Tuesday, July 25

Return of the King - Arifix' new 48th scale Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5

A good subject in a good scale. Airfix have hit on something here with their latest release, the Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5 in 1/48th scale. We look at the new kit in it's three variants in our preview.
Return of the King - Arifix' new 48th scale Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5

Westland Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5
Product No #A11006 
1/48th Scale
348 Parts Included
Skill Level 4
4 Scheme Options
Pre-order Price: $70.59 USD
It seems that Airfix are on target with this release - a choice of a trio of Sea Kings are the subject of their latest 1/48th scale release.  We have a quick look at the three types - Westland Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5.

The Subject: The Westland Sea King
At the very forefront of world helicopter design and development in the post war era, the US Sikorsky Company were awarded an important contract to produce an all-weather amphibious helicopter for the United States Navy in 1957. Its primary mission profile would be that of an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, protecting the US fleet from possible attack, however, the aircraft would prove adaptable enough to take on a multitude of secondary roles, going on to become one of the truly great aircraft of the 20th Century. The aircraft, which was given the designation SH-3 Sea King, was produced with an amphibious hull, giving it the capability to land on water, in addition to its more usual environment on the decks of numerous US Navy warships. Powered by a twin turboshaft engine arrangement, the Sea King was an impressive machine, capable of carrying significant loads of men, equipment, or general supplies, providing the US Navy with a truly revolutionary new aircraft. 

Westland Sea King HAS.1 of 826 Naval Air Squadron based on HMS Eagle, displayed at Lossiemouth NAS in 1970.
On entering service in 1961, the Sea King was the most advanced aircraft of its type in the world and presented the US Navy with one of the most flexible aviation platforms at that time. In Britain, an existing licence agreement between Westland Helicopters and Sikorsky to build their helicopters in the UK was extended to include the SH-3 Sea King not long after the first flight of the prototype aircraft, because even at that early stage, the incredible potential of this new helicopter was clear, and Britain wanted its own Sea Kings.  Externally, Westland manufactured Sea King helicopters featured the same classic lines of the original US design, however internally, they were very different machines, with numerous modifications geared towards British military use. The Westland Sea King was selected by the Royal Navy to meet their requirement for an anti-submarine warfare helicopter, replacing the venerable Westland Wessex in this role, with an order for 60 aircraft being placed in the summer of 1966. 

Sea King HAS.5 flown during the Falklands Conflict. Displayed in the '100 Years of Naval Aviation' exhibition. 
The first Westland built Sea King HAS.1 flew from their factory facility at Yeovil on 7th May 1969, with the first Royal Navy machines delivered to No.700 Naval Air Squadron (OEU) at RNAS Yeovilton later that same year. As the Sea King became established in Royal Naval service, it quickly showed itself to be both operationally capable and highly adaptable and was destined for a long and illustrious career not only with the Fleet Air Arm, but also with the Royal Air Force.  Excelling in every role it was assigned, it was perhaps its use as a Search & Rescue helicopter which made these some of the best loved aircraft in British military service and undoubtedly one of the most successful aircraft of the post war era.

Sea King HAS.1
The first anti-submarine version for the Royal Navy, with Gnome H.1400 engines, a five-bladed tail rotor, a Plessey Type 195 dipping sonar and MEL ARI 5995 search radar in a dorsal radome. The Westland Sea King HAS.1 first flew on 7 May 1969. 56 built, many of which were converted to HAS.2

Westland Sea King HAS.1 air-lifting a Westland Whirlwind HAS.7 near RNAS Culdrose, 1971

Sea King HAS.5
Upgraded anti-submarine warfare version for the Royal Navy, with longer range MEL Super Searcher radar in enlarged dorsal radome, new AQS902 acoustic processing system with provision to use sonobuoys. Entered service in June 1981; 30 new build aircraft plus about 55 converted from earlier versions. Some later converted into the HAR.5 for Search and Rescue.
Sea King HU.5
Surplus HAS.5 ASW helicopters converted into utility role for the Royal Navy. These saw a lot of use long into the Sea King's operational life.
The Kit: 
This Airfix 48th scale Sea King HAS.1/HAS.5/HU.5 kit portrays the evolution of a single aircraft, from its inaugural flight to its current livery, rendering it truly one-of-a-kind. The newly designed Westland Sea King boasts an intricately detailed exterior, featuring a fully riveted external skin and overlapping panels. Its interior is equally detailed, showcasing raised cockpit elements and instrument surfaces, and three distinct cabin configurations tailored to each scheme.
You can see the excellent interior that has been afforded to this kit with the built & painted up kit...

Schemes in the box
Westland Sea King HAS.1 XV666, No.826 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1970. (A)

Westland Sea King HAS.5 XV666, No.814 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Naval Station Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1988. (B)
Westland Sea King HU.5 XV666, No.771 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Naval Station Culdrose, Cornwall, England, 1990. (C)

Westland Sea King HU.5 XV666, Heli-Operations, Portland, Dorset, England 2022. (D)
This kit is expected in the (Northern Hemisphere) Summer 2023 - so very soon now...

You can see more about this kit or pre-order directly from the Airfix Website