Takom 1/35 AH-64E Apache

KIT #: 2602
PRICE: $120.00
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Donald Zhou
NOTES: Advantages: Well detailed, plenty of weapons and Big. Disadvantages: instructions can be confusing, maybe slightly over engineered.


With the success of the AH-1 Cobra in the Vietnam War, the army quickly decided something bigger and better was needed to replace it. The AH-1 was a “quick shot” development to give an escort to the Huey, which can be extremely vulnerable to ground fire without support. The Army, like every military branch at the time, was still focused on Europe and the Warsaw Pac’s armored horde, which threatens to come through the Fulda Gap like a torrential downpour at any moment. To this end, in 1966, they award Lockheed for 10 YAH-56 Cheyenne attack helicopters. The Cheyenne was a unique concept. It’s a compound helicopter meaning it has a small propeller at the rear, giving it a much higher top speed than a normal helicopter. However, like everything else at the time, the Cheyenne was too ahead of its time and problems started to crop up galore. In fact, it wasn’t until the Boeing Defiant-X that a true compound helicopter became viable some 50 years later. Eventually, in 1972, the Army canceled the Cheyenne program to start anew.

With the Air Force then AX program, which resulted in the A-10 “Warthog”, aka, the big “BRRRRRTTTTTT”, and the Marines pursuing their own AV-8B Harrier II program, the Army desperately wanted their own close-air support platform. To this end, only several months later in November 1972, the Army issued proposal that eventually evolved into the Advanced Attack Helicopter program. Foremost among the requirement was the new bird would not only provide close air support, but also anti-armor against the Russian hordes in Europe with the then new, under development AGM-114 Hellfire missile. Two finalists among all the proposals were chosen, Hughes and Bell. Eventually, Hughes won out due to the YAH-64’s four blade main rotor and stability offered by its tail wheel arrangement.

After selection, the AH-64 underwent integration with the new Hellfire missile and its sensors and avionics, including the PNVS, or Pilot Night Vision System and the TADS or Target Acquisition and Designation System. These sighting units are fed to both the gunner and pilot through the crew’s HMCSU or Helmet Mounted Cuing and Sighting Unit that consists of a small display glass that covers the crew’s right eye. One of the most important feature of these systems is the helmet, which contains two small prisms on the helmet sides. The cockpit is bathed in infer-red laser light, which bounces off of these prisms. This means as the pilot or gunner turns his head, the angle of reflection of the laser also changes. The computer would calculate these angles and then turn both the corresponding sighting unit, in the case of the gunner, also the main gun to exactly where the pilot or gunner is looking. Three pre-production vehicles were built for examination purposes and these were successful although the Army decided to upgrade production series to the new General Electric T-700-GE-701 engines rated at 1,690 SHP each. The helicopter was named the Apache, after Army’s tradition of naming rotor wing type vehicles after Native American tribes and the first production helicopter was built in its main assembly plant in Mesa Arizona in 1983 before Hughes Helicopters was bought out in 1984 by McDonnell Douglas.

By design, the helicopter still shares some vintage with its older brother the AH-1. It features a slim fuselage, although wider to accommodate the series of avionics and the powerful GE T-700 engines with the gunner sitting forward of the pilot, who is behind and above the gunner situated behind an armor Plexiglas that divide the two crew members. The nose features the PNVS and TADS in a multi-turret with the main M230E1 chain gun below and slightly behind the main targeting units, just forward of the two main landing gear wheels. A tail wheel arrangement is provided well behind the helicopter to also serve as a landing skid.

The helicopter is well armed to the teeth with various armaments. Excluding its main chain gun, various other weapons can be mounted onto two stub wings located midship, just below the engine mounts. Of these, the most important for anti-armor work would be the AGM-114 Hellfire. With an eventual maximum range of four miles, this missile place the Apache well outside of most mobile SAM vehicles and all anti-aircraft batteries. Secondary armaments includes the Hydra rocket pods. These are carried mostly in the 19 shot M261 rocket pods and comes in either high-explosive, cluster, flechettes and eventually thermobaric. The newest version is the APKWS or Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, which added a small sensor to the hydra’s nose, making it a missile instead as a cheaper alternative to the Hellfire against lightly armored vehicles or targets.

