clear green (which I found something of a nightmare to apply).

canopy.jpg

 

Hopefully, some actual assembly photographs coming up soon.

 

 

 

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Looks good to me.  I have some experience of the (Westland) Sea King, which may or may not be of assistance, depending on which area we’re talking about - but none of the Sikorsky original.  There was a lot of overlap, though, especially at the beginning, so by all means ask!

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8 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Looks good to me.  I have some experience of the (Westland) Sea King, which may or may not be of assistance, depending on which area we’re talking about - but none of the Sikorsky original.  There was a lot of overlap, though, especially at the beginning, so by all means ask!

Thanks. My main problem at the moment is that I need to scratch build some aft weapon mounts, of the kind visible in front of the camera mount in the top two screen grabs below, and hazily in the photo at bottom right:

Apollo-11-Cameras-1.jpg

It looks like there were a matching pair on the other side:

66-port.jpg

 

But so far I haven't turned up a clear photograph or diagram of what presumably was some sort of standard attachment. I can knock something together from what's visible above, of course, but it would be nice to have a better idea of what I was making!

 

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9 hours ago, shortCummins said:

I fancy doing this myself, I'll tag along if I may

 

rgds

John)shortCummins)

You're very welcome.

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Looks like a standard USN weapon carrier mount of the era - but alas the RN equivalent is completely different, so I don’t think I can assist much on that one.

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You are correct, the third item was a 35mm still camera, carried under the TV and film cameras - the same arrangement was first used on the Gemini recovery helicopters, as seen here:

spacer.png 

I reproduced it in 1/72 for my build of Apollo 7's pick-up aircraft, '55':

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The hi-res photo here of '66' disembarking the Apollo 10 crew has a good side-on view of the cameras:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Apollo_10_crewmembers_arrive_aboard_the_USS_Princeton.jpg

And there's another good angle of the arrangement here:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:S70-35645_(25713855072).jpg

 

Don't know if you've seen it, but there's some useful detail about '66' here:

http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2015/06/sikorsky-sh-3d-buno-152711-old-66.html

 

 

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Well, I might just about have got to the stage where I'm ready to glue the big bits together.

 

After a bit of searching around for images of the front camera set-up, I haven't found anything much better than a couple of screen-grabs from the Apollo 11 documentary I mentioned earlier.

 

forward-camera-1.jpg

forward-camera-2.jpg

 

So it seems to have been attached to the rear weapon mounting point of the forward pair, and there doesn't seem to have been anything attached to the other three forward mount points. So I've cobbled together a representation of a stills camera on some sort of mount, with the usual copious yellow tape applied. I've also cannibalized the kit's unused forward mount points to produce some rear mount points that look something like what I'm seeing in photographs.

Img_5026.jpg

 

I've also mated the Belcher Bits replacement sponsons with the kit parts, which was slightly fiddly. I drilled out the locating holes for the upper sponson struts, which are represented by little dents in the resin parts, and needed to do a little bit of light chisel work to get everything to mate properly.

Here they are, waiting for the epoxy to set:

Img_5012.jpg

(You can also see some initial progress in eliminating the window on the port side, just aft of the door.)

And here they are afterwards, with a light coat of grey primer:

Img_5024.jpg

 

The SH-3D instruction sheet that I downloaded from Scalemates wants me to add a detail to the rear underside of the starboard sponson, from sprues that don't come with the SH-3H kit.

kit-starboard-sponson.jpg

 

I was getting ready to scratch build this, but it doesn't seem to appear in photographs of the real aircraft, so I skipped it.

starboard-sponson.jpg

 

There are three circular lights on the underside that don't have paint masks in the Montex set. I'm not very good at cutting tiny circular masks by hand, so after a bit of thought I stuck some Tamiya masking tape to an offcut from some styrene sheet, and punched holes with a leather punch of the appropriate size. It took a few attempts, but I ended up with some nice little masks:

Img_5013.jpg

 

Then I had to scratch build a little triangular fin that is prominent on the underside of the SH-3D, but absent from the SH-3H kit. Oh, and then I had to scratch build another even smaller triangular fin, which is provided in the SH-3H kit, but which departed to the carpet monster almost as soon as it came off the sprue.

