Revell 1/72 S-3B Viking

KIT #: 04327
PRICE: 19.10 Euro
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Hasegawa mold. Pavla detail parts incorporated.


Destined to be a replacement of the Grumman S2F Tracker, the prototype S-3 first flew on 21 January 1972 at Palmdale, California. Conventional in design for a carrier borne warplane, the Viking is a high-wing, twin-engine aircraft with hydraucally folding outer wing panels and vertical tail surface, and provides pressurised accommodation for its crew of four. The S-3 entered service in 1974. A total of 187 S-3As were built including 5 US-3A COD versions (modified from early preproduction airframes) and one KS-3A dedicated AAR Tanker (later modified back to S-3A standards). Later on, 16 aircraft were modified to ES-3A standard for ELINT duties with VQ-5 and VQ-6, though their service life was quite short due to the high cost of maintenance. The first flight of the developed S-3B took place on 13th September 1984 and 122 A models were brought to this standard.  

The Viking had a maximum speed of 450 Knots, a range of 2,000 miles. It can carry 2 hard points under each wing for mines, Harpoon ASM, external tanks or ‘buddy’ AAR pod. In fuselage it carries sonobuoy launcher and a bomb bay for mines, depth charges and torpedoes. During Desert Storm the S-3A/B Viking proved an exceedingly effective conventional bomber when employed against Iraqi radar stations, anti-aircraft batteries and other targets including small vessels in the Persian Gulf.

As to the weapons deal, Scott Van Aken ( who spent long years working on S-3s has indicated that "...depending on the date of a particular S-3, it may well be that the planes were no longer capable of delivering weapons as the hardware/software that provided data and targeting info may well have been removed. The entire left side of the interior behind the rear seats was full of racks that had nothing in them but modules for the various offensive systems. Though the computer that interfaced all the various systems from the intercom to the radar was still there, all the tactical stuff was gone. Doesn't mean they couldn't carry the torpedoes, but they couldn't really use them. 

All of the comm/nav/radar equipment was installed in bays that were accessible from the outside. When that interior stuff was deleted, so was the sensor operator and his place was taken by lead weights so that the seat ejection sequences would not be disrupted as the tactical operator on the right rear was still being carried. After 1996 all the ASW electronics were stripped out of the planes and they were pretty much used for search and tanking only. In fact the unit names were changed from ASW to Sea Search squadrons. Means no weapons would be carried, but there would be a D 704 refuelling pod under one wing pylon. I believe they used the left side for that so the pilot could monitor it. "

 The improvements made to the S-3 were almost entirely internal so that the external features of the S-3B did not differ significantly from those if its predecessor. Between July 1987 and July 1991 all aircraft of the S-3A type based on the East coast of the USA received these upgradings, the Pacific units on the west coast between March 1992 and September 1994. At the same time the number of units were reduced from previously 10 squadrons to 6, each with eight aircraft. During its long service, the Viking has proved to be very robust and a reliable aircraft. For many years the S-3 Viking was the US Navy’s carrier borne fixed-wing ASW aircraft. In 1998 however withdrawn from this role, the surviving S-3B machines then were being re-roled as land-attack and tanker aircraft.

The aircraft are now out of service aside from three low time airframes used for special test roles.


This is the same Hasegawa kit with only minor differences where the cockpit canopy is not tinted and there is an extra small window added at the forward fuselage area. This implies that the fuselage halves are from a later batch of production when a possible US-3 kit was added to the Hasegawa Viking range. At the time of release as a Hasegawa issue the kit was regarded that it comes up to its standard of excellence in accuracy and smooth fitting parts. The quality and standard of decal sheet (VS-38 USS Constellation 2000 and VS-21 West Pac, USS Kittyhawk.1999) turns the kit into a lively colourful Viking in spite that it comes in tone down camouflage finish, normally rendered as too dull a finish.

The kit contains 86 parts molded in mid grey plastic which slot together so well that no rubbing down of joint lines is necessary. The 10-page instruction in both English and German language contains 24 stages of construction and 3-pages of decal placement for two liveries which differ from each other producing a contrast Viking finish in each case. The kit contains detail options such as crew door that can be glued open or closed and the forward censor can be opened to reveal a radome underneath. There is provision for a flight-refuelling probe. Alternative fuel tanks or bombs can be fitted to under wing pylons.


