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Sea King HAS1 XV666, 826 NAS HMS Eagle 1970 - new tool 1/48 Airfix

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As someone who made a (very small) contribution to the research into Airfix's new 1/48 Sea King, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch event at Historic Helicopters near Chard yesterday and, like everyone there, I came away with a kit.  I think it's going to be in the shops pretty soon (I seem to recall August being mentioned), but judging by the thread in The Rumourmonger yesterday there is a lot of interest in this kit, so I thought I'd build it ASAP.


[Sorry, Ark Royal fans; back burner again for a while - but in truth my mojo has been massively dented in recent months because of this blasted court case, so I rather welcome a chance to get the old creative juices going again!]


Long term BM members will already know that I have 'form' when it comes to 1/48 Sea Kings - specifically a long-running (and as yet unfinished) saga converting the Hasegawa 1/48 kit (until yesterday, the only game in town in this scale) into the HAS5 that I ditched in 1988



Though some "sprue shots" have already been posted in the Rumourmonger section, I will start with a full set:


Sprue A, mostly the inner shell (Airfix have taken the same approach as they did with their excellent 1/48 Lynx kit, providing an inner box that sits inside the fuselage)



The floor is particularly nicely done, I'd say, with the characteristic access panels to the fuel tanks etc faithfully rendered:



The kit provides the parts to build an HAS1, HAS5 & HU5 (all the same airframe, XV666 - known throughout the Fleet Air Arm as "Damien") - you could also easily build an HAS2 provided you could access appropriate markings, and no doubt the after-market designers are busy as we speak.  One of the real features of this kit is the fact that it has a full interior (Hasegawa's has absolutely nothing behind the two pilots' seats), so to allow the wide variation in internal fittings between the stages of Damien's life, the underside of this floor part is marked with numerous holes:


...and the instructions tell you what to remove for which version:



Sprue B:



Sprue C



Sprue D - both metal & composite blades, the 6-bladed tail rotor (5-bladed on a different sprue), plus some of the main rotor head:



Sprue E - sponsons, undercarriage & the "pit-head gear" (sonar winch)



Sprue F - 5-bladed tail rotor, seats, underside of boat hull, more sonar stuff



Sprue G - internals, mostly:



Finally Sprue X for the clear parts:



Lots of people have already been asking about future releases (HAR3 & HC4 in particular).  The Airfix guys were predictably non-committal yesterday, but there are obvious indications that both 3 & 4 (and I suspect at least one "export versions" boxing) will follow in due course; notably the window openings in the fuselage halves, but also the fact that there are parts for the so-called "Commando step" (which was only fitted to the HC4) - the smaller "SAR step" as fitted to the HU5 is also provided.



The Eagle-eyed among you might also have noticed these IR jammer parts on the clear sprue (sorry photo is a bit blurred!) - as far as I know these were only ever carried by the HC4



More follows once I have had mi lunch!




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Others more learned in ‘elicopter lore than me will ‘ave much to say; whereas I’m simply gonna select a perch and enjoy the show :D

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A well deserved head start! Looking forward to it, and thanks for the thorough overview of the frames and summary of possible future options.


Despite not really having much interest or knowledge of twirly thingies, the initial 1970 scheme really did catch my eye, so glad to see you choosing it. 




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I'm not really into aircraft persay, but I do like the Seaking .... I might have to invest in one as the kit looks very good. 


I'll follow along with this build if I may.


Keith 😁 

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Nice one Crisp - looking forwards to ths with huge interest.  Looks a really enticing kit.

Sorry to hear about the court case, and looking forards to seeing you back at Ark Royal in the near future


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The ASAC.7's were fitted for, but not with the IR Jammers in most cases unless operationally deployed. The later frames which went on into retirement still had the framework fitted just after of the cockpit windows. As you say, with the presence of the enlarged cabin step, a HC.4 is likely in the 2024 range.

Edited by NavyWessex
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This looks like an absolutely gorgeous kit. I’ll certainly be following on to see what you make of it.



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53 minutes ago, NavyWessex said:

The ASAC.7's were fitted for, but not with the IR Jammers in most cases unless operationally deployed. The later frames which went on into retirement still had the framework fitted just after of the cockpit windows. As you say, with the presence of the enlarged cabin step, a HC.4 is likely in the 2024 range.

