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  1. AH-1G Cobra "Early Tails over Nam" Special Hobby 1:32 Hi Tech (32082) Most modellers will instantly recognise the Bell AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter. The AH-1 was the first production Gunship or Attack Helicopter to see service. During the Vietnam war the US Army began to see the need for armed helicopter to escort its unarmed UH-1 Hueys into combat. In parallel to this Bell Helicopters had been investigating helicopter gunships as early as the late 1950s. In 1962 Bell displayed a mock up concept to the US Army. This Helicopter featured a 20mm gun pod, and a ball turret mounted grenade launcher. It was felt by the Army to be lightweight, under powered and not suitable. Following this the US Army launched and Advanced Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS) competition. This competition gave rise to the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne heavy attack helicopter. However this proved to be to advanced for its time and was eventually cancelled in 1972 after 10 years of development (some things don't change!). Despite the AAFSS programme Bell stuck with its idea of a smaller, lighter gunship and invested its own money developing the AH-1. They used all of the proven components they could from the UH-1 platform, adding these to a newly designed fuselage. When The US Army therefore asked for pans for an interim gunship for Vietnam Bell was in a fortunate position to be able to offer the AH-1, or the Bell 209 as it was then called. Given the work Bell had already done the programme was completed in a relatively speed eight months and won the evaluation against the competition. In 1966 the US Army signed an initial contract for 110 aircraft. Some slight modifications were made to the production airframes. The heavy armoured glass canopy was replaced by Plexiglas with an improvement in performance. Wider rotor blades were fitted and the original retracting skids were replaced by simple fixed units. The G model was the initial 1966 production model gunship for the US Army, with one 1,400shp (1,000 kW) Avco Lycoming T53-13 turboshaft. Bell built over 1100 AH-1Gs between 1967 and 1973, and the Cobras would go on to fly over a million operational hours in Vietnam, approximately 300 were lost to combat and accidents during the war. The U.S. Marine Corps would use AH-1G Cobra in Vietnam for a short period before acquiring twin-engined AH-1J Cobras. The AH-1 went on to serve the US Army until it was replaced by the AH-64 Apache. The last one leaving active service in 1999. The Kit This is the brand new kit from ICM, to which Special Hobby have added Resin, 3D printed parts, photo-etch; and decals. This provides the experienced modeller with an all round package. The quality of the moulding is first rate from ICM with fine engraved panel lines and nice rivet detail on the tail boom and tail. While this boxing is the the early G you can see from the sprues that other versions will be along as there is the opposite handed tail, different landing skids, an upturned exhaust, different winglets and TOW missiles on the weapons sprures. The kit arrives on 5 main sprues of grey plastic and a clear sprue. As well as the main helicopter and armaments, the kit also comes with the ground handling attachments for the skids, something often missing from kits. While there is good detail on the kit and the option to open up the engine and gearbox area, this area is not massively detailed and will open itself up for the super detailer if they want. Work starts conventionally in the cockpit. The two new resin sets are added along with the resin seat cushions and PE seatbelts. Tail controls are added to the floor ,and for the pilots station a cyclic and collective columns go from the new 3S printed parts. For the front seater the weapons control column is again from the new 3D printed parts. Side controllers are also fitted for the gunner. Instrument panels and coamings go in for both stations with instruments being provided on the new PE sheet. Now the cockpit is complete the visible parts of the engine/gear box and its compartment are built up. This is followed up by parts for the rotor controls. The tails are added onto the fuselage. Here there is quite a large part which overlaps to compete a good solid join. The tail rotor needs attaching to fuselage half before closing up if you want it to move. Note for decal option D2 the tail rotor is on the opposite side from the others and both sides are in the kit. The engine / gear box parts are fitted into the right fuselage followed by the cockpit and cockpit rear bulkhead parts. The fuselage can now be closed up with additional cockpit armour panels being fitted at each side. The front armor panels for the cockpit are provided in resin with the cut out part to be used if you are opening the front cockpit. At the rear of the engine housing the exhaust part goes in. At the front of the helo the nose goes on, being careful to choose the