Sea King AEW.2 Falklands War
I’ve built most of the major Sea King versions out there; this kit is a new release, not a re-pop of some other company’s work. Earlier in 2012, Cyber Hobby released this kit as an HC.4 troop transport in their Falklands theme; that kit was reviewed by IPMS/USA by Ben Guenther, IPMS# 20101, on 22 Sep 2012, if you would like to read about it (http://web.ipmsusa3.org/content/sea-king-hc4-falklands-war). What you get in this version are the same parts, with the large radome as a major modification for the kit.
Historical note: The purpose of the radome was to provide environmental protection to the retractable long-range search radar system used as a fast-fix to the lack of early warning for the Royal Navy during the conflict. AWACS was not part of the UK Defense Ministry’s fleet yet, and the danger from air attack to the deployed ships in the Royal Navy was real. These Sea Kings would fly out past the horizon, rotate the radome down, and activate it to provide long-distance search and tracking information on impending attack from low-level aircraft.
The kit contains all the parts that were used in the troop carrier. Fit of the kit was excellent; there are two sets of rotor blades, one at rest (drooping) and one set to simulate “in flight” operation (bent upwards). A nice idea, particularly since the radar unit is provided in the “inflated bag” mode verses “deflated.” Only problem: there is no crew provided, so you will have a drone heli if you build it with the radome down, gear up (it would interfere with the radar signal if extended), and “in flight” rotor blades. I opted to build in the static position.
That left me with one minor problem – when at rest, the dome rotates toward the rear of the aircraft and is no longer inflated (compressed air provided through engine environmental bleed ducts keeps it in shape); a deflated dome cover is not provided in the kit. I tried to find an on-line aftermarket source for 1/72 items with no luck. I thought about several methods on how best to do this – with clear wrap (no), clear .3mm drop cloth wrapped around a paint stick handle (no), rubber balloons (nope), or resin (YES!).
The pictures show how to manufacture the items using Alumilite ® white two-part casting urethane resin.
(NOTE: The resin, while not toxic or hazardous, can cause dermatitis or reactions in some people if it touches their skin. Wear gloves; and wear a dust filter mask while sanding the parts; fine, 1mm white threads are the dust hazard, and these can get into your lungs and become a serious health issue. Again, it’s not toxic, just a dust hazard.)
First, assemble the dome and mounting arm; when dry, cut off the dome, leaving a lip to dip into the Alumilite to act as a mounting point. Next, mix up some Alumilite in a small cup, then dip the dome mount into the alumilite. It usually gels within four or five minutes (it’s cold in my garage), so once it turns opaque, let it sit for about a half-hour. Break out the dusk mask, turn on your shop vac, and hold everything near the nozzle. Use your trusty Dremel ® tool with a sanding drum to shape the deflated bag, remembering to pay attention to how gravity will pull it toward the deck while the dome is in the horizontal (facing the rear) position. When done, paint black, mask, and then paint the mount Dark Sea Gray (I used Tamiya Ocean Gray, which matched pictures I took back in 1984 of these birds). Easy modeling!
The rest of the build went well; the three-part fuselage, like all the parts on this kit, fit perfectly. The cockpit is well detailed, but the collective (pitch control) levers are on the wrong side of the seats. These should be on the left side, not the right. Otherwise, the cockpit is great – the seats have molded-in harnesses that have enough relief detail to paint and drybrush carefully. I assembled the entire cockpit, painted all interior surfaces and cockpit parts flat black, and drybrushed details with white.
The crew entry door was assembled closed (there is excellent step detail if you choose to show it open, as well as a flight engineer seat behind and between the pilots). The clear parts fit perfectly; my kit had a short-shot upper window on the aft upper canopy, which I filled with Micro-Scale ® Krystal clear after installation. Upper pilot windows were painted Tamiya clear green from the inside before the canopy was offered up. The ice shield in front of the intakes was also a perfect fit; this has not been the case in other kits.
Landing gear and sponsons were a positive, tight fit. Remember to mask the window on the starboard (right) side before you install that pylon, or it will be difficult (if nigh) impossible to do so unless you use liquid mask. Landing gear is strong enough to hold the model; included are two types of wheel/tire assemblies, and in this case the instructions call for the bolted hubs verses the spoked hubs. The gear is intended to be assembled extended; to display in a retracted position only requires one to cut off the retraction arm, clean off the upper mounting tab (leaving the triangular gear assembly), install the wheels, and cement in the “up” position. This is not shown on the instructions but is easy to do.
Exterior details: A very nice perforated step is included to fit below the main cabin entrance door. All antennas and Radar Homing/Warning (RHAW) equipment is included. The tail rotor is an extremely well done in the correct six-bladed UK configuration (all UK Sea Kings have this upgrade, which provides more tail rotor authority) Antennas are all there; the rescue hoist is a bit fiddly but can be placed properly with a hammer. (Guess what didn’t want to play nice on the kit?)
The main rotors were last. The basic hub is excellent with the aerodynamic cap on top. Pitch links are missing and there is no transmission detail, but that’s ok because it’s difficult to see in this scale. You can assemble the blades in a folded position, but I didn’t feel up to that option as I didn’t want to scratchbuild the blade holders used when they are stowed. The rotor mast shaft has a key on it; you can only mount it one way, and not have it rotate. You can fix this by installing a tube into the upper deck housing where the rotor mast goes, and either (1) removing the key, or (2) manufacturing a longer shaft (recommended…I’ll do it later).
Paint was overall Ocean Gray, close enough to Dark Sea Gray for me. Gloss coat was applied, and the decals were uneventful. There are three marking options, all from #849 Sqn Royal Navy – XV704 with the “bee”; XV 650 with the squadron crest; and XV714 with what appear to be Aardvark zaps under the pilot’s window. The little bit of silvering I experienced was removed by Solvaset ® fluid. Flat coat and done!
In the end, this is an excellent effort by Cyber Hobby. I thoroughly enjoyed this build, and a 9 of 10 rating applies for minor misses on detail (collective arms and the lacking pitch links). Thanks go to Cyber Hobby for providing an excellent “off the wall” Sea King for my Falklands collection, and to IPMS-USA for allowing me to review it.