The helicopter officially entered service in 1984. Immediately, like every new systems of the late ‘70’s and ‘80’s, questions about its survivability, maintainability and usefulness abound, especially compared to the “cheaper” and “better” Russian alternatives (HA!!!! **Looking at the carnage Russian equipment suffered in Ukraine** AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”). The helicopter was first used in 1989, during Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, where one Apache “inserted”, literally, a hellfire through a window to explode inside the apartment building. All questions about the helicopter was settled after Desert Storm, where nearly half of all Apaches then in Army’s service was transferred to Saudi Arabia to be used in the Operation, where they destroyed over 500 vehicles, including 270 tanks. However, the most famous operation did not came to light several years later, when it was revealed that it was the Apaches of the 101st Airborne that opened up “The Storm”. Even before the war began, operation planners were worried about the Iraqi’s air defense network, which in some places out rivaled those put up by the North Vietnamese around Hanoi. To this end, before the air war can begin, the planners wanted a section of the Iraqi’s radar network knocked out. The operation have to be carried out in silence and in total secrecy and success have to be 100% guaranteed. The 101st volunteered.

After several weeks of practicing, on the night of January 17th, 1991, eight AH-64 Apaches, guided to their targets by Air Force’s MH-53 Pave Low III’s, arrived at their targets followed by a long, winding flight from their “jumping off” point in Saudi Arabia. All Apaches carried an asymmetrical load of eight hellfires, a hydra rocket pod and an external fuel tank necessary to get them to their targets and back. In one of the classical moment of the war, caught on tape through the gunner’s TADS, an Iraqi radar man came outside his van. His long yellow stream can be clearly seen. However, before he can finish, the first explosion started to flash around him. As he run in a panic back to his van, just as he opened the door, a hellfire out of nowhere flew past him, blowing his van to bits, catching him in the ensuing explosion (RKO out of nowhere! RKO OUT OF NOWHERE!!!!! Yes, shout out to Randal Keith Orton)! And as one Apache crew remembered on the way back home, they looked up and saw dozens upon dozens of heat plumes from multiple jet engines overhead, all running towards their targets through the “door” they just kicked open!

There were some harsh lessons too however. The most was the talking heads were correct in that the helicopter was maintenance intensive. In fact, during Desert Storm, the Army was forced to ground the rest of the Apache fleet in order to provide enough spares for the helicopters in the theater. Operational demands was so high that the Apache never flew the intended hours first planned due to maintenance. In fact, demand for the helicopters were so high that there were never as many helicopters as needed in a given time. These really came together in 1999 when several Apaches were sent by NATO to help the Kosovo War but never made it in time, with two crashing. Obviously, improvements were needed.

Even before Kosovo, McDonnell Douglas began exploration to improve the helicopter. In 1992, this resulted in the AH-64D “Longbow” Apache. The most importation improvement is the APG-78 Longbow millimeter wave radar, which track 16 targets through cloud and rain. It also provide guidance information for the AGM-114L or the “Longbow” hellfire missile, which replaces its laser seeker head with its own small millimeter radar seeker head, making it a true fire and forget missile since previously, a laser must be shone onto the target, either by the Apache itself, or some other platform, such as the OH-58D Kiowa scout helicopter. Other improvements includes a “glass” cockpit, vast improvement in both the avionics and engines to the point several Apache Longbows could perform the job of that would require multiple times the numbers of Apache A’s.

The next improvement would be the E. First designated as the Apache D Block III, the E had enough differences in avionics and engine replacement to make it a new designation including the addition of GE T-700-GE-701D engines producing 1,994 SHP, ability to control drones and new sighting units such as the Lockheed “Arrowhead” designation system that replaced the older PNVS and TADS. Also, standard on the E and retrofitted to the D are the new upturn upward facing exhaust system. The E especially can conduct multitasking and “joint synergy” operations even beyond what the D can, especially handling the “nodes” in the multi-networking operations along with the Air Force, Navy and the Marines. Currently, the U.S. is urging all “A” users to upgrade to at least the “D” standard since the Army is planning to drop all support for the A version soon.

