September 2019

Westland Sea King HAS.1

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Westland WS-61 Sea King HAS.1

819 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Prestwick, 1977

Fujimi 1/72 with some minor scratch mods & Modeldecal markings

The Sea King HAS Mk.1 made its first flight in May 1969 at Yeovil, with 700 Squadron taking delivery of its first production aircraft in August 1969.  

Fifty-six were produced, although most of these were subsequently converted to the more powerful HAS.2 variant, with improved sonar, improved avionics, more powerful engines and a six bladed tail rotor.

Armed with Mk 44 acoustic homing torpedoes and Mk.11 depth charges for use in shallow waters, the Sea King  was a step improvement on the Wessex with   

This is my second build in a row of a Fujimi Sea King kit.  Although the box art shows an RAF Sea King HAR.3, full parts and decals are included to build a torpedo armed RN HAS.1 of 824 Sqn in HMS HERMES with a five-bladed tail rotor.  As supplied, the cabin window layout is correct for the RN aircraft (you have to cut additional ones out for the RAF variant).  

The kit’s internal layout is not correct (I assume it is an USN layout), but without the door open you cant see much, so all I have done is rearrange the kit parts to approximately their equivalent Westland position. I also blacked out the port Observer’s window as this normall has a dark blind pulle down to improve visibility of the radar and sonar screens.

Except where otherwise marked, pictures © by  

almost double the weapons payload and twice the range/loiter time.   RN Sea Kings could also carry a single WE177A Nuclear Depth Bomb for use against submarines.

RN Sea Kings undertook a very different role from those of the US Navy, operating as independent ASW screening units at some distance ahead of their Task Group. often in pairs with one using its dipping sonar and the other attacking contacts.  In this role, a hunting pair of Sea Kings was effectively a fast moving and agile equivalent of a Frigate at some distance ahead of a Task Group.

Although quickly superseded at sea (on Aircraft carriers and the Tiger class ASW cruisers) by the HAS.2, the original HAS.1s remained in active service with shore based units until the late 1970s. 819 Squadron at RNAS Prestwick (HMS GANNET) in Scotland was one of the premier RN front-line units operating the Sea King, providing shore-based ASW and surface patrols of the Clyde estuary, in support of the Faslane-based SSBNs of the UK Nuclear Deterrent force.   

With regular incursions by Soviet submarines into the Clyde approaches as they sought to detect and follow the RN SSBNs out on patrol, the Prestwick-based Sea Kings undertook one of the Fleet Air Arm’s most important operational tasks for several decades.  

Prestwick’s aircraft  also fulfilled a Search and Rescue and more general patrol/constabulary role across the West of Scotland  (including the Highlands & Islands areas) and north Irish Sea. With a massive geographical area to cover, they quickly became the UK’s most busy SAR unit, a role that continued (in latter years, as a detached flight of 771 Sqn) until the RN disbanded its SAR force in 2015.

Copied from Last Month:  Until the relatively recent release of Dragon, Revell and the newer Airfix Sea King kits, the Fujimi kit was the best option available.  It’s a little simplified in detail, based on the US SH-3 variant and missing the exterior differences fitted to the Westland aircraft.  However, for an early Sea King these issues are easily resolved and I have previously used the superb C-Scale white metal conversion kits (sadly no longer in production) to create HAS.5 and HC.4 versions (see below).  The nose of this kit is its worst part - it is too short, leading to an overly vertical front windows and very small nose section.  That said, Revell & Dragon don’t seem to have got it entirely right either; Monogram and the old Airfix kits are travesties, most noticeable when you try to fit the barn doors to the old Airfix kit. I’ve yet to build the new Airfix kits, but I have high hopes!

The real thing -   The Prestwick-based Royal Navy HAS.1 of 819 Squadron depicted by this model hovers over Rockall, after winching down an official landing party to reinforce UK territorial claims to the disputed oil resources and rich fishing grounds surrounding this lonely rock  © IWM A 35396

The real thing -  Westland’s first production Sea King © IWM TR 34406

More Sea Kings (and many more helicopters) on my Helicopters pages   

The real thing - Hunting submarines - one in the air and one in the dip

The kit’s Torpedoes consist of reasonable interpretations of two Mk.44s and two Mk.45s.  For this early aircraft operating in the Clyde, I have gone for a full Mk.44 load, taking two additional Mk.44s from last month’s RAF Sea King build (and keeping the Mk.45s for a later build!).  I have also added some new antenna and the distinctive port side wire aerial from sprue and lycra thread.  

Although the kit decals are acceptable, I have again used a Modeldecal set for all but the generic markings, with the distinctive anti-icing chevrons (missing from both the kit and the Modeldecal set) on the ”barn door” taken from an Almark Sea King set.

More Sea Kings (and many more helicopters) on my Helicopters pages