Westland Dragonfly HR.3 / HR.5 / WS-51
Miniwing 1/144, Ref. Mini 334
A welcome release from Miniwing, this first generation helicopter Westland Dragonfly, a first in this scale. Two boxings have just been released (Mini 335 is labelled Dragonfly Mk.1 with French Aeronavale markings).
The Westland Dragonfly was a licence-built Sikorsky S-51 (also known as H-5, R-5, HO2S or HO3S) that entered service in 1950, 5 years later than its American counterpart. The original 450hp Pratt & Whitney Junior Wasp engine having been replaced by a 500hp Alvis Leonides one that gave it slightly better performances. The main user was first and above all the Royal Navy, but some examples were also used by the RAF, and also by the air forces of Ceylon, Egypt, Italy and Thailand, and a handful of civilian operators. The American versions, externally similar, were used by many other countries. A development known as the Westland Widgeon, featuring a re-designed front fuselage, was also built in small numbers and operated for a few years during the 1950s (including by Belgian airline Sabena).
Miniwing’s HR.3 / HR.5 / WS-51 comes in a thin cardboard box and includes two kits, as is fairly ‘standard’ in this scale. The lovely box art is the work of Radek Skoumal’s (the man behind Miniwing) daughter; kit Mini 335, however, comes in a plastic bag with cardboard backing and this set only contains a single kit, as has also been fairly ‘standard’ with Miniwing’s injected plastic releases.
As far as kit Mini 334 is concerned, the instruction sheet consists of a single A5-sized black & white printed sheet, while the A4-sized painting guide is in colour. A small decal sheet provides markings for four aircraft, that is two operated by the RN, one by the Royal Thai Air Force and a final one by the Royal Dutch Navy.
All the parts for each model are on a single clear plastic sprue. The parts are all slightly frosted which would be an issue for the mostly glazed front fuselage, but as can be seen on the picture below, a simple dip into Klear or other similar product will make a serious difference.
The plastic is nonetheless rather thick for the scale and curvy as it is on the extreme tip, will certainly cause a little distortion. Good news though, Miniwings have included some pre-cut masks for all the glazing that will seriously help during the painting stages. Cockpit detail consist of a two-part ‘tub’ with integral passenger seating, front instrument panel, pilot seat control stick and cyclic stick. It can be improved but should satisfy most of us. The main rotor consists of a hub and the three blades, while there is a two-bladed and a three-bladed option for the rear rotor (some early Dragonflies had the two-bladed one). All in all, with only 26 parts, each model should not be too difficult to put together and with the help of the provided masks, should be fairly easy to paint, decal and weather.
We understand that more ‘boxings’ will be released in the future, namely Sikorsky H-5 and variants for various US air arms. Those wanting more exotic colour schemes are, provided they can secure (or design!) other markings that is, in for a treat with this cute little kit, as there were many Sikorsky H-5 civilian and military operators throughout the world.
Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul