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P-3A Orion

Atlantis Model Company 1/115 P-3A Orion Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2020 Manufacturer Atlantis Model Company
Subject P-3A Orion Scale 1/115
Kit Number H163 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Welcome return of a classic subject Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.95

First Look

P-3A Orion
P-3A Orion

The Lockheed P-3 Orion was developed from their model L-188 Electra civil airliner design to replace the P-2 Neptune (also a Lockheed product) in the sub-hunting (ASW) mission. First flown in 1959, the early P-3s had a distinctive bulge under the forward fuselage for its weapons bay, though this was streamlined out of later versions. Like the P-2, the P-3 was equipped with the distinguishing 'stinger' that was the Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) boom. A handful of P-3s were modified with a variety of magnetic survey equipment to map the natural magnetic lines around the globe. The squadron was VXN-8 based out of NAS Patuxent River, and these were distinguishable by their bright white over international orange paint schemes. Many of the aircraft from VXN-8 featured cartoon character nose art and wore the banner of U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office on their fuselages. Like many other aircraft still in service today, the P-3 has served over 50 years and is finally being replaced by the P-8 Poseidon, another ASW aircraft built from a civil airliner design (the Boeing 737).

Here's another gem discovered by Atlantis Models when they acquired a library of stored kit molds acquired after Hobbico's (Revell) bankruptcy. This is Revell's vintage P-3A Orion produced in box scale (1/115 in this case) and first released in the mid-1960s. Unlike some of the kits they've brought back to life, this kit was reissued a number of times through the mid-1980s before ending up on the shelf.

This release is molded in white styrene and presented on eight parts trees. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Basic construction
  • No cockpit/flight deck
  • Landing gear provided to sit on its own
  • A cradle is included for placement under the tail as this model is a tailsitter without ballast in the nose

The decals provide markings for one line aircraft and one test bird:

  • P-3A, 149675, VP-8, LC/x (no modex provided)
  • RP-3D, 158227, VXN-8, NAS Pax River, roadrunner nose art

This kit brings back some memories - not of the kit, but of the VXN-8 aircraft. I had an opportunity to tour NAS Patuxent River the first time in the mid-1970s and we went out on VXN-8's ramp. There were numerous RP-3s parked there with colorful nose art on most of them. My favorite was 'El Coyote' with the appropriate nose art to match. We were told about a mission that one of the aircraft had performed and on its way back to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, they found a submarine contact. The aircraft made several passes and fixed the position of the contact, which wasn't moving. They returned to base while the real sub hunters went to find this contact, but to no avail. It turned out that the RP-3 crew had found the ironclad U.S.S. Monitor and further scientific expeditions were able to locate and recover some of that warship.

If you want a fun weekend (or so) project or an inexpensive model for a young modeler, look no further than this classic kit now back on store shelves!