Revell 1/48 Wessex HCC4/HU5






Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken





After acquiring a licence in 1956 to manufacture the Sikorsky S-58 helicopter, Westland imported one of these aircraft in HSS-1 configuration. Given the British serial number XL.722, this aircraft was test-flown for a time with its original 1525hp Wright R-1820-84 engine before being modified to accept a 1100shp Napier Gazelle NGa.11 gas turbine. In its new form it was flown for the first time on 17 May 1957, and was later joined by two pre-production Wessex HAS Mk.1's for Naval trials; the first of these flew on 20 June 1958. The HAS Mk.1 went into production in 1959 for the Royal Navy as a submarine search and strike helicopter equipped with dipping Asdic and provision for one or two homing torpedoes. Powered by a 1450shp Gazelle Mk.161 engine, it began service trials with No.700H Flight in April 1960 and has since been delivered to Nos. 706, 737, 771, 815, 819 and 848 Squadrons. The first of these to commission, in July 1961, was No.815; the Wessexes of No.848 Squadron were for commando assault duties aboard H.M.S. Albion, having the ASW gear removed to make room for 16 troops or 8 stretchers and a medical attendant in the main cabin. Alternatively, a slung load of 1814kg can be suspended from an under-fuselage hook. From January 1967 the Wessex Mk.1's have been joined in service by the HAS Mk.3, which is powered by a 1600shp Gazelle Mk.122, and has an extended rotor head fairing and large dorsal radome. Twenty-seven HAS Mk.31's supplied to Royal Australian Navy since August 1962 are similar to the HAS Mk.1 apart from their 1540shp Gazelle Mk.162 engines.

All other Wessex variants have two coupled Gnome engines in place of the single Gazelle. These include the RAF's HC Mk.2, flown for the first time in production form on 5 October 1962 and entering service with No.38 Group in February 1964; the Navy's HU Mk.5, for which two orders have been placed and which entered service in summer 1964 as a commando-carrier assault transport; twelve Mk.52's for the Iraqi Air Force, three Mk.53's for the Ghana Air Force, and one Mk.54 for the Brunei government. Seven Wessex Mk.60's have been built for Bristow Helicopters Ltd. These are 10-passenger commercial equivalents of the Mk.2 and operate in support of the oil and gas drilling rigs in the North Sea. The Wessex is now all but gone from British service with the last unit operating them being 60 Sq in Northern Ireland.



Over the years, helicopter kits have never really gotten the attention that they've deserved. For some reason, many modelers don't think they are viable aircraft. Just because their wings move in circles doesn't mean that they are not interesting and often colorful. This particular kit is dated 1989, which means that it isn't really that new in the scheme of things.

Molded in several shades of plastic, the detailing is really quite good. Engraved panel lines and crystal clear transparencies highlight this kit. In addition, it has rivets where they are needed. After all, helicopters are not fast aircraft so a few rivets are not a problem. The kit comes with a relatively complete cockpit and a nicely equipped cabin. For some odd reason, the makers have once again not included a collective control and rudder pedals are absent, though the latter probably couldn't be seen anyway.  The rotor head looks properly busy, at least to this non-helo expert. Options are minimal and consist of floatation bags on the wheels and a positionable cabin door.

Instructions are in the typical RoG newsprint-like paper, though without the multitude of warning sheets as in newer kits. Colors are given in what seems to be Revell or Humbrol colors, though each are named for those of us who can't get them. Decals on my example have yellowed, which is not unusual for Revell decals. Markings are for three aircraft, two of them HCC 4s of the Queen's Flight in Red and Dark Blue. Other than serials and floatation bags, they are nearly identical. The third one is an HU 5 from 781 NAS in what appears to be in dark green with a white top. I'd say this is a VIP color scheme as well. The decals themselves are glossy and well printed, but as I said, they have yellowed and will require careful trimming to use. The large upper areas of white and dark blue will have to be painted, but the trim decals are provided.



If you want a 1/48 Wessex, then this is about your only choice. The kit really looks nice and despite the garish red plastic, should make into a very nice model. I don't know about aftermarket for it, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't any.



K.Munson "Helicopters And Other Rotorcraft Since 1907", 1968

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