As soon as it entered service, the Apache attracted foreign interests, currently, there are thirteen foreign users excluding the U.S. These includes but not limited to Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Greece. Other than the U.S. Israelis uses their “Saraphs” the most, mostly against Hamas and Palestinian terrorists. In fact, Israelis at first was not interested in the Apaches, that is, until the Saudis bought them after the Gulf War. They are now heavily used by the IDF. The other big user would be the UK. Back in the 1990’s and after the Gulf War, it quickly emerged that the UK armed forces would be needing a dedicated armed attack helicopter in placed of armed Lynx transports. A dogfight quickly ensued between Eurocopter, which was desperately trying to market its Tiger assault helicopter to the UK and McDonnell Douglas, which later was bought out by Boeing when MD failed in its effort at the JAST program, which later became the JSF that turned into the F-35. At that time, due to political shenanigans and pressure, the Royal Army was forced to purchase the Puma transport helicopter in place of the UH-60 Blackhawks, which was what they really wanted. This time, the RA made no small amount of noise in saying it’s the Apaches or else. Eventually, the Defense Ministry relented and the Apache was chosen as the Augusta Westland WAH-64 Apache D, which includes all the then new upgrades common to the U.S. Army AH-64D Longbows except the associated radio equipment and the fact the English Apaches, now designated as Apache AH Mk I, were equipped with the Roll-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322 engines, which are rated at 2,000SHP each. Other requirements includes the ability to fold its rotors to operate off of Royal Navy ships such as the Invincible class aircraft carriers and their replacements the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales and amphibious assault ships such as the Albion. The first nine was produced by Boeing at Mesa before all other were produced under license by Augusta, using kits provided by Boeing. Overall, the Apaches became an integral part of the Royal Army, providing critical close air support and anti-armor missions. One of the more famous Apache crew member would be the former Prince Harry, who attended Apache training in 2008 and served in Afghanistan in 2012. Currently, the British Apaches airframes are slated to run out of life by 2023. The Ministry of Defense had already ordered 50 Apache-E’s from Boeing, with the remainder D’s remanufactured to the E standards to follow.


I actually always wanted a 1/35 version of the AH-64 Apache. When I was kid, I built the ancient Monogram, now Revel 1/48th scale of the machine, and was and still is fascinated by its mean, ugly, no non-sense look. Alas, so far, no one has made a proper Apache in 1/35th scale. Revel built an ancient 1/32 scale Ah-64A way back some 30 years ago, which I built as my fourth model kit ever…and promptly messed up to hell cause at that time, I was still learning the ropes. Over the years, Kangram made a very ancient 1/35th AH-64 kit that was beyond atrocious in details and fit. Reports all said you need to waste a tube of Tamiya putty on the seams. It was eventually made also by Asci and Academy but what I wanted was a brand new 1/35th Apache with new tools made with modern molding methods. THANK YOU Takom!!!!!!!

It was announced late last year that Takom finally FINALY would bring out a modernized, state of the art 1/35th scale AH-64, Starting with the D, but eventually would comprise the E also. Over the months, pictures of the sprues were shot and given online and excitement increased. It looked like everything that a modeler cold hope for. In May, the first kit was released but I waited for the E version. The E version was released soon after but I needed to clear out my credit card first because of sigh….Reasons…..Finally, I caught this one on sale for $75, with shipping and tax, around $90 in total so I bit. The kit arrived four days later.

Upon opening the box, one is greeted with at least a dozen or so sprues and other multimedia including photo etch frets, several metal rods and a “3-D” printed fret representing bolts. The fuselage halves are all in one single piece with a detail cockpit and a huge selection of weapons including up to 16 hellfires with both the earlier D laser guided version and the L millimeter wave radar heads and four rocket pods. Parts breakdown includes the fact a lot of holes have to be drilled out, the side spoonsons are separated and various vents and holes are also separated. Makes me wonder if an earlier A version is coming.

