The Westland Sea King……….





Westland Sea King HAS Mk5, 814 Sqn Fleet Air Arm,

HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, 1984

Fujimi's Sea King can be difficult to obtain, but is at least on a par with the more recent Revell kit. Like all 1/72 Sea King kits, however, it doesn't get the canopy quite right - IMHO this one is too bulbous, whereas Revell's is too small & the Airfix one much too shallow. This is the HAR.3 boxing from the mid 1980s, with C-Scale white metal conversion to a Mk5 (the kit also includes markings for an RN HAS.2)

The Westland WS-61 Sea King is based on the Sikorsky S-61 design, for which Westland gained manufacturing and sales rights for Northern Europe and the Middle East, with Agusta and Kawasaki also manufacturing under licence in other markets. Westland made significant improvements to the original design, fitting a new 6-blade tail rotor, more powerful Rolls Royce Gnome engines, advanced avionics and controls plus radar and an autonomous anti-submarine warfare system that allows the aircraft to operate independently from its launch platform. It first flew in 1969, and the last new build was completed in 1990. Until its retirement in 2003, it remained the mainstay of UK (and most Western) Anti-submarine forces. Sea Kings continue in RN and RAF service, in Commando, AEW and Air Sea Rescue roles; as of 2009 there is still no replacement in sight!.




.........and here's the real thing:



Westland Sea King ASaC Mk7, 849 Sqn Fleet Air Arm,

HMS ARK ROYAL, Al Faw 2003


Revell with minimal changes. The kit provides markings for airframe XV650, the first AEW Sea King conversion. Tragically, this and the second conversion, airframe XV704, were involved in a mid-air collision during the Gulf War, that killed the crews of both aircaft.

Link to Build Page

During the Falklands War of 1982, it became painfully clear that the lack of organic RN Air Early Warning assets had placed the Fleet at considerable risk from air attack.



UK Industry responded to the Navy's urgent requirement with astonishing and commendable speed, by converting Westland Sea King HAS.2 airframes to carry a derivative of the Plessey Searchwater radar carried by the RAF's Nimrod aircraft. Less than 2 months after the project was initiated, Sea King AEW2s deployed to the war zone with HMS ILLUSTRIOUS, as relief for the INVINCIBLE and HERMES air groups.

The AEW Sea King was a huge success, with far fewer limitations than its "lash-up" heritage implied. After serving with great success in the Gulf and Adriatic wars, the RN funded development of an updated version, the Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) Mk 7, with a far more capable system based on the planned Nimrod MR.4 Radar.



The ASaC.7 saw its first operational deployment in anger to the Gulf in 2003, where 849 Sqn's A Flight, based in HMS ARK ROYAL, provided vital radar coverage for the seaborne invasion of the Al Faw peninsula by the Royal Marines and US Marine Corps. The system proved far more capable than expected; as well as tracking, controlling and directing the air effort, it was also able to detect the movement of ground forces in much the same way as the USAF's Joint STARS system. As such it was in great demand, with 849's crews flying non stop operations in support of the ground offensive.



On 22 Mar 03, tragedy struck. Two ASaCS Sea Kings collided as they were handing over duties in the Northern Gulf, with the loss of six RN Crew and one US serviceman. The subsequent Board of Enquiry concluded that the 2 aircraft had collided head on, partly due to the acknowledged difficulty of spotting an ASaC aircraft from ahead; ironically in the hostile operational environment of the Northern Gulf, forward anti-collision beacons were often switched off as their reflections in the humid and dusty air could hamper forward visibility.



Link to report of Official Board Of Enquiry - Loss of XV650 and XV704

Royal Navy Aircrew lost in the accident:

Lt Philip Green, 30, from Caythorpe, Lincolnshire;

Lt King, 35, from Helston, Cornwall;

Lt Marc Lawrence, 26, from Westgate-on-Sea, Kent;

Lt Philip West, 32, from Budock Water, Cornwall;

Lt James Williams, 28, from Falmouth, Cornwall;

Lt Andrew Wilson, 36, from Exeter, Devon.



A real ASaCS.7 at RNAS Yeovilton:



Westland Sea King HC.4, 846 Sqn Fleet Air Arm,

HMS BULWARK, 1981.

The Fujimi kit once again, with another excellent C-Scale conversion. Decals are a hotch-potch from the spares box. Link to Build Page

Starting in 1980, 846 Sqn was the first part of the Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force to swap its "Junglie" Wessex Vs for the Sea King HC.4. Based on the Westland Commando export variant developed for Egypt, the HC.4 features fixed undercarriage and a heavy lifting bracket that could carrya load nearly 3 times that of the Wessex, or up to 27 fully equipped Royal Marines. The Royal Navy's three HC.4 squadrons have since played a key role in every major conflict involving the UK since they entered service. They are currently attached to the UK's Joint Helicopter Command, with 2 squadrons deployed to Afghanistan.




The high visibility markings and Squadron badges of the HC.4 delivery colour scheme did not last long; within a year aircraft markings had been dulled down for service in the Falklands conflict.




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