Here's the underside with those details in place, and the blanked well for the dipping sonar:

Img_5015.jpg

 

On the port side fuselage, I managed to get a half-decent result in eliminating the window immediately aft of the door. If I was doing it again, I'd sand the moulded window frame off the kit part before gluing it in place, because it made subsequent filling and sanding more awkward than it needed to be.

Img_5018.jpg

 

And on the starboard side, as well as eliminating all the necessary lumps and bumps, I added the cable runs for the camera mounts, front and back, fashioned from a bit of stretched sprue.

Img_5019.jpg

 

That's it for now. I hope to have same more major progress next time I check in.

 

 

 

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So I got the big bits glued together, and the basic paint job established. Still some work on painting window frames, etc, required, and I'm just going out to get some red and blue paint for further detailing. Then the whole thing gets a coat of gloss.

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basic2.jpg

 

I confess I struggled with the cockpit canopy, which comes in three parts that I found difficult to position either simultaneously or in stages. Both sets of side windows have enjoyed a little tour of the fuselage interior during the process, but at least I managed to get them out again.

 

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On 11/30/2019 at 10:46 PM, Hamiltonian said:

forward-camera-1.jpg
kit-starboard-sponson.jpg

 

 

 

I was getting ready to scratch build this, but it doesn't seem to appear in photographs of the real aircraft, so I skipped it.

starboard-sponson.jpg

It doesn't seem to appear in your bottom photo because those parts (T5 and Z4) are inside the sponson - they're for the recessed spotlight in the port unit...

....in your top photo, you can make out the dark area of the square recess in the outer rear part of the sponson - it is just about visible in the bottom one too...

Edited by andyf117

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1 hour ago, andyf117 said:

It doesn't seem to appear in your bottom photo because those parts (T5 and Z4) are inside the sponson - they're for the recessed spotlight in the port unit...

....in your top photo, you can make out the dark area of the square recess in the outer rear part of the sponson - it is just about visible in the bottom one too...

Ah-ha. That makes sense, thanks. I briefly wondered what the point of the tiny sprue Z was in the SH-3D instructions, but I now guess it's a little cluster of transparent parts for various modified versions of the base kit.

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Still plugging away with paint details. Can anyone tell me the purpose of the line I've arrowed in the photograph below?

66-a13-landing.jpg

It extends from just below the port cockpit window to the midline of the underside. In other photographs it looks like a length of rope with a metal ring in its free end, so I assume it was something to do with aircraft handling, but I'm not clear on how the free end relates to the dark rectangle on which it appears superimposed.

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1 hour ago, Hamiltonian said:

Still plugging away with paint details. Can anyone tell me the purpose of the line I've arrowed in the photograph below?

66-a13-landing.jpg

It extends from just below the port cockpit window to the midline of the underside. In other photographs it looks like a length of rope with a metal ring in its free end, so I assume it was something to do with aircraft handling, but I'm not clear on how the free end relates to the dark rectangle on which it appears superimposed.

 

Edit: Thanks to andyf117! A close up of the anchor cable.

 

My picture:

 

 

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From the backside it looks like this:

 

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Edited by JayBee

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1 hour ago, Hamiltonian said:

Still plugging away with paint details. Can anyone tell me the purpose of the line I've arrowed in the photograph below?

66-a13-landing.jpg

Not aircraft handling as such - it's actually the sea anchor cable...

....the anchor (basically a canvas drogue) was stowed behind the pilot's seat, and in the event of ditching, would be attached to the ring at the top of the cable and thrown out...

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1 hour ago, JayBee said:

 

Edit: Thanks to andyf117! A close up of the anchor cable.

 

My picture:

 

 

spacer.png

 

 

 

Ah, thanks. That makes sense of the blurry detail I've been peering at in old B&W photos.

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58 minutes ago, andyf117 said:

Not aircraft handling as such - it's actually the sea anchor cable...

....the anchor (basically a canvas drogue) was stowed behind the pilot's seat, and in the event of ditching, would be attached to the ring at the top of the cable and thrown out...

