Airfix 1/72 Navy Lynx Mk 8
KIT #: 3063
PRICE: HK$60.00
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Richard F
NOTES: An older kit with a new sprue

HISTORY
 
The "Super Lynx" is the current naval incarnation of the original Westland Lynx which first flew in 1971 and entered service in 1977.  Fast and agile, it broke world speed records and can be seen at airshows looping the loop - quite a sight. In its maritime form, it came with a Sea Spray radar and could carry torpedoes and the Sea Skua guided anti-ship missile.
 
The army and navy versions have developed over time and have seen action with British forces in the Falklands, the Gulf War, in Sierra Leone and in the Iraq War. The naval version made its name in the Falklands when two Lynxes disabled the Argentine submarine Santa Fe and, with Sea Skua, a patrol boat and supply ship.  In the Gulf in 1991, the Lynx used the Sea Skua missile at least 12 times (some say 15) to target Iraqi naval craft, apparently with great success.   The latest British version is the HMA8.   
The naval Lynx has been a big hit on the export market, with various versions flown by Brazil, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, France, Germany, Nigeria, and others.
THE KIT
 
As described by the preview (http://www.modelingmadness.com/scotts/mod/gb/lynxpreview.htm), this is a re-issue of the older Airfix naval Lynx, with a single new sprue providing the new nose, antennae, tail and main rotors and main landing gear sponsons. It's nicely moulded with finely raised panel detail on most of the airframe.  Happily, like all classic Airfix kits, it comes with two great little pilots.  I'm a big fan of pilots because for me, an aircraft needs a pilot to make it "real".  The windows are all clear and there are nicely raised windscreen wipers on the windscreen, a good touch for a naval helicopter, especially one operating in rough weather off the back of a small frigate. The rotor head is good enough for the out-of-the-box builder like me, though those with the inclination and the right photos could spruce it up.
 
The main thing you need to do is choose which version to build, and you are spoilt for choice. 
 
You can actually build five different versions from this kit.  The new versions, like the Royal Navy HMA8,  have the Ferranti Sea Spray under the nose instead of inside it like the earlier versions. The radar was moved because the HMA8 has a turret-mounted FLIR sensor system on the nose, called "GEC Sensors Sea Owl Passive Identification Device", among other modern systems.  The German Navy's Lynx Mk 88A has similar upgrades, while the Brazilian Mk 21A has the relocated radar but not the sensor turret. Interestingly, the RN version has only the 180 degree radar, while the German and Brazilian choppers have a 360 degree version of Sea Spray.  Because the Sea Skua homes in on the radar reflections from the Sea Spray, the RN versions have to point at the target to keep it illuminated, while the German and Brazilian versions can, in theory,  turn around and fly away once they launch their missiles.  This was a cost-saving initiative, according to "the internet".   I don't know whether a Lynx would be likely to take on something big like a frigate, and its combat history had it tackling smaller and presumably less heavily armed vessels like patrol boats and landing craft.  So, maybe, the money saved by the Royal Navy was money well-saved (and spent on something better). But I'm neither a bean-counter nor an engineer, so what would I know? 
 
 Moving away from the modern combat versions, you can also build the HAS3 ICE, a specialised cold weather chopper. Finally, though there are no markings for it, you could build an early naval Lynx if you ignore the new sprue and have some spare decals.
 
The old sprue comes with two torpedoes, but sadly the kit doesn't include any Sea Skua missiles. Given that a Lynx can carry four of them, did most of its combat using them, and looks pretty cool tricked out that way, this is a shame. The Revell Sea King Mk 41 kit comes with four Sea Skuas, and maybe there are other places to get them too. You'd need to knock up the right launcher and mountings for them.
CONSTRUCTION

I build my models straight from the box, with very few exceptions. On the internet I have seen people really going to town on this model, but my build here is straight from the box and designed to show you what you can get from that approach to this kit.  More skilled builders than me will immediately see areas for improvement and enhancement.  But the result straight from the box, I think most would agree, is satisfying.
 
I started with the cockpit.  You have two seats on small frameworks, a control column but not the collective (which would be hard to see at the end anyway), and an analogue instrument panel. At this point, I was planning to build the German version and I found a photo of a German Lynx's instrument panel.  This was the only detailing I did - I figured with the Sea Spray radar and the FLIR, my pilots needed a few TV screens and radar screens to handle the data from those sensors.  So I added some plastic card and painted on a few screens, roughly following the photo I found. After that I painted on the various dials and switches that come as nicely raised detail on the instrument panel and centre console. There is no overhead console provided, though of course the real thing has one. I was going to build one but decided it would be too hard to see to warrant the effort.
 
My pilots got grey flight suits and blue helmets, and the main cabin got the rear seat installed and a passenger (from the Italeri modern ground crew set). You can't see him in these photos. The main cabin also got a loadmaster, crouching in the open door.  This guy came from the same Italeri set as the passenger. To get him to fit in, I had to do some pretty serious yoga on the guy, twisting and turning. I did it so hard his right leg broke off at the knee. A bit of knee reconstruction surgery (mostly involving the removal of a fair bit of the leg) enabled me to get him into a more realistic pose. What's he doing there? Well, he's just chillin, holding on to the handle with his left hand and looking out the door. I wanted him to appear to be sliding the door shut but that would have required arm surgery too and, even though he's only a 20mm plastic figure, mercy overcame me.  On my flights in helicopters (as a passenger in UH-1s and Bell 212s, and never in a Lynx), there was always a loadie and there were rear-cabin crew members in several of the Lynx photos I saw on the internet too. At any rate, I needed something to put in the cabin, having left out the central seating.

