Kaman SH-2F Seasprite, HSL-33 Seasnakes, US Navy.

Airfix 1/72

The Airfix Seasprite is a superb model, definitely one of Airfix' best.

The Seasprite was the US Navy's equivalent of the Westland Lynx; never quite as capable, successful or numerous, nevertheless, it continues in service today with the Egyptian, New Zealand and Polish Navies, nearly 50 years after it first flew. Although the Australian Navy recently tried to bring it into service for their smaller ships, they were very disappointed by the performance of their early deliveries and cancelled the entire order in 2007.

The Seasprite started life as a SAR and utility helicopter, but an up-engined variant, fitted with radar and carrying ASW weaponry was selected in the 1970s as the basis of the US Navy's LAMPS (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System). With its emphasis on Carrier Battle Groups and high-end ASW, the USN was never entirely sold on the light and small Seasprite and it retired them in favour of the far more capable and larger SH-60 Seawawk in 1993.

Link to Seasprite Build Page

Vertol 107 HKP-4, Royal Swedish Navy, 2008.

Airfix 1/72 with minor modifications (Torpedo Rails, float struts, radar dome).

The Boeing Vertol 107 design was selected by the US Marines in early 1961 as the CH-46 Sea Knight assault helicopter and is expected to remain in service until 2014, when the last squadrons will have converted to the MV-22 Tilt Rotor aircraft.

In Swedish service, the aircraft is known as the HKP-4; as well as its normal assault and cargo role with the Swedish Air Force, Swedish Navy Vertols are used as Anti-Submarine helicopters, fitted with a radar dome on the rear ramp and capable of carrying depth-charges and homing torpedoes. 107 variants were also built under licence by Kawasaki in Japan.

Bell AH-1W Sea Cobra, VX-5 NAS China Lake, USMC/USN, 1990

Italeri 1/72

The Bell Huey Cobra was the original Western attack helicopter. Based on the airframe of the proven UH-1 Huey utility helicopter, it entered service toward the end of the Vietnam war. The improved AH-1W version was created for the US Marines in the early 1980s, and features twin engines and a longer tail boom.

As of 2010, the USMC still has 167 AH-1Ws in service.

Kamov Ka25 Hormone, Red Banner Northern Fleet, Murmansk, 1987.

Airfix 1/72, largely out of the box. Scratch detailed interior:

Kamov OKB's contra rotating rotor designs are well suited to the anti-submarine role, allowing aircraft to hover safely and in extreme weather conditions. Based ashore and at sea, the Hormone was the main Soviet and Eastern Block ASW platform during the Cold War .

Kamov Ka27 Helix A, Russian Federation Northern Fleet, Murmansk, 2010.

Zvezda 1/72, with modified decals:

The Helix was introduced in the 1970s as an upgrade to overcome the bad weather and night operation limits of the Hormone.  The external dimensions of the earlier aircraft were retained to enable compatibility with existing ships and their hangars, whilst fitting much more powerful engines and rotor blades as well as a significantly bigger cabin to carry additional ASW equipment and systems.

Eurocopter EC135. Western Counties Police Air Operations Unit,

Filton Airfield, Bristol, 2008.

This is the delicate and nicely detailed 1/72 Revell EC135VIP, modified into my local Western Counties Air Operations Unit Police Helicopter. The EC135 is widely used by Police Forces across the world, and this particular one is a common site over the skies of the Avon & Somerset and South Gloucestershire Policing areas, and seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time hovering around my house! Link to Build Page

Sikorsky S-70 UH-60A Black Hawk

10th Aviation Regiment, US Army, Helmand 2007

Revell (Italeri) OOB

The SikorskyS70 series began with the UH-60A Black Hawk utility helicopter that entered service in 1979 as a replacement for the UH-1 Huey Iroqois. Powered by twin General Electric T700 series turbines, in its baseline configuration, the aircraft can carry 11 troops, plus up to 4 crew.  When fitted with extended pylons, it can carry large auxiliary fuel tanks, or be armed with missiles and rockets.  An underslung external load of up to 3.5 Tonnes can be lifted, and the low-slung fuselage is sized to allow carriage in a C-130 with minimal preparation.  Link to build page

Sikorsky S-70 SH-60B Seahawk

HSL-41, US Navy, Pacific Fleet 1991

Hasegawa OOB with minor detail additions and scratch cabin interior

The Sikorsky SH-60 Sea Hawk is a naval derivative of the S-70 Black Hawk.  Fitted with folding main rotor blades, radar and various anti-submarine systems, it entered service with the US Navy in 1984.  Unlike the Black hawk, it has only one main cabin door, plus  a shorter, but higher deck clearance undercarriage with a twin rear wheel placed under the mid cabin to simplify deck manoeuvring and allow tail folding.  The SH-60B variant operated from smaller ships in the ASW and ASuW roles, replacing the SH-2 Seasprite in the LAMPS  (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System) role.  

