Review: Airfix 1/72 Air Sea Rescue Launch

The RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch, also known as the Type Two 63 ft HSL was a high speed launch craft made by the British Power Boat Company for air-sea rescue operations. Part of the RAF Marine Craft Service they were used to rescue downed airmen from the south-eastern coastal waters of the United Kingdom, known as “Hellfire Corner”. With it distinctive curved deck it was nicknamed the “Whaleback” and is probably the best looking boat of its type. The hull was made with mahogany wood and the boat was powered by three Napier Sea Lion engines, giving it a total power of 1500 hp (373 kw). The boat could reach a top speed of 36 knots, or 67 km/h. A total of 69 boats were built between 1940 and 1942.

The kit

This kit is a re-release, dating back to 1979, and was out of production between 1983-2004, with a re-release in 2004, 2005 and the kit in this review was released in 2013. Only the box has changed during that time, and sadly, it shows.

Not that this is a terrible kit, far from it. But after opening the box you can see the large, thick sprues. But surprisingly, the details are still fairly sharp. The sprues and two-part hull are contained in one bag, but the large clear sprue comes in it’s own bag. This is very important, since the clear parts are numerous and often fairly large, you wouldn’t want to fix scratches on these parts.

Testfitting the hull shows that Airfix managed to capture the curve of them very well, and they fit snugly into their locating pins. Speaking of locatingpins, the clear turrets for the .303 machine guns also have one very ugly locating pin inside, smack dab in the middle of said turret. I think it’s a shame, but considering the age of this kit it doesn’t bother me too much. And as far as I know, this is the only kit of this beatiful boat available anyway. Upon further inspection of both the parts and sprues you probably don’t want to stick to the instruction sheet too much, depending on your preferences obviously, as the instruction call for installation of sometimes very fragile parts. Personally I would leave off for example the propellers, and build up the hull and deck before adding parts to the decks as the instructions call for. The instructions are pretty clear, with no obvious problems. A nice addition are the four crewmembers in various positions, perfect for a nice little diorama. They look decent enough for kit-figures and will add some much needed life to the kit, because this kit screams for a Sea-rescue diorama. You only need a swimming pilot, or perhaps have him sit in the kit supplied dinghy.

Decals and color schemes

Airfix has a habit of providing Cartograph decals, so they are always of top quality, and there is an abundance of decals for this kit with large numbers, roundels and other markings for several boats. Also included is the RAF ensign as a separate sticker. The gesture is nice, but the sticker looks a bit too shiny and is made of fairly thick paper/plastic and it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to make it look like a real flag. But that is the only problem I could see.


The moulding on the plastic parts looks OK, but I’m secretly hoping Airfix will do a new version of this little boat as I’ve become quite fond of its looks while doing research for this review.





Vehicle: RAF Air Sea Rescue Launch
Manufacturer: Airfix
Scale: 1/72
Kit#: A05281
Released: 2013


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