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Rescue craft

24 Aug

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No. 84 Sqn’s Akrotiri-based Griffon HAR. Mk 2s provide vital search-and-rescue cover for units deployed to Cyprus. (Stefan Degraef/Edwin Borremans)

There is a benefit from this change in that this column will now also encompass Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps 1:1 and modelling news. Ironically, 1 have received e-mails from people wanting to see the inclusion of FAA and AAC items and therefore, in recognition of this, the profiles presented this time represent the newest types in service with the FAA and AAC, in the Flarrier GR. Mk 7 and the Apache AH. Mk 1, respectively.

UK air arm 1:1 news

The first news concerns the Royal Navy’s Merlin HM. Mk 1. A contract has been awarded to Lockheed Martin for a programme of upgrades for this helicopter, beginning in 2010. Its Blue Kestrel radar will gain the capability to pinpoint up to 40 times the number of targets it can currently locate. Further enhancements will include fly-by-wire electrical actuators rather than the hydraulic units now used. The RAF may well benefit from some aspects of the upgrade and in the meantime it has been noticed on TV news coverage that the Merlins IIC. Mk 3s are having a tough time in Iraq, with their airframes, especially their windscreens, weathering quickly.

With new products promised from several companies, modellers interested in UK military aircraft have plenty to celebrate. Elsewhere, bureaucratic machination has forced a change to the name and content of Scale Aircraft Modelling’s regular column covering the UK’s air force.

Two aircraft retirements are worthy of note. The ‘raspberry ripple’ Jaguar and Tornado of the Empire Test Pilots School are both to be stood down. Tornado ZA326 is still in GR. Mk 1 configuration, and along with Jaguar T. Mk 2A ZB615 (the last British Jaguar built) it will be reduced to spares and sadly not passed on to a museum.

Army Air Corps news includes a major name Future Lynx, will

reduced to spares and sadly not ] to a museum.

Army Air Corps news include; decision finally being taken to replace the Lynx Mk 7 and Mk 9. A Super I Л

version, which h been given the working fulfil the requirement in a deal said to be worth approximately £1 billion.


McDonnell Douglas/BAe Harrier GR. Mk 7 ZG477/67, No. 800 NAS, Joint Force Harrier, RAF Cottesmore

The MoD has announced its intention to purchase ‘utility type’ helicopters for SAS support.

Preservation and FAA oddities

On the preservation front, another Vulcan has been lost, this time from Blackpool International Airport, with only the cockpit being saved. It is not all bad news for fans of the V-bombers, however, since the Vickers Valiant from RAF Hendon is on the move to RAF Cosford’s new hangar. It will bring examples of all the V-bombers under one roof and out of the weather.

February’s column discussed FAA aircraft used by the RAF. I have since had numerous e-mails and letters on this subject and thanks in particular go to John Levesley for his well researched letter, in which he mentions the Fairey Seal, Albacore and Barracuda. I would love to see the Barracuda in RAF colours and thanks to lohn we know its serial number – P9941 – and unit – No. 567 Sqn. If you have a photograph of this aircraft, or of any other oddities, do scan or photocopy it and send me a copy. I’ll see if I can persuade the editor to commission some artwork.

UK air arm modelling

News of the Airfix Nimrod and Canberra has now turned to eager anticipation, but Airfix continues its programme by reintroducing some excellent kits in new markings. The largest of these is the 1:24 scale Mustang, which now includes No. 19 Sqn’s Dooleybird and excellent box art. To go with this, the old favourite Lancaster and Halifax are re-released, the Lancaster with its original box art and ‘G-George’ decals and the Halifax with decals for the Yorkshire Air Museum’s Friday the 13th. The 1:48 Hurricane also gets a welcome outing, especially for its decals, which include a non-serialed No.

Westland Apache AH. Mk 1 ZJ223, No. 656 Sqn, No. 9 Regiment, AAC, January 2006

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85 Sqn aircraft from 1940. I have a soft spot for helicop-ters and welcome the return of f the Airfix Gazelle, especially as ftrv it comes with both AAC and RAF markings. Airfix has -“т*” included some nice sets in its new line up, including Meteor ^Je** and VI, and Hurricane and Ju 88 combinations, which are both very welcome. Modern jets are not left out either, since the Tornado GR. Mk 4 has been re-released. It’ll go well with Aviation Workshops’ newly released Tornado Anniversary sheet. Also appearing in this year’s Airfix catalogue are the Marauder (received as this issue went to press and including No. 21 Sqn, SAAF markings). I’m also excited about the new World War II and modern RAF airfield sets, which will include an aircraft, figures, a vehicle and a base to pose them on. The aircraft to be included in the sets are the Mosquito and Harrier.

