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1:48 Westland Wessex HAS.1


Jim H
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1:48 Westland Wessex HAS.1

Italeri
Catalogue # 2744
Available from Hannants for £29.99

 

 

 

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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 It was eventually withdrawn from British service in 2003, when a total of 356 had been built.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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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SPRUE B

 

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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.

 

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Remember me mentioning the separate fuselage underside? Well, here it is, and this is one seriously detailed part, as the photos here show you.

 

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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

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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)

 

DSC04188.JPG

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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

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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

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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

 

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Any chance of a photo of the schemes available Jim?

 

Scale Warship do a rotor fold set.  http://www.scalewarship.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=263

 

I was going to add them, but the schemes in the manual are grey-scale and not very good for re-publication. They do exist on the box side in colour, but very small.

 

These are on the Italeri site:

 

2744_profiliLR.jpg

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