|KIT:||Italeri 1/72 EH-101 Merlin|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The EH.101 was developed as a joint project by Westland in the UK and Agusta in Italy. Together they have produced a number of Sikorsky designs under license so they have the knowledge base available to produce an all new helicopter. Basically they were looking for a locally produced replacement for the veteran Sea King and to supplement the Chinook helicopters. This means that they needed a powerful and rather large helo that could also be made small enough to store aboard ships.
Deciding on a three-engine helo (as in the later Sea Stallions) the EH.101 Merlin is not a small aircraft. Its design has been a bit longer than most would like and customers outside Italy and the UK have been rather fickle. For quite some time it was decided to replace the Sea Knight in Canadian service, and in USMC service, but I'm not really sure just what has come of those plans.
One thing for sure, the British have put a lot of faith into this large helo and it is either currently completing operational testing or entering squadron service.
This is a new mold kit from Italeri and so it is up to current standards with engraved detailing. It also has very nice rivet detail. Since helicopters aren't designed to go fast, they don't flush rivet them. The kit has a full cockpit and a full cabin, which is really nice. It includes a sensor operators position and some extra crew seats. The cockpit includes both the collective and cyclic, though you'll have to supply your own rudder pedals. Instruments are provided as decals, the norm for many kits in 1/72. Clear bits are well done and the fuselage ones fit from the inside so you'll have to mask them before painting. A few holes will need opened to add in some of the interior fittings.
The rotor head is really nicely done and looks properly convincing. There is an option to build this with the tail section and the rotors folded as it would be aboard ship. While this will help with shelf space, it just looks a bit odd. You can also pose the cabin doors open or closed. I find that the three section fuselage may be a bit fussy of a build, but one doesn't know until one tries. There is no indication of how much weight to add or where to put it. It could be that this one doesn't need it, but in case it does, you can put quite a bit in the radar housing that fits under the nose.
Instructions are what we come to expect from Italeri and are very well done in 13 construction steps. Optional bits are highlighted and colors are provided in Model Master, FS 595 and generic names where appropriate. The overall color of the EH-101 is Light Ghost Grey FS 36375 according to the instructions, but I'd be willing to bet that there is an appropriate BS color for this one. The decals are for one aircraft, a generic RN EH-101. The decals look to be well done and provide the upper walk areas in addition to the standard data markings. Perhaps by now, there will be some aftermarket options available from some of the British decal makers.
There are a lot of folks who like big helos and this has to be added to the list. It should be a fun build, though one will have to take their time as there are quite a few parts to this one.
Review kit courtesy of your editor.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly by a site that has over 250,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Review Index Page
Back to the Previews Index Page