Hasegawa 1/72 S-3B Viking 'VS-21 Fighting Redtails'

KIT #: 00688
PRICE: 2600 yen SRP
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2004 Limited Edition


VS-35 was initially established in 1961 and flew the S-2 'Tracker' until disestablished in 1973 upon the retirement of the S-2. In 1977 the squadron was reestablished but disestablished again before receiving any aircraft. In 1987 they tried again, but once more it was disestablished in 1988. In 1991 they tried again and this time was successful with the squadron flying until 2005 when the S-3 was being retired.

During their fourth iteration, they initially flew the S-3A but then switched to the S-3B. Their tenure as a carrier borne ASW squadron was fairly short as all S-3 squadrons had their ASW equipment removed and they became Sea Search squadrons. Some were equipped as relay and during the Afghan and Iraqi war were used to drop ordnance on undefended targets. Most of the time they were used as tankers, carrying a D-704 buddy pod as the Navy decided to save money and rid itself of the A-6 fleet along with the KA-6D tankers. Though the airframes still had plenty of life left in them, there was no longer a mission for the type and the entire fleet had been retired by 2009 except for a few planes used for test purposes that lingered on until spares ran out.


Hasegawa's S-3 kit is a 1978 tooling, which means raised panel lines. The kit's plastic is in fairly good shape with a bit of flash here and there, but nothing major. The interior is fairly basic with a pair of seat shapes, control sticks, instrument panel (with decal) and two crew figures. There is a rear bulkhead, but no back cabin section. 8 grams is needed for nose weight and that can be installed along with the cockpit, windows, and tail hook well when closing the fuselage halves. When that is done, the nose gear well and the sonobouy area can be installed.

The wings are a single upper and two lower halves with separate flaps. Engine and pylons are six pieces. Note also that there are two wing pylons that are always installed. When ready, the wing and tailplanes are attached to the fuselage. You have the option of having the boarding steps and the FLIR pod lowered. Note that the FLIR is never lowered on the ground unless maintenance is being done to it. Nose and main landing gear are nicely done and the doors fairly thin.

Now, since this is a 'post-ASW' aircraft, there are things that are left off and holes to be filled. No MAD boom, no SRS/SRX antennas, and no sonobouys. I'd also leave off the air refuelling probe as again, it was never extended on the ground unless it was undergoing maintenance. Also keep in mind that this is NOT an S-3B kit, but the older S-3A. That means that the wingtip antennas are wrong and the added oval vent on the left side of the fuselage is not there nor represented with a decal. What is represented with a decal are the side chaff/flare dispensers, but not the one on the underside. The kit does come with a cast metal D.704 buddy pod so that is nice to have. The clear canopy should be heavily tinted, so you'll need to do that. Note also that the small, forward oval window was only present on the prototype/preproduction aircraft so you'll need to fill that in as well once the window is installed.

Instructions are well done with lots of info on what has to be left off or filled in. There are markings for three aircraft from VS-21. The box art plane is the CAG bird and you have the option of either using the black tail decal or painting the tail black and then applying the proper markings. Other options are for the squadron commander's plane with less color or for a standard line bird with most of the markings in grey. Since this was a unit homeported in Japan, the kit sold very well, as it was a 'local' subject.  Decals are nicely printed and with the aircraft in an overall FS 36375 grey, will be easy to paint.


OK, so not exactly as advertised, but with a bit of paint trickery, one can do a passable S-3B. The use of aftermarket photo etch sets can also be very useful in this regard. Nonetheless, it is an old kit and I doubt if we'll see a new tool any time soon. I spent a lot of my Navy career with these planes, so have a fondness for the type.

April 2024

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