Heller 1/72 Alouette III
|PRICE:||$12.00 or so|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Most recent boxing|
The Aérospatiale Alouette III (French pronunciation: [alwɛt], Lark; company designations SA 316 and SA 319) is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by French aircraft company Sud Aviation. During its production life, it proved to be a relatively popular rotorcraft; including multiple licensed manufacturers, in excess of 2,000 units were constructed.
The Alouette III was developed as an enlarged derivative of the earlier and highly successful Alouette II. Sharing many elements with its predecessor while offering an extra pair of seats and other refinements, it quickly became a commercial success amongst both civil and military customers. Further variants were also developed; amongst these was a high-altitude derivative, designated as the SA 315B Lama, entered operational service during July 1971. The Alouette III was principally manufactured by Aérospatiale; the type was also built under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India as the HAL Chetak, by Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) in Romania as the IAR 316 and F+W Emmen (de) in Switzerland.
Similar to the Alouette II, in military service, it was used to perform missions such as aerial observation, photography, air-sea rescue, liaison, transport and training; it could also be armed with anti-tank missiles, anti-shipping torpedoes, and a fixed cannon. In a civilian capacity, the Alouette III was commonly used for casualty evacuation (often fitted with a pair of external stretcher panniers), crop-spraying, personnel transportation, and for carrying external loads. By the 2010s, many operators were in the process of drawing down their fleets and replacing them with more modern types; the French military intend to replace their Alouette IIIs with the newly-developed Airbus Helicopters H160.
It has been a while since I've bought a Heller kit. The most recent kits are all in top opening 'lunch box' boxes. This isn't a bad thing compared to some of the earlier attempts. The box itself is fairly sturdy and due to the size of the kit, one can comfortably build the kit out of the box. However, due, I suspect, to some sort of law regarding reducing plastic packaging, all of the sprues are loose in the box. This resulted in all the clear bits being separated from their sprue and a lot of small, red, plastic dots littering the bottom of the box.
The kit itself is molded in red (who actually builds a kit without painting it?) and there are four colored sprues. The detailing is typical 1970s stuff with raised panel lines and the sprues are in good shape with almost no flash or ejector pin issues.
A fairly large parts count for a small kit like this (72 parts), means it will take a bit of time to build. The cockpit is nicely appointed with seats, collective, cyclic and no foot pedals. Such is the design of the kit that one can assemble the fuselage aft of the cockpit and then add the 'pit a bit later.
Landing gear are fairly well done and properly spindly. You are provided with skis if you wish to add those on. A fair engine shape is provided and one could embellish it if one wanted. Rotor head is fairly well done. The blades have no droop so you may wish to add a bit of heat to the plastic and try to add some. There are a lot of bits to add to the outside like stretcher platforms aset of what look like old time radar dipoles to the sides and front and so on. The clear cockpit is comprised of three parts and is quite clear. This will need some weight to keep from tail sitting, but finding a place to put it is somewhat problematic.
Instructions are somewhat a reminder of current Airfix sheets with color and Humbrol only paint references. Two markings options are provided, both nearly identical. One has the Securite Civile markings on the boom while the other replaces that with F-GUAD civil registration. Both have the white stripes. Decal sheet looks quite nice and should go on with minimal fuss.
It is nice to see these kits being reissued. Heller had a very nice catalogue of kits and all but its very early ones were well done. Scalemates tells me that this is the 2014 release and shows one from 2018 so they are out there.
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