U.S. Army AH-64D Block II "Late Version"
The AH-64 Apache helicopter has served the U.S. Army since 1986 as its primary attach helicopter. During it’s time in service, the Apache has gone through a series of upgrades, and improvements to increase its combat effectiveness, as well as survivability. The Block II aircraft integrates the advanced radar targeting system, Longbow, allowing the helicopter to engage multiple targets while remaining behind cover. The APG-78 Longbow radar system is the large dome radar located above the aircraft’s rotors. In addition to this improvement, the latest version of the Block II upgrades includes new exhaust ducts, which direct the engine exhausts vertically to improve protection from infra-red targeting.
Academy has released various Apache kits over the years, including a Block II “Early” version with the original exhaust ducts. This latest kit includes all of the same features as the earlier version, with the addition of new engine ducts. It is molded on three sprues with a two-piece fuselage, and a single piece rotor and blades. The sprues are relatively flash free and are superbly detailed. The canopy is one-piece, so modeling it with the canopy closed is the only option. This is a bit of a shame, because the cockpit is very nicely detailed.
A full load of weapons is provided too, including two Hydra rocket pods, with the option of modeling a fully loaded pod, or an empty one; eight Hellfire missiles on two quad-launchers; and a 30mm cannon under the chin.
The instructions are well laid out, and easy to follow. One error was found in the instructions. In Step 6, you build the updated engine exhausts, and the instructions has the parts backwards. The one labeled as the left exhaust actually goes on the right, and the right goes on the left. The parts are not interchangeable, so there they can’t be built incorrectly, but it left me scratching my head for a couple minutes thinking I’d done something wrong. Since this is the only change from the previously released kit, it seems like a simple error.
Construction starts in the cockpit which consists of nicely detailed seats and instrument panels for both the pilot and the co-pilot/gunner positions. The side panels are well detailed and the entire assembly went together without an issue. One thing lack from the cockpit is seatbelts. A simple belt decal would do a lot to improve an already nicely appointed cockpit. Other than that, construction goes together very easily. The aircraft is covered in sensors and antennae, so extra care needs to be taken during the painting and decaling phase, I only managed to knock off one piece which I considered a success.
Decals are provided by Cartograf and provide options for four different aircraft. Two based in Iraq and two based out of South Korea. The decals are very thin, in register and very nice to use. I will note that most of the aircraft based in Iraq do not operate with the Longbow radar in place, since there isn’t much of an armor threat to deal with, but installing it is up to the modeler.
This was my first helicopter build and I found it to be very enjoyable. I’d recommend this kit to anyone with an interest in the Apache or attack helicopters. It’s a well put together model with clear instructions and excellent details.
Thanks to Academy, Model Rectifier, and IPMS USA for providing the review kit.