Today, Lee reviews the other half of the Charlie’s Chieftains boxset, the Westland Lynx helicopter.
As is now traditional with Team Yankee boxsets, we get a pair of plastic helicopters with our plastic tanks and the British receive the rather quick and nimble Lynx.
Of course, up to the BO-105, the other tradition was that the helicopters were a sod to put together. The German offering was a big jump in engineering in that regard (as one would expect of the Bosch) so can Yeovil’s finest keep that up? Read on.
The Westland Lynx was an Anglo-French (British design with a 30% production share for Dassault) helicopter designed to provide a replacement for the Westland Scout and Wasp light helicopters and a competitor to the Bell UH-1 Huey. The helicopter that resulted was one of the first fully acrobatic helicopters in the world and set a speed record that still stands today (and unlikely to be surpassed given the focus on hybrid/tilt rotors – not eligible for the record).
The Lynx, in army service, was provided with a simple skid undercarriage and proved useful as a light utility and liaison platform. However, it really came into its own when adopted as an anti-tank missile platform. One of the canopy windows was replaced by a TOW sight and a pair of light sponsors fitted near the cabin door to carry a pair of quad TOW launchers (one aside), allowing the aircraft to be re-role between utility and anti-tank roles. The speed and manoeuvrability of the aircraft proved useful for the ‘HELARM’ role, rapidly positioning to counter any Soviet armoured Breakthrough whilst staying out of sight of enemy anti-aircraft fire.
In classic, if not photogenic, green and black camo – photo from here
The Lynx not only gave the Army Air Corps an increase in anti-tank capability beyond the obsolete SS11 armed Westland Scout, but also gave them something more useful, a transport helicopter under their own control. The Puma and Chinook could carry far more, but were RAF assets.
Operationally, the Army variant missed the Falklands (although the Navy version proved effective in the anti-surface role with Sea Skua) but 24 made it to Iraq, accounting for the first British TOW kills with one Lynx killing two APC and four T-55 in a single engagement.
The Lynx went on to serve into the 21st century, gaining more powerful engines and a wheeled landing gear but losing its anti-tank role as the Westland license build of the AH-64 Longbow Apache entered service. It is now being replaced in the observation and liaison roles by the AgustaWestland Wildcat, itself based on the Lynx. Apparently the only replacement for a Lynx is another Lynx!
I guess it did o”K” – photo from Wiki
As always for Team Yankee, we have a single sprue to provide all the parts bar the flying base. The kit contains all the bits for the utility version or, by fitting the TOW sight and sponsons, a TOW armed anti-tank version.
The kit comes with magnets for the rotor assembly and flying base, plus the standard “low” flying base and a sheet of decals. The sheet of decals has roundel, serial number and warning markings but sadly no oversized “loading” letter for the door.
Assembly is straightforward for the most part. The Lynx splits the front canopy in two, down the middle, in real life so this has made the hull construction simpler than the other three helicopters. Rather than needing a separate canopy piece to prevent a seam down the glazing, the Lynx can have a simple two piece hull.
The observer’s (sorry, Navy lingo) top canopy is a separate part with a glazed and TOW sight option. Annoyingly, despite clamping, the nose didn’t quite meet up at the front. Not a huge gap, nothing filler won’t fix, but something to look out for in assembly. Not sure if it’s the kit’s fault as otherwise it’s aligned itself nicely, but Simon noted the same on his.
The under carriage glues to the base of the Lynx in a similar manner to the AH-1. It’s not quite as neat as the BO-105 socket fit, but the final product seems sturdier than the AH-1’s case-unfriendly skids. Handy given a Lynx may spend more time on its skids than most helis in the game!
If your Lynx ends up this way up in game – we assume you found a Shilka…
I had expected to need to add some weights to stop the nose lifting on the Lynx but it actually sits very well unmodified. Saves a job!
Ready to spring into action!
The only bug bear I had with assembly was the TOW mounts. It’s less to do with the kit and more to do with the instructions as it took me a while to work out how the things were supposed to be orientated and fitted. The think front end just sits on the hull and doesn’t have a dimple to line up with. It was also hard to work out where the sprue mount ends and the piece starts, to work out where to cut (hence why mine look a bit rough here).
Right at the end seemed to be the correct answer
The other issue with the TOW is that it’s possible to fit the quad launcher upside down. In hindsight, it was bloody dumb of me because a rack always suspends the weight, not lifts it (plus I design the things for other helicopters so it should have been obvious!). But the socket joint could have been designed to prevent it being mounted upside down or back to front. Thankfully I spotted my error whilst doing the photos so it’s fixed (in most of them).
The correct installation
The two part fit of the quad launcher also allows the top and bottom pairs of tube to be off angle so you need to keep an eye on alignment when fitting the two bits together.
Making the kit do both the utility and TOW version is, if not impossible (anything’s possible with enough tiny magnets), then certainly probably more effort than it’s worth. As a half-way house you could leave the launchers unglued and just rely on the tight fit of the TOW into the sponson when you want a TOW version, but the sponsons will likely always have to be fitted, along with the TOW sight.
All in all, comparing photos of the kit to period photos, the major features of the helicopter appear to have been captured well, especially the canopy and door glazing. The panel detail is maybe a little over-exaggerated in depth and width– looking like an early 1970’s plastic kit, but this is a wargamer kit rather than a high end model kit so some exaggeration for ease of painting for the plebs has to be expected! Ultimately, the detail is very good and more than sufficient for the job in hand.
Add motion blur to suit…
The seam line still has a small gap
The cockpit dimple is a nice touch
Pre-BERP blades sadly. The rotor head is very nice.
I probably rate the BO-105 the slightly stronger kit in terms of ease of assembly, but the Lynx is still a better offering than the Hind and Cobra.
The Lynx comes in at £10 a model at full RRP (£20 for two) – the standard plastic helicopter price Battlefront have rested on. As part of the Charlie’s Chieftains boxset you also offset some of the cost with a mini rulebook (yay!) and a cardboard template (meh)
Oh yay! Another cardboard template!
There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of competition. QRF lists a Lynx kit at £7.50 but there is no photo (seriously? It’s the 21st century and the average phone has a sufficient camera – why the hell do we still have models with no photos? *every* manufacturer is guilty of this to varying degrees. Rant over). You’d need a base and decals (obviously neither needs to be the official BF ones) so factor that in the cost and it probably all works out about the same, with BF retail discount.
All in all, the Lynx had a few “first build” frustrations on the TOW version but otherwise went together well and looks good. I could wish for transparent glazing, cockpit detail, optional doors open and detailed interior for the utility version but these all stray into “aircraft kit” and away from “wargaming model”. I’m more than happy with what I got and can see a flight of HELARM and a few utility Lynx appearing on the table top soon*.
(*well, the sudden influx of Brit players means I may need to get my Soviets painted ASAP – but you get the idea).