The various stages of fuselage and wing construction are straightforward including a detailed cockpit, detailed undercarriage and MAD boom at the rear of the fuselage, which can be extended. Construction is easy to follow. Starting with detailing the cockpit where a decal is provided for the instrument panel and complete with 2-crew figures. Color detail is clearly indicated. I went a stage further in detailing the model by making use of the excellent Pavla Models ‘S-3 Viking’ sets U72-80 comprising a well detailed bomb bay and wheel well resin parts, 11 items in total. In addition I also used another Pavla set U72-79, which consisted of detailed control surfaces also in cream resin.

Fitting the new bomb bay/wheel well resin part entailed cutting away the kit forward fuselage area, which is same fitting length as the resin part. The resin bomb bay and bay doors parts had the heavy runners cut with a razor saw and sanded down the excess feeder part. This was time consuming but very rewarding if one does not rush with preparation and fitting of the item. The tail stabilised was a straightforward job. The elevator and trim tabs are molded in a different position to that in the Revell kit so that they look different on the kit too. I also used the extended flap parts from the second set. These required adding five metal pins to each flap. Pairs of small triangular hinges were also added to each of the metal pins, adjacent to the flaps side.

Several stub aerials come with the kit. Those in way of bomb bay doors situated under the fuselage were retrieved from the cut kit part and added to the resin central piece of bomb bay that lies between the bay doors. One aerial stub positioned second in line aft of cockpit was replaced with a slightly bigger one shaped from a piece of plastic card.

One feature lacking from the Revell kit is the tinted cockpit canopy. I used one from a Hasegawa kit I had in my stash. Alternatively one can add a coat of brownish lacquer or varnish to simulate the same tint of brown. In fact I used this method on an Airfix kit that I was building in line with the Revell model, with quite effective results. I also added two practice Mk 50 Barracuda torpedoes retrieved from the Airfix kits, which I painted in light brown, and medium blue. For the under wing pylons I added three Mk 82-500 lb HE bombs to each pylon. An extended refuelling probe was added to the front of cockpit canopy and a tiny rectangular hinged door added at the probe to canopy root.


The only S-3B Viking ever to land at Hal-Luqa airfield was one from VS-32, one that took part in Deny Flight operations over Bosnia. This was attached to the “Maulers” VS-32 Squadron and involved in project Aladdin. This consisted of dropping overland sensors, reminiscent of the Vietnam-era Igloo White Operations then in conjunction with EC-121N that monitored signals coming from these sensors. Cdr Bob Buehn piloted the S-3 that was participating at the air show on 26.9.93. In due course I discovered that Super Scale decals issued a sheet 72-649 which had two Viking decals one of which was that of VS-32 from USS America. The S3 was airbrushed in overall light Ghost Grey FS36375 with an anti glare panel in FS35237. Model Master had the right color paint. The exposed areas on flaps were painted bright red. I also noted that the tone down type of finish did not have the edges of bay doors and well doors painted red but retained the semi gloss white of the bays. The kit was given two overall coat of Klear prior to applying decals.


As indicated earlier I also built the Airfix S-3. The model lacked a few things that the Revell/ Hasegawa product offers. The kit is molded in white plastic, rather thicker in section but with flush practically non-existent, making the raised panel lines and surface detail accurate and not too exaggerated.  I found that the fuselage length was slightly too short while the wings needed to be shortened by 3 mm at each side. These I shortened by first removing the wing tip sensor, then cut away 3 mm from the edge and refit the sensor to its original place. Missing from the Airfix kit were two tiny aerials fitted to side of nose, one at each side. These I produced from bent wire.  The cockpit had an integrally molded instrument panel, side console but I found that detail to aft bulkhead was lacking and brought detail to same level as the Revell kit added measured cross lengths of stretch sprue pieces.

Wing fitting to fuselage went well but needed rubbing down to bring a smooth continuity. The cockpit was varnished to give it a dark transparent tint, followed by a coat of Klear. Interior of engine intake was painted partly light grey and partly white, while compressor blades were silver. In both kits I ensured that enough lead weight was added to make the kit balance on its nose wheel before putting the fuselage halves together. I decided to discard the kit decals and use instead Revell decals for VS-38 USS Constellation. These have a colourful yellow and red lion and lightning decorations on the tail fin. The upper fuselage walk ways varied in color to the Revell kit ones, and I drew the outline on a blank decal sheet which I painted light grey. Then cut it to conform to same outline as the other walkway. Weathering effect on upper deck and wings was obtained by varying mix of light ghost and white and apply to panels which were partially masked. Two fuel tanks were added to the Airfix kit pylons.


Two different make of models still produced the desired accurate S-3 Vikings much to my delight, as I never had a Viking in my collection.


World Air Powers Journal Vol 34/Fall 1998.

 Carmel J. Attard

April 2011

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