Good point.  Because of the comprehensive interior in this kit, I reckon AEW2/ASaC7 is the least likely future boxing - they’d have to completely redo the interior, as well as the more obvious door mod and the colostomy bag.  But pretty much any other (Westland) version is clearly possible in the engineering.  Sikorsky versions, no.


Another clue to future HAR3 / HC4 is that they’ve moulded both positions for the pressure refuelling point & provided a blanking plate for the one that doesn’t apply.  The HAR3 & HC4 had it just behind the cargo door (because having it beneath the door, as on the ASW versions, would make it vulnerable to Royal Marine boots and/or SAR casualties).  

The ASW versions had it under the door so that it was directly below the rescue hoist; HIFR (helicopter in flight refuelling; you pick up a fuel hose from a ship with a foul deck [or even no flight deck at all - I’ve HIFR’d from a Belgian Weilingen class frigate, for example] & then hover alongside the port quarter taking on fuel, with the not inconsiderable weight of the hose taken by the hoist).  Junglies & Crabs clearly didn’t think they needed HIFR, which seems reasonable.


As frigate flight decks got bigger in preparation for the Merlin, HIFR kind of died out, but in its heyday we used it a lot; far better to take fuel from, say, a TA frigate in the deep screen rather than have to schlep all the way back to Mum & then all the way back again - we routinely sowed sonobuoy barriers 100+ miles away from the carrier.

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I'll follow this one if I may beer and popcorn ordered


   Stay safe           Roger

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Right.  Back to the kit (those of you unfamiliar with a Crisp-build will soon either get used to the regular wandering off into descriptions of flying these things... or just lose interest and give up!).


The decal sheet - sorry about the odd angle, but it was an attempt to minimise reflections.



4 schemes, all for the same airframe (rather a nice idea, I think):

1. an RAF Blue Grey HAS1 with white codes etc (the one I am building), as they were when introduced to service in 1970



2.  Medium Sea Grey HAS5 of the Soggy Moggies (814 Naval Air Squadron) in 1988, also white codes - 1988 was just after the Sea King fleet moved from RAF BG with black codes, as introduced during the Falklands)



3. the classic RN SAR HU5 Medium Sea Grey & Signal red SAR scheme of 771 NAS in 1995



and 4. as Damien is now, in the rather fetching orange and grey scheme of HeliOps, a civilian organisation (almost entirely ex-RN instructors) who fly two Sea Kings out of Portland training crews for countries that still operate the type (notably the Germans).


53070341599_b458f57dca_b.jpg 53070341599_b458f57dca_b.jpg

[All 4 built examples fairly obviously taken from my photos at yesterday's launch event]


One day I will definitely build an HU5, but mine will be an 819 NAS SAR cab from my time in Prestwick in the early-90s - but for my first go I have opted to do the aircraft as it looked when introduced to the RN, replacing the Wessex HAS3.  Let's face it, I'm likely to end up building several of these!


If you are familiar with the Hasegawa kit, I thought you might like to see a direct comparison: Airfix above, Hasegawa below



Dimensions are essentially identical, which is good because the Hasegawa kit is pretty accurate, albeit of a Sikorsky Sea King (for example that bump immediately below the window opening underneath the exhaust is not there on a Westland-built aircraft)  You can clearly see the two pressure refuelling points I mentioned above in this photo, plus the window behind the cargo door, which is present in (for example) the HAR3 (& Belgian Mk 48, German Mk. 41, and so on). 


Here's the port side comparison (I must have started the Hasegawa at some point, because I have begun the process of filling in that for'd window).



Again, window positions / options point to future versions.


The main and most obvious difference is that the Hasegawa kit is almost completely smooth, and the Airfix one covered in rivets.  As anyone who has ever been anywhere near a real Sea King will know, they are festooned with rivets - thousands of them.  The real ones are dome-headed (i.e. slightly proud of the aircraft skin), but Airfix have depicted them via the classic indentations used in almost every riveted kit in (recent!) history.  A couple of people on the Rumourmonger thread weren't happy with the way Airfix have done this, but I think their version will look excellent under paint (q.v. The examples above).  


In the past I have added HGW 1/48 rivets to a Hasegawa Sea King, as many of you will remember: indeed here she is, as of this morning.



