Westland SA-330 Puma
Kit No. PK-507. 1:32nd scale
The kit was originally priced at only £3.99, but has been now released by Revell in a couple of versions and is a bit dearer now, It is basically a military machine but “MATCHBOX” chose to illustrate the box art with a brightly coloured civilian demonstration version to catch the casual buyers eye. As most of us know it is the casual sales that keep us enthusiasts in new kits, and choppers need all the help they can get anyway!The kit is moulded to “MATCHBOX”‘s high standards; detailing is very well done with fine raised panel lines and good riveting which looks quite realistic. Even the quilted interior ‘fits’ better than on the real aircraft (or so the crews tell me!) There is some slight sinkage on the fuselage rear quarters, just a dab of filler here cures all, but it doesn’t look too bad if left as is, The fit of all the parts is generally very good indeed and of course all of them are flash-free with only the odd mould line needing a scrape, The plastic is in three colours; white, dark green and grey with a large clear frame and an excellent decal sheet with markings for four machines; the civilian version, both RAF Squadrons 33 and 230) plus French aircraft with bright dayglo orange areas to be painted on. All the stencil data is provided in English and French,
ConstructionTHE instruction sheet deals adequately with construction and there are no <>apparent pitfalls but a couple of colleagues have commented on the fit of the cockpit doors; I admit it is possible to get them to fit badly but I found that if the doors are mounted to the main canopy first and at the correct angle, the cabin roof can be fitted perfectly before adding the whole unit to the fuselage where it is easy to line up the join against the tabs provided
When the tail boom had been assembled I found the front edges were just a little bit ‘wavy’ but a light rub with a sanding block soon sharpened up the edges making a perfect joint with the fuselage and needing no filler at all; just a little cleaning up. Note the position of the VOR aerials, the ones on the French machine are further back than on the RAF aircraft; also one must remove the location pips to fit the French machine or drill the holes out, I had a couple of tiny gaps around the fuselage glass joint but as these were so narrow I filled them with Kristal Kleer,
PAINT on Pumas at Odiham was Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey with Black undersides. The finish is matt with a slight sheen showing under certain lighting conditions and although some machines were slightly weathered, none that I saw were faded or chipped to any great degree although some wear was evident around door frames, certainly not enough to be portrayed in model form in the usual way. The aircraft were kept in fairly good condition for service machines and although I was allowed to climb all over XW208, I never got my light coloured trousers dirty at all, so don’t ‘over-weather’ your models, they are a clean lot at 33 Squadron!Actually, the interiors showed the most wear and metal areas which should be a semi-gloss black showed signs of a very dark black /grey underneath; some areas in the cockpit were painted in this colour and most noticeable were the black/red/black dashes around the door frames. Seat belts are a golden tan colour with metallic blue fastenings. Humbrol 52 Baltic Blue is a good match for these and the bottom plate of the rotor head (part 44).
Seat frames are gloss grey with a slight bluish tint, I used Humbrol 5 with a spot of 25 Blue added, Passenger seats are made of a nylon type material and are quite shiny blue/grey Humbrol 96, and gloss varnish. 1:1 mix) is a fair match.
Interior quilting looks realistic if painted Steel Grey 87 with a light spray of gloss varnish over it to give a ‘nylon’ appearance.You can see right up the tail boom from inside the fuselage and consequently this needs painting using the same light tan as in the engine bay use H 250 Sand.
On XW208 the quilted finish does not appear above the side doors, it is smooth and painted black so you could remove the quilted moulding in this area,
The main cabin floor is made up of plywood panels, these were similar in colour to Humbrol 96 RAF Blue and there was a fair amount of wear here; the wood beginning to show through again, These panels were outlined in black forming a nice pattern on the floor and where panels met these would be about two inches wide I guess (full size of course).
My cockpit interior was painted, including insides of canopy frames and window surrounds, then the glass was added prior to spraying the exterior of the model,
I found it quite easy to mask each individual window with tape using a cocktail stick to press it firmly into the frame and then cutting around the outline with a scalpel, The winch doors were taped down and the hole for the gearbox covered from inside as were the side door frames ( a bit tricky, but possible), Fuselage windows were covered up to the pre-painted ‘rubber’ surrounds (touched in later). All holes for ladders, etc., were filled with Kristal Kleer to stop paint penetrating and spoiling the interior. The firewalls (parts 5, 6, 14) were added before spraying the exterior as they are useful to hold the assembly whilst painting.
