US NAVY SH-3H Seaking, CVW-5 HS-12, Wyverns
Build Date: Start July 14, 2019, Finished September 2019.
SH-3H Seaking in the Cold War
In the late 70s and 80s, the Soviet Union invested heavily in their attack submarine program to catch up with the US submarine technologies. The result was the new Delta and Victor III Class submarines which were faster and far quieter than their predecessors. After Ronald Reagan’s inauguration on January 20, 1981, he increased the military budget and the US Navy held the largest sea military exercises ever held at that time to show the Soviets that they can attack Soviet targets at will. This demonstration of their first-strike capability was a chess move to make the Soviet submarine fleet stay in their territorial water to guard their homeland instead of venturing out into the Atlantic. One aspect of the anti-submarine tactics was the use of airborne submarine detection and attack capabilities aboard the US aircraft carriers. The HS-3H Seaking was one component of this anti-submarine tactics.
The US NAVY SH-3H Seaking was used along with the S-3 Viking as a team to protect the aircraft carrier and to hunt and kill Soviet submarines. Its primary submarine detection system capability was the dipping sonar which the Seaking Sonar Operator would lower into the sea to listen for the location of a Soviet sub. I think the movie “The Hunt for Red October” had some scenes showing the hunting of submarines. On a side note, I recommend the following sub/hunter movies to watch before building this sub hunter: Hunter Killer and The Wolf’s Call.
I’ve had this kit since 1999. I bought this kit after being inspired by the excellent job my friend, Ricky, did to his Hasegawa Seaking kit in 1998: He did a lot of scratch building to convert this SH-3H into a British Seaking. More photos of his Seaking are located on ARC.
I had some high expectations for what I would do to this kit, but somehow I never got into the mood of doing it till now. I think I’m ready to tackle this project and hope to do as well as Ricky.
I will do a complete scratch build of the interior, similar to what I did with my Kinetics Jayhawk, to replicate a submarine hunter. This cutaway drawing gives a really good idea of the layout inside the cabin area containing the AN/AQS-13 sonar system and its sonar reeling system with the dipping sonar.
After gathering enough reference material on the subject, I begin the build by cutting the patient open. This turned out to be much easier than I thought! The plastic of this Hasegawa kit is fairly soft and thus cutting open the entrance door and the cabin side door was easy. Using the sharp tip of a new X-Acto blade knife, I scored along the panel lines of these doors, always working slowly and scoring a little bit at a time until the doors are cut out.
After cutting out the doors, I taped the floor to the inside of the model and mark out the approximate locations of where the internals should go.
For this project, I am using the Black Dog Model Company‘s resin engine and resin nose compartment avionics.
Black Dog is a resin company from the Czech Republic and they have become very prolific in their releases of new resin parts for many subjects. There are no instructions with these resin sets and the user must have enough skills to figure out how and where to cut to fit each set in. Fitting of the resin engine is not that difficult, again helped significantly by the soft plastic of the kit which makes cutting very easy.
The kit’s cabin interior is bare. With those big doors opened, it is worth it to fully detailed that interior with the sonar equipment.
I studied all the reference photos I have of the interior and decided I have to properly build the fuselage ribs on the sides and build a curved ceiling panel. I laid out the shape and dimensions of the ceiling and cut the panels from 0.25mm thick styrene card stock. The panels are curved by bending them on the handle of my large paintbrush. Ribs are hand-cut from 0.5mm thick styrene and carefully glued on.
The shape of the side ribs on the fuselage is determined using a contour gauge. The shape thus obtained is then traced onto styrene card and the ribs are cut.
After hours of tedious work of cutting ribs and stringers, I managed to complete the fuselage framing.
I made electrical cables from 0.6 mm and 0.3 mm diameter solder wires. I tied them together as a bundle and then glue each bundle with cyanoacrylate glue to the interior. Similarly, I made the piping on the roof of the cabin with a 1.6 mm diameter solder wire.
Thanks to Ross Spenard, he posted a very detailed drawing of the sonar winch system.
With this drawing and my reference photos, I can build a replica using styrene stocks. Building this frame was fun. As an Engineer, I used to do the calculations to design such a frame system for the structures on pressure vessels and storage tanks. In building the model of an engineered frame, I fully understand and appreciate the purpose of what each frame members are for and how they should be put together: A mini-engineering project for me.
I made the rest of the “stations” as closely as I can base on my reference photos. I was a fair bit of work, but it was really fun making them. I choose to use the kit seat at the sonar station and then used my own resin seats for the pilot and co-pilot stations. These resin seats were extra left-overs from my Jayhawk project and they fit perfectly in this helicopter.
This is my scratch built seat for a modern helicopter which I had it cast in resin by Ricky Wong.
