Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King: Part 5

Well, if you’ve been fretting about what was happening with this kit, I can only assure you that I haven’t been frittering away my time.

Not been having a lot of fun, either.

You’ll maybe recall that I planned to use my own printed decals to put some thin yellow stripes on to the main rotor blades, as well as the red/white/red flashes on the tail rotor.  I printed these up with an inkjet printer on Experts-Choice® Decal Film from the Bare Metal Foil Company, then sealed them with Microscale Liquid Decal Film, thinned half-and-half with surgical spirit for the airbrush. (I find brushing it on tends to smear the ink.)Sea King tail rotor awaits decals

I printed on opaque white film, because I wanted a good solid yellow line without the gull grey base colour of the rotor blades showing through. I cut out the narrow strips flush with the edge of the inked area—and they promptly curled lengthways into narrow tubes as soon as I soaked them off the backing paper. I simply could not get them to stay uncurled and adhere to the surface.

Hmmm. Another printing, a little less decal film—same problem. OK, it looked like I needed to be able to leave margins on either side of the stripes, which meant I needed to print on clear film and accept that some grey would show through. That worked—with a margin as wide as the stripe, they had enough weight and adhesion to stay flat once applied.

My other Cunning Plan had been to line up all the rotor blades on a jig with the the stripe locations marked, drap a decal across all five blades, treat with a little Micro Sol to get good adhesion, and then slice the decal at the blade edges with a fresh craft knife blade. That way I would get my forty yellow stripes in eight decal applications …Decal jig

Nope, didn’t work. The decals were not adhesive enough, and too tough—I couldn’t slice them without dislodging them.

Forty individually applied decals later, I had my yellow stripes, although slightly greyer than I’d hoped for.

The good news was that the nice people at Old 66 Decals had supplied some tail rotor stripes in their Apollo 13 Recovery decal set, so I used those rather than trying to wrestle with any more of my own printed ones.

Now to assemble the main rotor. The Airfix kit is very badly designed for this—each rotor blade attaches to the central hub with a very short overlap and a single locating stud. So it’s very easy to end up with rotor blades that aren’t in the same plane, and/or don’t form a pentagon. I ended up tying each one in place with a loop of thread and making quick adjustments before the cement had cured.

Sea King rotor under construction
Click to enlarge

At this point, when dry-mounting the rotor on the aircraft, I discovered that the rotor hub was distorted, so that the rotor lolloped around when rotated—one quadrant of the rotor disc drooping alarmingly over the nose and then sweeping round to foul the tail.

Aaaaaaaaaaaargh. And again, aaaaaaaaaaaargh. Very difficult to fix, with the delicate rotor blades already in place. Your correspondent indulged in a lot of dark muttering while heating and bending the hub, trying to keep the rotors in a common plane while shifting that plane to match the axis of rotation.

But, eventually, success. Like all kits, there are things I would do differently (read, properly at first attempt) if I was building it over again, but overall she looks not too bad at all:

Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge
Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King, Apollo 13 recovery
Click to enlarge

But I believe I will never, ever, attempt another 1/72-scale kit of this vintage. Life is too short, and coronary arteries too narrow.

2 thoughts on “Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King: Part 5”

  1. Looks real good ! Worth the effort.
    I recall the frustrations putting together a model of the Santa Maria and giving up on the Pinta and Nina, some years ago . Oh those thready riggings.

    1. I quite like rigging model sailing ships. There’s a sort of serenity to it. I actually have a couple of reference books stowed away for the day I get around to building another.

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