Brengun 1/72 Vought-Sikorsky VS-300
The Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 (also known as the S-46) was an early experimental helicopter that achieved many firsts. The helicopter was initially powered by a small 75-horsepower engine (the final version doubled that to 150 hp) driving a three-bladed rotor. First flying in 1940, the VS-300 was the first successful helicopter to use the vertical-style of tail rotor, setting a precedent still in use with helicopters today. It was also the first successful amphibious helicopter, and was the first successful single-rotor helicopter in the United States. It also set Sikorsky up as a helicopter icon, a role that the company continues in today.
For those wanting models of early helicopters, your options are very limited, and for this VS-300, for the longest time a scratchbuild was your only option. This kit eliminates the need to create something from scratch, but the open structure and small size makes for a challenging model in general. This kit further adds to the challenges by being split between petite cast resin pieces and fine, thin photoetch parts. Well, almost all the parts. Interestingly, the rotors are injection plastic. There are two options in the kit, a wheeled version and a float version. Most of the construction is common between the two, though, so you don't have to decide which one to do until late in the build.
Like most models of aircraft, the construction begins with the interior. This is made up from a photoetch cage that needs to be folded up. This is a large piece of photoetch, but that should actually simplify the assembly as everything is attached, including the rudder pedals and instrument panel. There is a film piece for the back of the instrument panel, to provide dial faces, and the one-piece resin seat gets some photoetch seatbelts. This completed interior then slides into the one-piece resin nose section.
The next step is to build the rear boom, and this is also folded up from a single piece of photoetch for the outer framework. This includes the rear tail rotor support at the end as well. Inside this goes two large flat pieces of photoetch that will help add some strength to this delicate assembly. Details include the belt drive for the tail rotor and the rotor itself, both made up from photoetch. The tail rotor is built up from two pieces of photoetch, so it might be useful to add some filler to these pieces to smooth out the transition between the two parts.
With the main fuselage pieces together, it's time to turn to the powerplant. This is somewhat exposed, but also buried in the fuselage section so only parts will be seen. The majority of this is made up from resin pieces, with a one-piece base getting some small details such as a fuel tank and gearing. Photoetch provides a lot of the finer details, including the rotor shaft supports. For the rotor itself, this is made up of three injection plastic rotors and a resin hub, with photoetch details providing the actuator arms for each blade.
With the power side done, it now becomes time to choose between the wheeled or float option. The wheeled version comes with the main landing gear strut in resin with photoetch support braces, with the wheels in resin. This is the easier of the two options to put together, as it also just has a simple pole with a flag on the nose. For the float version, this flag gets replaced with a basket that is bent up from photoetch. The struts are also more complex, but also photoetch bracing between the resin struts. The floats themselves are solid pieces of resin, with the top lacing provided as separate photoetch pieces.
For color options, this is a pretty simple one, being overall silver with black framing. For the float option, the floats are a gray color, so that adds some extra contrast should you choose that. The wheeled version had an NX number on the rear fuselage, while the float version did not, and that is the only decal provided in the kit.
For those modelers looking for something a bit unique and don't mind working with resin and photoetch, this is an excellent little kit to keep you busy for a while. While there is a lot of photoetch bending, the overall shapes aren't complex and should pose no problem to anyone with a bit of experience in that media. My thanks to Brengun for the review sample.