right parts for the decal option being modelled. Turning things over the large central fuselage insert goes on with additional parts at the nose. The chin turret is now fitted with either one or two miniguns depending on your decal option. New resin barrels are provided in the kit. A light goes behind the turret. The final exhaust ring goes on the back and the tip of the tail is added. Next up we concentrate on the stub wings. The two wings are built up and the weapons pylons are fitted. These are fitted to the fuselage along with the rear stabilisers towards the tail. The landing skids can then be fitted. Note option D2 has different skids, these again being included in the kit. Next up the large clear canopy parts go on. A sight is fitted to the front of the central glazing section again this is provided in resin for this kit. PE and resin parts are included also for the central canopy part. The front and rear large side canopy parts are fitted, these can be open or closed as need by the modeller. The access panels can be fitted to each side of the open engine/gear box area; again these can be open or closed as required. We now move to the main rotor. Each of the two blades are split upper/lower, and they are joined together. The central rotor head is made from two parts, these are upper and lower, these sandwich in the rotor blades. Once these are on the control arms to the swashplate are then added along with the central mounting shaft. The rotor this then mounted. To finish off armaments can be added to the pylons as needed. The kit provides Two M157 7 shot rocket pods, two M158 7 shot rocket pods, two M200 19 shot rocket pods; and two M18 minigun pods. If the modeller want to use them then two pairs of ground handling wheels can be made up and attached to the back of the skids, Towing bars then can be attached to the front of the skids. Two new pods are also provided in resin as are wheels for ground handling. Special Hobby Extra Parts For this Hi Tech boxing Special Hobby have provided PE, 3D printed, and resin parts for the Cobra. There are also a full set of tape masks for inside and outside of the canopy (These are not shown). The PE is mainly front & rear instrument panels plus a full set of belts for both seats on a colour nickel fret. The brass fret contains engine bay panel grills, internal parts and mounting plates for the rocket launchers. The 3D parts include the a fire extinguisher, cyclic & collective sticks for the pilot, and the weapons system controls for the front seat. The resin part are both Seats complete with new cushions and a mounting base for the front seat. Other parts for the cockpit include the tail rotor pedals, side plates for the centre console, and the front cockpit armour panels. Showing attention to detail they even include the part which is hinged with the front canopy if you wish to position this open. There are new barrels for the chin turret, new wheels for the ground handling trolley, and new M158 7 shot rocket pods. The last major items being a pair of flight helmets to display in the cockpit if wanted. The resin & photoetch are up to Special Hobby's usual excellent standards and the inclusion of 3D parts is most welcome with some excellent items that normal resin might not make. Decals The decal sheet is in house from ICM, the decals look thin, in register and have minimal carrier film. 4 Options are included are the same as from their 1/72 kit, these are; A. 68-15183 C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Regiment Aerial Rocket Artillery, Phuoc Vinh, Vietnam 1971. B. 68-15049 C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 20th Regiment Aerial Rocket Artillery, Bu Dop, Vietnam 1970 (Cambodian Invasion Markings) C. 66-15259 Cobra New equipment Training Team, Vung Tau, Vietnam 1967 (USAF Style SA Camo) D1. 68-15189 "Wretched Mildred" D Troop, 3rd Bridge, 4th Cav, Chu Chi, Vietnam 1971 D.2 68-15189 "Wretched Mildred" 1972, after suffering damage the airframe was rebuilt with a new tailboom, this one with the tail rotor on the right side. Conclusion This is another great looking kit from Special Hobby, combining the great kit from ICM with a whole host of extra parts.. Very Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Hi Chaps Now for something completely different. How about one of these for your front line defence? I got this from Victoria Hobby centre in Melbourne Australia in January 2003 when I was there for the Avalon air show. It's been lurking in the stash for 15 years so this GB will be it's moment in the sun. The parts It looks pretty easy so the hard part might be the silver finish and the canopy. The canopy is currently taped to the window using the glorious Thailand sun to make it clear again. The canopy also has a dent and I found a fax ( remember those? ) in the box which I sent to the manufacturer in 2003 asking for a new one. After 15 years and no reply i don't think they are going to send me one. A challenge for later? Colin w
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