Fujimi 1/72 AH-1S






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Japanese Army version


One of the smartest things that Bell helicopters did was to develop the Cobra attack helicopter. Basically, it was done by Bell who were trying to get a helo gunship that was as small as they could develop. The move to a tandem cockpit for pilot and gunner removed much of the frontal area of the chopper and removed a lot of excess weight as well. Stub wings were added to not only provide a bit of lift and therefore some additional speed, but to provide for mounting of various weapons. The most popular are TOW missiles and rocket launchers, though additional machine guns or even Sidewinder missiles can be mounted on other variants.

The AH-1 has sold very well to a number of countries who were seeking a small gunship that was able to get in and out of harm's way and present a small target. Japan was one of the countries that signed onto the program. Now I have little information on the deal made with Bell, but I'd be surprised if they were not license built in Japan as the Japanese generally insist on as much home production as possible. To my knowledge, they are still being used as front line equipment. In the US, most of them have been replaced by the AH-64 Apache.



Fujimi provides a pretty straight forward kit. There is a semi-well equipped cockpit that is typically lacking a collective and uses decals for the pilot's instrument panel. All the rotor detail is molded into the main blade assembly. The wing is trapped between the two fuselage halves and the weapons attached to it. There really are a lot of bits to the weapons as each of the missile tubes are separate and must be glued to the mount. Oddly, the engine housing to this kit is a separate assembly. Apparently it is to allow the main fuselage to be used for different Cobra variants. You can see from the way the sprue has been developed that this must be the case.

The instructions are adequate to build the kit as there really are not any optional parts. Very little color information is given during construction aside from a flat black interior. Exterior colors are shown in the decal placement diagram. There are markings for one olive drab AH-1S of the JGSDF. Typically, it carries no special unit markings. The decal sheet is small but has all the pertinent markings. Typical of Japanese sheets of the time, they are thick, but should work well.



This is in every way a typical Fujimi kit. Detailing is good and though this kit is from the older, raised panel line school, should build into a very nice little model of this important helo.

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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