The AFV Club 1/144th Sikorsky SH-3A/D Sea King

(editors note: here’s my in-box review of the AFV Sea King)


I have to say that “whirly birds” aren’t my normal fair. I prefer fixed wing aircraft of mostly the “one true scale” and have survived on that diet for many years. I was, therefore, more than dubious when I received this kit (#14405) for review. Upon opening the box I quickly changed my mind. The molding and high level of detail exhibited by all the kit parts is impressive: some of the best I’ve seen in this scale.

One thing led to another and before I knew it plastic shards were flying, parts were being snipped, and I was reaching for my favorite thin cement. The fit of this kit is amazing and easily comparable to the quality of moldings from Eduard and Platz. It was a breeze to assemble and the result is a pretty eye-catching model. The best part: from start to finish took 5 days. That’s lightening fast for me and provided a break from more demanding builds on my bench.


The Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King (company designation S-61) is an American twin-engined anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter designed and built by Sikorsky Aircraft. A landmark design, it was the world’s first amphibious helicopter and one of the first ASW rotorcraft to use turbo shaft engines.

The Sea King has its origins in efforts by the United States Navy to counter the growing threat of Soviet submarines during the 1950s. Accordingly, the helicopter was specifically developed to deliver a capable ASW platform; in particular, it combined the roles of hunter and killer, which had previously been carried out by two separate helicopters. The Sea King was initially designated HSS-2, which was intended to imply a level of commonality to the earlier HSS-1; it was subsequently re-designated as the SH-3A during the early 1960s.

Introduced in 1961, the Sea King was operated by the United States Navy as a key ASW and utility asset for several decades prior to being replaced by the non-amphibious Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk in the 1990s. In late 1961 and early 1962, a modified U.S. Navy HSS-2 Sea King was used to break the FAI 3 km, 100 km, 500 km and 1000 km helicopter speed records. The Sea King also performed various other roles and missions such as search-and-rescue, transport, anti-shipping, medevac, plane guard, and airborne early warning operations. Several Sea Kings, operated by the HMX-1 unit of the United States Marine Corps are used as the official helicopters of the President of the United States, for which the call sign ‘Marine One’ is used.

The Sea King has also proved to be popular on the export market with foreign military customers, and has also been sold to civil operators as well. As of 2015, many examples of the type remain in service in nations around the world. The Sea King has been built under license by Agusta in Italy, Mitsubishi in Japan, and by Westland in the United Kingdom as the Sea King. The major civil versions are the S-61L and S-61N.

(Edited from Wikipedia)

The Build:

Construction starts with the cockpit/cabin, which was painted Mission Grey Primer and includes a nicely detailed instrument panels picked out in black.

After the seat backs were painted green, belts were fashioned from 0.4mm Aizu masking tape painted white.




Once the clear windows in each fuselage halve were glued in place with Gold CA glue (Bob Smith Industries), the fuselage was assembled using Tamiya Thin Cement. The fit is excellent.

The large clear front windscreen piece was then glued in place with Gold CA glue. I then attached the lower chin part, which is also clear and experienced the only fit issue of the build that required putty to fix. That said it’s quite likely I thinned the piece too much during clean up and made much of the problem myself.

The sponsons and struts were assembled but left unattached until later for ease of painting.

Color and Markings:

Preparatory to painting, the windows in the front windscreen were filled in with Mr. Hobby Mr. Masking Sol R liquid mask. The windscreen frames are sufficiently raised and crisp permitting the careful application of liquid mask to each framed window. This was applied with the tip of a toothpick.



For windows that lacked a frame, their periphery was first masked off with Aizu 0.4mm masking tape. The clear panels were then filled in with liquid mask.



After the model was wiped down with denatured alcohol (Crown Manufacturing; “Cleans Glass” on can) applied with Q-tips, it was shot with Mission White Primer diluted 1:1 with Mission thinner. This was applied at ~12psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.2mm tip.



There is a soft line on ole’ 66 where the upper white meets the grey. To replicate a soft line in this scale, putty was rolled into a thin “worm” and pressed in place along the demarcation between the two colors.





After the exposed white areas were masked with Tamiya tape, Mission Light Gull Grey (FS16440) was diluted as described in Technical Note 1 (below) and applied at ~10psi with an H&S Infinity fitted with a 0.15mm tip.




In order to achieve a soft line the brush was held at 900 relative to the surface of the model at all times while spraying. In addition, the white along the putty worm was applied as a dry coat to reduce the chance of wet paint wicking along the worm and leaving a hard line.

After the white was allowed to dry a few moments, the putty worm was removed revealing a soft scale-appropriate line. Note that the liquid mask covering the lower window panel came off when the putty was removed.




The areas around the black anti glare panel were then masked off with Tamiya tape and liquid mask.

NOTE: I applied liquid mask directly onto dried Mission primer with no issues however, liquid masks should not be applied over dried Mission Paint. Many liquid masks contain ammonia, which will adversely affect dried Mission Paints. Dried Mission Primer is more resistant.



