AgustaWestland Merlin HC.3
(Airfix - Nr. A14101)
With the release of their new 48 scale Lynxes in year 2012, Airfix gained foot in the larger scale helicopter model kit business and this was already a good start. Now, Airfix came up with a 1:48 scale Merlin HC.3 to fill another gap in the quarter scale sector.
The kit comes in a quite impressive sized, stable box with seperately bagged clear parts. It contains 4 rather big sprues with a high number of parts. The decal sheet is ca. 34 x 24 cm (13.5" x 9.5") big.
The overall level of detail is lovely. There are turbine shovels in for the exhaust tubes, air intake channels with draught, detailed troop seats (to be built either folded or unfolded), complete cabin interior walls and ceiling, wheels with flattened tyres and detailed rims, raised detail for instrument panels, detailed wheel wells, detailes rotorhead, etc.
Fears regarding the surface detail are completely inappropriate. We don't find any too heavily propnounced panel lines. The opposite is the case: Compared to other earlier "New Airfix" releases, the over all surface detail of the fuselage is very crisp. Airfix left any moulded-on seatbelts out of the kit. This can be seen as an advantage due to the crude impression they make in larger scales.
All doors can be built in an open position. Therefore, the kit provides alternate parts for sliding door hinges and bars for the door rails to faciliate a stable connection of the open doors.
The different aircraft covered by the decal sheet have slightly different equipment (FLIR or no FLIR, emergency floatation gear or not, different antennae,..). All these differences are considered in the instructions and also alternate parts are provided.
But unfortunately there are some (minor) weak points. The level of detail with the GPMG weapon does not correspond to the rest. They look rather simple. Another issue is the main instument panel. Although to be considered to be a very tidy "digital" glass cockpit, the raised detail there gives a rather washed-out impression. The typical sun cover in the cockpit roof glazing is missing.
One could argue if the price justyfies an etched fret with windscreen wipers and seatbelts. In fact, the wipers are provided as plastic parts.
The split-up of the fuselage construction may reveal some fitting issues, but this is speculation so far
The clear parts itself look fine with no magnifying and distorting effects. But with the review sample we got, almost every clear part has very fine cracks over the flat glass areas. Seems for me to be a moulding issue. Although they are fine and thin, they are certainly noticable.
The decal sheet has a fine printing quality. The roundels are in register and most of the stencils are readable. It provides markings for five different aircraft (see below) and also the interior markings were not forgotten.
This kit promises a lot of modeling fun and will certainly be a big eye catcher in the showcase or on modeling exhibitions. The delay in delivery was ceraintly worth to wait. Unfortunately, Airfix officialls stated already in 2011 that they don't consider another conversion of this kit (e.g. CH-149 Cormorant or naval Versions). The minor flwas of the kit can easily be fixed with (surely) forthcoming items from the after market industry.
Reviewed by Felix Troschier - 26. March 2013
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