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Westland Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5 (A11066) 1:48


Mike

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Westland Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5 (A11066)

1:48 Airfix

 

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The Sea King is one of the most enduring rotary-winged aircraft of the post-war period, the original Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King flying for the first time in 1959 under the company code S-61. Although no longer in production, the Sea King continues to serve with air arms around the world, including those of Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the until recently, United Kingdom, although they still fly in private hands. The WS-61 built under license by the then British-owned Westland was substantially different from the American airframe though, powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Gnome turboshaft engines, which were a development of a General Electric power-plant, so not entirely new.  British air-sea warfare doctrine required other changes to equipment fit of the Westland built Sea Kings, which were further sub-divided depending on what tasks they were expected to undertake.  The first British Sea King flew at the end of the 60s from the docks to Westlands to act as trials and patterning airframe, going into service first as Anti-Submarine HAS variants, and adding more capabilities as time went by.  The HC4 Commando played a part in the Falklands War, alongside other marks that were transported into the islands aboard the ships of the Task Force, where one was lost, presumably due to a bird strike, with the crew and SAS passengers killed on what should have been a routine ship-to-ship trip, sadly.

 

During the Gulf War conflicts, the Sea King was deployed again, providing important inter-ship transport facilities, although their AEW facilities weren't needed due to the blanket coverage provided by other assets.  A further crash during Gulf War II highlighted the need for better night operations equipment, and throughout the type’s service, one constant has been change, with earlier variants often upgraded to the same standard as their replacement, which is evidenced by looking at the history of XV666, which started life as a HAS.1, was re-engineered as a HAS.5, and finished up as a HU.5, going through many livery changes, and changing operator into the bargain, as you’ll see later.  Many Westland build airframes have been sold to overseas operators, including Norway, Australia, India, Pakistan and Belgium amongst others, and although the Sea King has been retired from operations with the British Armed Forces, they still fulfil a training role under the auspices of HeliOperations, training German crews to operate the Sea Kings that are still on charge with the Marinefliegerkommando.

 

The Sea King remains in the skies of Britain thanks to Historic Helicopters, who have restored several airframes, some of which still fly.  The launch event for this kit was held at their museum, but we were unable to attend due to my health, however Dale from Airfix has sent us out an advanced sample for review, so we’re only a little behind.

 

 

The Kit

As mentioned above, this new tooling was announced with a flurry and is currently all over the internet, having created quite a splash and for good reason.  For years the choice of British Sea Kings has been poor, and the available tooling pretty old, so the large fanbase for this old girl has been wishing and hoping for a new kit for quite some time.  Airfix did a good job of keeping it quiet that has paid dividends, and I expect the pre-orders to be massive, especially now the sprues have been seen around the internet.  The kit arrives in a large red-themed box with great artwork on the front, and the decal options on one side.  Inside are three bags containing seven sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a long decal sheet, and a thick instruction booklet that has colour profiles slipped inside, printed on folded A3 glossy paper, with one side for each of the four options throughout XV666’s long career.

 

Airfix have clearly put a lot of effort into the tooling, as evidenced by the detail that is visible on every part, of which there are an impressive 348.  The exterior is covered in fine engraved panel lines and rivets, with lapped panels in places, and stiffener plates in raised relief where appropriate.  The seats and cloth elements have folds and wrinkles to give them a more organic look, and the detail extends from the tip of the tail to the     end of the nose, including masses of avionics and equipment boxes, much of which will remain visible thanks to some crisp-and-clear transparencies.  There are also some parts that will remain on the sprues for as-yet unreleased options, which will be pleasing to those still waiting for their preferred mark.  The good members of the forum have been discussing the ins and outs of the design and what can be achieved from the sprues in detail since the launch, so head over to the Rumourmonger thread if you need to update your Sea King knowledge, as we all need a little help at times, especially if you have my kind of memory.

