AH-1G Cobra (Early Production)

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Company: ICM - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: ICM - Website: Visit Site
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I was in college when Revell first released their 1/32nd scale rendition of the AH-1G Cobra Helicopter gunship, at that time being actively used in the Vietnam conflict. I am forced to admit that I was enamored with the sleek and deadly look of this machine, and the fact that Revell had released it in my favorite scale only made it more desirable.

For those who aren’t familiar with the beast, the Cobra was developed hastily in 1967 for use by the Army in the ongoing Vietnam War. Based primarily on the same engine and transmission as the already battle-tested Iroquois transport helicopter (which was repeatedly being pressed into service as a gunship itself) this was the first totally dedicated gunship helicopter to be put into production for the armed services, taking advantage of a redesigned fuselage to present the smallest silhouette to hostile forces. A two-man crew commanded an impressive array of weaponry, from Gatling guns to saturation missiles, and could withstand an impressive amount of punishment, although about 300 were eventually lost during the course of the Vietnam conflict. Various versions of the Cobra continued to be utilized by U.S. armed services well into the 1990s, and are still in active service with other nations to this day.

ICM’s kit in the now-more-popular helicopter scale of 1/35th, comes with around 200 parts which include a lot of extras for other variants of the kit, including some armament options. I began assembly with the cockpit, which features multi-part seats and decals for the control panels. However, like all ICM kits of this scale, no seat belts were provided, so you either need to make your own or outsource them. The decals for the control panels were nice, but I don’t like sanding off detail to apply them, so I instead used them as templates to paint my own.

Although this kit provides a host of options, my desire was to create something as close to the old Revell version as possible, so my choices during this assembly reflect that. Beginning with the cockpit, I chose to omit the side armor plates, as these were not present in the Revell kit and I believe represented a later modification.

The main engine transmission is well represented at the next stage, and I added a couple of additional cables to “busy up” the look but otherwise assembled it as is. Both access panels are removable depending on how/if you want to display this detail. At this stage you can then prep the main fuselage parts for assembly, which also means choosing the correct tail. I found that assembling each half of the tail to the fuselage before closing created only a minimal gap in one spot.

The nose offers either the solid or clear portion. I chose the clear to match the old Revell kit. No less than three choices for nose turret are included, and as this assembly then glues in place rather than rotates, served as an ideal location for a little additional weight to keep the nose down. I’m not 100% sure that this kit would otherwise be a tail sitter, but it was at least a bit unstable without the additional weight.

After installing the stub wings you get to the canopy, and this was the only real challenge I faced in assembly. Revell’s ancient kit featured a single solid clear piece, which I always considered a shortcoming of their kit, as I like to show cockpits off. As a result, I attempted at least once to razor saw that canopy open, with less than optimal results. ICM, on the other hand, breaks the canopy down into five pieces, which can be assembled open or closed. However, as these are extremely delicate clear-part-to-clear part assemblies, extreme caution must be used. I managed to leave both entry doors open on mine, but care really does need to be employed at this stage.

After this stage a couple of additional options are presented, such as ground wheels and a cable cutter. These were omitted on mine as they were not available on the old Revell kit.

Pretty soon thereafter you’re going to come to the additional armament for this beast, and ICM does not disappoint. 20mm miniguns plus their ammunition chutes, two different sizes of free-fire rocket pods, minigun pods and bazooka tubes are all included, as well as several weapon choices which are not appropriate for this model. These can be assembled if you choose and dropped in the spare box for future use.

Five decal options are provided with the selection of different assembly options, and the decals are (typical of ICM) excellent with good adherence even over rough surfaces. The killer decal for all of these helicopter kits is the “United States Army” decal for the boom, which has to be placed over numerous rivets. In every Revell kit I ever assembled this was a nightmare, as they always silvered no matter what I did. ICM’s decals, on the other hand, went on easily and a single application of MicroSol rendered the film invisible. Nice!

The main rotor is basically a drop-in affair, so I left mine loose to permit posing and to aid in transport if needed.

All in all, this model of the Cobra was everything I hoped it would be, and it looks terrific. ICM has really captured the look of this deadly creature, and offers an immense number of options to really permit the modeler to explore a bit. I heartily recommend this kit to any Cobra fans out there, and now must admit that it’s probably time for me to pick up some of their other Cobra releases and see how they stack up. Lovely!


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