Remember to install the small cabin windows near the pilots' feet at this point!  And remember to drill out all the attachment holes for the wheel sponsons and the various antennae. Naturally, I forgot this.
 
I decided to leave out the new centre seat that comes with the updated sprue.  First, a few photos I saw didn't seem to have it. Second, I wanted to put a loadmaster into my helicopter and he wouldn't fit with those seats in place. So, with that decision made, the cabin area was finished and I glued together the fuselage, putting a little weight under the floor just to be sure the chopper would stand on its nosewheel when the time came.
 
At this point, you need to make a final decision between building the HMA8/Mk88A, or the HAS3 ICE/Mk21A, or the old version.  Once you decide, build up the nose appropriately and attach it to the fuselage (I put a little extra weight in here, too).  The fit is pretty bad here, as you can see from the photo. You'll need a fair amount of putty to fill that up. But it's easy enough to get a smooth finish.  Underneath, you need to put in the plugs that fill the holes for the landing skids of the army version, which shares the main sprues of this kit.  More putty and sanding, but not too much hassle. The same is true for the engine intakes and outlets.
 
By now, you're looking at a helicopter. Add on the wheel sponsons and the tail fin, and you're ready to paint your Lynx.  I cover that in the next section, but once you've painted it, you need to add the various antennae under the tail boom.  Check your instructions carefully to make sure you're adding the right combination for your version.  Don't forget the two small antennae that go on the nose in front of the windscreen, as well! I used stretched sprue to build the wire that connects the antennae under the tail boom.  If you're doing the RN or German chopper, now is the time to add your FLIR pod. At this point, having chosen the RN version, I discovered that the FLIR pod didn't fit unless it was offset to one side. I took the easy way out and installed it at an angle. The real thing traverses anyway, so no harm done. The German FLIR is a rounder pod, so it will fit better.
 
At the very end, I installed the cockpit glazing.  The two windows on top fit very well, and the side window/door pieces also fit snugly into place. The main windscreen needed a tiny bit of trimming with a knife and then it slotted into place too. There is a bit of a gap between it and the roof, and on one side at the base of the windscreen, but this was minor enough that a ball of paint on a fine brush easily filled the gap by capillary action. I could have used some kind of filler but by now I was keen to get this thing out of the hangar and into the sky, so to speak. 
 
The engine air intakes should have a wire mesh covering. If you want this, you'll have to scratch build it.
 
A note on the undercarriage.  Don't glue the main landing leg to the sponson, just jam it through from below. It seems from pictures that the legs just hang down when the Lynx is in flight, so if you don't glue it, you'll notice them compress down every time you land your chopper on a rolling flight deck (I mean, um, place it gently on the display shelf). Also, not gluing the legs allows you to turn the wheels into their offset position, as described in the preview (they twist so the chopper can easily be moved around on deck).
 
A note on the doors. I left the top door rail off until the very end, and added it carefully with the completed doors, so that I can slide the doors open and shut.  This worked pretty well but the fit is such that the doors sometimes fall off. Still, it's a cool feature.
COLORS & MARKINGS

I wanted to do the German version.  I went as far as painting the underside in what I hoped would be the right shade of pale grey (the instructions are not at all clear on what the correct colour is, so I went from internet photos).  In the end, though, I couldn't mix the correct shade.  The fact that the German decals are prominently out of register was nagging me the whole time, too, so when I realised that Mr Color 73 (Aircraft Grey) seemed to me to be exactly the right colour for the RN version, and that the upper colour for the German Lynx would give me as much grief as the lower, I switched loyalty and decided to "Go Royal Navy!". (Also, the saucy nose art is kind of cool!)
 
I covered the whole chopper in three handbrushed coats of Mr Color 73 enamel. When that was finally dry, I added the undercarriage (see above) and the other small parts that I'd prepainted. The exhaust pipes are a mix of flat aluminium and brown, and the green patches on either side of the helicopter (which I think are flotation bags) are Tamiya "Deep Green" XF-26 acrylic. The tail rotor flashes are decals, which don't reach around behind the blades.
 
The decals for the Royal Navy version are in register and went on easily enough.  I don't use any setting solutions (I haven't advanced to that yet) but even without them, the decals look fine on the semi-gloss grey paint.  By looking at other modellers' builds on various websites, I chose a green (Tamiya XF-58) for the main rotor blades.
 
And that was that!
CONCLUSIONS

This is a good kit of a cool modern helicopter. It fits well with a little effort and, really importantly for a helicopter, the cockpit windows are clear and fit properly. It has decent enough detail for an out of the box build, with good pilots and some detail in the cockpit, but it also offers wide scope for more advanced builders to pimp it inside and out (if you can get your hands on some Sea Skuas). It took me a little longer to build than other models of this size, mainly because there are some delicate parts to attach and because of all the surgery I needed on my loadmaster.
 
The only downside is the poor registration of the German decals on my example, but that still leaves you with the Royal Navy version and its FLIR pod, or the other versions with the older style nose. 
 
Recommended for anyone with an interest in the subject and average skills like mine!

(As a closing note, Richard tells me that a Lynx with Sea Skuas is about to be released by Hobby Boss. It will be interesting to see if it is actually superior to the Airfix kit. Ed)

REFERENCES

Wikipedia - where else?

Richard F


February 2009

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