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Author Topic:   Gemini Sea King Recovery Helicopters

Posts: 92
From: London England
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 12-20-2010 05:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tetrox   Click Here to Email tetrox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am currently looking for information regarding markings and colour schemes relating to the Gemini era Sea King recovery helicopters in the U.S. Navy blue/grey colouring prior to the white.

I am building the Hasegawa 1/48 scale white 66 kit with the Apollo 13 markings and would like to build an earlier version also.

I have virtually no knowledge regarding helicopters and would be grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of an online resource or maybe good reference book.


Posts: 4803
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jan 2001

posted 12-26-2010 03:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Try the book by Bob Fish: Hornet Plus Three - The Story of the Apollo 11 Recovery


Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-26-2010 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For the Gemini era, it's worth seeking out Don Blair's book "Splashdown!" which includes some good candid shots taken aboard one of the Gemini recovery ships, including a couple of close-up photos.

In addition, the online NASA photo archives and the Spacecraft Films Gemini DVD set have some limited views of the Gemini recovery helicopters. You can also do some YouTube searches to help, since some of the network coverage of some Gemini missions, including the recovery feeds, are available there.

As best I can recall, all Gemini recovery helicopters were in the Engine Gray scheme (it may look blue, but it's actually a very deep gray; Testors makes it in the Model Master paint line. The gull gray/white paint scheme didn't begin to be seen until the Apollo program, and in fact during Apollo 8 HS-4 operated several aircraft in both schemes.

All of the Gemini recovery helicopters were SH-3A variants. To backdate the Hasegawa kit to one of these, you'll have to delete the FOD/ice guard in front of the intakes, blank off the forward cabin window on the port side, and replace the long landing gear sponsons with the original teardrop-shaped ones. You'll also have to reduce the length of the horizontal stabilizer a little bit, too. Some releases of the Hasegawa kit come with the early sponsons and the shorter fin; if yours doesn't, there are aftermarket sponsons in resin by some companies (I like the Belcher Bits units, myself). Despite several errors, Al Adcock's "H-3 Sea King in Action" from Squadron/Signal has some good basic information for these purposes.

Based on my research, here's the helicopters that recovered the Gemini crews (and the data below is presented as mission, type, serial number, squadron, air group tail code and aircraft "side number"):

# GEMINI 3 -- SH-3A BuNo 148984, HS-3, AU-57
# GEMINI 4 -- SH-3A (BuNo unknown), HS-11, AS-64
# GEMINI 5 -- SH-3A BuNo 149005, HS-5, AT-58
# GEMINI 7 -- SH-3A BuNo 149006, HS-11, AT-56
# GEMINI 10 -- SH-3A BuNo 152134, HS-3, AU-63
# GEMINI 11 -- SH-3A BuNo 152134, HS-3, AU-63
# GEMINI 12 -- SH-3A BuNo 151556, HS-11, AS-66

Gemini 6, Gemini 8 and Gemini 9 are not included because the astronauts were brought directly aboard the ship, either still in the spacecraft or otherwise.

There was actually one company that did the Gemini 5 helicopter on a decal sheet, but it was in 1:72.

Good luck.


Posts: 92
From: London England
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 12-27-2010 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tetrox   Click Here to Email tetrox     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the replies.

I have "Hornet Plus Three" and it is in my opinion a very informative reference and great read though doesn't offer a great deal of information regarding the earlier Sea Kings.

The book by Don Blair "Splashdown" I don't have and would be interested to know whether the softback edition which is readily available has the same pictorial information as the hardback edition?

A member of the ARC model forum has also confirmed that the colour was indeed (FS 16081 Engine Gray).

I would also be very grateful of any information regarding the 1/72 scale decals mentioned in the previous post.

All times are CT (US)

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