Wessex HU-5 (Italeri 1/48)

I decided to participate in our annual club group build. This year the subject would be a helicopter of any era and scale. The primary aim of our group build is always to learn from each other, and it is of course fun to work on the same subject together with other club members. Deadline would be our own modelling event Scale World, so plenty of time, I guess. As an AFV builder it would be a nice alternation, but quite a challenge for me to build and paint something else. A small error on a vehicle can easily be camouflaged, but an airplane or helicopter would ask for a completely different discipline with no room for error. That made the challenge even more exciting.

With a few club friends we drove to Amsterdam to the AviationMegaStore to buy our kits and all needed goodies, and I choose the recently released Italeri kit in 1:48 scale. I fell immediately in love with the Royal Air Force grey-green cammo, which would give me plenty of room for weathering.

The Kit

The Italeri kit has complete new tooling and it’s an excellent kit. The moulding is first class with almost no cleanup needed and pin ejector marks are kept to an absolute minimum. And as there were no aftermarket sets available at that moment I decided to build it straight out of the box.

Construction

Construction started with the cargo bay, which is very nice detailed and also includes the padding. I added safety belts and straps to the back of the seats, using lead foil, Tamiya tape and Evergreen strip. Electrical wiring was added to the side walls and cockpit wall. Electrical components received additional details using Evergreen and my trusted Punch&Die tool. The cockpit is well done, but I decided to add the missing buttons, levers, switches and many details using my reference pictures. The only disappointment are the cockpit seats which are too small. I cut off the sides of the seats and made new ones using plastic card and Magic Sculp. Much better now.

After test fitting but before assembly of the fuselage I added all those rivets. The distinctive pattern of the rivets would also give me more possibilities during the weathering stage. Using my reference pictures as a guide I started with this immense job. Using Tamiya tape and Dymo tape I marked the pattern onto the fuselage halves and gently added the rivets using my Rosie The Riveter, which is an indispensible tool for this job. A simple but good alternative for this riveting tool can also be bought at the radubstore (www.radubstore.com). Adding those rivets is easy to do but time consuming, it took me about 20 hours to add all those rivets. But it was well worth the effort. Don’t forget to sand all panels flush after riveting.

Unlike AFV models, which I build completely before painting, I had to divide and plan all painting stages this time. I started airbrushing the cockpit and cargo bay with a base of Tamiya X-18 (Semi-Gloss Black) to create the first shadows and depth, followed by a thin layer of Gunze Sangyo H306 (Medium Grey). Adding some White to the Medium Grey, highlights were airbrushed. A protective layer of Tamiya H-35 Semi-Gloss varnish sealed the fresh paint job. When dry all details were hand painted using Vallejo acrylics. For the gauges and placards in the cockpit I used the fantastic decal sheets from Mike Grant Decals. Gauges were punched out separately and applied to the dashboard. Glasses were simulated with a drop of satin varnish. All details were painted using Vallejo. Some fine scratches, wear and tear were added too using oil paints. The panel lines and details were picked out using pinwashes of Vandyke Brown oil paint, the dust on the floor and into the crevices were created using several thin washes of Humbrol 170 (Brown Bess).

I assembled and sanded the fuselage with my Flex-File, rescribed any disturbed panel lines and added the last rivets. The fit of the windshield was not good and resulted in a serious gap on the lower side of the shield. Too big to fill this gap with putty. The only way to solve this properly was to fill the gap with Magic Sculp and when dry I sanded it flush.

Just in time Eduard released there nice exterior PE set for the Wessex, and most of the PE parts were added to the model.The plastic supports for the antenna on both sides of the fuselage were cut off and replaced with very fine metal tubes (ø0.4-ø0.22mm) which would make rigging a lot easier and stronger. To fix these metal tubes to their plastic base component glue was used to secure them properly.

I added some resin couplings from Pro Art Models to the hydraulic hoses of the winch, and new resin handles to the hatches of the engine compartment. The footholds were rebuild using plastic card, and as a last step the antiskid on the tail of the fuselage was created using metalpowder from Pro Art Models. The areas were masked off, a light coat of Tamiya Clear was airbrushed on and the metalpowder sprinkled into the wet varnish, blowing the excess away and sprayed another protective layer of Clear onto it. Easily done and much better than using the decals of the kit.

I decided to build the Wessex with the rotor blades folded backwards. Scalewarship Ltd has a very nice Wessex rotor fold detail set. It looks very fragile at first sight but it assembled surprisingly very well. Their advice is soldering but instead of that I used superglue and that worked fine too.

Windshield and windows were masked off, the model was cleaned with a tissue damped with alcohol, placed the model on a self-made wooden turntable and attached the rotor blades to their temporarily carriers for easy handling during airbrushing and painting.

Painting the Exterior

I already decided that I was going for the Grey-Green cammo, my friend Rudi Meir came up with a beautiful picture of a Wessex with this cammo sprayed on, but also its nose being completely covered with the Union Jack. That made it irresistible! Looking at pictures of the real Wessex I was charmed of the bluish tone in the grey colour of the cammo, far better than only Dark Sea Grey.

As a first step in the weathering process I preshaded all panel lines using Tamiya XF1 (Matt Black). Thinned down at a ratio of 20% paint / 80% lacquer thinner and my compressor set at 1.5 bar, I started drawing all those lines using my Iwata Custom Micron, which is the perfect tool for this kind of work. It enables you to draw very fine and accurate lines, but I must confess it was quite a tedious job. I solely use the Iwata for all the following stages of airbrush work due to all those small faces framed with rivet lines, as it allowed me to work in detail on each surface at a time.

