Sunday, March 18, 2012

More DML Modern Sea Power Series: A Pair of Kings

About 20 years ago, I finished DML kit 7004 "HMS Trafalgar vs Soviet Oscar Class." Well, I thought I did. A couple of days ago, I was digging around in my stash looking for something else, when I found two tiny Westland Sea King HAS.2 helicopters from that kit. Each comprises five pieces: 1) the fuselage and tail, 2) the landing gear sponsons with a small chunk of the fuselage, 3) the main rotor, and 4&5) a two-piece display base. The first two pieces I had assembled and puttied, and the rotors and bases were still on the sprue. Decals were absent, and it was clearly going to be easier to make my own than to look for them, if they even still exist.

Since I was in the process of finishing up DML kit 7006 (USS Benjamin Franklin vs Soviet Sierra Class), I figured I'd finish up these two helicopters as well. I looked online for references, since modern Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft are not something I am knowledgeable about, or even have good references on. I wanted a picture to aid in drawing up the artwork for the decals, and the best I found was this: (scroll down to the fourth post by Pat C, which shows a photo of his model Sea King, White 13). When I build a model, I prefer to follow prototype references and not copy someone else's model, but in this case the model is less than an inch long, so what's the difference? I chose this because it's a good profile and a nice clean photo of a nice clean build.

I imported the photo into AutoCAD and traced over the markings that read: ROYAL NAVY (roundel) 13. I fit text over "ROYAL NAVY" and traced the rest with lines, arcs, and circles colored appropriately. I drew another set of markings substituting 21 as the aircraft number. Then I turned off the layer with the photo and printed the drawing on decal paper using an Alps printer, which can print white. I goofed a little and the red and blue of the roundel ended up an inch away on the decal paper. No matter, I just put the white decal on first and fit the color decal over it. Amazingly, the words "Royal Navy" are clearly legible in the decal: the letters are only about .020" high!

I painted the helicopters with a darkened blue, with detail painting on rotors, landing gear, and windows. Then I applied the decals, which didn't go too smoothly as they are very delicate. I tried adding the struts that help support the sponsons using a tiny length of stretched sprue, but gave up after a few attempts. Likewise, I didn't bother with the tailwheel (though I did have to replace one mainwheel), and there was no way I was going to try to fix the tail rotor (it should have six blades, not five). I replaced the plastic rod of the display bases with metal wire (paper clip), and painted the bases Intermediate Blue.

All in all, I'm not too dissatisfied with the results, and at long last I've finished this kit that I thought was done twenty years ago.

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