Aeromaster 48-573: S-3B Vikings

Units: VS-32 & VS-33


$10.00 MSRP ($8.00 at North American Hobbies )


Scott Van Aken

Decal sheet often come in pairs and there is the second 'Lo Visibility' sheet. Again, both are S-3Bs but this time only one is a CAG bird and it is a bit subdued. A nice touch from Aeromaster is that they have included the flare/chaff dispensers that are part of the S-3B modification as decals. This works just as good as etched brass bits. I should mention that on this sheet as well as the previous one, the drawings are not totally accurate for an S-3B. Two other external clues for the B version are square wing tip pod antennas (the ones in the drawings are round) and the large cooling vent on the FLIR access panel door, which are accurately portrayed.  Take a peek at the short photo essay for the visual clues. I need to mention as well that my photo essay is as of 1993. Since then, a GPS antenna has been added to almost all Naval aircraft. That is not shown in the essay, on the sheet drawings or in the early S-3A kit. I do believe that the ES-3A kit includes this antenna. Modelers will be most happy to know that a nice S-3B cockpit set has been done by Black Box. I'd suggest getting it, though you may not see much through the very dark kit canopy.

Moving on to the decal sheet, the first one is the CAG bird from VS-33 in 1997. By this time the S-3 was relegated to sea search. The ASW gear removed or just left in for weights and balances, and the last of the carrier borne enlisted flight crew (the ASW system operator - SENSO), gone from the Navy, his place taken by lead weights (this time to ensure proper ejection seat firing). The plane is now doing little but tanking and accumulating flight hours until they are all gone to the boneyard. There is no replacement for it.

The other is from VS-32 and is not a CAG  bird but a standard S-3B. It is from the 1992 time frame and was aboard the USS America. At this time, it was probably still a viable ASW platform.

Common markings are provided for both aircraft, though you can get more on the stencils sheet that Aeromaster has produced. Either scheme will be an improvement from the kit decals and should be a breeze to apply.

Review sheet courtesy North American Hobbies, where you can get everything from 20-30% below retail.

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