And that makes even more sense! I couldn't work out why they were lugging a bit of rope around that could have been left on the ground, if it was a tow rope of some sort.

You presumably want to keep the nose of the ditched aircraft pointing into the wind, as well as limit its drift.

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5 hours ago, Hamiltonian said:

And that makes even more sense! I couldn't work out why they were lugging a bit of rope around that could have been left on the ground, if it was a tow rope of some sort.

You presumably want to keep the nose of the ditched aircraft pointing into the wind, as well as limit its drift.

That’s exactly what it's for, yes.  Having said that, in 49 years of RN Sea King ops which inevitably included numerous ditchings (including some where the aircraft floated for long periods and was subsequently recovered to a ship)... I am not aware that the sea anchor was ever used!  But we flew with it every single time we got airborne.  Ah well.

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The model has now acquired a representation of a sea anchor cable, built from stretched sprue, thanks to everyone here.

sea-king-gloss-port.jpg

Now glossed up and waiting for decals:

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Well, here's a mistake not to make:

oops.jpg

Little bit of confusion with Microscale products, caused by absent-mindedly picking up the bottle with the white top and blue writing without checking the label. Turns out that Liquid Decal Film is a poor substitute for Micro Set - it not only stripped the finish off the model, leaving a white residue, it turned the decal to mush in about five seconds. Sigh. At least I can use a "NAVY" decal from the original kit, having just dissolved the Starfighter version.

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I rescued it using some surgical spirit (isopropyl alcohol) to get the white residue off, and a little gentle touching up of the underlying paint and varnish. Not perfect, but better than I thought it was going to be.

rescued.jpg

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Now finished applying decals to the "busy" starboard side of the aircraft.

starboard-decals.jpg

I'm a little disappointed with the Starfighter decals - the reds in particular are muddy and blurred, more of a chestnut brown shade. They're also quite fragile, but bed down nicely.

In addition to the specific Starfighter decals for the "Old 66" Apollo 11 recovery, I sorted through the decal sheet that comes with the Hasegawa SH-3H kit, and retrieved a selection of labels and warning signs that could be dissected and repositioned to produce the appearances of the aircraft I'm modelling. I couldn't reproduce everything I could see in blurry photographs of the real thing, but I've got a reasonable representation of this side. I also added the the yellow tape on the camera cable runs, using a custom-printed decal sheet. (The Starfight decal plan erroneously shows a run of tape appearing from behind the forward edge of the sliding door and running forward to link up with the tape that runs around the window frame.) The famous "Hornet Plus Three" sign is on a little bit of styrene sheet.

The port side is less well documented, and I'm probably going to end up adding detail based on symmetry - a lot of the labels that appear on this side should have counterparts on the other side.

 

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Excellent work; she's looking really convincing - I don't think I had realised that the USN painted the black section behind the exhaust that triangular shape; probably makes more sense than the RN equivalent, but certainly very distinctive.

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3 hours ago, Ex-FAAWAFU said:

Excellent work; she's looking really convincing - I don't think I had realised that the USN painted the black section behind the exhaust that triangular shape; probably makes more sense than the RN equivalent, but certainly very distinctive.

Thanks. There does seem to have been a fair amount of variability in the shape of the black area behind the exhaust in USN Sea Kings - I don't know if it varied from model to model, ship to ship, or year to year. I do quite like the style used for Old 66, and it certainly has the modeller-maker's advantage of being easy to mask up!

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Another feature of the SH-3H kit that needs to be changed is the run of aerial pylons along the port side, which are set too high for the SH-3D I'm building. Peering at various photographs, I think I can discern the following layout on the port side:

spacer.png

(Pylons marked as red circles, the pylon in the middle of the "66" relatively small, and I'm not sure if the "pylon" below "HS-4" actually exists or is simply a wire junction)

 

On the starboard side there seems to be a simpler layout of three small pylons:

aerial-starboard.jpg

I'd of course be very grateful for any further information or correction.

 

In other news, preparing the above diagram reminded me that I had omitted the "SH-3D / 152711" marking from the tail (it's notably absent in the decal photo I posted earlier). That's now fixed.

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