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1:32 Westland Wessex HC.2 Fly Model Catalogue 32010 Available from Fly for 2066,00 CZK (approx. £55 at time of writing) I’ve said to a few people that the Wessex appears to be typically British in appearance, but is literally only by design, and to be more accurate – RUSSIAN design! Of course, the Wessex was actually a licence-built version of the Sikorsky H-34, built by Westland Aircraft. The Wessex was slightly different to its American-built Sikorsky cousin, in that rotor power was generated by a turbo-shaft engine, rather than the piston engine of the Russian machine. In fact, the Wessex was the first mass-produced helicopter in the world to be powered by a gas turbine engine. Seeing initial production to satisfy a Royal Navy order, the type, having been proved successful, was also then ordered by the Royal Air Force for Air – Sea and Mountain Rescue duties. Of course, the Wessex was also employed for military duties with the RAF, being capable of transport and battlefield support, and saw service in both Hong Kong and Northern Ireland, on extended detachments. The naval HU.5 type saw service during the Falklands Conflict, where 55 Wessex were used to move equipment to frontline units and support battlefield positions. Entering service with the Royal Navy in 1961, it saw a respectable and pretty trouble-free operational period of over 40yrs, with the last Wessex being retired by the RAF in 2003. Other notable operators were Australia, Uruguay, Brunei and Oman. It was also used in a civilian role in Britain for ferrying of crew for North Sea oil rigs in the 1960’s and 70’s, with Bristow Helicopters operating the Wessex 60 type. Just wow! Not only do we get a new helicopter in 1:32 (I hate 1:35!!), but it’s also one of the few I actually like….the Westland Wessex! Serious kudos to Fly Model for not only developing this Holy Grail, but also shipping me one out so quickly. I was asked which version of this I wished to look at, so I opted for the HC.2 RAF version. Fly also produce the naval HU.5 too, with some beautiful colour schemes. However, the options here are also pretty colourful too, as we’ll see later. Packed into a relatively small box (for the model’s finished size), it’s nonetheless crammed with plastic, photo-etch and resin parts. Unusually for a box lid, the subject is shown in photographic form, with an action photo of the HC.2 in operation over a coastline. Also unusually, the photo is portrait in layout, unlike most artwork which is landscape. A nice photo which shows what this kit is all about. The colour schemes, four in all, are shown on the box lid side. A friend was here earlier, drooling over this release, and until he saw the resin bags, he said that the kit seemed to have a fairly small parts count. To a degree, that is true, as much detail relies on all those resin and PE parts, but there are still SEVEN sprues of medium grey styrene, and TWO clear sprues. With the exception of Sprue F, all the others are packed into a single clear sleeve. TWO photo-etch frets are included, a set of paper parts, one large decal sheet and I haven’t even begun to count the many, many resin parts in this release. Like other kits from FLY, the resin is cast by Artillery, and is excellent quality. There are a small number of broken parts in this sample, but we’ll look at that later. SPRUE A (x2) This is the only sprue for which there are two identical items supplied. Essentially, parts that have multiples tend to be moulded here. The main protagonists are the main rotors themselves. A quick note here is that no sprues have part numbers on them. You will need to refer to the parts map in the instruction manual. Being short-run in nature, you also won’t find any interconnecting pins either. You need to align things yourself. Ok, back onto those rotors. These have been represented in their at-rest, drooped stance, with the correct level of droop already set for you. Now, I can’t vouch these drooping more as time goes by, but I can say that Fly’s plastic is quite light, so fingers crossed, you won’t have an issue. These rotors will slip into resin mounts, and then secure to the resin hub. I suggest you pin these with rigid wire to prevent any stressing. Rotor detail is very good too. Two of the four tail rotor blades are also to be found here, and will fit to the main part that is full span. A multitude of parts on this sprue are concerned with the internal ribbing and framing of the crew compartment. This will also be supplemented by photo-etch joint plates. In all, it should look pretty impressive when complete. Other parts that can be seen here are engine exhausts, main gear struts, foot control pedals, and a good number of small external and internal parts such as scoops, vents, and minor hub parts etc. SPRUE B Here you will find various floors and bulkheads, plus the underside of the main fuselage area. This latter parts gives us an idea about what we can expect from the surface detail of this model. Now, if your impression of short-run kits hasn’t been good with regards to details, then this will shatter that illusion. Panel lines are as refined and as you would