|KIT:||Heller 1/72 SA.330 Puma|
|PRICE:||$? won it at a kit raffle|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||This is an Airfix kit.|
The Puma was first designed to meet a French army requirement for a medium lift helicopter capable of operating in all weather conditions. The first of two Sud SA-330 prototypes flew for the first time on April 15 1965, with the first production aircraft flying in September 1968. In January 1970 Sud was merged into Aerospatiale. A 1967 decision by Britain's Royal Air Force to order the Puma as its new tactical helicopter transport resulted in substantial Westland participation in the helicopter's design and construction.
Initially designed for military use, the aircraft has subsequently seen a great deal of use in the civil market where there has been a need for a modern medium lift helicopter. Often times these aircraft have been replacing Wessex or even more ancient Whirlwind helicopters. The SA.330 and later SA.332 Super Puma have also been assembled or built under license in several other countries and continues in widespread service today.
It is a simple fact of business that companies come, companies go, companies merge and others get bought out. Humbrol owns both Airfix and Heller. It is for this reason that you will often find Airfix kits in Heller boxes or Heller kits in Airfix boxes (generally with the words 'NEW' on the outside to trap the unwary). Where both companies make the same model (as in the Mirage 2000C or Jaguar), they generally pick the better of the two to market. This isn't the case with the Puma as it is an Airfix mold.
This particular boxing is one that includes paint, brush, glue and the kit. Allegedly, the little tyke's mum can buy this one deal and not have to worry about getting the right stuff for junior to finish the kit. The paints have Humbrol numbers on them and are 56, 85, 102 and a large container of white, which I'm guessing at is 130. I don't know if it is acrylic or enamel as no thinner is provided. A bit more on this later.
The kit itself is molded in a tan plastic and is of the 'raised panel lines and rivets' variety. I decided to keep everything in its bags so as not to lose parts that had come adrift. From what I could see through the bag, there is little flash, no sink areas of consequence and the usual ejector pin marks on the inside and backs of some parts. Most will be invisible when the kit is finished. Transparencies are thick and the ones for the cabin windows are quite distorted as well. All helo modelers want to know if both the collective and cyclic are included and I'm glad to say that they are.
Instructions are toned so that if there are two different shades of paint needed, each shade has its own tone and guide. I should point out that mum will have to make a trip to the store as there are a few colors of paint not included. Naturally, nothing is written anywhere in English other than the usual warning not to stick the paint up your butt and stuff like that. Also given are some general building guidelines in a font so small that one needs a magnifying glass to read it. The construction sequences are well drawn and there are a ton of them. It seems that there is a separate diagram for every two or three parts that are added, making for a booklet that contains 45 steps! Each previous step is referenced as needed. I have to say that if you've never built a kit before, following these instructions to the tee will ensure that you miss nothing and have all painted in the right color. Those of us who have built a few models will be forgiven for skipping a few steps. Since mum doesn't want her boy to be a killer (preferring him to be a gentlemanly soccer fan instead), the markings are for a UN operated aircraft. This also has the benefit of having the model painted in one color, in this case white. Markings are well done and quite matte.
Apparently this 'all in one' deal is becoming a big deal with Heller as there is a catalogue included that has all sorts of kits in it, some with as many as ten different paint colors. I have to assume that the paints are acrylics as there is nothing said about them, but since all the Hubrol I've ever used has been enamels, I'm not sure. For the modeler who does not have a ton of paints, this is a good idea and enough to get interest built up. The kit itself is one of Airfix's better offerings, and to my knowledge, there isn't a better one available in this scale.
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