 

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Construction should sensibly begin with choosing a decal option, as each livery of this single airframe comes with a different sensor and equipment fit, so you need to decide right away.  The first four pages of instruction steps have you opening up the rotor head and drilling out many holes in the floor, lower fuselage, sides and roof, for which you will need drills of size 1.5mm, 1.1mm, and 0.8mm depending on which choice you have made, plus a little filler to hide some recesses in the lower fuselage near the nose and along the keel near the rear.  It would be a sensible idea to cross through the diagrams you won’t be needing in advance to prevent any mistakes at this stage that could have you cursing yourself later.  The real building starts with the interior, and is based upon the full-length floor with a step up into the cockpit, adding a nicely detailed bulkhead with a separate equipment box at the step-point, then building one side out with an equipment storage that slots into the floor and aligns on a ridge on the back of the bulkhead.  On the other side of the hatch, a shallow step is placed on two holes to locate it, then the crew seats are built from a back that has a pair of front leg extensions and braces that support the seat pan, which has grooves moulded into it, and a rear pair of legs that are stiffened by the moulded-in brace, making it look a bit like a folding chair found in most schools.  To keep the pilots’ bottoms comfy, an L-shaped seat cushion is laid into the completed seat, hiding those nice grooves.  The seats fit into holes in the cockpit floor, and the leftmost one has a suitcase shaped box fitted to the rear, plus collective and cyclic sticks for both crew, and a pair of foot pedals for them toward the nose.  The instrument panel is based on a T-shaped former, adding three detail skins to form the side of the centre console, and topping it off with an extremely busy central instrument panel, for which a decal is provided, the panel and decal choices differing slightly between options.  The same is true of the main panel, which has a choice of coamings and panels, one having an additional centre panel over the main one, with decals to match.  Your choice of centre console assembly is glued to the floor in the nose, and covered by the coaming and instrument panel assembly appropriate to your choice, then either one, two or three more seats are made in a similar manner for the rear crew, depending on variant, although these have a bottom rail instead of extra legs at the rear.  The instrument housing and panel for the rear crew that are common to all variants is made next, with decals to depict the radar screen in active or off conditions, building into a well-detailed sub-assembly.  Another console with more decals is made for two options, as is a winch mechanism, all similarly well-appointed, and the latter including the dipping sonar buoy that is suspended from the winch.  Sadly, you can’t wind this one up and down by rotating the rotors like the old 1:72 kit I built as a kid.  The sonar winch is fitted to a palette once complete, and a cowling is placed around the winch mechanism for safety’s sake, with the console butted up to it and set to one side while two equipment racks are built, one having a map of the UK and Ireland on the table below an instrument panel.

 

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The later decal options have passenger seats aplenty, starting with a three-seat set with separate backs, all of which have creases that show their canvas structure moulded-in, separated into seat and back cushion, and adding tubular legs underneath the front edge, as they can be folded away.  Another longer run of seats for nine people is made in a similar manner with more legs that are shown in a scrap diagram below to prevent confusion, after which another raised rack is built with legs on one side for insertion next.  The instructions show the early variant first, adding the radar and dipping sonar assemblies around the hole in the deck, fitting a rack to the front, and two seats to the rear, then placing the panel with the map behind the seats with another seat if you are portraying decal option B, plus a canvas bulkhead at the rear where the floor tapers.  For the two later options, the radar unit and seat are fixed in place, with the long row of seats on the opposite side, and the shorter three seat set behind the operator’s chair, filling the space forward with the rack on legs.  All decal options have the rear bulkhead fitted to a tab on the rear, although option A won’t be seen thanks to the fabric bulkhead further forward.

