AH-64A “Gray Camo 2003”- Limited Edition
This is a “Special Edition” version of the AH-64 as seen during the Iraqi War in 2003. The aircraft was named after the North American Indian nation, the Apache from the southern Great Plains and beyond. Originally manufactured by Hughes Helicopters(1975-1984), then by McDonnell Douglas(1984-1997) and Boeing(1997-present), it was first flown on 30 September 1975, entered service with the US Army in April 1986, and is still on active duty today. The AH-64A features a 4-blade main rotor powered by twin turbine engines, a tandem cockpit, nose mounted sensor suite, upgraded electronic missile equipment system, and a state of the art 30mm (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun weapon system. When compared to its contemporaries, the Apache is hands-down and by far the most powerful, robust, and sophisticated combat-proven attack helicopter ever devised by man.
Packaging is in Academy’s typical card stock-style box with a photograph of the subject on the box top. The parts were well packaged in poly bags, along with the decal sheet. The fold-out instruction sheet is well printed and includes the part identification chart, the decal placement chart, and the painting charts. The kit itself is not a new release and has been around for a few years now. I found the standard light greenish/gray-colored soft plastic to be flash free with only a few injector pin marks.
Following the instructions, I started with building up the cockpit. This seemed simple enough but proved to be a little out of sorts. The forward cockpit instrument panel attachment point to the cockpit tub attachment point would just not behave, and the corresponding instruction drawing offered no help and did not correctly represent the parts. After gluing the parts into what kind of looked right, my best guess proved to be a problem later on in the build. If I’d had the foresight, I would have elected plastic surgery and cut off the cockpit mating parts. The next build step included installing the cockpit assembly, mating up the fuselage halves, adding the main landing gear with gear bays, and building up the tail rotor. The fuselage seams proved to be a chore and resulted in lost raised rivet detail. The tail rotor assembly proved to be an interesting bit of modeling.
Step 3 involved building up several components that included the main nose sensor suite, engine nacelles, and wings and missile pylons, then adding all these components to the fuselage. This all went quite well. Step 4 covered building up the different missiles and launch rails. I skipped this step as I rarely add missiles or bombs to my builds, preferring clean-looking birds. Step 5 is where the cockpit problem became evident. When I tried to install the canopy, it didn’t seat correctly over the forward cockpit, so I wound up whittling down the instrument panel glare shield to accept the windscreen.
Step 6, the M230 Chain Gun puzzle – you have to wrap your head around this one because the instructions aren’t clear about the multiple attachment points of the tubular cable guard to the gun. Steps 7 & 8 were building the tail wheel and tailplane assembles, then building up the main rotor and adding the last of the smaller items. The decals went down okay but most are the wrong color when compared to the box top. The shark-mouth should have been black, but they made it gray. It disappeared when I applied it.
The Bottom Line:
Despite the vague instruction sheet drawings, finicky cockpit parts, and the decals being the wrong colors, I like it. It builds into a very attractive model and honors the South Carolina Army National Guard Apache crews who flew them in Mosul, Iraq, during the Iraqi War. I highly recommend it to the experienced modeler who enjoys a challenge.
Thanks to Model Rectifier Corporationfor the opportunity to build this kit and IPMS/USA for the chance to review it.