The Wessex family of helicopters has always been popular among modelers. There has been only one kit in 1/48 before and it has been out of production for a few decades, so this newly molded kit is certainly creating some positive ripples in the modeler community!
Italeri brings a brand-new mold of the Wessex UH.5. Surface detail is good, with most of the detail being recessed, but in some areas –where it should be – it is actually raised detail. The kit includes 4 sprues, nylon mesh for the intakes, and a small photoetch fret for cockpit detail plus some external detail, too. Clear parts are very transparent, but a bit thick. Decals are glossy and allow you to finish your model in 4 different finishes, either in Royal Air Force or Royal Navy service.
Construction begins with a fully rendered interior. The Wessex had a large cargo/passenger area and the detail is adequate for the scale. Of course, those AMS folks could have a field day there, but for most of the modelers careful painting and a wash would suffice. The clear parts for the windows have a bit of a loose fit. They seem to be a tad too small for the fuselage openings.
With the cargo bay finished, I moved into the cockpit. The seats have reasonable detail for the scale and have a few photoetch parts for the seats, plus the instrument panel in a photoetch/decal combination that enhances the overall detail. Note that unless you leave the pilot door open, most of that detail will be lost under the clear plastic parts. I’ve realized that too late for my model.
Closing the fuselage was simple (be sure you open all the holes needed for aerials and detail parts before close the halves) and fit was good. I’ve only needed a few swipes with a fine sanding stick to make the seam disappear.
The nose is an independent part, hinting to the possibility of future versions of the Wessex family. Also, the nose is a complex assembly. Take your time and align all the parts. Despite being careful with alignment issues, I ended up with the nose being a tad wider than the fuselage. I’ve added a piece of sprue to spread the fuselage a bit and minimize the step. Still, some filler was needed to blend it in. The nose intake was another part that needed some filler. At the same time, the nylon mesh works really nicely for detailing the air intake, one of the main features of the Wessex.
Once the main fuselage assembly was complete, I moved to the landing gear and aerials. That is were the instructions could have been better. I had issues with the numbering of the landing gear parts (maybe it was me), but the main issue was having the same piece (22B) being listed in two different steps and only one is actually needed. By Murphy’s Modeling Law, I didn’t find out about this until too late. You want that piece to be glued to the canopy and not to the side of the nose. Continuing with some issues in the nose, I needed some filler to blend in the clear canopy with the plastic parts.
I added the aerials, then moved to the rotors. No major surprises there and the surface detail are well done. With a dark wash they look like the part. I wish a folded rotor option would have been offered with the kit, but unfortunately it’s not. I’m sure the aftermarket folks will come up with one in the future.
Painting was simple (I choose an overall green bird from the Falklands campaign) and decals behaved pretty well over a coat of Future. The decal sheet includes plenty of stencils –in white – that could be a bit difficult to see against the light blue backing paper. Make sure you don’t cut through a decal!
I only had a problem with one of the “red rings” decals that decided to fold over on itself instead of lying nicely around the engine exhaust. I decided to not apply the second one and at least have the model to look symmetric.
Going into the nose engine exhaust: they have a seam that runs longitudinally along them and you can clearly see the alignment pins. They scream for an aftermarket replacement, probably in resin so as not to deal with seams.
Final construction proceeded without any further major issues. I added the external wires using EZ-line, glued the wheels, and applied the final flat coat. Light weathering was applied by selectively highlighting some panels with shades of brown and green pastel chalk.
So, finally, after all these years, we have a new-mold Wessex in 1/48th scale. Was it worth the wait? Well, I would say yes, although there were a few areas were the model could have been better – namely, some minor fit issues with the clear parts for the windows, the seams, and highly visible locator pins in the engine exhaust. Those are, in my opinion, minor issues and are due to the molds. I also had some issues with the nose, but those could have been my own fault.
At any rate, when finished, you are rewarded with an attractive model that looks like a Wessex, and it is a welcome addition to my display case. I actually took this model to the “High Plains Con XXIII” and I was very pleased to bring home a 1st place medal in the Rotary Wing category with it.
Recommended to modelers that have a few kits under their belts. This is a good kit to cut your teeth into photoetch part details if you have not done photoetch before.
I would like to thank IPMS/USA, Italeri, and Model Rectifier Corp for the review sample and review space.