 

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The passenger compartment has an interior wall skin fixed to both sides, and there are a few ejector-pin marks that will need dealing with if you think they’ll be seen, and it’s almost certain that some of them will be obscured by the internal equipment.  The port side has a stepped equipment rack glued onto a pair of ribs before closure, then the peculiar smooth fuselage assembly is completed by inserting a narrow ceiling strip where all the ejector-pin marks will be invisible.  Three side windows are fitted to the fuselage halves, and an insert is added over a hole in the port side to give it depth before closure.  You can pose the door open with this model, but if you have opted to close it, the door, window, and ladder insert are fitted at this stage, again on the port side.  Before the fuselage can be closed around the interior, the exhausts must be made up from two halves, plus a tapered lip, fitted to a bulkhead with the lips facing outward and toward the rear, then slotted into the top of the interior without the use of glue.  The port fuselage half is brought in first, locating on a pair of lugs near the centre of the lower edge, and mating with the exhaust bulkhead, as illustrated by a scrap diagram nearby.  An insert is added to the open rear of the rotor cowling, then the starboard fuselage is brought in, locating in a similar manner, and allowing you to glue the whole assembly, dealing with the seams in your preferred manner.  Option A has two rectangular recesses in the floor insert filled, and the skin for under the nose is different from the others, gluing the appropriate one in place at the front of the fuselage keel, then inserting a short tunnel under the floor of the fuselage before gluing the keel into position with or without the blanking plate for your chosen version.  The rotor cowling is completed by installing a large insert over the rear of the hump, and adding a curved part to the front, both of which have fine mesh panels moulded-in, then the intakes are built, starting with a central divider that has the curved cowling glued to the top, after which the intake trumpets are inserted, their part numbers depending on which decal option you choose.  The side cowlings are common, as is the panel at the top rear, each covered with detail, then behind the rotor, a choice of radome cowlings and bases is provided, and some spine details are removed for some options, flatting the area back to profile, which is best done before they are glued onto the model.  Three options have an additional trunk applied down the port side of the tail, mounting on small lugs that correspond with recesses on the boom side.  Returning to the front, there is a choice of nose cone for the decal options, two of which also have a small rectangle sanded flush on the port side, and a flashed-over 1.0mm hole drilled out from inside.

 

The boxy interior of the main gear sponsons is created from roof and four sides, and the assembly is slotted into the outer half of the fairings, aided by a scrap diagram, then they are closed by fitting the other halves, one having an insert for a light in the rear floor, and both having inserts in the roof appropriate to their location, plus handed noses.  The aerofoil sections that link them to airframe are similarly handed, and made from top and bottom parts, plugging into a recess in the inner faces of the sponsons.  The diagonal support struts are made from two parts and are installed after the sponsons have been plugged into the fuselage on two pegs, nestling into recesses in the sponson and fuselage sides, with their correct orientation shown in overhead views.

 

You can build your Sea King with the gear up or down, although as the wheels and struts are still visible in the bays, there’s not much work to be saved, but it’s your choice!  The gear struts are adjusted at the top by removing the peg and a pivot point there, then adding tie-down lugs and oleo scissor-link at the lower end, fitting a pair of two-part wheels, one each side of the axle.  The retraction mechanism is inserted flat into the bay roof, and the legs are inserted retracted into the bays, locating the main pivot on the support moulded into the front of the bay.  For gear down, the legs are built in the same manner, without adjusting the tops, and using different shaped retraction inserts that have the strut projecting from the bay at an angle, as demonstrated by the scrap diagrams.  The legs fit into a hole in front of the bay roof, locating the upper retraction arm in the pivot point, and the diagonal leg to the back of the lower end of the gear leg.  The fixed tail-wheel is two parts, as is the strut and yoke, the wheel flex-fitting into position, and slotting into a hole in the stern of the fuselage’s keel.

 

Another choice is ahead of you, allowing you to fold the tail of your model if you wish, cutting off a small tab on the two tail halves, as demonstrated in the scrap diagram.  The two halves of the fin are glued together, inserting a mesh panel in the top, and the stabilising fin and rotor cowling on either side of the fin’s tip, with a choice of clear light added to the fairing on the fairing.  The fairing is assembled from upper and lower half, trapping an axle between the halves before it is mated to the fin, which should allow it to rotate freely if you’re careful with the glue.  The fin is completed by choosing the straight link between it and the boom, or adding the two open bulkheads on each side of the break, making for a strong connection between the two assemblies.

