Hasegawa 1/72 S-3A Viking


K 13




See Review


Scott Van Aken




The S-3A was developed in the late 1960s to replace thevenerable S-2 Tracker as a carrier-borne ASW platform. It had to have the most sophisticatedASW equipment available as well as to be able to carry the appropriate offensiveweapons to destroy whatever submarines it found. It also needed to have a longloiter time to enable it to properly track the sub until it became an obviousthreat or until reinforcements arrived on scene. The aircraft also had a numberof other systems to help assist in it this mission like an ESM (Electronic SurveillanceMeasures) system, FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) system to track ships at nightas well as a sophisticated SRS (Sonobouy Reference System). In addition itcontained Link 11 which was a data-link system that allowed relaying ofinformation on the aircraft's display systems to any ship or shore station on areal-time basis. Man, this plane could do it all.

If it sounds as if I know a lot about the Viking it is because Inot only maintained the avionics systems but also taught them. This all pasthistory as these systems have been removed from extant Vikings. It has beendeemed that shore based ASW (P-3 Orions) is all that is really needed now thatthe former Soviet Union is no longer a threat. After having been upgraded toS-3B configuration with improved systems, the Viking now does aerial tankingwith a buddy tank as well as just normal eyeball recce. Ho Hum. 

Five early Vikings were converted to COD aircraft, one wasconverted to a KS-3 and because no need was seen for a tanker, converted to aUS-3 COD, and an additional 12 (or was it 16) were converted to ES-3As toreplace the EA-3B Skywarrior as a carrier-borne ELINT platform. All the ES-3 arenow in mothballs after only 8 years of service as they were no longer deemedneeded. Because of the usefulness of the platform, there was talk aboutreopening the S-3 production line, but that was shelved because of monetaryconcerns. Again, the USN didn't buy enough of a plane that had tremendouspotential to perform other missions and is paying the price for thatshort-sightedness.



Hasegawa's kit of the S-3 is from the age of raised panel lines. Though the dateon the decal sheet is 1987, I tend to think it has been around longer than that.It is made of hard, medium grey plastic and includes a darkened canopy, thoughit really needs to be even darker. Building options include an extended refuelingprobe, extended MAD boom, extended flaps, extended FLIR pod, open crew door, anda choice of bombs or fuel tanks on the wing pylons. Despite its age, themolding is in good shape and only a few ejector pin marks on landing gears anddoors to belie its age.

Theonly interior bits offered are an instrument panel, two sorta OK Escapac seats,two control sticks and a decal for the instrument panel. No decal for the centerconsole and no side consoles at all! The engines include a front and realcompressor. Getting the seam out of the front of the engine cowling will be areal trick. I suggest making engine covers from tissue. There is no provisionfor folding the wings or tail. 

Now for a couple of hintsfrom one who knows. Don't have the MAD boom or fuel probeextended. The only time this was done on the ground is when they were undergoingmaintenance. The probe also tended to leak as the seals weren't that great andwere at times removed from the plane. Not a good idea to extend the FLIR as itwas also not extended on deck unless the crew was playing with it or it wasundergoing maintenance. If you lower the flaps, you'll have to cut the leadingedge slats and lower them as well. The under wing tanks are really too skinny and needreplaced with something else. You'll also have to fill in that odd little ovalwindow. I have never seen this on any plane.

 Nowadays aD-704 Buddy Tank is carried under one wing and that is usually on the left side.Of course, you'll have to upgrade the plane to an S-3B vice an A, but those modsare really not that tough. Here's a linkto what is different. BTW, as you can see from the picture, no extendedstuff!

There are two decal options with the kit. One full colorand the other lo-vis. The colorful bird is from VS-28 (now disestablished). Thegrey one is from VS-38. Decals are 'typical' in that they will work, but arethick and will do horrible things if a setting solution is used (at least, thatis my experience). Just FYI, the wing walk stripes were generally not replacedwhen the plane went through repaint so it is your choice as to use them or not.

Thoughit is an old and venerable kit, in terms of detail it is slightly better, in myopinion, than the Airfix kit. Other than decal sheets and perhaps an etched brass set,there are no aftermarket things for it, which is a shame.

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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