AMP


48006 1/48 Sycamore HR 50/51 RAAF/RAN


Review by David Harvey

 

Review Type

First Look

Scale:

1/48

Price:

$48.72 AUD from Hannants (UK)

Contents and Media:

  • 4 x gray plastic sprues
  • 1 x clear canopy sprue
  • 1 x decal sheet
  • 2 x PE sheets (Large and small)
  • 2 x canopy masks

Advantages:

Lots of detail in a small kit.

Disadvantages:

Inconsistant casting resulting in flash on several parts and a rough patch on the fuselage

Recommendation:

Recommended

 

Introduction

The Australian Defence Force decided they needed a helicopter to support the Woomera Rocket Range and submitted an order for the RAAF in 1951 to join the various other aircraft in use there at the time. This aircraft was a civilian airframe taken from the production line and modified to the required specifications. It was delivered as cargo on the ferry flight of a RAAF Bristol Freighter in September 1951. A second Sycamore was delivered to Woomera in 1955.

A requirement was formalised for the newly formed RAN Fleet Air Arm after lengthy reviews of suitable aircraft to replace the Sea Otters for Air Sea Rescue off the Navy's Aircraft Carriers. The order for the first Sycamores was placed by the RAN in 1951 which resulted in three civilian Sycamores being taken off the production line and modified to RAN standards which were given the export designation of Mk HR.50. It was similar to the RAF HR.13 SAR Model but had taller and stronger landing gear for operating off the ships.

The first three RAN aircraft arrived in Australia on the carrier HMAS Vengeance on 11 Mar 1953. Further deliveries of the aircraft for the RAN were the Sycamore HR.51 variant which were equivalent to the civilian Mk4 which had the pilot's position moved to the right hand side of the aircraft in line with the American standard as well as it had an enlarged baggage compartment and four doors. The RAN started retiring their Sycamores in 1964 when they were replaced by the Iroquois with the last aircraft being retired in June 1965.

All up, Seventeen Bristol Type 171 Sycamore helicopters were imported into Australia during the 1950s being two for the Royal Australian Air Force, thirteen for the Royal Australian Navy, and two for the Australian National Airways (which later became Ansett-ANA).

Instructions

The instructions are an A5 sized 12-page booklet that has all the construction sequences, paint schemes and markings all crammed in to some very busy pages. The booklet is printed in colour and this is used in various places to differentiate between the gray plastic, clear plastic and the PE parts. This layout appears to work well as it does make it obvious which area you should look for the components on even though the part number is also clear.

The colours for the schemes and parts are all referenced against Humbrol colours and the writing comes in English and Ukrainian (I think). The first few pages are very busy as the various stages are close together and could get a little confusing eg the first 15 stages detailing the interior construction are all on the one A5 page (see image below). Some of the parts placement diagrams are not that clear with items requiring placement but no set position on the kit.

 

 

The kit

The kit comes with 120 plastic components, four main clear components for the canopies and numerous PE components.

When I purchased the kit I was expecting a simple build with not a large parts count and possibly some cleaning up to do during the process, when I received the kit I was not disappointed in some areas. The fuselage has very fine panel lines and riveting detail but unfortunately looks a bit on the rough side. I believe that as the riveting and panel lines are inscribed it should be possible to give the plastic a gentle sanding to smooth the surface without destroying any of the fine detail. The rivets and panel lines should still be visible under a coat of paint and should come up well if a wash is applied.

I was not expecting a large parts count but there are 120 plastic pieces plus PE to cram in to the small helicopter! The parts themselves appear to be well done and should look very good once cleaned up and the build is finished. There are a lot of spindly, fine components on this kit so great care will be needed when putting it all together in case you end up snapping bits off in the process and, even worse, them coming adrift once the canopy is closed up.

 

The PE set is used mainly for things that actually are actually suitable for PE ie supports for seats etc. The use of flat PE to represent round objects is one of my pet hates but this looks set well thought out and for the most part is used where it should be. One area that I am not sure about is the use on the main rotor where PE is used on for the control rods from the swash plate (?) to the rotors. I believe these would possibly be round tubes but I have not seen this area close up and could easily be wrong, they may also look ok in this scale. The PE is also used for the intake in front of the main rotor, instead of oversized plastic ribs you get the joy of placing multiple small pieces of PE in to slots to create the scale look that should be there.

The front of the fuselage is one area I think will require very close attention as it requires multiple components to be joined together to create it. I have not had great luck in the past with this sort of construction from other manufacturers so I live in hope that this will go together well, I am also looking for builds of the kit to see how they go.

There are only a few options on this kit and they are mainly the differences between the civil and military versions.

A problem that stands out before looking too deep in to the kit, there is flash on quite a few parts in the kit, this is not a war stopper but will add time to the clean-up prior to building. I had a more in depth look at the plastic in case there was any misalignment of the parts (there wasn't) and found that there was a spot on the left-hand engine area that was rougher than the rest of the kit. I believe this should be easily cleaned up with a gentle bit of sanding but it is an annoyance and are not as bad as others I have built. I have had reports from others with this kit which range from excellent plastic to as rough and flash covered as mine so the manufacturer seems a bit inconsistent when producing the sprues. The images below give a few examples of the problem.

 

The decals

The kit comes with the following markings:

The decals are printed by Decalgraph which is based in the Ukraine. The decals appear to be well printed with clear printing and good colour with the film being cut close to the markings. The markings come with national markings, tail numbers, instrument panel and the various stencils that occur on the aircraft.

The roundel on XD653 has a white ring around it which confused me for a little bit but on looking at the various references listed below it is correct. I am guessing that the RAN put the white ring around the blue section of the roundel to make the roundel obvious on the blue background of the blue/white Navy colour scheme. In the schemes with all over natural metal or silver there is no white ring, it only appears to be on the blue / white painted aircraft.

I have never used this brand decals before so it should be interesting to see how the red and white decals go on the blue background of the RAN aircraft.

 

Recommendation

Unfortunately, due to the inconsistency of the casting I can only give a Recommended to the kit. The detail on it is great and they have used PE constructively for the most part instead of for silly things but the extra work and quality control is of concern. The clean-up of the problem areas doesn't make it unbuildable, just annoying given the quality of the kits coming out of Eastern Europe these days.

References