 

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We’re back at the nose again, glazing the canopy with two side sections and the combined windscreen/roof, which has an overhead console glued to the inside before it is installed.  There are two windscreen parts, one with moulded-in windscreen wipers, the other without for those that want to take advantage of PE detail sets when they build their models.  That’s rather considerate of the designers, especially as it isn’t even their concern.  There are two choices of intake filters for this boxing, split between three of the decal options, the first of which is a simple deflector with fairing behind it, the second a sloped box that is built up from individual faces, and filters the air before it reaches the engines.  Both types fit over the same portion of the roof, and are shown from the side in scrap diagrams to assist with placement.  Two more side windows are installed, the port one having a choice of flat or blistered parts, while the larger one under the sponson support on the starboard side is flat and appropriate for all options.  Two small landing lights are installed into recesses in the sponson supports, which is done with the model inverted.

 

Now the fun begins.  There are four pages devoted to the aerial fit for the decal options, one for each choice, so pick your fit and get started.  This includes some items such as a crew step that were added during the type’s long career, as well as radar warning fairings as technology became available.  When you come out of the other side of that, option D has a three-part FLIR infrared turret mounted on the fuselage side under the port sponson, depicted with the window closed.  Three options have a SAR winch suspended over the large side door, the fairing formed by a single part into which the winch mechanism slots, while the two support arms are mounted on the inner side, fitting onto the transition between side and roof above the door.  The door itself is a single part that accepts a window with radiused corners, and this can be posed open or closed, as can the door on the port side behind the cockpit.  If you selected the closed option it was done early in the build, but for the open option, the door halves are detailed with a ladder in the lower part, and a window in the upper, gluing them to the top and bottom of the aperture, as shown in the scrap diagram.  Whether you fit the fin folded or not, you have a choice of two types of rotor for the decal options, both of which have their own actuator crown in the centre, using the same parts for both folded or straight options.

 

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The main rotor can be posed folded or open and ready for flight, the instructions starting with the latter, building up the details of the rotor mechanism, then skewering it and the lower portion through the centre with the axle and adding actuators to each blade root.  The spinner cap is glued over the centre for all options, the colour differing between them.  To finish the main rotor, you have a choice of early blades for option A, and later blades for the other options, all of which fit to the blade roots in an overlapping half-joint for strength.  To build a Sea King with folded blades, a different rotor-head is used, with the blade roots positioned accordingly, as are the detail parts, following the stages exactly, only ending with all the blades facing in the same general direction, except the two outer blades that splay outward a little.  The last job is to glue the completed rotor into position in the cowling, although you could leave them loose for storage or transport.  The only thing missing from the folded arrangement is the curiously shaped bracket that supports the weight of the blades near the end, but you could either make one from scratch or wait until the inevitable aftermarket support arrives from Eduard or someone else.

 

 

Markings

This first outing of the kit has a special set of markings that depict the career of an individual airframe with the tail code XV666, which was first ‘born’ in 1970, so is currently over 50.  I know that feeling.  Getting the nickname Damian was almost inevitable, but she’s far from an unlucky bird, having survived all these years and been upgraded numerous times over the years.  There are four marking options from her career, and you can build her as one of the following:

 

  • XV666 HAS.1 No.826 Naval Air Sqn., RNAS Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1970
  • XV666 HAS.5 No.814 Naval Air Sqn., RNS Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1988
  • XV666 HU.5 No.771 Naval Air Sqn., RNS Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1995
  • XV666 HU.5, Heli-Operations, Portland, Dorset, England, 2022

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  Decals for the exhaust hider patches, tail-rotor tips and tramlines on the main blades are included, as well as several decals for the flight and operations instruments that are all printed on clear backgrounds so you don’t need to match any colours.

 

 

Conclusion

I’m really sad to have missed the fun of the announcement the other Tuesday, but it was a sensible decision on my part, and it has been worth the few days wait to get our review sample in the mail.  The detail is fabulous, the options well-researched, and the choice of depicting the career of this single aircraft in this first boxing was inspired.  I can’t wait until everyone has the opportunity to lay their hands on one or more this summer, and then for the next boxing to fill more gaps.

