Hasegawa 1/72 EP-3E Orion

KIT #: ?
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Carmel J.Attard
NOTES: Aries II conversion


The P-3 Orion was an issue as a Lockheed proposal for a new anti-submarine aircraft to replace the P-2 Neptune. A contract was awarded to the company in May 1958 on an aircraft based on the L-188 Electra. The selection on the type was largely on the basis of strength of the aircraft structure and its size, which was sufficient to have an extensive array of detection systems and the required technical crew. The airframe had a tail mounted MAD boom and a ventral bulge simulating a weapon bay. The type with its new form came to be known as the YP-3A made a successful maiden flight on 25th November 1959. In the year that followed the type was redesignated as the P-3A Orion that entered service in 1962. By summer 1965, 157 P3As were delivered and Lockheed began production of P-3B, which was now fitted with new power plant T56-A-14 engines. It carried the same electronic equipment with provision for AGM-12 Bullpup AS missile. The type became operational with New Zealand, Norway, Australia apart from the USN squadrons.. In 1977 the P-3Bs were updated with improved navigational and acoustic–proving equipment and with provision for the AGM-84 Harpoon Anti Shipping missile. In due course surplus P-3A were converted to oceanographic services, weather reconnaissance, staff transports, aircrew trainers, utility transport, US Custom Service, AEW with APS-138 Surveillance radar antenna in a roto-dome above rear fuselage. The P-3C upgrade became the primary land-based anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft.

Special purpose conversions of the P-3 Orion included the EP-3A for electronic research, EP-3B for Elint, EP-3E for Elint with improved systems and the EP-3E-11 for Elint with still further improved systems. The EP-3E equipped Navy squadrons VQ-1 and VQ-2. The so-called “ World Watchers” VQ-1 squadron was established in September 1955 and subsequently began Elint operations. The type was based at NAS Agana on Guam. In 2001 VQ-1 contained EP-3E, UP-3B and P-3C operations from Whitby Island, Washington. Squadron VQ-1 is frequently assigned to operate from overseas bases. 

 Chinese Incident involving EP-3E mid air collision with Chinese J-8 fighter.

 The EP-3 (BuNo 156511), assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1, "World Watchers"), had taken off as Mission PR32 from  Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. At about 09:15 local time, toward the end of the EP-3's six-hour Elint mission, two Chinese J-8s from Lingshui airfield, on the Chinese island of Hainan approached the EP-3 as it flew at 22,000 feet and 180 knots (210 mph), on a heading of 110°, about 70 miles away from the island. One of the J-8s (81192), piloted by Lt.Cdr.Wang Wei, made two close passes to the EP-3. On the third pass, it collided with the reconnaissance aircraft. The J-8 broke into two pieces, while the EP-3's radome detached completely and its No. 1 (outer left) propeller was severely damaged. Airspeed and altitude data were lost, the aircraft depressurized, and an antenna became wrapped around the tailplane. The J-8's tail fin struck the EP-3's left aileron forcing it fully upright, and causing the U.S. plane to roll to the left at 3-4 times its normal maximum rate.

The impact sent the EP-3 into a 30° dive at a bank angle of 130°, almost inverted. It dropped 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in 30 seconds, and fell another 6,000 feet (1,800 m) before the pilot, Lt Shane Osborne, got the EP-3's wings level and the nose up. In a September 2003 article in Naval Aviation News, Osborn said that once he regained control of the plane he "called for the crew to prepare to bail out." He then managed to control the aircraft's descent by using emergency power on the working engines, such that an emergency landing on Hainan became a possibility.

For the next 26 minutes the crew of the EP-3 carried out an emergency plan which included destroying sensitive items on board the aircraft, such as electronic equipment related to intelligence gathering, documents and data. The EP-3 made an unauthorized emergency landing at Lingshui airfield, after at least 15 distress signals had gone unanswered, with the emergency code selected on the transponder . It landed at 170 knots (200 mph), with no flaps, no  trim, and a damaged left elevator, weighing 108,000 pounds (49,000 kg). Following the collision, the failure of the nose cone had disabled the No. 3 (inner right) engine, and the No. 1 propeller could not be  feathered, leading to increased drag on that side. There was no working airspeed indicator or  altimeter, and Osborn used full right aileron during the landing. Meanwhile, the surviving Chinese interceptor had landed there 10 minutes earlier.

Lt. Cdr. Wang was seen to eject after the collision, but the Pentagon said that the damage to the underside of the EP-3 could mean that the cockpit of the Chinese fighter jet was crushed, making it impossible for the pilot to survive.