expect to see on a high-end manufacturer’s release, and as importantly, they are also even. External detail will be supplemented by further resin detail. I can also tell you that the exterior of this model is riveted too, and they look just perfect, as in not too defined to distract, and just enough to perhaps catch a little wash here and there. They are very subtle and only a secondary feature of the exterior detail. Reference I have does show that at least some riveting was actually raised. If you feel you wish to correct this, then I suggest either Archer or HGW positive rivet decals. Attention to interior detail is also very good, with chequerboard panelling on the floor of the upper rotor shaft assembly, and the same attention to on the crew cabin bulkheads. Of particular note here are the circular port details on the cabin floor. This is some of the best detail engraving I’ve seen, let alone on a short-run kit. SPRUE C As you’ll instantly recognise, the tail section halves are moulded here. This not only helps with tooling a large model, but the tail can also be posed in a folded position, complete with internal bulkhead joint detail, such as the rotor drive coupling. Again, I’m impressed by the fine surface detailing. I do note that these parts, as with the main fuselage and nose sections, have a feint patina. Before use, I would perhaps gently buff these with a very fine sanding sponge, followed by a polishing sponge. It’s no biggie at all, and I think would hep things massively, and of course, not damage any other raised detail. Some of that interconnecting bulkhead detail, plus the bulkheads, are moulded here. These will be supplemented by extra plastic and resin detail. There are THREE instrument panel parts moulded here, but only one part (#9) is used for the HC.2 release. Another is for the HU.5, and most tellingly, the last part is described as for ‘other versions’. I wonder is this means we’ll see further versions of this kit. Other sprue parts include tail rotor items, stabiliser, instrument panel coaming and the crew compartment door. SPRUE D Just two parts here; the main fuselage halves. And….totally Wessex! These look just great. I really hope my photos here help to show that external detail. I’ve built a few Fly model kits, and this looks to be the very best of them yet, and that’s including their Ar 234 that I recently built and raved about. Internally, there are engraved lines to help you place the internal frame parts. Note that there are also engraved lines to help with bulkhead placement etc. too. If you buy the other HU.5 version, you will need to open up the side fuselage windows, and there is some faint scribing within the fuse to show you this. SPRUE E Also helping with fuselage breakdown is the moulding of the nose sections as halves. The instructions show these being attached to their respective fuselage halves almost at the very start of construction, so I would do the same and not chance them being fitted later. I would also advise this of the tail section, providing you aren’t displaying it in its folded position. The upper, meshed area of the nose is actually left open, and without the mesh, but there is a resin cover that sits over this and looks very good. Should you wish to display that area without the cover, you will need to fabricate your own mesh and frame. That’s the only real downside here, as I would have liked to se both options provided. Apart from the bare cockpit floor, the rest of this sprue is taken up with various exterior sliding rails for doors etc. external pipework, and also support frames for the main rotor shaft. SPRUE F This sprue is the only grey one to be packed separately, and this is due to the fragility of the parts therein. Moulding also seems slightly more refined, with zero flash, compared to the other sprues. The plastic also looks slightly different (glossy) too. Here, you will find external grab handles, pitot, main rotor plates, and undercarriage damper legs etc. SPRUE CP-A, CP-B These are the clear parts. CP-A contains those blown cockpit side windows that are so familiar, as well as the other openings. Two bulged windows are included for the HU.5, that aren’t for use here. I’ll add my own notes about these possibilities soon though…. CP-B is a single part, namely the main cockpit window. Framing is very good, with none clear areas being frosted. Clarity is very good, but not in the same league as a Trump, Tamiya, HK or other kit that’s not limited run. However, I still don’t think the parts are too bad at all, and I have no problem with them personally. A dip in Klear may improve them further. Plastic Summary Sprue gate attachments should be easy to clean up, and moulding is very nicely executed. Small levels of flash occur in some places, but no actual defects can be seen. For a short-run kit, this is certainly far more than acceptable, and quite impressive. Ejector pin marks are no real issue, and seam lines are minimal. RESIN PARTS I’m really not going to go into naming every part here, but instead do a photographic breakdown of the various supplied components. See that there are parts here that are also HU.5 specific too. Essentially, apart from