Italeri 1/72 Merlin HMA.1 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||August 2005||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||1248||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nicely detailed exterior||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$23.00|
The EH.101 helicopter was a joint development effort by the team of Westland/UK and Augusta/Italy. Together they formed EH Industries and in 1984, were given the green light to develop an advanced medium-lift helicopter.
In October 1987, the prototype EH.101 made its first flight. The helicopter, dubbed Merlin by the UK, entered service with the Royal Navy as the Merlin HMA.1, with the Royal Air Force as the Merlin HC.3, and has also entered service with the armed forces of Italy, Canada, Japan, Portugal, and Denmark. A version of this helicopter is even being presented as a potential replacement for the aging helicopters in the US Marines' Presidential fleet.
The aircraft is powered by three engines, either the General Electric CT7 or Rolls Royce Turbomeca RTM322. Each engine is fed from its own self-sealing fuel cell. The advanced composite rotor blades provide a quiet, smooth flight, and the all-glass cockpit provides the flight crew with outstanding visibility into the operation and safety of their aircraft.
Italeri has released the Royal Navy version of the Merlin in 1/72 scale and as you can see in these photos, the kit looks great. The way the parts are laid out with separate fuselage side walls and separate tail boom, there are certainly more versions of this versatile helicopter in the works.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on three parts trees, plus an additional tree of clear parts. Despite the number of versions that could potentially be produced from these molds, there are only two parts (two clear windows) not used in this particular release. You can see in the middle parts shot that the main tree as a smaller tree attached containing the torpedoes and other parts unique to the HMA.1.
The aircraft interior is nicely laid out with the flight deck rendered with detailed crew seats (complete with decal seat belts/harnesses), collective and cyclic, center console and instrument panel (using decals to provide detail to the instrument panel and center console). No overhead console, or rudder pedals are provided, though these can be fabricated easily enough by experienced modelers.
The rear compartment also receives the warfare operators' consoles complete with instruments via decal and detailed crew seats. The rear of the main cabin also has passenger seats provided.
Exterior detailing of this kit is also well done with attention paid to antennas (the various blades and bumps that busy up the exterior of the full-scale aircraft) and the weapons stations.
The kit provides you with the option of portraying the aircraft ready for flight or stowed. In the stowed option, you can position the tail folded and the main rotor blades folded.
Markings are provided for one example. The decal sheet also provides the walkways for the top of the fuselage.
This is a nicely detailed kit that looks like it will render a beautiful replica of the new Merlin helicopter. I certainly hope we'll be seeing a 1/48 scale version of this machine in our future as well!
My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!