Heli-Kit News #49, 08-Aug-99

1. Squadron in the US now have stocks of the Special Hobby 1:72 Hughes TH55 and Hiller UH-12, and of the 1:48 Mi-1 Hare.

2. The Aerodrom HO3S-1 and H-5G variants of the S-51 are now in the shops in Poland. They differ in detail from the earlier Westland Dragonfly kit, in particular there is a new sprue with the earlier shape wooden rotor blades. Details of the new decal options are not known.

3. New Dutch Decals set 72040 includes a KLu Bo-105.

4. The Pavla resin interiors are now available in the UK from Hannants. If in doubt buy the original Neomega versions from Linden Hill, Parade Miniatures, or Tushino Aviapress.

5. FCM Decals have a special Malvinas / Falklands decal set coming soon, item #48-MF and #72-MF. The only helicopter among the 12 subjects is a Royal Marines Gazelle, XX411.

6. The publication date for Insignia Magazine Air Force Special No. 4 - 'Air Forces of Former Yugoslavia 1991-1999: Slovenia and Macedonia', is September. The image of the decal sheet at the Insignia website appears to show markings for seven different Bell 412EP's and an Mi-8, plus seven fixed wing subjects. Insignia Magazine No. 12 will be published any day now, and will include decals for a Bosnian/Croat Air Force Mi-8T/MTV and an UH-1H. Many of the other Blue Rider decal sheets are now illustrated at the Insignia Magazine website.

7. Coming soon (at Hannants) from Legato will be #00272, a resin Bo-105CBS. If anyone knows anything about Legato, please let me know.

8. Here's what I found when looking at the new 1:72 Italeri AS 532 Cougar, #096:

The fuselage shape is for the Mk.1 'L' version with two windows in the cabin section forward of the doors.

Option A is a French Army AS 532UL, serial AIM / '31', from the 4th RCHM (Régiment d'Hélicoptères de Commandement et de Manouvre), based at Phalsbourg. The colours are brown, green, and black/grey camoflage.

Option B is a Swiss Air Force AS 332 Super Puma, serial T-315, from LtSt 5 (Lufttransportstaffel), based at Ulrichen. The colours are dark green and dark grey camoflage with a light grey underside.

Four Super Pumas

Option C is supposed to be a Dutch Air Force AS 532U2, serial S-400, of 300 Sqn. based at Soesterberg. This is provided with the characteristic box-shaped Mk.II sponsons and the correct flotation gear and rear baggage compartment extension. Also provided is a cut-out option to enlarge the rear cabin windows as per the Mk.II. Unfortunately all this is a complete waste of time because the Mk.II fuselage is a substantially different shape from that in the kit, and the tail rotor should have four blades, not five. The colours are a dark green, pale green, & brown camoflage.

Option D is D-HEGA, one of three German Border Guard (Bundesgrenzschutz) AS 332L1 Super Puma VVIP Transports based in Bonn. The external air-conditioning unit mounted on the forward port fuselage is provided. The colour is a dark blackish-green.

The surface detail is far too pronounced for my taste; the window frames are far too thick and the panel lines are much too deep and wide, but in general the shape and size are pretty well spot-on for a Mk.1. I do have a few reservations about certain details, in particular the angle where the rear of the engine covers meets the top of the tail boom is far too sharp, and the fence on the front of the stabiliser is positioned too low and at the wrong angle, but all-in-all the kit is a pretty fair representation of the real thing.

In comparison with the earlier Heller kit there is no doubt that this is an improvement. It is unfortunate that the lack of enlarged long-range fuel tanks / sponsons precludes the modelling of many other variants. (These are however available in the Heller 'Exocet' kit).

Later on this year Italeri will release another Super Puma kit, #002. The picture and comments in the 1999 catalogue show that this will be the shorter fuselage 'C' variant of the Mk.1, with a single window forward of the cabin doors. The boxart shows an olive-drab Spanish FAMET HT-21, serial ET-504.

Thanks to Tony Morgan and Piotr Kasprzak.