SH-60Bs were replaced by the more capable SH-60R from 2006.

The SH-60F was similar but with a dipping sonar and a more limited range of capabilities, operating from the US Carriers  as a replacement for the ASW Sea King.  Link to build page

Westland WS-70 Black Hawk

845 NAS, Helmand 2012 (What-if?)

Hasegawa with speculative markings & serial.

In the late 1980s, Westland Helicopters were struggling to stay in business. Having worked with Sikorsky in the past (the Dragonfly, Whirlwind, Wessex, & Sea King were all based on Sikorsky designs) they began to forge even closer links with the US firm and its owners. As part of this arrangement, Westland gained the European manufacturing rights to the S-70 Black Hawk design and set about marketing it to European nations as a replacement for the Wessex/Puma class of medium support helicopters.

However, Westland's efforts met with strong opposition - the Gulf War proved that larger helicopters (in the Chinook class) were required and the RAF was adamant that it wanted Chinooks, and would not take the Black Hawk under any circumstances (although it was later forced to adopt the Merlin HC.3 instead). The political arguments around Westland's ownership led to a bitter split in the UK Conservative government, with the furious resignation of Defence Minister Michael Heseltine, who had championed the retention of an independent UK and European aircraft industry, as well as Trade and Industry Minister Leon Brittan, who favoured the US deal. For many political commentators, the Westland Affair, as it became known, was the beginning of the Conservative Party revolt that would lead to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's peremptory removal from power in 1991.

In the end, the WS-70 design could not be sold in the competitive and nationalistic European market, and was quietly dropped from the Westland catalogue when the company transferred back to European ownership.

But events could have taken a different turn.............................…

Moscow Helicopter Plant Mil Mi-17 (NATO Codename Hip-H)

Ukrainian Army Aviation, Azovstal Steelworks, Mariupol, March 2022

Hobby Boss 1/72 with own decals and scratch additions. (Link to build page)

The highly successful Mil Mi-17 helicopter is a development of the Soviet era Mi-8 troop carrier that first flew in 1961. The improved and up-engined Mi-17 followed in 1975, entering active service 5 years later, with over 12,000 built to date.  Designated by NATO as the "Hip-H" it remains in active service around the world, with new aircraft being ordered as recently as 2021.  In Russian service it is known as the Mil Mi-8MT, with the Mi-17 designation reserved for export aircraft.  

Ukraine is (or was) a major user of the Mi-17 with most operated by the Ukrainian Army Aviation, although a smaller number belong to the Ukrainian Air Force. After 5 months of Russian attacks, It is not clear how many Ukrainian Hips remain operational, although it is reported that many more are being supplied by friendly countries to replace losses.

Moscow Helicopter Plant Mil Mi-24V (NATO Codename Hind-E)

Ukrainian Army Aviation, Eastern Ukraine, 2015

Hobby Boss 1/72 with own decals and scratch additions. (Link to build page)

The Mi-24 was designed by the USSR in the mid 1960s as a heavily armed helicopter gunship that could also ferry Soviet troops across the battlefield. Using the same underlying components as the Mi-8 Hip transport helicopter, it entered Soviet service in 1971 and has served with most Soviet client states through to the present day.  The airframe has been constantly updated with new weapons and sensors, evolving into the the most recent Mi-35 export variants.  Although it is fast in level flight, the large airframe is not  the most manoeuvrable design, especially when fully loaded, or carrying a troop load (of up to 10 ).

Ukraine has operated the Mi-24 since it gained its independence, inheriting many former Soviet aircraft. and it is  estimated that around 34 Mi-24s remained in service at the end of 2021.  Prior to the 2022 Russian Invasion, a detachment of Ukrainians Mi-24s flew thousands of combat missions supporting UN peacekeepers in Congo, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

During the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and related destabilisation of the Donbas region,  Ukrainian Mi-24s suffered high losses at the hands of Russian-backed (and armed) rebels.  The Ukrainians have generally remained tight-lipped about Mi-24 operations during the current war, although it is known that they were very active during the counter assault that defeated the initial Russian attack on Hostomel Airport near Kyiv.  Mi-24s also conducted the strikes against  the Belgorad oil facilities within Russia, as well as escorting the famous relief missions into besieged Mariupol.

More recently, several of Ukraine’s  neighbours have offered to transfer their own Mi-24s to the Ukrainians, with ex-Czechian aircraft arriving and commencing operations in early 2023.

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