This is a conversion build involving the following .

1)     a 1/72 scale model of the P-3 Orion released around early 80s, which is molded in light grey plastic with raised panel lines but otherwise appeared accurate all around. This had options for an Australian Navy and a US Navy decal markings.

2)     This modification into EP3 incorporated use of Falcon triple conversion set No II, molded in white in vac form plastic comprising a belly and ventral  gondola type radome and an under fuselage scanner radome and a rear pack.

3)     Additional ECM fairings and changes also made to the kit nose radar area and wing tips.

4)     Fitting of a useful set of metal oleo undercarriage parts from set issued by Scale Aircraft Conversion of Texas.

The kit had good fit of parts and mating of wings to fuselage. There are fine nacelles that go together well and only needed refining the air intakes using a round needle file.


The raised panel lines on the wing parts were sanded down and new recessed ones scribed in place using the back edge of a modeling knife. The outer weapon pylons have recesses, three close to each wing tip. These were blanked with filler and sanded down smooth. Recess for sonar package under the port wing also filled up with Revell Plasto filler as were also the numerous under fuselage sonobuoy ports. Care is taken when inserting the four round exhaust items to the engines as these can easily be pushed  inside the wings and will be difficult to retrieve and glue them correctly. The P3 is a big model, beautifully molded with accurate outline. Fits of parts is well made and no gaps are evident at the wing to fuselage seams. As I opted to convert it to an EP-3E it carried various antennae sprouted  around the rear fuselage underside and others  on top of fuselage. These were cut and shaped from card and left to be fitted at a later stage on premarked locations. I used a razor saw to cut a small part from the end of the Magnetic Anomaly Detection boom at rear of fuselage. The rear end was blanked with a small piece of plastic card. Panel lines on the fuselage could have been scribed as well but these were not so pronounced as the wing ones when close examined in photos and I opted to retain the ones on the kit. I only scribed the outline of an additional door to the starboard aft fuselage which was absent on the kit.

The Hasegawa kit has observation nose windows, this area was faired over with putty as the EP3 did not  have any fitted to the nose. All clear parts to port holes were left out for a later stage and after detailing the cockpit the clear canopy was fixed in place. When fitting the reshaped nose cone, lead weight was added to balance the model on its nose when assembled. It was essential to check and mark the exact position of the radome parts on the fuselage. The Falcon items which are vacform type had very brittle plastic and after preparing each part, these needed laminated reinforcement from the inside cavity as they were not strong enough to withstand handling. Cross bulkhead pieces were also added to make them stronger. The 4-piece conversion parts were glued in place to the fuselage. Wing tips were also made thicker as these appeared to carry further ECM gear in them. The aircraft fuselage is changed considerably by these additions. The round scanner also had three streaks added to each side. These were shaped from thin plastic card and cut to short lengths and bent to the required contour. Propeller blades had the ejector pin marks removed and sanded smooth before painting. A rectangular raised fairing was also added to the forward fuselage sides. The wheel wells were detailed and a metal undercarriage strong enough to withstand the new EP3E was glued in place instead of the kit plastic one. The landing gear set  No72022 is recommended for the Hasegawa/Revell kit and is supplied by ScaleAircraftConversions of Dallas, Texas. Areas and antennae were among the last items added to the fuselage and under wings. Wireless as adopted for the EP-3E was added using invisible thread treated with permanent black ink.


 The 4-propeller and nacelle assemblies were painted as per instruction sheet prior to fitting to the model. Painting the EP-3E fuselage demanded a considerable amount of masking. After masking the cockpit windscreen with Tamiya tape, three coats of semi gloss white Model Master  were applied. The same goes for the wheel wells. This is the time when one appreciates the robustness of having a metal undercarriage as masking and  painting the kit required a lot of handling and the last thing you need at this stage is knocking off the undercarriage on which the kit has to stand. The white areas were then masked and the rest of the model airbrushed in Model Master Gull grey FS 36440. The gull grey areas were given a coat of Johnsons Klear and ready to receive the decals. My thanks and appreciation go to Gordon of Kalafrana who assisted with printing the VQ-1 bat motif spread across the tail fin after I prepared the sketch required to both sides of fin. All other markings came from Micro Scale decal sheet which included the tail codes and US Insignias. The rescue arrows came from the kit decals as the Micro Scale ones were oversize and not to scale. All clear parts were added at this stage.


 This was another conversion that left a lot of satisfaction in the end. Referring to www.airliners.net  enabled me to obtain the required markings and detail in preparation for this model build.


1) Wikipedia

2) Airliners.net

Carmel J.Attard

March 2011

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