Hasegawa 1/48 AH-64D Apache Longbow "JGSDF"
|07242 (Pt 42)|
For all eight of them in Japanese service.
The Hughes/McDonnell-Douglas/Boeing AH-64 was chosen as the US Army's advanced attack helicopter to replace its venerable Vietnam-era AH-1 Huey Cobras. It was felt that a large, sophisticated, twin-engined chopper was more to what the Army needed than the smaller, lighter, and less sophisticated Cobras. Interestingly, the USMC has continued to use updated Cobras as its helo gunship of choice, preferring the smaller helo as being more able to survive in combat.
Much of the Corps faith in the Cobra was shown during Desert Storm when the AH-1s were able to deal with the sandy conditions better than the Army's more complex helo. Despite the problems that the Apache has had over the years, it has proven itself to be a very capable platform, doing all that the Army could want from it. Such has been the success of the Apache that it has been exported to a number of foreign military forces.
The latest and greatest Apache is the radar-equipped AH-64D that is the current production model. This has even more advanced sensors including a mast-mounted radar set that can peer over the tops of obstacles without putting the rest of the chopper in harm's way. The benefit of this fire control radar is that it can track and target objectives, then when ready, the helo pops up, fires off its weapons and then ducks back down behind cover. Like its earlier AH-64A variant, the Longbow carries a variety of weapons from Hellfire missiles to conventional rocket pods to Sidewinder self-defense missile.
Hasegawa has taken a big chance doing this kit. Several reasons. First of all, other than doing a decal change, there isn't much in the way of alternate variants that can be done with this model. Secondly, it is a helicopter, a type of kit that generally does not do that well on the market. However, Hasegawa never does things small and, this kit is all that one would expect from the world's premier model plane company.
This is not a kit for those who like quick builds or minimal parts. There are 326 pieces to this kit, many of them small. If you equate detail to the number of parts then this one is probably the most detailed helo kits every made. The cockpit alone consists of nearly 30 parts excluding the two four part crew members. Not only is the detail on the instrument panels and side consoles raised and very good, but you also get decals to place over them should you wish.
Hasegawa's Apache also brings back two things I haven't seen in a new kit in a long time. The first is rivets. The AH-64 is not a supersonic aircraft so flush rivet construction is not a consideration. Secondly is flash. I found that a number of parts had flash on them. Not a lot, but enough so that you'll have to be a bit more diligent in cleaning up the parts prior to construction.
The detailing in the rotor head is superb from this reviewer's point of view. There are enough of the little push rods and other articulating 'thingies' to make it look quite complex. Same for the tail rotor. The gatling gun and sensor pods are also very well detailed. Same for the landing gear, which includes flattened tires. You can pose the canopy hatches open if you so desire. The kit includes a full suite of Hellfire missiles and a pair of rocket pods to place on the weapons pylons. On the fuselage are flare chutes and radar warning antennas. About the only thing that is not included are the 'disco lights' IR jammer pods. What is new to this boxing is a small sprue that includes pylon tip Stinger missiles and their associated racks.
Instructions are well printed and as you'd imagine, provide Gunze paint references. The well printed decal sheet offers markings for all either JGSDF planes plus bonus codes for the AH-1 fleet. Apparently several of the AH-1 units have a couple of Apaches in the mix with the AH-1s doing the scouting and the Apaches being called in for the kill. Or maybe it is the other way around. Anyway, the decal sheet is a big one and nicely done.
Well, it is a superb looking model with oodles of detail. It will be interesting to see how the rotor heads accept this particular boxing. It really is impressive and one that I know is a bit of a challenging build as I did the US Army AH-64D when it was released several years back. The results, however are going to be well worth it.
Review kit courtesy of www.dragonmodelsusa.com. Get yours from your local shop or on-line retailer.
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