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AH-1G "Arctic Cobra" (48299) 1:48 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd


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AH-1G "Arctic Cobra" (48299)

1:48 ICM via H G Hannants Ltd




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 plans 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 AH-1G could be fitted with the The M-35 Gun System, this was a single M195 20mm cannon (a short-barrelled version of the six-barrel M61A1 Vulcan) on the port inboard pylon of the AH-1G. 950 rounds of ammunition were stored in boxes faired to the side of the aircraft. The system was primarily pilot controlled, but featured dual controls to be either pilot or gunner controlled. For this purpose the pilot was provided with a M73 sight.  Some Cobras were tested by the US Army in low temperature conditions in Alaska. These were painted  white with Arctic Red markings, these were known as Arctic Cobras. 


The Kit

This is a recent tool from ICM & Special Hobby and brings us a long-overdue update to some of the older kits of the type on the market.  This edition depicts airframes used in Alaska,. Inside the bag are eleven sprues in various sizes in grey styrene, a large clear sprue with a choice of canopies for upcoming versions, a decal sheet and their usual glossy A4 instruction booklet with spot colour throughout, and colour profiles of the decal options in the rear.  Detail is excellent, as we’ve come to expect from ICM, especially in the cockpit, the exterior surface and the rotors, and the instruction booklet takes you through the build process with colour and scrap diagrams used to clarify the process.
















Construction begins with the cockpit, which will be highly visible through the crystal-clear canopy parts, and this starts with the twin tub (no, not a 60s washing machine), into which the quilted rear bulkhead, twin pilot controls and tail rotor pedals are fitted, followed closely by a pair of instrument panels with decals and deep coamings to reduce glare coming though the big canopy panes.  The panels are different for front and rear crew, but their seats are very similar with armoured wings and sides on the cushioned seat, made of four parts each.  Remarkably quickly we’re starting prep of the fuselage halves by drilling out a number of holes, adding the nose cone and tail fin, taking care to align them carefully as well as choosing the right one, as there are two tails on the sprues.  The rotor-head is installed on a flat plate, allowing the head to rotate if you’re careful with the glue, then it is inserted into the fuselage along with the cockpit tub and the short exhaust trunk, closing it up and leaving it to set up so you can deal with the seams, and fill a small hole near the rotor head.  With that done, the cockpit is outfitted with more armour panels on the internal sidewalls and on the port side exterior, adding a number of appliqué panels in two parts.  The underside of the fuselage is bereft of detail until you add the two armoured panels under the cockpit, and glue an insert into the hole in the underside after drilling out a pair of holes from within for one variant.  Two main intakes above that slot into recesses on the fuselage sides.


The Cobra has wings!  Little ones that are essentially weapons carriers, and these both have a separate wingtip and root mounted ammo pod under each one, the port pod later feeding the M35 gatling gun and a link between the starboard and port pods.  At the rear you have a choice of two styles of tail stabilisers, one covered in rivets, the other nice and smooth.  Speaking of the tail, the boom is covered in nicely rendered raised rivets, as is correct for the type.  Two pylons attach to the underside of the winglets, one in the tip, another fitting into two holes.  The short circular exhaust ring is installed at the open end of the trunking, with two small strengthening plates just underneath them.  With the fuselage flipped on its back, the nose turret is next, with a pair of inserts added into the main turret part, and a 7.62mm gatling gun in one aperture, plus a 40mm grenade launcher in the other that you’ll need to drill out the muzzles on if you feel the urge.  The very tip of the nose cone is separate, and has a pitot probe added near the top, then it’s time to add a few antennae and clear lights, plus the BIG gun, which has a separate hollow muzzle part, ammo feed and two other small parts, which is suspended from the underside of the port winglet, and linked to the ammo pod as mentioned earlier.  The skids with the thicker supports and a whip-like safety skid under the tail finish off the main fuselage for now, after which the rotating parts are made.


The Cobra had a twin-blade tail rotor that slots straight into a hole in the top of the tail fin, with an M-shaped control mechanism fixed to the centre, and a couple of clear parts added to fairings nearby.  The main rotor sits on a chunky axle, over which a faceted washer slides, that is joined to the base by a pair of actuators.  The two main blades are moulded as a single item, and are first detailed with additional parts before they are glued to the top of the drive-shaft, and supported by a pair of long control rods linked to the blades to adjust their incidence.  A scrap diagram shows the various parts in grey to help you get everything correctly aligned.  It is lowered into the top fairing later and glued into place, but first the canopy is completed.  The Cobra’s canopy opens on different sides for each crew member, and has the long narrow top is fixed first, with the windscreen moulded-in.  A small instrument is glued to the side of the screen, 3.5mm up from the bottom, after which it is glued onto the fuselage.  The pilots exit from opposite sides, so after the sloped starboard section and port rear section are fixed in place, the two openers can be mounted in the open position and supported by props to achieve the correct angle for them.


In addition to guns the Cobra could carry rocket pods, and two each of the seven-shot M157, M158 and four of the 19-shot M200 pods are included on separate sprues, the M157 & M200 pods cylindrical and with detail inserts in both ends.  The bare tubed M158 pods have two ends, a central section and a curved cover at the top that is attached to the pylon.  The final assembly is the optional towing equipment pack.  This consists of a pair of graft-on wheels that attach to a pair of pegs on the upper rear of the skids, lifting them off the ground, and a pair of towing bars that also have castors near the skid-end to facilitate movement when they’re off the airframe.  The bars attach to the front of the skids, then it’s down to you to find a suitable towing vehicle if you wish.




The decal sheet is in house from ICM, the decals look thin, in register and have minimal carrier film. 3 Options are included;


69-16440, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska 1975

67-15767, 120th Aviation Co. "Artic Knights", Fort Richardson, Alaska 1973

66-15250, Fort Richardson, Alaska 1968




Decals are printed by ICM’s usual partners, with good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.



Another great 


Very highly recommended.


Available in the UK from importers H G Hannants Ltd.



Review sample courtesy of



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Thanks for this review with historical background @Julien

This is a kit I'll grab as soon as it hits the shelves around here.

That chopper caught my eye when I was a young teenager (1/72 Matchbox kit), looking so sleek but deadly dangerous at the same time.

I really hoped for one in 1/72 or 1/48 from SH/ICM with this particular scheme. Quite a change from the usual "OD".




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