An Old Classic Revisited: Revell's 1/32 AH-1G Cobra
By Steve Filak, Sr.
I guess my interest in helicopters goes back to the earliest memories of my childhood, owing to my late father's service in the Vietnam War. He served as a crew chief/door gunner aboard a Huey gunship, and the stories of his experiences which he related to me sparked my interest in military helicopters. In fact, one of the earliest kits I can remember building is the 1/32 Revell Huey Cobra, and its first cousin, the Huey Gunship. During my childhood and adolescent years, I must have built these kits a dozen times each, and with the advent of the Cobra Company update kit, I felt the need to take a stroll down memory lane and build the big Cobra kit again.
The kit, as mentioned before, is Revell's thirty-year-old offering of the AH-1G Huey Cobra. Despite some fit problems, it is still a good kit (and must have been absolutely state of the art thirty years ago). It features some really nice rivet detail on the tail section, and is accurate in shape and outline. The following will give you an idea of how the kit goes together, and what I did to improve upon it.
As is the norm, construction began with the cockpit. I substituted the kit's tub and seats with the excellent Cobra Company offering. This update set provides the tub, seats, new instrument panels, turret, and seat armor (for a review of this set, see the April edition of this publication). I do, however, want to make a correction to my original review. I had stated that the detail appeared to be soft on the co-pilot/gunner's instrument panel, and after painting same, I found myself to be dead wrong in this assumption - my apologies to Cobra Company for this mistake. The detail is there, but only comes alive after painting. My new evaluation of this part is 'subtle yet very accurate', and really came out very nice after painting.
Both panels were painted A/C Interior Black, and the individual instruments were picked out with White and Italian red. Mistakes were cleaned up with a black technical pen, and all instrument faces were coated with a drop of Humbrol Clear Cote. The rest of the cockpit tub was assembled according to the kit's instructions (minus the seats), and the whole was glued to the interior of the helicopter.
The seats and armor were painted Light Ghost Gray, and outlined in A/C Interior Black; the seat cushions were painted Olive, and outlined with Europe I dark gray. These were then attached to the model, and construction continued by completing the engine/transmission assembly, gluing it to the interior, and mating the fuselage halves.
The next major phase of construction was to fill all seams around the model (of which there were many!), and to build up the nose of the aircraft. I opted for a later version with the belly mounted taillight, and as such, eliminated the nose-mounted lights in favor of a solid nose. A variety of different media were used for seam filling during the project, depending on the type and depth of the seam to be filled. I wound up using superglue, 5-minute epoxy, gap-filling CA, red automotive glazing putty, and Testors white contour putty. This was probably the most time-consuming aspect of the project, and great care must be taken, particularly in the tail section, to avoid obscuring any of the surface detail.
After all seams were filled and sanded, the skids were attached, and their attachment points filled. The model was then inspected for proper 'sit', and the port side skid was heated with very hot water, then bent slightly to set the model straight. Dust filters on the engine intakes were scratchbuilt from .010 styrene strip and .020X.020 rod.
The kit is supplied with a pair of minigun pods, and a pair of 19 shot rocket pods with the front fairings attached. I substituted the rocket pods with the ones from the Revell Apache kit, somewhat modified. I also notched out the stub wings, and added sway braces from True Details.
The XM-18 minigun pods supplied with the kit are nice, but unfortunately do not come with the gun barrels, so I scratchbuilt a pair of miniguns from K&S .010 brass rod, and .010 styrene discs punched out of a Waldron punch and die set. The discs were marked and carefully drilled out to accept the barrels, and the whole was assembled. I used Blu-Tack to give the barrels something to stick to inside of the pods, and then locked the positions in with superglue once they were aligned properly. These were painted and then attached to the stub wings. Unfortunately, the barrels are not all that visible after assembly and painting, but, should I ever enter it in a contest, the judges will see something when they stick their penlights in there.
The balance of construction was completed, and then the attention turned to the canopy. I carefully sawed off the pilot and gunner's doors from the canopy, then framed out the inside of the canopy with Evergreen strip, wire for cables, and added grab handles. The assembly was painted, and then the canopy was attached to the model. Again, various methods of seam filling (mostly 5-minute epoxy) were employed to secure the canopy to the airframe, and then the canopy was masked off, frames were smoothed and sanded, and the model was ready for a coat of paint.
Painting and Finishing
After a coat of gray primer to the canopy rails and framing, the remainder of the canopy was sprayed Light Ghost Gray, and the yellow seal was added around the edge of the doors. The model was re-masked, and then overcoated with a patchy coat of Model Master Olive Drab, darkened ever so slightly. Masks were applied, and then the nose, canopy rails, and tail rotor drive housing were painted flat black. A few areas were picked out with silver mixed with tan to replicate paint wear, and a light wash of black artist watercolor followed. The model was then drybrushed in olive drab, somewhat lightened, then reddish brown pastels were applied to the lower parts of the aircraft to simulate the reddish soil found in abundance in the Cobra' s first stomping ground, Vietnam.
Decals applied are a mixture of the kit decals, SuperScale, and Woodland Scenics and Verlinden dry transfers, and a final light dusting of pastels finished things off.
Many of you know by now that I have a soft spot for the old Revell kits, and this one is certainly no exception. Although this kit has been around almost as long as I have, the Revell 1/32 Snake has an enormous potential for detail. Combined with a little ingenuity (and of course the Cobra Company update set), this model will make a welcome addition to any helicopter collection. The only problem right now is the availability of the kit. Although Revell Germany still produces this kit, it has been out of production here in the States for some time; hopefully Revell-Monogram will see fit to re-issue this kit sometime soon.
1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00
Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.
PO Box 90933