I took a soft pencil to mark out the camouflage for which I used 163 Dark Green and 164 Dark Sea Grey on the upper surfaces with 85 Coal Black on the undersides; these paints are a semi gloss finish and only re quire a thin coat of Johnson’s Klear (Future) before adding the decals which can be applied ‘with only the minimum of trimming. The whole model was again coated with Klear to seal the decals and when this coat was perfectly dry, a light coat of Klear with Tamiya flat base (3:1) ratio was applied overall; the decal film all disappeared and a sheen was the resulting finish. When I was sure that all was correct the masking was removed, and if you haven’t been too heavy with the spray no ridges are left, resulting in well sprayed canopy framework. The engine bay/gear box area can now be hand-painted, using the H250 sand, as can the interior of the cowlings.
I ‘silvered’ the front and back end with Rub and Buff. The combustion section was painted matt white and then dry-brushed with brick red to give effect, the rest was done in 56 Aluminium, Steel Grey 87 and black 33 to suit. The exhaust interiors are a lovely shade of pink (don’t laugh). I captured the effect by first painting with HS2l7 Steel then lightly spraying with Flesh but only lightly, a final light spray of Liquaplate exhaust colour at the outer areas finished it off nicely.
THIS is a light blue gloss, G1oy 22 ST meets the colour or Humbrol 65 Blue with gloss varnish. Remainder of rotor housing and supports look good in Humbrol No 5 Gloss Dark Grey with the exception of parts 92 (lifters) which are Pale Grey No 40.
THIS is No 5 Sea Grey, out as far as the blades which are an olive green on top and black below (the domes on top of the head are also No 85 Coal Black). Each blade is colour coded with a band of coloured tape matched to each removable piece on the head; the reason for this is that the blades are so delicately balanced that they must be replaced (after service) in exactly the same order.
For those conversion addicts why like to change decals only, ‘beware’. Pumas were fitted with two types of main rotor blades — metal and plastic; the kit is fitted with ‘metal’ blades as is XW208 ‘CE’ whereas XW209 ‘CF’ is fitted with plastic blades. An easy way to recognise them is to look for the sharp ‘shoulder’ on the metal blade, the plastic (man-made fibre) blade is of broader chord and is tapered gently to full width from the main mount on the head.
There are other minor decal colour differences that may not at first be obvious. For instance, on XW209 ‘CF’ the hatched red line around the sliding doors is supplemented by a solid orange line on the inner edges making the whole lot more prominent. Blade aerials are sometimes marked differently. I have seen them black, black/white, black/yellow, so if you fancy doing your own thing, check all these points first.
Orange outlines to ladder attachment points stand out well on the air craft for obvious reasons and it is worth clearing both sets of holes. To make the little circles I used a fine No 1 brush loaded with paint; this was gently pushed straight into the holes until paint built up the edges.
THERE is still room for improvement if you wish to give your model that individual look so here are just a few suggestions:
1. Interior of cabin. The only addition here are seat and winch straps which hang around the winch pole; again masking tape is useful for these items.
2. There should be a ‘driver’s’ step on the starboard side of the cockpit. It is fairly simple to first drill and then square off a hole to the size of the decal provided. Box the back in with spare bits of 15 thou card.
3. Pilots’ seats are really tubular frames with cushions and it is possible to modify the parts but it would be tricky, so I haven’t attempted it. But seat straps could be sanded off and more realistic ones added from masking tape. While in the cockpit there are some control levers at the front centre of overhead console which could be added and on the outside there are two driving mirrors to add as shown in the photos below
4. With so much detail in the cockpit it seems a shame to hide it behind all the glass and I think most modellers will want to open the doors. Parts 108, and 109 will need the top canopy sections cut off; there is a ‘thin’ line between the frame mouldings and this only needs scoring a few times with a blade. The canopy part can then be easily popped off, then cemented to main canopy, roof and fuselage. The simplest method to mount the doors is to just cement the door to the frame at the required angle but the more fastidious can add a couple of faired hinges at the top and bottom of the lower door window. There are two blobs moulded on front corners of the fuselage; these represent pitot tubes which are best removed and replaced with plastic rod.
