Thursday, January 2

Review: KittyHawk Models 1/48th scale SA.365F/AS.565SA Dauphin II

The nasalized version of the Dauphin II is one of the most successful Eurocopter helicopters of the moment – It has sold to several countries and it makes a good subject for model makers KittyHawk who have taken up the mantle and they have a new tool kit packed with fine detail and photo etch…Well that’s what the website promises. We will have a look at it in today’s review to see what we think.

SA.365F/AS.565SA Dauphin II
KittyHawk Models
1/48th scale
Kit No: 80108
7 grey sprues + 1clear transparencies
Photo etched sheet
Decals for 4 helos..
(USD) $44.95 from Kittyhawk’s distributors worldwide

The twin-engined SA 365/AS365 Dauphin II is a nasalized SA.365N with and added pointed radar nose and either under-nose radar dish or antisubmarine missile system and Arriel 1M turboshafts. Several versions of the Dauphin II in 1/48th are already in the hobby shops – well in reality it is one “O.K.” version released of several versions of the Dauphin by Trumpeter in early 2000. It was well received as the only version until then but there was much to be fixed and the detail needed some work.
Compared even to kits in today’s market you can see why KittyHawk chose to release this helicopter – their updated kit with improved weapon loads, photo etched details and several different markings and options in the one box. The 7 grey sprues & 1 clear transparencies sheet strikes you straight away with the very fine rivet detail and surface texture. There really isn’t any flash of not on this kit and there are no short shots and the ejector pin marks are in hidden places.
The box of this kit is rather attractive and although not large it is full of grey styrene sprues. These sprues are often two joined at the centre and folded on top of one another. You simply need to bend them to make each sprue it’s own entity

Photo Etch sheet / IP Decal sheet
The photo Etch sheet replicates several of the part on the kit that are too fine to produce with plastic. The instrument panel, the UHF, VHF and Doppler antennas, the window wipers, Pitots and most importantly the seatbelts that jazz up the otherwise pretty straight pilot’s seats.This slips straight over the PE instrument panel after a basecoat – it will look pretty nice once it is all finished along with the raised detail of the panels and consoles. Some loose wires would be all you need to detail this cockpit right up!

 On to the plastic now and a rundown of all the sprues and the smaller details within.

Sprue A
This is the main floor of the helicopter plus the underside of the aircraft including the Rotor blades.

The insides of the wheel wells slip into the bottom of the helicopter here in a clever method – you will have to trim off the four injection tabs quickly before you do it – there are slots of the undercarriage to stick into if you want to show the helicopter in a ground position.

The crew cabin has the meshed floor non slip pattern under the crew’s feet
The surface of the bottom of the helo is nice and fine with rivet detail – I see that the long tube (fuel dump) will need some holes drilled in to fit the part securely.
The rotor blades are well engineered with the capability of folding them back easily for an on deck stowage mode.

Sprue B
Sprue B contains the rear fuselage and sliding positionable doors as well as the engine deck parts and cockpit consoles.
The doors here can be slid open or closed and they have bevelled edges on them to represent scale thickness. The cockpit consoles are very well detailed with knobs and switches with some depth to them ready to be picked out in the detailing process.
This picture shows you the surface detail and rivets on the fuselage skin on the tail as well as the panel covers of the top engine compartment.
The doors on the left and on the right parts are for the bulkheads/firewalls of the engine compartment

Sprue C
Sprue C is dominated by the Fenestron tail rotor and the interior bulkheads/ roll cage as well as engine parts and the seats for the pilots.
The crew seats are plain in detail with no buckle detail whilst the parts for the Turbomeca Arriel 2C turboshaft engines that look impressive enough.
Whilst not used in this boxing, this tail must be for an alternate Dauphin/Panther release down the track
Close ups of the bulkheads here that fit into little notches in the flight deck/floor. The consoles here are again well detailed with some good 3D details
The Pilot’s seat only needs some PE seatbelts – lucky they are supplied – whilst they are a bit blocky you could do some creative thinning and seat texture here. The latches of the engine compartment covers are well detailed as well.

