Airfix 1/72 Sikorsky SH-3D Sea King: Part 2

I’ve just been watching the second episode of season four of Fringe, which features a serial killer whose apartment is stuffed with plastic model kits, for no reason that involves the plot. In fact, no-one comments on it. They’re just there, in the background on all the shelves, sending some sort of signal.

Well, the signal I received was, “Hey, good storage solutions!” Maybe that’s just me, though.

So far, I’ve painted up the interior of the Sea King I introduced in a previous post:

Sea King cockpit assembly
Click to enlarge

Those of you who are on the alert (well, more alert than me) will have noticed that the cockpit interior is the wrong colour—more 1940s than 1960s. I managed to notice and fix this before assembly got too far along. Something I’d completely forgotten about kits of this vintage is that the control panel detail comes printed on the instruction sheet—you have to cut it out and glue it on.

The pilot is looking rather jauntily slumped. That’s partly the angle of the photo, but partly because of Airfix’s use of standard figures that sometimes don’t fit very well into the rest of the cockpit detail. So I’m imagining that his attention has been abruptly captured by something high up on the left side of the aircraft …

The rear compartment is supplied devoid of realistic detail, so I’m making it as invisible as possible with a matt black finish. The kit comes with a vertical cylindrical housing for a dipping anti-submarine sonar that wasn’t used in the Apollo recovery helicopters, so I’ve sawn the housing off flush with the deck and blanked the hole with a bit of plastic card. From the outside, this should leave the underside opening blocked at the correct level.

The transparent parts have suffered a fair bit of scratching after knocking about in the box for forty years, so I’ve revitalized them with a dip in trusty Quick Shine floor polish:

Dipping canopy in Quick Shine
Click to enlarge

Quick Shine for canopiesIf the parts are carefully dipped, drained and blotted along the edges, this forms a nice smooth shiny layer that does a lot to conceal fine scratches.It’s a bit of a two-edged sword, though, because the resultant shininess does tend to emphasis any ripples in these old mouldings.

The blue glass paint for the upper canopy panels worked out well, after a stressful start. It’s pretty viscous and fast-drying, but it does tend to gather slightly along the lower edge of any surface that’s not perfectly horizontal. Because the panels I was painting are curved, there’s no way to prevent that happening. Picture my delight. So I ended up applying three coats, leaving the canopy to dry in a different position each time. The slightly increased density in each coat fell on different parts of the panels, and the whole lot evened out. There are still some slight variations in density across the panels when viewed against a white surface, but against the busy interior of the cockpit they’re effectively invisible. Hoorah!

Fitting the two sides of the fuselage together was time-consuming, with a lot of sanding and filling. The multiple rivet-lines make it difficult to get things perfectly smooth without creating visible gaps in the run of rivets. Various compromises were required. There was a truly horrible mismatch in the rear of the main engine cowling, and some distorted detail there that I’ve sacrificed—I’ll scratch-build a new wee panel to replace what was lost.

Sea King masking started
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Sea King canopy dry fit
Click to enlarge

I find that even fine wet sandpaper leaves surface roughness that shows up when gloss paint is applied, so I’ve been doing final smoothing of the seams with a set of nail buffing sticks. I ordered these from Amazon in quick succession with some airbrush supplies and some printable decal paper, so Amazon’s idiot recommendation algorithm now seems to have decided that I run a nail bar. It’s difficult for me to describe how distressing I find that—serial killer, OK; but a nail bar?

So, the main fuselage is assembled, and I’ve started masking the transparent sections. The main cockpit canopy is just a dry fit in these photographs—it’s going to take a little more sanding a filling to get it to sit nicely, but you can see the effect of the overhead blue panelling.

More in due course.

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

  1. Looking good. Makes me want to start building some of those Star Trek models I have gathering dust. If only I had somewhere to put them!

    1. Still plenty of opportunities to go badly wrong. I think I’m going to end up putting on and sealing the decals before I’ve completely assembled and painted this one. Adding matt black detailing to a white aircraft covered in small decals – what could possibly go wrong with that plan?

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