|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/48 SH-3H Sea King|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
For well over 25 years, the SH-3 Sea King has been the USN's primary anti-submarine helicopter until replaced by the SH-60 Sea Hawk in the early 1990s. Even today, many SH-3s have been converted into UH-3 utility helos, but even the days for those are numbered. The Sea King has been a huge success overseas being license built by Westlands in the UK, Agusta in Italy and Kawasaki in Japan. There are dozens of countries still flying the Sea King and its non-nautical Commando version and should be around for years to come.
It has been 13 years since this kit first hit the market in 1992. It was Hasegawa's first foray into doing big scale helicopters and other than the AH-64, there hasn't been a lot of movement in the helo department at Hasegawa. I think that the reason they produced this kit is that they like to do aircraft that have served with the Japanese armed forces and this is one of those.
Retailing for the then outrageous price of $60, the Sea King was grabbed up by helo fanatics and some actually made their way to the contest tables where others could ooh and aah over how nice they are. And they are nice. First thing one notices when opening the box is that there is a lot of extra room in there. True, but one needs the big box for the very large decal sheet!
The kit is the usual from Hasegawa with medium grey plastic and nicely engraved panel lines. A full cockpit with both cyclic and collective as well as rudder pedals are provided. The seats have belts molded in place and the instrument panels have raised detailing. A large, but empty cabin is provided and the cabin door is fixed shut. One will have to rely on aftermarket to take care of that rather large cavern back there.
Building up the engine area will be a rather fiddly job as there are all sorts of panels and pieces that go there. Same with the underside as one has a myriad of bits that have to be attached to the bottom. This means many holes to drill and a few bits to cut off and sand smooth. The sponsons are well detailed with the usual MAD gear and sonobouys. One even has torpedoes to attach to the sides.
The tail section is separate and this will be helpful if you wish to put in the additional effort to have it folded. The kit does not offer that option. There are two different water ingestion guards to place in front of the engine inlets depending on which decal option one chooses. The rotor head is properly busy and a very nice touch is that the rotor blades are molded with some droop in them. Now these can be modeled in the folded position and those who are handy with making hinges could easily make them moveable. As funky as I think a helo looks with folded blades, many will choose this option as it takes up a lot less room on the display shelf in this way.
Instructions are what we come to expect from Hasegawa with Gunze paint references and generic terms. There are three markings options on a decal sheet so large it wouldn't fit on the platen of my scanner . One is the box art aircraft from HS-12 in white and light gull grey. The other in this scheme is from HS-4, while the third option is in the Tactical Paint Scheme from HS-8. This later one is in the CAG markings with a black fin and some color in the fin stripes. Having the tail separate makes this option much easier to paint so keep that in mind if doing this version. It is nice that the exhaust areas and yellow tail bands are given as decals, though these latter bits would probably look better painted on.
Even after all these years, this is still a very impressive kit. The price hasn't dropped, but there have been several other special boxings and at least one release from Revell AG. If you like helos and like them large, this is for you.
This review kit courtesy of me, who managed to get this little gem for $25 from a vendor at a show.
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