The interior is painted and it is looking good. The interior walls were painted with a medium grey (Mig-211, FS36270). The floor was painted in Zinc Chromate first and then I created the chipped coating effect with dabs of a liquid mask. A coat of dark grey was applied to the floor for the final colour.
I built a detailed crew access door/ladder from styrene sheets.
The main loading door which I cut from the fuselage is reused. All I had to do was wet sand the backside of the door on a sanding pad until the door is thin enough. It is very easy to do and only took 3 minutes to create a door thin enough to reuse on the model. You do not need to purchase a resin or photoedge replacement door when a bit of elbow grease will do.
I added a tiny LED white light to the ceiling to brighten the interior. This is my first time adding LED and I’m still trying different things and figuring things out. So far, this simple arrangement is working out just fine and this tiny light brightens the interior enough to enable me to see all the details inside, yet it is not so bright that it is yelling out, “hey, see the light inside!!!”. To prevent light leakage to the engine bay, I just put some putty over the LED to cover it up and seal out the light.
The engine housing cover provided by Blackdog is incorrect for an SH-3H. I had to build a new engine housing cover by thinning down the kit parts and adding a PE mesh for the screens.
The top part of the windscreen on this helicopter is heavily tinted with a green tinge for sunshade. I simulate the shade by lightly spraying Tamiya X-25 Clear Green onto the inside surfaces of the top windscreen. My mixture of clear green is thinned down about 5:1 with thinner so that I can slowly build up the tinge.
Once the clear green dried, I dipped the windscreen into Future (now called Pledge).
The coating makes the clear part and the tinge I sprayed on look super clear like glass.
The seam joint on the sponsons cannot be sanded smooth without sanding away all those raised circular patches. That’s an easy fix. I replace them with circular patches I punched from thin styrene sheet.
Fine details such as putting on a bunch of little external parts and putty the windshields, where needed, are now complete. The model is prepared with a primer coat. The model is painted with gloss white, overall, and the underside is sprayed with Light Gull Grey. The demarcation line for the grey paint should be sprayed with a soft demarcation, however, I realized that it would be very difficult to spray a fine line near the sponson pylons area as the pylons will get in the way of the airbrush. Hence, I opted to masked the demarcation. For this white finish, I opted to not do any pre or post shading as I feel any such effect is not appropriate and would make this model look exaggerated.
I am doing the helicopter from HS-12 Wyverns aboard the USS Midway, operating out of Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, as provided in the kit’s decal sheet.
I now focus on the tedious aspect of this project; the rotor assembly. The rotor of a helicopter is cluttered with hydraulic tubings and any model of a helicopter must replicate this in order to look half decent. Of course, I cannot replicate all the tubings but it is the general overall appearance that matters.
I made the hydraulic tubings from 0.015″ diameter solder wire. They are very pliable and are perfect for this application.
The rotor blade top surfaces of this helicopter are painted in light grey, Gunze H315. From the below reference photo, this grey surface can suffer from paint degradation and wear which causes the colour to change to various shades of darker grey and tan.
I weather the blades by doing post shading. I first spray the blades with the base colour of grey first and then follow by spraying a thin out mix of dark grey/light grey/tan lines onto the blades. I line up the blades together and taped them down onto the working surface so that I can apply discolourations uniformly on the same locations on each blades.
The effect of the highlights are too stark and so I follow up with a thinned spray of the base colour to soften the highlights.
The end result is as evident below.
I painted up the kit’s Mk.46 torpedo with Alclad aluminium paint and pale burned metal paint. I sanded off the metal straps and replaced them with stretched styrene.
After the decals went on, I sprayed a coat of Pledge to protect the decals. To complement the white colour finish of this model, I highlighted the rivets and panel lines with Tamiya Light Grey weathering wash.
The model is finished. I just have to build a base for it so that I can mount the LED light battery source and switch. I will update the photos after I finished the base.
Building the Base:
I have to build a base for this model’s LED light circuit to attach to. I made the base from a lightweight foam graphics board I purchased from Michaels’ arts and craft store. The board was sprayed with a coat of Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500 to create the rough texture of a Carrier deck. I sprayed that straight from the bottle without thinning to create rough texture. I sprayed a coat of dark grey for the anti-slip surface and then masked and sprayed the deck markings.
To create the deck tie-downs, I made a painting mask from a very thin sheet of styrene card stock. On the card stock, I cut two 3/16″ diameter holes at 6.6cm apart. Using the painting mask, I sprayed medium grey into the mask.
Resulting in grey dots. I keep proceeding in this manner to create rest of the tie-downs on the deck.
I cut another mask for the 5-spoke tie-downs. This little mask disk was laid atop each grey dot and dark grey paint was sprayed over the mask. This overspray created the tie-down pattern you see in below photo.
- grubbyfingersshop.com Walkaround of SH-3 Seaking
- US NAVY SH-3 Interior
- US NAVY SH-3H Interior Photo
- Quonset Air Museum Seaking