Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Sikorsky HO3S-1/R5


Fonderie Miniature


S u m m a r y

Catalogue No. & Description 6012
Price: USD$33.96 from Squadron.com
Contents and Media: 45 injection moulded pieces; one resin cast piece; 1 sprue of etched brass with 19 pieces; 12 white metal pieces; decal sheet
Scale: 1/48
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Clever moulding of clear fuselage simplifies big, curved windows; excellent use of multi-media; well-detailed and complete
Disadvantages: Textured surface on some parts, including fuselage halves
Recommendation: Recommended 


Reviewed by Rodger Kelly

FM's 1/48 Scale R5/HO3S-1 Helicopter is available online from Squadron.com




Fonderie Miniature, or as it is more commonly known, FM, is a French company that produces mixed-media, limited run kits of subjects that are unlikely to ever be released by the main-line companies.

One of their latest efforts in 1/48 scale is the Sikorsky HO3S-1/R5, an early helicopter that saw a great degree of service with various countries including the US, France and Japan.

So what do you get for your money? Lots! The kit comprises of 45 injection moulded pieces; one resin cast piece, a sprue of etched brass with 19 pieces, 12 white metal pieces and a decal sheet that gives markings for three different machines.

The injection moulded pieces come on three different sprues. The parts are well formed and well detailed. Flash is at a minimum as can be expected in a limited run kit and there is a complete absence of sink-holes. The sprue containing the rotor blades exhibits a slight grain to the surface of the parts but this is not too excessive and I doubt that it will even be noticed once the parts are painted. The trailing edges of the main and tail rotors are acceptably thin but the purist will want to thin them down a little more, again, the thickness of these parts is a product of the process of manufacture. Whilst speaking about the blades, they are moulded “flat” and the modeller will have to introduce the droop that the real machines display.

The sprue that carries the fuselage halves and the nose is formed in clear plastic. I for one am happy that FM have gone this route as it completely does away with the problem of having to fit windows with rounded edges into a fuselage with compound curves. The fuselage halves do not join across any of the windows and the nose joins on at a panel line so there will not be a problem with eliminating the join line. Simple! All you have to do is mask off the windows and paint away! A good engineering choice by FM – thank you! The same grainy surface as the rotor blades is also present on the fuselage. Strangely, the graininess is only present on the “aluminium” of the fuselage and not on any of the windows. The latter are clear and shiny. Again, this should not detract from the finished model as the majority of these machines were painted in an overall Glossy Sea Blue (Gloss Sea Blue) paint scheme.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The etched metal sprue is mercifully presented in brass, which is a lot easier to bend than stainless steel! All of the parts are well detailed and exhibit etched relief, the bezels on the instrument panel being an example. Part 14 is the grill that fits over the air intake and it is a joy to behold as it faithfully reproduces the matrix of the full-sized machines.

The kit’s single cast resin piece is the plinth on which the instrument panel is mounted (I forgot to scan an image of this piece but rest assured that it is up to the same standard as the rest of the pieces).

The white metal detail pieces are superbly cast and have very little flash. The casting of the main rotor hub in white metal was a good choice by FM as it will bear the weight of the three bladed rotor much more effectively than a plastic piece.


The decal sheet supplies options for three different machines all finished in Gloss Sea Blue:

  • A US Navy machine from HU-1 aboard USS Bataan in 1952. This is probably the best option to break up the overall Gloss Sea Blue finish as it exhibits a white checkerboard band around the fuselage, which incorporates the squadron patch and large white Airwing Identifier/modex number.

  • A USMC machine of MAMS-33 that operated over the Sea of Japan between 1950 and 1953. Basic markings as for the above machine but this aircraft has the rear of the tailboom painted in orange and sports the name “Southern Comfort” in yellow on the nose.

  • The final markings option is for a French machine of Flotille 58S aboard the carrier Arromanches whilst it was deployed off the coast of Vietnam during the period 1953 to 1952. Pretty simple markings here as it only sports French Navy roundels and a white serial number on the nose.

The decals themselves are semi-gloss and sharply printed. There are no register problems on the sheet. The thin yellow band around the outer edge of the French Navy roundels is perfect and the red of the US Navy’s stars and bars is positioned perfectly in the centre of the bars where it is supposed to be. Whilst the decals appear to be excellent the true test to their opaqueness will come when they are applied to the dark Gloss Sea Blue!


The double-sided, A4 instruction sheet provides a potted history of the machine in both French and English. The assembly drawings are sharp and clear and give an exploded view of the assembly sequence and offer assembly and detail advice throughout.

The markings instruction sheet is confined to line drawings which give adequate information as to the placement of the decals and to the colour scheme of each machine. Simple yet adequate. The sheet also shows a JSDF machine but the notes state that these markings are only supplied in those kits destined to be exported to Japan.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Dry fitting of the major components reveals that the majority of your work will be confined to the completion of the detail parts and to the paint scheme.



Some Personal Background


This kit and has enabled me to complete my Korean War collection of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) aircraft. My father was a young sailor during the Korean War and was aboard the carrier HMAS Sydney on both of her tours during the conflict. He was a radar rating and as such was able to spend time above deck on what the RAN called “Goofer’s Gallery” – the US Navy equivalent is Vulture’s Row. He used to tell me all about the noise and spectacle of the launch and recovery operations and of the US Navy helicopter that the ship had on loan to them to act as their “Plane Guard”. That helicopter was a Sikorsky HO3S-1. Its call-sign was “Shine Angel” and he would relate to me how loud the machine was and that the pilot was always willing to take joyriders without any fuss. I have included a couple of his photos to illustrate that machine.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Reference on this machine is not all that hard to come by and simply typing “Sikorsky HO3S-1/R5” into your favorite search engine will deliver enough matches to keep you happily “engaged in research” when you should be doing other things.

A perfect reference is the movie “The Bridges at Toko-Ri” for it is a Sikorsky HO3S-1 in which Mickey Rooney happily navigates around the sky whilst wearing his green top hat and scarf! By simply freeze-framing the video you will be able to gather info on the interior and exterior details as well as the bonus of getting information on the interior colour.





In conclusion, this is a great kit. Mine is destined to replicate “Shine Angel” and be parked next to my Hobbycraft Sea Fury and up-coming Grand Phoenix Mk V Firefly but my bet is that quite a few of them will be completed with a 1/48 scale top hat gracing the pilot’s seat.


Review Copyright © 2002 by Rodger Kelly
Page Created 10 April, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page