AH-1G Cobra "US Marines/Navy"

Published on
December 21, 2022
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Special Hobby - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Special Hobby - Website: Visit Site

The United States military in Vietnam quickly realized the need for attack helicopters to support both ground forces and cargo helicopters. The AH-1G was the first specifically designed attack helicopter (it was originally designated the UH-1H, but the “A” was added for the attack designation, but when the ubiquitous “Huey” Iroquois UH-1D became the UH-1H, the Huey Cobra became the AH-1G) and made its combat debut in August 1967 with the US Army.

The US Marine Corps also saw a need for attack helicopters and 38 AH-1Gs were transferred from the Army in 1969 as an interim measure until the USMC’s requirement for twin-engine Cobras (AH-1J) were available. This kit has markings for three of these AH-1G Cobras (the fourth is for a US Navy Test Pilot School aircraft).

This 1/32 Special Hobby AH-1G Cobra ‘Marines/US Navy’ Hi-Tech Kit follows their earlier 2021 AH-1G Cobra 'Early Tails over Nam' release. The sprues are from earlier ICM releases (32060). What makes this a Special Hobby boxing are, in addition to the kit’s included ICM crisp injected molded plastic, are the additional resin, etched and 3D parts, and pre-cut canopy masks (designed for the glazing on both the inside and outside).

This model has great surface detail with amazing rivets and engraved panel lines. Options are provided for left or right tail rotor, lots of under pylon stores, and parts for future AH-1 Cobra releases. Upon opening the sturdy box with individually wrapped sprues, there are five gray sprues (two Sprue Ds with lots of unused weapons), a clear parts sprue, two PE frets, canopy masks for interior and exterior, film for the weapon sight, resin and 3-D printed parts, along with decals for three USMC Cobras:

  • Serial number 68-17108, VT-26, HMA-367 Scarface, Vietnam 1969-1970
  • Serial number 68-15085, Marine Observation Squadron VMO-2, 1969-1970
  • Serial number 68-17106, HMA (VMO-2), Camp Pendelton, CA, 1972

And one Navy Cobra in midnight blue.

Serial number 68-15194, US Navy Test Pilot School, NAS Jacksonville, 1974

The model starts as most aircraft do, in the cockpit. The resin and 3-D parts are a nice addition, as are the PE seat belts. A nice additional touch is the resin flight helmets and PE straps and boom mikes to place in the cockpit. While there is detail in the engine compartment, it is basic, but can be easily detailed. I provided a photo of the painted interior as it is provided before I glued the engine access panels in place. The tail rotor needs to be installed before the booms are joined if you want the rotor to move.

The model builds straightforward, and the sequence is logical. There are minor notes that are identified here by their instruction step:

  • Step 1: The modeler gets to decide where the tail rotor gets placed – on the left or right side of the tail boom. The early AH-1Gs had the rotor on the left; later variants on the right.
  • Step 8: Part PUR7 (resin) is scale thin and cares need to be taken removing it from its plug.
  • Step 11: The instructions call for parts 3D13 and 3D14; they should be PUR13 and PUR 14.
  • Step 13: The modeler gets to decide whether to detail the instrument panels with decals or layered PE.
  • Step 29: Parts PUR19 and PUR20 are switched.
  • Steps 44 and 45: Two types of horizontal stabilizers are provided; determine which should be used for your version.
  • Step 50: Care and reference materials need to be consulted, and dry fitting can’t hurt to determine where the PE and resin parts attach to the large plexiglass overhead canopy; locating holes would be very beneficial.
  • Step 65: Step 63 is referenced for the ground moving wheels; should be Step 64.
  • Steps 66 and 67: The ground handing attachment details need more work to determine the correct assembly and orientation. I had to do independent research as there are no images or photos of the finished assembly. As Step 67 is illustrated, it is upside down. Resin wheels and jacks are also provided as an option.

There are multiple armament options available in the kit, including two M157 (seven shot) rocket pods, two M158 (seven shot) rocket pods, two M200 (19 shot) rocket pods and two M18 minigun pods. Resin parts are provided for the M158 rocket pods and the chin turret barrels. Also included on the dual sprues are options for other weapon systems for models to come.

As I believe aircraft look best in flight, I sourced two aftermarket Vietnam-era helicopter crewmen. With the aircrew in the cockpit, the Cobra sits well on the skids. If no aircrew is used, weight could easily be added to the chin turret to avoid a tail sitter; I did so as a precaution with BBs and it worked well.

I painted the Cobra in a USMC green color (FS 34097, labeled as Panzer Olivgrün RAL 6003) from Scale Colors (Owner Jeff Herne helped me select the proper color) and chose the serial number 68-17108, VT-26, HMA-367 Scarface, Vietnam 1969-1970. The Cartograph Decals are easy to work with and set up nicely.

I chose this Cobra as it featured a cobra mouth, has some interesting black paint contrast, and according to the instructions had an interesting mission. On 28 December 1969, weather prevented an H-46 Medevac helicopter from reaching a landing zone; this aircraft flown by Captain Roger Henry and Lieutenant Dave Cummings saved a Marine from a peak of the Que Son Mountains, Republic of Vietnam. Intrigued, I dug in some more and found an interesting article by Cornelius McMillan who flew for the Army, has been associated with Army aircraft since 1969, and performed test flights on Huey IIs. His research shows that this airframe was loaned to the USMC from the Army and flown in Vietnam, transferred to a new USMC Cobra squadron at Camp Pendleton, CA, transferred to the Davis Monthan AFB boneyard in April 1979, upgraded at the Bell Helicopter Facility in Amarillo, TX in 1981, assigned to the 1st Armored Division in Germany, received another upgrade before transferring to Korea, back to the States in 1994, assigned to the Army National Guard, then to Ft Drum, NY in September 2001, before entering long term storage. Who could deny a great part of our beloved hobby is the historical research?

I had a lot of fun building this gem from Special Hobby. It is a lesser-known Vietnam-era Cobra that makes it even more unique, especially with the different USMC green. This kit is a great build out of the box with plenty of detail. The only problem I had was with masking the large greenhouse multi-piece canopy. For some reason, the Pledge Floor Finish that I used gummed up with the provided masking, resulting in a not so clear canopy; the fault, I am sure, is mine. I look forward to seeing what more talented modelers can do with this kit as it screams for detailing, open cockpit, ground equipment, etc.

Profuse thanks to Special Hobby and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.


Submitted by Roger Henry (not verified) on Sat, 2023-05-06 15:54


Very nice write up, but there is a spelling error on the name of my copilot.  It is "Dave" not "Dace" Cummings and he was one of the finest men I ever served with.  Thanks for mention of the rescue.  The reason I got the wounded Marine out was because of the incredible visibility I had from the front cockpit and how much closer to the ground I was able to get in that fog.  I was doing a check ride on Dave for his Combat Aircraft Commander certification and he obviously passed.  Anybody who has the guts to ride a rocket pod out of a landing zone in absolute zero zero visibility deserves it.  Thank you,

Roger Henry

LtCol USMC (Ret.) 

Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.