I started with the underside of the fuselage by spraying a thin layer of Tamiya XF-69 (NATO Black). After this first layer, the centre of each small surface was highlighted with a thin layer of the base colour lightened with 10% XF-2 (White).

Next came the real challenge: masking and painting the Union Jack. The nose was airbrushed completely White, to which I added some Sky Grey to get an off-white colour. After careful studying the sizes and shapes of the Union Jack I started to mask off the white stripes. It took me about 3 hours to complete this masking stage. I airbrushed the red parts first, directly followed by the Dark Blue using my Iwata CM which allowed me to work very narrow with no overspray and without masking off the fresh painted red zones. The Red was highlighted with Red with some Flesh and White, the Blue with a mix of Navy Blue, Blue and White. After removing the masks the model was set aside to cure during the night.

For the Light Blue marking, a mixture of Tamiya XF-23 (Light Blue) and Gunze H324 (Light grey) was airbrushed and masked prior to the cammo.

They Grey base colour was airbrushed using a mixture of Gunze H331 (Dark Sea Grey) with a bit of Gunze H72 (Intermediate Blue), the latter one to create the Bluish shine I was looking for. The Green cammo was airbrushed using a mixture of Tamiya XF-61 (Dark Green) and Gunze H320 (Dark Green). Highlights were airbrushed adding Light Grey to both colours. Post-shading was done using very thinned down Tamiya Black, but only around the hatches.

The Italeri decals are very nice and thin but some are just too big, so I used the appropriate decals from Xtradecal. Using Micro Set and Sol all decals were applied and when dry another protective coat of Tamiya Semi-Gloss was added and set aside to cure for a few days.

All details were hand painted using the acrylic paints from their excellent Vallejo Models Colors range. I added pin washes (Vandyke Brown oil paint) to all the details, seams and rivets. The fact that the model was sprayed with a layer of satin varnish made it easy to apply the pinwashes in all panel lines, rivets and around the details. I prefer to use a wash which consists of about 20% paint diluted with 80% thinner, applied to a surface which has previously been wetted with some pure thinner. This way the pinwash will easily flow around the details without leaving any drying marks. Some light paint chippings were added with a fine brush using Tamiya enamel Flat Aluminium.

To blend in the colours of the Union Jack, I airbrushed a filter made of very thinned down Deck Tan to the flag.

The rotor blades were first airbrushed NATO Black, then highlights and stripes were added using Light Grey. The red and yellow markings were masked off and airbrushed. Pin washes, made of Light Grey oil paint, were applied. Finally yellow Verlinden dry decals were added to the blades.

For the antenna wire I used the elastic WingNutWings Fine Line thread 0.15mm. Replacing the original plastic antenna supports with fine metal tubes in the building stage made rigging a piece of cake.

Both the exhausts consists of 2 halves, and assembling wasn’t that easy. So I decided to sand down the rills and replace them using stretched sprue. Exhaust covers were made using Magic Sculp. A base coat of Tamiya Gloss Black was sprayed on, followed by a thin layer of Alclad Duraluminium.

Finally the rotor blades were added to the model using white glue and carefully lined out with the rotor blade holder, also attached to the fuselage using white glue. Using the latter one instead of superglue gives you plenty of time to fit them correctly to the model 

Base

To complete the scene and to give the model a nice presentation I decided to make a small base. A piece of isolation foam was cut to the appropriate size and glued onto a wooden base plate. Square plastic tiles were cut and glued to the foam, imitating concrete plates. The seams in between these plates were “drawn” with Vallejo acrylic putty to imitate tar. The side of the groundwork was then covered with a thin layer of Polyfilla. Some fine roots from my garden and crushed cat litter were pushed into the Polyfilla and liberally scattered with fine sand. Along the sides, pieces of Wildgras from Heki were added with white glue. The base was then set aside for a few days to cure. When dry I airbrushed the concrete squares with a yellow-greyish colour, followed by some BlackBrownfilters to give the concrete plates a weathered and filthy look. The groundwork was airbrushed using different earth colours, the grass was sprayed in different shades of green. I painted the sides of the base in Satin Black and finally a nameplate was printed as a finishing touch.

Conclusion

Italeri did a really nice job on this Wessex. Besides a few fitting problems (which can easily be fixed) this is a fantastic and well detailed kit which I can recommend!Looking back at this project I really enjoyed every minute of the building, painting and weathering stages and I´m very happy with the final result. And beside that it was a refreshing variation on AFVs.

Word of thanks

I would like to thank my friends Rudi Meir, Pascal Tognon, Gert Mertens and my other club friends for helping me with the reference material and their positive and honest critics and advices during our group build and their so much needed support. And especially to Rudi for sending me that picture! Thanks guys.

References

  • Westland Wessex, Rotary Wings Line, 4+ Publication ISBN 80-902559-0-6

Model specifications

  • Italeri, Wessex HU-5, Kit nr. 2720
  • Eduard PE Wessex HU-5 exterior set, set nr. 48754
  • Scalewarship Ltd, Wessex HU-5 Rotor Fold Detail Set, set nr.~
  • Xtradecal, Westland Wessex, set nr. X48111
  • Mike Grant Decals, cockpit details, set nr. CKP-048 and JKJ-048Hugo Luyten 
  • KMK Modelling Club Belgium
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