The Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma is a four-bladed, twin-engined medium transport/utility helicopter. The Puma was originally built by Sud Aviation of France, and continued to be made by Aérospatiale.
From 1972 onwards, Pumas operated by the SAAF were deployed on extended operations in neighboring Namibia and Angola during the Border War. he majority of South African Puma purchases, including spare parts, were made in advance of an anticipated United Nations embargo that was applied in 1977.
The first two Pumas for the Royal Air Force were delivered on 29 January 1971, with the first operational squadron (33 Squadron) forming at RAF Odiham on 14 June 1971.The RAF would order a total of 48 Puma HC Mk 1 for transport duties; during the Falklands War, an additional SA 330J formerly operated by Argentine Naval Prefecture was captured by British forces and shipped back to Britain and used as a RAF static training aid for several years. This SA 330J was later refurbished by Westland using parts from damaged RAF Puma XW215 and put into RAF service after a lengthy rebuild as ZE449. The Puma became a common vehicle for British special forces, such as the SAS, and has been described as being “good for covert tasks”. In order to extend the type’s service, six ex-South African SA 330L were purchased by Britain in 2002.
History in plastic
I bought this kit from Scaleworx as I used to work on RAF Pumas many years ago and have always wanted something bigger than the Airfix 1/72 kit. The box top shows the South African version of the Puma but there are parts in the box to make the RAF version. There are no other 1/48 Pumas available. If you want a modern 1/72 RAF Puma then you have to make sure to get an Airfix or Heller kit with the PIPS air intakes. The RAF had the Puma without the new intakes for a very short period of time.
In the box
The kit comes in a corrugated cardboard box with all the small parts bagged in several bags. The box contents are:
- 93 Resin parts approx
- 4 clear vacuformed parts. (Two parts with a spare for each)
- 1 decal sheet
- 2 pages of instructions
The parts are much as you’d expect for a short run resin kit. There are no alignment pins or location holes and there’s plenty of clean up to do on the parts. The level of detail though is pretty good throughout.
You get some extra parts so you can make the RAF versions of the Puma. The only extra things you will have to do yourself is to make sure the aerials are right.
There are only 3 steps.
- Makes 2 assemblies, cabin floor with cockpit and engine bay with engines, gearbox, and some flying controls and shafts.
- Trap the previous parts between the fuselage halves. Join the 2 halves of the tail together and add those to the fuselage. You get 2 options for the front of the engines so you can fir the RAF PIPS intakes or not. The RAF intakes are not shown in the instructions.
- Add rotors, doors, steps, and aerials. Make sure to use the RAF steps and you will have to check your references to get the aerials right. You add the vacuformed canopy at this stage 2. You’re given 2 canopies in case you mess one up.
If you want a 1/48 scale Puma then this is your only option. It’s nicely detailed and won’t take too much work to make it into an RAF Puma. However, you will need some kits under your belt before attempting this short-run resin kit.
The kit is available here: http://spring-air.com/scaleworx/