by: Matthew Robeson [ ]
a bit of background
The Westland Helicopter company had licensing to produce copies of Sikorski's SH-3 Sea King helicopter, and change it for British usage. It was originally designed for anti-submarine warfare, and anti-shipping duties. In the 1970s, an HC.4 version, or the Commando version was developed; utilizing the folding rotor system of the AEW versions, along with cargo capabilities. The Sea King could now carry 28 fully armed commandos, greatly increasing the British Army's amphibious assault capabilities. This was first put to use in the Falkland Island's campaign, and is still in usage to this day, flying alongside more modern EW101 Merlin helicopters.
and the box content
On the box top, you are greeted with a nice picture of the one kit option flying over the Falkland Islands. The rest of the box is adorned with pictures and blurbs about the kit, and its many advanced features, but we'll cover more of that in a moment.
Opening the box, you're greeted with tons of very nice styrene, mostly individually packed, except where sprues are doubled or very small. Upon close examination, the fuselage is covered in tons of tiny, tiny rivets, probably the finest I've ever seen. You have to be looking at the kit in the right light to even see them on there, so top marks to Dragon there. Looking at the real Sea King, it is covered in rivets, so this part was nailed perfectly.
Pawing through the sprues, you are greeted with tons and tons of amazing detail, but many pesky ejector pin marks. Many of these are on interior bits, so they will have to be filled and sanded away before being painted. It's an annoyance, but it's the price we pay for great detail. And this kit has tons of great detail. It includes great console detail in the cockpit, and lots of good fittings in the commando compartment. Of course, there is room to add a bunch of scratch-building and wiring, but you really won't see much unless you open up all of the hatches. There is a 7.62mm machine gun offered, but if you're going to use it, make sure to drill the appropriate hole in the cabin floor. It doesn't come pre-drilled. You get a full set of seats for the back of the helicopter, and they are very finely molded. The pilot's seats have seatbelts molded on, not my favorite, but they should work in this scale behind the glass.
One of the hardest things for plastic manufacturers to get right is the proper droop of a helicopter's rotors. Well, Dragon seems to have nailed this in innovative fashion. Since the Sea King's rotors have a tendency to bend upwards when flying, Dragon provides all of the rotors bent up in flying mode, quite accurately I might add. But if you're doing a version on the ground, they just have you flip the blades over, and now they droop accurately towards the ground! What a cool concept. There is also an option to fold the main rotors back to save space, which I will surely be doing. The rotor head detail is equally amazing, and the tail rotor is all molded as one piece. Cleaning it up may prove to be a challenge, but a sharp knife blade should be able to take care of any problems.
After putting together the great interior, being able to show it off is always appreciated. The clear parts in this kit are very impressive, being very thin and very, very clear. It also appears that most fit from the outside of the helo, so you don't have to worry about a window falling into the cabin and being lost in there.
The last thing in the box is the instructions and decals. Instructions are typical Dragon instructions, so everything shoved into just a few steps, so it's very jumbled, but if you look closely, and take your time you should be fine. The decals look especially nice, being printed by Cartograf. The only problem I see is that they are very, very vibrant and that could look strange over a carefully painted and weathered Sea King. It will take some creative weathering to blend those all in, but once done, should look stunning