The anti glare panel was then shot with Mission British Slate Gray to which a few drops of Mission Black were added for color. This was diluted as described in Technical Note 1 (below) and applied at ~10psi as a light dry-coat with an H&S Infinity fitted with a 0.15mm tip.

After the masks were removed the model was sprayed with Mission Gloss diluted as described in Technical Note 1 (below) and applied at ~12-14psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.20mm tip.

To prevent the fine inscribed details from becoming clogged by the Gloss, it was applied as multiple dry coats; building the shine up slowly.


The model was then mounted on a work board with a small wad of putty and decals were applied using only Micro-Set and –Sol and conventional techniques. The scheme chosen is that of “Old 66” a Sea King responsible for multiple capsule and crew pick-ups including that of Apollo 13. The decals are nicely printed with very thin carrier film and went on just beautifully.




After the decals were sealed with a coat of Mission Gloss, panel lines were darkened by a carefully applied wash of Tamiya Brown Panel Liner. I like to apply this with a small brush allowing the wash to wick along (and within) inscribed details. After allowing the liner to dry a few moments, excess is carefully removed with a Q-tip moistened with Mona Lisa Odorless Paint thinner: good stuff.

The red portions of the sponsons, and tail were painted by brush with Mission Red diluted with just a dash of Thinner-10. See Technical Note 1 (below) for a Thinner-10 recipe.

To blend and seal the various finishes the model was given a final light coat of Mission Clear Flat. To spray Mission Clear Flat, I dilute it with Mission Thinner at a ratio of Flat to Thinner of ~25:75. That’s ~25% Flat to ~75% Thinner by volume. I spray this at ~15psi with the brush held back from the model so as to deliver light dry misting coats.

Once all the tape and liquid mask was removed the clear panels directly above the pilot and co-pilot seats were painted with Gunze Clear Blue carefully applied with a small trim brush.

Finishing Up:


The upper portions of the main rotors were sprayed Mission Light Gull Grey (FS16440) with a few drops of Mission Black added for a slightly different hue. The lower portions were shot with Mission British Slate Gray to which a few drops of Mission Black were added. These were applied at ~12 psi with an H&S Evolution fitted with a 0.20mm tip.

After a coat of Mission Gloss, the rotor decals were applied (as described above). When these were dry they were sealed first with a coat of Mission Gloss thence with a light dusting of Mission Clear Flat (Sprayed as described above).

The main rotor hub was painted Vallejo aluminum, the blades were attached with CA, and the entire assembly was shot first with Mission Gloss followed by a light dusting with Mission Clear Flat.

The tail rotor was sprayed first with Mission Red. After this was dry, the tips of each blade were masked off with Tamiya tape and sprayed Mission Black to which a few drops of White were added. This was diluted as described in Technical Note 1 (below) and applied at ~10psi as a light dry-coat with an H&S Infinity fitted with a 0.15mm tip.









When dry, the masks were removed, the rotor hub was painted Vallejo Aluminum, and the rotor was shot with Mission Gloss thence a light dusting with Mission Clear Flat. The winch mechanism was assembled with Tamiya Extra Thin Cement and painted in place with LifeColor Black.




This is a little jewel of a kit. The moldings are sharp and crisp, the fit is spot on, and as expected, the building experience is about as issue-free as one could hope for. The decals performed flawlessly and the result is a stunningly detailed model that’s a real eye-catcher. I highly recommend it to all whirly bird fans everywhere!

Now I gotta go paint something!


More Sea King Pics Below

Note 1: Spraying Mission Model Paints and Clear Gloss

To spray Mission paints I first prepare a solution of Mission Model Thinner to which Missions Polyurethane Mix Additive (Polymix: a flow and leveling agent) has been added to ~10%. I then dilute Mission Models Paints directly into this solution for spraying. Using a pre-mixed solution of Polymix and Thinner allows you to prepare paint dilutions in a much more reproducible way thereby ensuring that the resulting mixes will spray in a predictable manner.

If counting drops is how you roll, no worries. Thinner-10 is roughly 1 drop of Polymix to ~10 drops of Thinner. If you prefer to work in ratios Thinner-10 equates to a ratio of Polymix to Thinner of 1:10. I prepare a large volume (40ml) at a time and store this in an appropriate bottle for use when painting. Properly stored, Thinner-10 lasts for many months (forever?) with no issues.

I then dilute Mission Paints and Gloss Coat with Thinner-10 using the following guidelines:

Paint: General Spraying: Dilute 60:40 with Thinner-10. That’s 6 parts Paint to 4 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi.

Paint: Fine-Line Work: Dilute 50:50 with Thinner-10. That’s 1 part Paint to 1 part Thinner-10. Spray at ~10psi or less.

Mission Gloss Coat: Dilute 40:60 with Thinner-10. That’s 4 parts Gloss to 6 parts Thinner-10. Spray at ~12-15psi.