Looking at other manufacturer’s listings for 2006, Trumpeter still promises the 1:48 Wellington Mk I, but now also includes a Wellington Mk III. Its 1:35 scale Chinook has been released, but contains no decals for us UK air arm modellers. A 1:24 Hurricane Mk I is also promised, along with an early-version Mustang.

Revell will follow its 1:32 scale early Hunter with an F. Mk 6 version and their are rumours that the company’s excellent 1:72 Hunter F. Mk 6 will appear as an FGA. Mk 9. Furthermore, a new 1:48 tooling of the single-seat Typhoon will be available. If it is like its 1:72 equivalent it will be well worth buying.

Italeri has promised two excellent kits. One is a reduction of its 1:48 C-130J to 1:72 scale and the other is a new-tooled Chinook. A Wessex HAS. Mk 2, a conversion from a previous release, will also be available. The only problem I have with this is that I cannot find a HAS. Mk 2 in British service. I wait to be proved wrong, but I would have preferred a HAS. Mk 3.

The MPM/Special Hobby stable is promising the Beaufort, Albacore, Battle, Fulmar and Gladiator, all in 1:48 scale.


New decals include Dutch Decals K4/14, for 1:48 scale World War И SAAF aircraft, including the Sunderland and Marauder.

The Aviation Workshop has further UK items due, including decals for FAA Hunters and one of my favourite aircraft, the Javelin. AeroMaster lists Seafire decals for release and Eagle Strike is releasing RAF Sabre Mk 6 decals and a sheet called The last of the Spitfires.


A very large release, from a new UK company called Cleveland Model Resin, a 1:32 resin conversion set to modify the Revell Tornado to F. Mk 3 standard, is now available. It includes everything you need, including weapons, cockpit details, new fuselage front ends and nose cone, and photo-etched parts and decals. If you want to go further, there will be more decal sheets and ASRAAM and AMRAAM sets in the future. The conversion costs £47.00, which is good value for money considering all that is included.


Warpaint Productions has a new title on the Hampden. On the subject of Handley Page aircraft, by the end of the year a book on the Victor is promised. It will be totally comprehensive and therefore a must have. Finally, Mushroom Models’ next LIK air arm title be on the Westland Lysander.

Dale Clarke

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1. In keeping with tradition, one of the most important missions of No. 84 Squadron remains overwater search-and-rescue in support of Royal Air Force (and Royal Navy) aircraft and helicopters operating out of RAF Akrotiri.

2. No. 84 Sqn replaced its Westland Wessex HC. Mk 2 helicopters with the Griffons in January 2003. The Squadron’s scorpion insignia is painted on the cockpit access doors, as here on Griffin ZJ704’s port side door.

3. ZJ704 carries a ‘Clubs’ marking. The unit’s other Griffons are ZJ703 ‘Spades’, ZJ705 ‘Hearts’ and ZI706 ‘Diamonds’.

4 and 5. The Griffin’s cockpit is wholly conventional, with the addition of a display screen for the weather radar. Since the later is mounted on the left side, a navigator takes the left seat during long-range SAR missions. Once over the casualty, the navigator moves into the cabin to operate the hoist

6. The Griffin’s cabin represents a busy, well-equipped working environment. Unlike on the Sea King, the winch operator is unable to ‘fly the helicopter’ in the hover to position the winch cable.

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7. Detachable flotation bags are mounted on the fuselage sides. A ditched helicopter, its bags inflated, is likely to remain upugiu lung eiiuugu IUI emeigeiiLy utw egress.

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8. The cliffs around Akrotiri are frequently used for rough landings or to pick-up volunteers for frequent wet-winch simulations in coastal waters.

9. Various antennae, along with a Union Jack, adorn the griffon’s underside.

10. When it first arrived in Cyprus No. 84 Sqn also took on responsibility for all SAR coverage in (southern) Cyprus, under the control of the Nicosia Flight Information Region, this SAR tasking was transferred to the Cypriot Police Force several years ago. The latter also flies Bell 412 helicopters, out of l. arnaca International Airport on the eastern coast of Cyprus.

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