5. Engines. Before making up the two halves try adding the drive shaft which is so prominent in the exhaust area. Use a length of TB6 Plastruct tube cut to size and angled at one end. Pop it into the engine when made up. The front end of the shaft can also be made now from a piece of round sprue and if you’re very brave add some fan blades to give a realistic look—another answer is add a disc with ‘blades’ painted on. (See Fig 1).
6. There is a central bulkhead which mounts the engine on the real aircraft; this is situated half way along the engine and can be made from 20 thou card as shown in Fig 2. It is in two halves and the joint shows!
7. When fitting the engine there should be a gap between the intake bulkhead and the front of the engine; to achieve this I cut off the narrow part of the drive shafts where they locate to the gear box and mounted the engines that much further back.
8. The intake bulkhead is not quite correct as there is a plate on the inner surface which carries some detail. A piece of 10 or 15 thou card cut to shape as shown in Fig 3 will give a good impression of the real thing. See photo below.
9. Engine bay fittings. The oil reservoirs supplied in the kit are simplified, they in fact, consist of one oval shaped and one round shaped canister in plain view); both are mounted on frames quite close together but as the round one is only on the starboard side, the port side one (part 75) should be cut off and the resulting hole filled as in Fig 4.
10. There are frame stiffeners on the insides of the engine covers which can be made from 15 thou card as shown in Fig 3 & Fig 5. These in fact enclose the engine right back to the angled firewall. The recessed ‘door’ handles are not on the kit but can be added, as shown in the drawings, by cutting a small hole and placing card behind it. Print out the sketches and you will have full size parts for this.
Gear Box and Rotor
11. The four protrusions on part 50 should be separated by two small plates as shown in the photograph, add piping to suit your taste (Fig 6).
12. The rotor head has a number of pipe lines which could be added as they are quite prominent (See Fig 7).
13. Decals are provided for ‘booster pump access’ pans which have a white ring representing the wells on the real aircraft. These could be replaced with 60 thou card discs cut to size then sanded to the shape of the under side as shown in the photo on page 525. The white rings supplied as decals can now be left off.
14. Twin blade aerials are fitted to the underside of fuselages on RAF machines and the position of these is either side of the centreline; front edges level with the front support bar on the side steps. There is also a small aerial just aft of the big blade aerial under the tail boom offset slightly to starboard.
15. Main undercarriage legs on the kit are moulded with oleos partially retracted for an empty machine standing on terra firma and the most obvious addition here is the brake line which can be made from fine flower wire bent to shape. Drill a small hole in the main leg (as shown in the photo) then cement rod in place. There are no brakes on nose wheels.
16. A most obvious addition to an RAF machine is the aerial wires between the posts with the inner of the two having another about 1 inch from the front, running down to the side of the rear round window.
Note the position and shape of the new wire VOR ariels just behind the "E" and the wire mesh replacement for the clear part on the transmission tunnel.
The French machine has a whip aerial on top of tail just behind the anti-collision beacon and some have more on the rear of the fin running down and under the tail boom to bottom window.
THE demonstrator machine was fitted with collapsible stretchers and fitted into the aircraft with long straps that reach from roof to floor. The stretchers can be made from two lengths of sprue and tissue or 5 thou card. A small collapsible brace at each end keeps the two poles apart. The straps can be made from 10 thou strips; cement two strips together leaving two areas for stretcher handles to pass through (make four of these). Fit one at each end on the inboard side of stretcher and cement to floor and roof; the stretcher can be glued straight to side wall . There are two banks one starboard rear and one port forward and a single seat fits opposite each stretcher position.
THIS was one of my favourite review models and, if made ‘straight from the box’, you have an excellent replica, but there is room for lots of minor additions to give a really superb model. I think the pictures says more about it than I could.
I would like to say thanks to 33 Sqdn RAF for playing host to me,
Tudor Art Studios for the use of photos,
“MATCHBOX”, who kindly supplied lots of extra parts to use in preparation of this article,