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Revell #04492 box art
REGA is an air-rescue and air-ambulance service based in Switzerland. Started in 1952 by a swiss doctor, the name means "Swiss aerial rescue guard" ("Schweizerische Rettungsflugwacht - Garde AĆ©rienne Suisse de Sauvetage - Guardia Aerea Svizzera di salvataggio" respectively in German, French, and Italian).

REGA operates a fleet of five Eurocopter EC-145s, HB-ZRA thru HB-ZRE, in addition to other fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. I originally became interested in the EC-145 as a result of another modeling effort, specifically the DGzRS Hermann Marwede depicted here. In that project I used a 1/72nd scale EC-145 from Revell-Germany. Given that I typically work in larger scales when modeling aircraft, I decided to one day build Revell's 1/32nd scale REGA EC-145 (kit #04492).

Several months into the enormous task of building Yankee Modelworks' 1/350-scale USS Montana I realized it was time to take a break and move to a different subject, both to preserve my sanity and relieve the tedium of essentially rebuilding that entire kit from scratch (can you say *highly* questionable quality?). So I purchased this out-of-production kit (usually readily available from eBay), cleared my bench, and went to work.

This kit is surprisingly complex, highly detailed, and very well-engineered. I chose to build my EC-145 straight out of the box, making no modifications or corrections. I should note that I am not an accomplished helicopter modeler: anyone who has built such a kit will understand why I point this out: they represent a unique set of challenges and requirements. There exist substantial in-box reviews of this kit elsewhere on the 'Net: I will therefore not bore you with yet another such writeup. However, I will take a moment to list issues I encountered during this build:
  • while the interior is well-detailed, the cargo section does not accurately represent any of the five REGA machines. The seats are incorrect as is the medical equipment. But unless you carry photos of these machines around with you (in which case you have more serious issues), the finished product looks quite believable. Purists will want to do some scratchbuilding here: the good news is that the rest of the kit is easily of sufficient quality to support such an effort.

  • the engines are represented only by front compressor faces and exhaust blades. This is a bit of a letdown given the level of detail present elsewhere, and made worse by the fact that the absense of any engine detail is clearly visible to those who know where to look (specifically behind the front compressor faces). Revell really dropped the ball here.

  • the front windshield proved to be a nightmare. First, this part contains not only clear "glass" portions of the nose, but also incorporates structural portions, meaning that it must be completely installed/blended into the main fuselage prior to any painting. And unfortunately, it does not fit that well: my copy required significant reshaping before it would settle into location. Next, the front-center support section is visible from "inside" the cockpit, meaning that it must be finished in the appropriate dark grey color. You could do this by painting the inside of the piece, but then it would look odd when viewed from the outside. So, you must first lay down dark grey, then white primer (required to prevent unacceptable shading of the final red coats), and then the red finish coat. That's a lot of work for a thin strip of material. Finally, my copy contains several fine stress cracks on the left side of the windscreen: fortunately these deformaties are only visible under certain lighting conditions. But I know they are there.
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