 

Extremely highly recommended.

 

You can pre-order one or many from Airfix by visiting the link below, and set up a stock alert so you don’t have to wait behind the door to ambush the postie.

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Review sample courtesy of

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Well, I was SO disappointed that the news flash announcement was not the long awaited and in demand 1/24th TSR2 with full weapons load and in service cockpits.

 

In fact I was do disappointed that I had to console myself by putting in a preorder.

 

Graham

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1 hour ago, Julien said:

This really does look next level. 

Is very nice :yes:

 

1 hour ago, Julien said:

We also happen to coincidentally have the airframe in our walkaround section;
 

 

 

You don't say! :blush:

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Appreciate the quality and clarity of sprue photos taken above. I was happy with what I saw earlier, however am even more convinced that this tooling looks so much better up close. Seems like Airfix are hitting a purple patch of late and hopefully long may it continue. 
 

Cheers.. Dave 

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6 minutes ago, Rabbit Leader said:

Seems like Airfix are hitting a purple patch of late and hopefully long may it continue.

Next one to cause me to salivate uncontrollably is the Gannet, which has been on my ugly/beautiful list since I returned to the hobby, unless they've got any nice surprises for us in the meantime? :)

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1 hour ago, Mike said:

Next one to cause me to salivate uncontrollably is the Gannet, which has been on my ugly/beautiful list since I returned to the hobby, unless they've got any nice surprises for us in the meantime? :)

Does @Julienmake that list? If so I’ll warn him to take a bib for you next time he drops in…

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4 hours ago, Scooby said:

Nice review, one error in your history, Canada retired our Sea Kings a few years ago now.

Hi @Scooby, I was checking out Canadian Sea King schemes when Airfix announced it. I watched the final flight in 2018 with the retro paint and when I went to check it out, on the net, I didn’t realize just how nice it looked. It’s a gate guard at 443 Squadron in Pat Bay. The way it’s displayed is surprisingly, blades extended! The base it sits on has a shallow brick retaining wall that tapers down to level on the forward side. It would make a great diorama just the way it is.

 I also discovered that a company from up island, is using CH-12440 as a company helicopter. Rotor Maxx is the name and they have retained most of the RCAF paint scheme, with the nose and fod cover being all black and the registration C-FMPX. It did fly in to the BC Aviation Museum open house last summer, but I don’t know how much they use it. They advertise as servicing S-61 and H.3 helicopters. I was pleased to see one still in flying condition.

Lots of photos of CH-12417 out there, she is pretty. Mike Belcher makes excellent resin bits and decals for RCN/RCAF helicopters. I have to finish my Spitfires first before I figure that one out.

 

Cheers

 

Jeff

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wow, great surprise!

 

and a nice and really welcome at that!

which one to build though??

 

in addition, I assume that XV666 HU.5, Heli-Operations, Portland, Dorset, England, 2022 would be easily converted to a Ukraine 🇺🇦 example, no?

 

 

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6 hours ago, stalal said:

Are these Airfix kits still made in UK? 

 

When I started my hobby and I was school going kid, I used to buy Airfix kits and they were made in UK then. 

Not regularly, for decades. They've been all over the shop ever since they first went bankrupt, and since the advent of (for want of a better term) New Airfix they've tried several places.

 

Paul.

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15 hours ago, stalal said:

Are these Airfix kits still made in UK?

An online review for the Sea King that I saw last week showed the words "Hornby......  Made in India" on the outer box.

 

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Mike

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14 hours ago, Paul Thompson said:

Not regularly, for decades. They've been all over the shop ever since they first went bankrupt, and since the advent of (for want of a better term) New Airfix they've tried several places.

 

Paul.

A little birdy told me that they are planning on slowly producing more kits in the UK. The new Spitfire was a resounding success financially wise that was greatly helped by them being home-produced, but looking at timelines the Sea King would have started development before the Spitfire released and so it was likely less of a certain thing.

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