the box itself, and the decals. The parts included in this release could also build you the HU.5 version. If you wanted to build your own HU.5 scheme from masks or aftermarket decals, then buying the HC.2 kit is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Even the instructions are common to both kits Take a look at these parts, all produced by Artillery, and you’ll see just how good they are. Casting is excellent, although I do have a very small number of minor breakages that are fixable by me. I’m sure if I ask Fly, they will send out any replacements I should ask for. Detail parts include those for the cockpit, rotor stack, rotor hub, plus other internal and external details. PHOTO ETCH Two frets here, which are again applicable to both the HC.2 and HU.5 kits. These pare packed into a single sleeve, along with some paper parts that we’ll look at next. PE is included for internal cockpit detail and framework stiffener plates, external rails, louvres, various mesh grilles, straps etc. There is a lot of metal here, and you’ll get a better idea of what is offered by looking at the photos of the finished text shot that I’ve included at the end of the article. PE quality is excellent, very small fret connecting tabs, and high quality, sharp detail and detail relief. PAPER PARTS A single sheet is included that feels slightly plasticised. The various crew cabin belts are printed on one side, in the correct blue colour, and the rear of the sheet is also in blue, so no having to paint the rear. You might need to touch up any white edges you see, but that’s no real issue. I think you can also scrunch this material a little to make it look more naturally like fabric. Seatbelts for the cockpit are printed here too, but I’m not too impressed with these. They lack buckles, and look very two-dimensional. DECALS One large sheet is included, and this is pretty comprehensive. Not only does it contain markings for the FOUR included schemes, but a thorough set of stencils. I don’t know where these are printed, but they do look perfectly fine to me, and having used Fly decals in the past, I have no issue with them. They are thin, glossy, have little carrier film, have solid colour, and are in perfect register. My only criticism is that the instrument dial decals don’t have great definition. I would maybe use Airscale for my build. Instructions These are mostly very easy to follow, being printed as a glossy A5 manual. You will need to be careful that you note all the correct HC.2 details, and not mix up with HU.5, due to the manual being used for both releases. Coloured ink is used to denote PE, decals, and clear parts, and the constructional sequences also have some simple colour notation. I would certainly look for some online reference to help you further though. A single full colour sheet is supplied simply for scheme illustration, and this is also high quality with easy decal placement identification and colour notation. Conclusion I love the Wessex. For me, it evokes memories of the 1970s and 80s and it’s one of those copters that just looks ‘right’, and purposeful. Fly have captured that very essence with this release. Detail, both internally and externally, is incredible, and you can guarantee it will build up into a perfect replica of this iconic machine. Apart from a few minor niggles with small, broken resin detail, there isn’t anything to fault here in terms of quality. The external representation of the aircraft is well thought out and executed, and I really can’t wait to tackle it. If there is only one other niggle, I would perhaps wish that there was an option to display it with folded blades, as the full span of this is about 500mm. Maybe look at pinning those rotors with rigid wire so it can be dismantled when not on display. For me personally, perhaps one of this year’s most anticipated releases, and I’m certainly not disappointed. VERY highly recommended. My sincere thanks to FLY for this review sample. To snag one yourself, hit THIS link!
1:48 Westland Wessex HAS.1 Italeri Catalogue # 2744 Available from Hannants for £29.99 The Wessex helicopter was built by Westland Aircraft under licence from Sikorsky, being a development of their S-58. Where the Wessex varied though was with its engine installation. Instead of the standard piston engine used on the Sikorsky, Westland modified the Wessex to incorporate two Rolls Royce Gnome turboshaft engines. After first flights on the prototype in 1958, the Wessex was commissioned for service in 1961 and was remained in production up until 1970. It was eventually withdrawn from British service in 2003, when a total of 356 had been built. The Wessex served with distinction in a number of frontline campaigns with both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, seeing service in Northern Ireland, the Falklands campaign, and the Borneo campaign. They were also used in a large variety of roles, such as air-sea rescue, as well as providing flight aircraft for the Royal Family. In their intended military roles, they excelled, providing excellent battlefield support for troop supply. The HAS.1 version which is the subject of this kit, was operated by the Royal Navy, and