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Westland Wessex HU.5 - HAS.31

(Matchbox - Nr. PK-133)

Matchbox - Westland Wessex HU.5 - HAS.31


Theme:Utility Helicopters
Productnumber:PK-133 - Westland Wessex HU.5 - HAS.31
Type:Full kits


Here is a review of the Matchbox Westland Wessex HU.5/HAS.31 kit. The box art by Roy Huxley shows an HU5 from 845 Squadron somewhere off the Malay coast, with HMS Bulwark in the background. The illustration contains a wealth of detail which could be incorporated into any model. Unfortunately Matchbox had conceived the idea  that the pocket money market sector of the kit buying market was responsible for the majority of their kit sale, hence the tri-coloured plastic parts and lack of crisp detail.

They seem to have wanted to simplify the model at the same time aiming it squarely at the enthusiast sector of the market by offering both versions in one kit. This, by incorporating a wealth of detail, like the bracing plates at the tail wheel mounting area of the aft fuselage and then the fronts of the twin Gnome engines, so you could pose the model with the nose access open.

This was not to be! There are parts of the kit that drag it down below the level of the Frog kit. The fuselage cross section is too square and squat, the result is that the nose area does not have the rounded contour.

Detail is of the raised variety, even the rivet line is there as fine lines. Thankfully the Matchbox trencher must have been on leave whilst this kit was being tooled, as they are quite restrained.

There are 75 parts moulded in green and grey plastic, with rather heavy detailing. The seven transparencies which whilst well moulded are a little on the thick side, also the cockpit access doors have flat area in the centre, which is uncharacteristic of the real aircraft. The front port side cabin window is correctly moulded with an oval bulge, which is also correct for the Mk31 as these were later production fuselages with the larger cabin windows.

Decals. Whilst being thin, are not well printed, there being a lot of dirt in the varnish coat, the sheet is also almost a copy of the Frog kit sheet. This wasn’t very imaginative of Matchbox, as there are many good alternatives which could have chosen.

Of the two alternatives offered on the sheet there are an HU Mk5 from 845 NAS, serving aboard HMS Bulwark during 1966, (my old squadron). The second is as mentioned earlier a HAS Mk31A from 725 Squadron Royal Australian Navy, NAS Nowra in 1963. The only redeeming feature of the sheet, is that stencil data markings are supplied, items like the window escape markings, antenna warnings and main rotor blades slinging striping.

More infos:

Reviewed by Heloman - 09. November 2011

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