Robinson R-44 Astro/Raven
KP 1/72, Ref. KPM 0215
It is always, for me in any case, nice seeing light aviation aircraft being marketed in any scale. 2020 brought us this kit from Stransky in the Czech Republic and it is now maybe more widely available from KP, a better-known manufacturer from the same country.
Developed from the 2-seater R-22, the Robinson R-44 is a four-seater light helicopter that has been in production and in service with many civilian (and military) users since 1993.
KP’s offerings (two separate boxings, one ‘civilian’, the Astro/Raven, one ‘military’, the Raven II with in reality, a different engine not included in the kit) does not hide its origins, Stransky’s logo still featuring on the largest of the two sprues making up this kit. The main sprue is molded in medium grey styrene and contains just under 30 parts, with the two halves ‘fuselage/cabin’ being of course the largest; the second sprue includes 5 parts molded in clear plastic.
A decent interior is provided with nice seats, instrument panel separate control pedals and levers (including that weird looking control stick) that will be clearly visible through the commendably thin clear parts, and an engine that will mostly be invisible unless some panels are opened up on the fuselage halves. The cockpit furnishing, however neat, is not the one provided on all R-44 in service, so some good reference will be required in order to model any particular aircraft. Note that some R-44s are also only provided with a single set of flying controls (on the right-hand side), and therefore with a still curious-looking but modified control stick. Seat belts , document holders and other ‘furnishing’ will need to be added for a better final result. Extra detailing would be welcome on the tail rotor hub too. Pictures, walkarounds and references are available on the Net.
KP’s ‘civilian’ boxing includes markings for four R-44s, including the aircraft flown by Flying TV in the UK. Note that the scheme provided, with the Remembrance Day poppies is not current anymore and that the kit does not include the camera pod (or pods?) attached to the landing skid.
The instruction sheet is clear and easy to follow. Masks (for the clear parts) are available separately from Peewit (Ref. M72256) and extra schemes from Avalon (Ref. 7031).
I can’t wait to get started on this build (just a couple of other models to complete first!).
Review & pictures by Domi Jadoul.