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Chuck A. Villanueva
124 articles

Hasegawa 1/72nd P-3C Orion VP-1 US Navy

June 1, 2016 · in Aviation · · 29 · 2.6K

It is an early Sunday afternoon, as a VP-1 P-3 heads north just west of the Oregon coast, 12 miles out. The vast Pacific glistening as the sun starts to set. Cruising at angels 4 engines 1 and 4 are shut down, it has been a long day. With 2 hours still left on patrol, Lt Cdr Jay "Express" Ryan (after Nolan Ryan Major league pitcher the Ryan Express) and he was also the pitcher on the squadrons softball team. Lt Brett "Mac" McNeil were relaxed scanning the sea left to right. Their conversation about the upcoming change in hunting for drug smugglers instead of the submarine threat that some assume may be going away. One of the air crewmen calls out a sighting at 10 o'clock. Ryan reaches out for the binoculars and looks in that direction. Lt McNeil turns the Orion in that direction. Checking with the radar operators and marking the contact. Ryan asks for the ID manual to check and identify what he is looking at. Gosh boys we have a sub on the surface. It is 15 miles out so it is in international waters. Call it in, lets take a look. One of the boys says it's a Victor, I think it's an Akula. The pod on the tail definitely Russian. Flying over and I have positive ID as a Victor class III. What the hell, what is it sir? I swear one of the sailors just flashed me the bird. Didn't know that they had a sense of humor. Ah what a life of a P-3 patrol. So as the story goes the P-3 just makes another pass and makes note and continues on home to NAS Whidbey Island. Who knows if this ever happened as the story is fictional as well as the pilots. I remember our resident P-3 squadron VP-65 out of NAS PT Mugu those boys can spin a yarn. NIce bunch of laid back sailors they were. Loved it when they did their annual lobster run to Maine every springtime.

This project started out back in the mid 90's I had two of these kits. Started one of them at the time when the only decals around were of the tutone white/grey P-3 scheme. I wanted to do a tactical grey scheme as the VP squadrons were at the time converting to the overall grey. Until VM introduce a set of decals for the overall grey Orions. (Vince Maddox). I snatched a set as soon as I could get one. 72-001, just had a feeling they wouldn't be around for long. Despite having the decals I sat on the project for a long time. It was an easy build as there were not many parts. Straight out of the box no AM bits other than the decals. At the start of the year I made a resolution to finally finish it this year. So dusting it off, finish decaling it. It has been in the glossy stage for about 4 years. Paint the props, mask the wings and do the wing walks. That took more time than the build itself. Painting it overall 36375 Lt Ghost Grey, 35375 Med Blue Grey for the anti-glare, Lt Grey for the wing walks. And finally got it done. And I have the room to display it. Thanks for viewing.


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29 responses

  1. Great story, Chuck, certainly a ring of truth about it, and, you've finally got the model finished, it looks very nice in the natural daylight.

  2. Great job Chuck. You don't see many TPS Orions built. Thanks for sharing. I have the VM sheet in the stash and hope to do one or 2 from that sheet one day.

    • Before the decal sheet became available I was going to just round up some basic markings and build a generic P-3 in TPS. I will probably someday build the other one as well with this sheet.

  3. Looks great ! I've done both of the "in box" versions.

  4. Turned out pretty good, Chuck...whaddya say we all see where it's displayed (along with your other builds).

  5. Nice looking build! I like the scheme you chose - should make a nice addition to your collection. I've got an old Revell Orion in the stash - might have to drag her out and put it together. I assume it will be even fewer parts so shouldn't take much elbow grease! I also think I already secured some AM decals to liven it up a bit...

    • Greg, is that the old box scale Revell? I haven't seen one in decades! Originally, they had an Electra airliner, and they changed the molds.
      I'd love to see one again. Boy, is that a while back!

  6. Thanks Greg, even the Hase kit was not that heavy in the parts. The kit had very fine raised panel lines. It dates back in the 70's when it first appeared and updated since the original release.

  7. Great build and nice sea story.

  8. I remember when VP-1 brought the first P-3As to Cubi Point in September 1964. Al the P-2 and P-5 guys were jealous for about ten days. Then they went out to practice night flare drops. Lost three, three nights running. Down low, open the bomb bay doors, they say they're dropping flares... KA-BOOM! Big fireball on the water. Needless to say after #3 the squadron was grounded, then the entire P-3 fleet was grounded a week later. Turned out there was a production glitch in the flare release, leading to the #1 flare hanging up in the bay, then it goes off and takes the others with it.

    Naval aviation is such fun.

    Nice model.

    • You know that just confirmed a story that a Senior Chief from VP-65 related to us one night hanging out with them one Saturday evening at a beach BBQ. He was stationed at NAS Cubi Point with a P-2 squadron around that time, when VP-1 flies in with the new P-3A. It was exactly as you said about the flare issue during that time. Naval aviation, not just an adventure.

  9. Hi Chuck, good looking model.

  10. Well build. I like the low visibility paint scheme.
    Just saw the Mighty Planes episode: " P3 "Weather Plane" from the US Department of Commerce making its way into the eye of the storm.
    Very strong aircraft.
    Question: Are these pilots from the military service!

  11. Thanks Dirk, you know I need to see that show. They are very reliable aircraft. Having the pleasure to ride in one for a day. the Dept of Commerce uses WP-3D Orions which are designed for weather reconnaissance missions but also international meteorological and oceanographic research. The pilots are government most likely retired Navy P-3 aviators. Both aircraft are based at McDill AFB.

  12. Chuck, nice work on this, always admired and was impressed with these aircraft.

    • Terry when you see them on the ramp, unlike the fighters parked nearby which always look like their flying just sitting there, the P-3's have a presence, despite their size and multi engine and some may even say "ah just a lumbering prop job", They are quite nimble in the air. Their rate of turn may surprise you in how quickly you can get it on target or approach whatever they are investigating at sea.

  13. Well done Chuck. Great looking model.
    California Steve

  14. Chuck,

    Great job! Getting ready to go down this road myself. Reached out to the community on FB and folks have been great on helping get decals, etc. Think I’l gonna go with the airborne version with number one loitered like Andrew Frill did. Not sure how it will go, but I will do my best to chip away at it. I know what you mean by loosing momentum. I have RC plans for a P-3 that I have yet to open and build. That will be for when I’m totally retired I guess. For now, thanks for the inspiration!

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