was designed for anti-submarine warfare. A number of these were later converted to HAS.3 standard advanced avionics. When this one rolled up direct from Italeri, it sort of kindled an interest in Cold War copters that I never really knew I had. I've seen the Wessex in museums, and had always been impressed with it visually, but I never contemplated actually looking at a kit, with a view to building one. I always sort of put it off due to the nature of the rotors, and the space these models can occupy, plus their inherent fragility. Now I had one in my hands, there was no excuse. I could finally take a good look at something without a fixed wing! Italeri pack this into a nice, rigid box with a top lid (take note Revell!), and the artwork shows a couple of these machines flying low over the sea. The side of the box shows the FOUR schemes available for this release, and they do provide a good variety of quite stark differences in colour, so there should be something here to appeal to you. Inside the box, the FIVE sprues aren't individually bagged, except for the clear sprue which is separately packed, and then inserted within a sleeve containing two other sprues. The second bag of sprues contains two identical sprues which include the rotor blades, and also a small piece of plastic mesh. Despite not being individually bagged, the parts themselves seemed not to have suffered, although one part had become detached from its sprue. Apart from the clear parts, the remainder of this kit is moulded in a light grey styrene. SPRUE A This is the largest sprue in the box, and obviously contains the meatier components for the Wessex. In this case, the most obvious are the fuselage halves. The external surface of these parts has a slight texture to them. It's hard to explain. They are smooth to the touch, but most definitely a visible patina. Detail is actually very good, with neatly engraved panel lines, and fine rows of recessed rivets. Notice how the nose, which carries the engines, is moulded as a separate part here, and the inclusion of an integral tail wheel strut. This means you won't have to fit this finicky part, and the moulding itself is detailed and robust. Other detail such as the tail folding hinges are sharp and look very realistic. Internally, there are a number of moulded structures representing the framework, but these are interspersed with a number of prominent ejector pin marks. How easily these will be hidden by the internal floor or other parts, I really can't tell. What is missing here are the various cables which would be clipped around the frames. You'll need some lead wire at the ready to properly detail this. The external lower fuselage is also moulded as a separate part, included on another sprue. A number of holes will need to be drilled from within the fuselage, to allow for the outfitting which is specific to this release. Those hole positions, internally, are moulded for guidance. Despite the forward and upper canopy windows being a single piece which is later fitted, the glazed pilot access side doors are separate, and here, the fragile frameworks are also integrally moulded. Those doors can be posed in either an open or closed position. The question of course is what detail will you see inside this model? Whilst I certainly think that this model can hold its own in most respects, I imagine Eduard will eventually tackle this with their sets. At the moment, the closest they sell is an upgrade for the HAS.3 variant. I can't tell you how compatible that actually is. Still, Italeri do actually provide a reasonable multimedia cockpit of their own here, with a small PE fret inclusion. As for the plastic, let's see. Only a number of cockpit parts exist on this sprue, and those that do, namely the cockpit floor with moulded central console, and the overhead instrument panel (which fits into canopy roof), have some superbly defined and beautifully moulded detail. It really isn't too shabby at all, and will look great with some careful painting and dry-brushing. A blank instrument panel and separate coaming are supplied. Two options are supplied for finishing this. You can either apply a fully printed decal which of course is the easiest route, or you can apply a decal with just the dials, which is then faced with a photo-etch instrument panel. Of course, the latter option is the best, and certainly the most realistic. The instrument decals themselves aren't too bad, but I may use some Airscale decals here for extra authenticity. The main interior bulkheads and floors are included here, and the depiction of both quilted cockpit back bulkhead and upper cargo ceiling, plus the cargo floor with its numerous access panels, are certainly more than passable. The quilting will look good with some randomized highlighting and a subtle wash. Other parts on this sprue include a beautifully moulded exhaust grille for the rear of the turbo/transmission unit. The louvres on this are exceptional, and all moulded 'open', and not solid. You will also find a neatly moulded rear rotor and various parts concerning the turbo and transmission unit. Detail is sharp and very much up to spec with what you would expect from a modern