So if the rivets really bother you, no doubt you can repeat my Hasegawa experiment with the Airfix kit - though I should warn you that it took me many weeks to get it right (most of the rivets ended up being applied twice), and involved transferring a fair amount of money from my account into HGW's.  I like the result - particularly the way that some of the paint has abraded away to leave a silvery rivet showing, which happens on the real aircraft - but does it look better than a well-built (particularly, well-painted) Airfix example?  I very much doubt it.


So far the only area where I think Hasegawa out-performs Airfix is in the main rotor blades: Hasegawa's are moulded with in-built droop, and Airfix's are not (Hasegawa top, Airfix bottom)



Having said that, the Airfix blades are beautifully thin, and it shouldn't be a big deal (famous last words!) to add an appropriate amount of droop during the build.


I am not 100% convinced by Airfix's seats, either - they are way better than Hasegawa's (not least because Sikorsky seats are different), but on first sight they appear not to have the yellow seat pack liferafts on which our poor behinds were forced to sit for many hours at a time.  Again, not insurmountable.


I think (though old friends will no doubt smile, having heard it all before) that I will build this one almost entirely OOB; I say almost entirely because I'll need to add seat belts in any event.  Strictly, the HAS1 had an earlier version of the Doppler underneath the nose (full disclosure; Luke the Airfix researcher pointed this out to me as one of the inevitable design compromises they had to make; I would have missed it), but I rather doubt I can be bothered to address this, not least because it will not be visible.  The only other thing I will definitely have to do is to remove the strengthening plates at the transportation joint - these things, which are there on later Sea Kings but weren't there on the HAS1 (again, a design compromise, given that 3 of the 4 schemes had them).  Sorry for blurred photo again; too close with my iPhone.




So there you have it.  Time to do some work, I guess.


More soon



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Ooooooo another winner from Airfix, looks a lovely kit, nice to see you were rewarded for your research supplied. 

I foresee trouble on the horizon when I go to aquire one , when SWMBO finds out🙄



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This looks to be a wonderful kit,many thanks for the review Sir.

Personally,one would like to do the 771 machine and a HAR.3(if it's released at later date)as these were the ones seen most whilst holidaying

in Dorset and on Anglesey.

Many happy hours have been whiled away spotting at RAF Valley watching the Hawks,Sea Kings,then laterly the Griffins and the various

visitors over the years.

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Finally for today... There's quite a lot of preparing parts in this kit (or, to be more accurate, there is if you opt to do the HAS1, since that's the version which seems to need the most updating of what is moulded - fair enough, since the other 3 are essentially all flavours of HAS5).



It probably helps if you are not a half wit; despite Airfix's crystal clear instructions, I managed to drill out a pair of incorrect holes (the two white blobs are bits of styrene rod inserted into the holes and trimmed).  


None the less, we have a sonar well.


Sonar well & drilled holes


We also have one side of the transportation strengthening plates removed; it takes patience and a set of micro-chisels (indispensable tools in my opinion), but it can be done.


Starboard side not yet done, port side done and awaiting (re-)installation of some rivet / dents of my own.


Trans joint clean up


More soon



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Looks like you are going to be teacher to your gathered interested parties. I am sure that even after your points what not to do, we all still will. 

But we will be a little wiser when it comes to ours. 

Thanks for sharing 


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Brilliant! I’ve just ordered one of these, and it looks like it won’t disappoint! Thanks for taking the time to show all the detail and built examples. Not sure how I missed it until I had an email from Airfix yesterday, they certainly kept it quiet. Either that or I don’t look in the right places. Glad I never bought a Hasegawa one on eBay for about £100! We’ll probably see a few of those for sale at more reasonable prices now. I’m still waiting for my pre-ordered Gannet too.


Very interested to see how your build progresses.

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Does the rotor head have provision for the blades to move forward on the drag hinges as they should when parked (spread not folded)? 

It’s hard to tell from the photo but it looks like the blade tips are all equidistant. As they always are. No-one gets it right 😒

I’ve been waiting for years to see that feature properly modelled be someone who’s spent time standing underneath the blades. Are you that modeller??!?!!? 😀

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Don't fret Bertie, some of us do that on our Wessex models, undoubtedly that will happen when I pop out my next Sea King too.


Crisp thanks for bringing this to us so soon after you had it, 1/48 scale is getting even more enticing to me.


Looks a hell of a fine kit.



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15 minutes ago, NavyWessex said:

That's some mighty fine work there to remove the transportation plates - very neat. Do the instructions call for those to be removed?

For the earliest version only. The other three versions have them. As they explained, it was a design trade off.

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