Assembly begins with the cockpit. All the major pieces are here. Strangely, the seat belts are shown on a photo etch fret but not shown in the instructions. Should not be hard to figure out though. Me? I’m trying to source two crews to crew this bird so it does not matter. After this, read carefully as the E version requires the drilling of several holes on both fuselages. Rotor head assembly is next. Here, a minor problem present itself, the poor instructions as some assemblies are not clear so study it carefully and dry fit it at least twice to make sure what goes where. Afterwards, both the cockpit and rotor head are trapped in between the fuselage halves and cement together. Again, study the canopy instructions carefully as there are ways to pose the glass in either open or closed position.

Various details are attached to the helicopter next, you can leave most of them off, not unless you want to knock them off and feed the carpet monster later before moving on to the main chain gun. No less than 16 parts make up this detailed assembly. Notice that a piece of soft vinyl, representing the ammo feed chute is provided here.

Step 8 involves the detailed PNVS and TADS. Since this is the Apache Guardian version, only the arrowhead version of the TADS should be used, not the earlier version since all E have been upgraded with this important improvement. Be judicious with the glue since this part can be moved after assembly.

Detailed side spoonsons are provided. The avionic bays are open with detailed black boxes. The only things missing would be the wiring looms so you have to make them yourself if you want to display these bays open. I’ll probably shut them to ease assembling and also to keep the helicopter’s mean look. Again, notice the side sponsoons are separate since the D and E have a massive bulge to the rear that contain cooling bays since the upgraded electronics generate far more heat. The A is flat and smooth. Again, wondering if Takom will backdate the kit to an earlier A version.

Plenty of rear detailing are now made. Again, look carefully at the instructions since many will become carpet monster food if assembled before the two stub wings are made and attached.

The next major subassembly would be the two T700 engines. These are correct for the E with the upturned exhaust ports. The engine maintenance panels can be made open or closed. I’ll probably assemble the engines and close the panels to again, keep the Apache’s mean look.

Tail rotor and wheels assembly are built at this point. You have your choice of lightened wheels for the “empty” look or the weighted fully fueled and armed ready to go look so you have your choices. D

The next two pages tackle the main rotor. Here the assembly instructions are really a mess! Especially since this is the “folding rotor” kit with the ability to fold the main rotor blades. To this point, the full set of blade braces and blade to fuselage support brace are included in the kit. Pick your version, mark down the correct instructions and then carefully study the steps as the drawing here are haphazard at best. Afterwards, the Longbow can be constructed or you can skip this and add the rotor top cover or the drone control antenna so pick your choice.

Finally, we come to the weapons and there are quite a few to pack your apache with including sixteen Hellfires, which have your choice of the D nose or L nose and eight rocket pods with fully filled nose and tail, empty nose and tail or a covered nose used for storage so take your pick. The final assembly deals with the folding blade support braces that I talked about earlier. Two version of the chopper are provided, one with the 16th combat aviation brigade and one with the 1st air cavalry division.


To say this kit hit the spot and tickle them all is to say the least. Ok, fine, it may have one or two minor faults, some parts are over engineered, like the panel covers have these pesky little “3-D” printed bolt head parts that will be a bitch to make…I’ll probably replace them with stretched sprue if I have to. The instructions are a mess sometime. The rotor blade assembly is a real one to say the least. Also, somethings are missing, like the two defensive pods that a lot E’s are carrying on their wing tips are missing in this kit. Meng, who will put on the market their own version of the Apache later in August, do contain them. However, unless they simplify their kits by say, dropping the engines and the weapon bay and some of the weapons, and then sell it at 20-30 dollars less, I can’t see how they can compete with this Takom kit cause it fills the bill perfectly as a modern 1/35th kit of the Apache, finally. Now, here’s hoping Takom eventually would dumb this kit down to 1/48th scale for those people who may not have the space as it is quite large of a kit when finished. Ok, not nearly as large as that thrice damned Trumpeter 1/35th Mil Mi-24 Hind, but it’s certainly larger than my 1/35th AH-1Z Viper.

Copyright ModelingMadness.com. All rights reserved. No reproduction in part or in whole without express permission from the editor.

Donald Zhou

July 2023

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