Sprue D
Sprue D is again dominated by the Fenestron tail rotor and this time only one interior bulkheads/ roll cage as well as the tail rotor itself and the twin vertical tails.
The enlarged tail fin with enclosed Fenestron tail rotor on this version is not unlike the first used operationally in the Aerospatiale/Westland Gazelle. Sometimes called a fantail, or "fan-in-fin" the rotor blades operate a bit like a ducted fan. Placing the fan within a duct shields ground crews from the hazard of a spinning rotor, and is much quieter than a conventional tail rotor. The bumpy tail rivets are visible here
This shot shows the eleven bladed rotors – I counted them on the real thing – and parts D17 & 18 here in the top picture are parts for the optional side rescue winch.

Sprue E
FULL of weapons for the Dauphin and alternative pylons this includes anti-submarine Mk 46 torpedoes, Matra 68 mm or 70 mm unguided rockets and some pylons in different configurations to house them.

Sprue F
Sprue F contains all of the rotor hub and main rotor gearbox that includes the lower swash plate. We have the gearbox supports, cyclic and collective jacks and all of the other parts I am not sure the names of! 

The fat little wheels of the Dauphin II look pretty good.

Sprue WA
This sprue has specific parts related to this boxing of the helicopter – another hint at US coast guard or Chinese Z-9 variants in the future - the bulged nose of the ORB 32 radar is prominent as is the rear bulged cabin door like on the Irish aircraft

Sprue GP – Transparencies
The clear transparent parts are quite a hard plastic so care will be taken when removing them that they do not split. I think you need to be careful when removing these and save a little and then trim the part with a sharp knife – I know this is elementary to some modellers but it’s apparent to me at first touch of these that they are stiff in their composition.
Simple to read instructions at first glance from KittyHawk but that doesn’t always tell the whole story – Be sure to read all the way through and familiarize yourself with the processes. This kit is like a little jigsaw and Kittyhawk should be commended on their modular approach making this.

Be sure of what is coming up is my advice before you commit to cement. Proper alignment on a model like this is so important. You don’t want something to snowball because of poor location early on. An example is the nose compartment. You are told to put in a weight so this isn’t a tail sitter but there is no telling how much you need to put in there. Experiment with this cautiously as you don’t want to put in too much.

Decals & Markings
Flotille 36F, No.522, Base d’Aeronautique Navale HYERES, France.
AS.565.SA, Flotille 36F, No.486 Base d’Aeronautique Navle HYERES, France.
…A colourful bird with some good shots of it here
No.318 (no source in the caption) ...I found out this was Aerospatiale SA-365F-1 Dauphin II (cn 6318) from the French Navy) This helo is in Grey FS36622 and Grey / Blue FS 35237.
No.247 again from an unidentified source – I found out that this is an Ex-Irish Air Corps helicopter - this is a green FS34102 and Middle Stone (no FS number) this scheme has no markings for the rotors as well. At first I thought this was an Italian helo but it isn’t used by the Italian forces so I found this - it is for sale if you want to buy it!
I would much prefer there it if there were some info on these schemes as it shouldn’t be up to me to find out where it is from. I am sure it is an omission but It degrades your trust in the colour schemes if you don’t even have the basics on who operates the aircraft, so making you much less inclined to use these colours.

The decals themselves look pretty good – printed in register right down to the finest of decals in a matte finish they haven’t much excess carrier film. Details like the panther on the tricolour scheme were stencilled on the real aircraft and here they are sharp in detail. I suppose you could say scale reduction and all that. I'm pretty happy with what is on offered here. There is some nice variety but a lot of aftermarket crazy modellers will no doubt have many colourful schemes as these aircraft are often very splendidly painted up in service.
Well that is what comes in the box. There is a lot of potential here despite several small nit-picks I think you could build a great looking French or Irish Dauphin II. The WA sprue and the extra smaller tail hint at the addition of another small sprue and so shorter nosed variants for the many other customers out there. Hold off if you want a US Coast Guard bird I reckon – as the US market will demand one later on as would a Z-9 Chinese licence built option. These look like the three best choices here.

A more than welcome new tooled kit that many will surely appreciate. More to come in this family I reckon!

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to KittyHawk Models for sending this kit for review.

These pictures from Kittyhawk show this bird all dolled up with their markings – a pretty nice kit in the end!