tooling. Italeri have also moulded the main rotor hub as multipart, but one of the vertical pins on mine hasn't been moulded properly, and will require me grafting on either a metal or plastic rod. A very nice touch is the inclusion of the mesh roof which surrounds the point where the rotor drive shaft protrudes. This is moulded as a frame, and onto this fits a photo etch screen. SPRUE B Here you will find the nose of the Wessex, moulded as halves, and including a separate, hinged forward access panel. Into here fits the radiator screen, and the plastic mesh which is included. This needs to be cut to shape before installation, and as it's styrene, regular glue will do the job. Exterior detail on the nose, is excellent, with sharply defined pane lines and access panels. Remember me mentioning the separate fuselage underside? Well, here it is, and this is one seriously detailed part, as the photos here show you. Other sprue parts include the main cargo bay access door (which can be posed open or closed), external plumbing, rail and undercarriage strut parts. SPRUE C This is our clear sprue, and contains all the various canopy and side window transparencies. The internal side glazings are applied from within the fuselage, and you'll need to mask the window off internally in order to hide the bare plastic window rebate. Check out Eduard's masking set for this. The main canopy is excellent, with clearly defined framing and riveting lines. All clear parts have extremely good transparency, and there's nothing here that would unduly worry me. SPRUE D (x2) Unlike some manufacturers, Italeri have realised that modellers hate to have to try and bend the rotors of these machines into a drooped fashion that you see when they are at rest. Here, you'll find the rotors are already moulded with this droop! These parts are also very detailed too; just look at the rotor connection point. One thing I'm unsure of is whether the blades can be fitted in a folded fashion. I imagine it is possible, with a little work. The instructions only show them deployed. As well as some pretty reasonable looking weighted wheels, two rather poor-looking multipart crew seats are included. These will need some prettying up to make them look good, but the inclusion of photo-etch seatbelts will go a long way to helping in this department. The exhausts that protrude from the Wessex's forward side area are moulded as halves, allowing for a nice hollow stack. Of course, you will then have to deal with the internal seams, but this should be relatively easy. The remainder of the sprue is taken over with numerous small parts for both internal and external placement. PLASTIC SUMMARY There really isn't too much to fault with regards to production. A little flash is present here and there, but will be easy to remove. No visible sink marks can be seen either. There are a few niggling ejector pin marks on some key areas, and this is my only real criticism of the overall standard of manufacture. PHOTO ETCH A single fret is supplied, in bare brass. This contains SIXTEEN parts, including the instrument panel, seatbelts, exterior mesh for rotor drive shaft area, and a screen which fits to the external canopy, shielding the rear of the ceiling instrument console. DECALS Just one decal sheet is included with this release, printed by Zanchetti Buccinasco of Italy. These appear to be a little thicker than I am used to seeing, but the printing quality looks great, with minimal carrier film, solid colour and perfect registration. As well as the decals for the four schemes, a full set of very extensive stencils is also included. The four schemes on offer with this release are: H.M.S. Hermes SAR 1970 845 NAS, H.M.S. Bulwark, Borneo, 1962 814 NAS, H.M.S. Victorious, 1961 845 NAS, Asia, 1962 Instructions Italeri's instructions are superbly clear and concise, with all constructional stages being illustrated as easy-on-the-eye line drawings, which incorporate extra views which show you some of the smaller areas of note. Colour codes are given for Italeri's own brand of paint, as well as FS codes, and notation is sprinkled throughout the constructional images. A stencil placement sheet is supplied, as are a page for each of the schemes, although these are printed in greyscale. Colour would have been nice. Conclusion This is actually a very nice kit, and will build into a splendid model of the Wessex without any extra purchases. My reading about the initial 2012 release (under a different marque) shows that the kit is itself thought to be a generally accurate depiction of the Wessex, and from what I've seen with this kit, I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with the levels of detail on offer. I would have liked to have seen an engine with this, and perhaps it is indeed offered by an aftermarket company. I will have to see what's available. It also retails for a very reasonable price, and for what you get in the box, I'd have to say that this is one you really should pick up and try. I think my first helicopter build isn't too far away. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to Italeri for this review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link. James H