Westland Wessex is a license produced helicopter, and it comes from Sikorsky H-34 /S-58. It was produced by Westland Aircraft, later known as Wessex Helicopters. The main difference between Sikorsky H-34 and Westland Wessex was that the Sikorsky had a piston engine, while Wessex featured turboshaft one. It was successful in United Kingdom, firstly used in Royal Navy and later on in Royal Air Force as well. Britons used it mainly as anti-submarine helicopter, utility or search and rescue /SAR/ missions. There was also a limited civilian use of that helo. It served from 1961 until 2003, and that was due to its reliability and successful design.
It saw real action in several local conflicts, but most notable was Wessex’s participation in Falklands War. Even though some were lost /nine in total/, the helo proved that is very useful and trustworthy. In Falklands Wessex transported a lot of Special Forces people in and out of war zones, and is one of the most loved and respected helicopters by the guys who worked with it due to the fact.
The Italeri kit appeared in 2012 with HS.5 modification, followed by HAS.3 and HAS.1 in the following years. Academy repacked it as their own HS.5 recently. The demand for so many options was due to the fact that the only decent kit before that was the old Revell kit, and the market was begging for a new tooling. Revell was obsolete already, and not so available either. So Italeri stepped up.
Unfortunately, we all know that Italeri are not especially famous with making highly detailed kits with abundant amount of parts inside. This Wessex is not exception to that rule. On the other hand, their kits are available widely, easy to assemble and cheap. The fit is not the best nor the worst out there, but in this particular case is better than old Revell for sure. So as you might expect, sprues are few, and the detail is sparse.
One thing that I noted and didn’t liked was the shallowness of the panel lines. If you work with thicker primers that might present a problem. Somewhere on the web I saw a guy who deepened them with scribing tool, which is nothing overly complex to be done, and works fine. Rivets are also not so deep, but they will do the job for most.
Another let down is the quality of the transparent parts. They were already scratched upon unpacking, which is not something to ruin your model, but it will definitely mess up your modeling session, when it comes down to windows. Aside of those mentioned above, the kit is OK. Despite the low amount of detail, everything is very decent. For Italeri, the kit itself is a high point. I’ve seen couple of enthusiasts, who used drawings to figure out the measurements, and it appears that the kit is pretty accurate, except of the tail, which is a bit shorter.
Aftermarket part for a folding tail is available, and being put on one side /the tail section/, this automatically eliminate the above problem. It is a nice add-on, made from resin and not that expensive too. I also have to mention, that there is a blade folding set which I will review separately. It is widely used, due to the fact that helo models require a lot of space and this kinda helps.
Now the high ponts of the kit:
This – after all – is a new tooling of the Westland Wessex. It is better engineered than anything on the market, and better moulded than anything on the market. End of story. There is no actual substitute for it. Either take it or leave it. Accurate dimensions spice up things a bit, providing every decent modeler with a wonderful base for upgrade. Weather scratch or aftermarket parts, all the options are there, just you need to take advantage!
There is a photo-etch sheet, which is not bad at all! Even though this is not typical for Italeri, we have a PE set. There are Eduard upgrades for interior and exterior, but even without them, Italeri did their job pretty well. Decals seems nice too. Although they are not Cartograf, they still look thin, and there are four camouflage options in the box offerings. The rotor blades are bent on the sprue, as they should sit in the resting position on the helo, and the tires are flat to simulate the pressure. Minor, but great add ons from Italy!
My conclusion is, that 48th scale helo should not be assembled by enormously large sub-assemblies and intricate parts, because the painting and weathering in that scale is a challenge itself when it comes down to blenders. The other thing is, that Wessex is a helicopter loved and respected by many, so a decent kit OOTB should be available out there. With that said, I gotta admit, that Italeri hit the spot with their kit. It has enough detail to satisfy most of the modelers out there and for the maniacs out there, there are aftermarket companies! Straight out of the box, the Wessex is just enough to pleasure everybody, from the novice to the master. In the end, this is what a kit should be OOTB! For the price, I highly recommend it!
You can get a mask set here: DN Models Windows Mask set for Westland Wessex
You can get the kit here:
Academy Repack of the same kit
Check out my YouTube Channel for full Unboxing video if this review was not enough!