Hobby Boss 1/72 AH-1S Cobra

KIT #: 87225
PRICE: 65 yuan RMB
DECALS: Two options


This is possibly the most famous helicopter gunship, at least to an older generation, the one that started it all - the "Huey Cobra".

I think most people know the basics about this beast: how it came about as the US needed a faster, better chopper to escort its troop carrying UH-1s into combat in Vietnam, and how through progressive variants the Cobra went on to fight in the Gulf War and again, this century, in Iraq and Afghanistan (a modified two engine series flown by the US Marine Corps). In all, the various models of the Cobra have been in service getting on to fifty years, with the US Army, US Marines, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Taiwan and Japan. The Israeli Cobras have seen plenty of action and Iran reportedly used its choppers in the long, wasteful and pointless war against Iraq. There are various claims and stories about the Cobras engaging Iraqi Mi-24

The Japan Ground Self Defence Force got about 90 of the AH-1S model, built under licence between 1984 and 2000. Through the Cold War, Japan's main concern was nearby Russia, possibly invading the northern island of Hokkaido. These days, of course, Japan is more concerned about an increasingly assertive and sometimes petulant China, which claims - unreasonably in just about everyone else's opinion - the vast majority of the South and East China Seas where Japan also claims islands. If the worst comes to the worst - and let's hope it doesn't - these Cobras might be engaging in repelling a Chinese amphibious assault. The same could be true of the Taiwanese versions too.

Our editor ably previewed this kit right here on MM.

 In a nutshell this is a really nice kit - well moulded, clear canopy, some decent cockpit detail (though no panel decals which is a shame) and some weaponry - a pair of quad pack TOW launchers for the outboard pylon and a choice between a skinny and a fat rocket pod inboard. You can do the Japanese version you see here or an Israeli version.


Well, I got this as far as the fuselage being sealed up when I discovered I needed nose weight! It tail sits on the back of the skids if you don't add any. Luckily I left the exhaust pipe off, so I could stuff some blu-tack in the rear and jam it forward using a chopstick. That was pretty easy and it looks much better sitting properly on its skids so it was worth the effort. Before that, I constructed the basic cockpit. Unfortunately the kit doesn't come with instrument panel decals and it really needs them because the canopy is so big and so clear.  I painted some instrument panels but decals would look a lot better. The rest of the interior is pretty basic and could use some detailing, but I just painted some seatbelts and completed the kit parts.

After painting the main fuselage, and doing the decals (see below), I went about adding the various smaller parts. I lost one of the tail boom handles, but the one I retained fit well as did the one that goes above and behind the canopy. There are a couple of air data probes and some wire cutters, as well as, of course, the main and tail rotors. The main one goes on nicely, but you need to hold it for a bit so the smaller, diagonal rods stay correctly in the holes for them underneath the rotor head.

The canopy fits snugly and it really is very clear, so much so that I kind of wish I'd made more effort in the cockpit. The gun barrel went on last, just after the weapons pods. The outboard one is the TOW launcher, which is made up of 7 parts. I chose the fatter rocket pod simply because it went together a little more neatly than the skinny one.


You can build fairly generic looking Israeli or Japanese variants using the included decals. I went with the Japanese version because the camo scheme is a little more interesting. The main colours are Tamiya XF-73 (JGSDF green) and Vallejo 879 (the brown). Neither are what the instructions suggest (XF-26/Vallejo 895 for the green and Vallejo 874 for the brown) but these are what I could get and they are fairly close (see the pictures in the references). The camo scheme has a few splashes of black too, and interestingly the entire underside is green - the brown sections terminate at the base of the fuselage.

For the AN/ALQ-144 IR decoy - that little red thing on top of the engine exhaust - I tried to replicate the mixed colours those things have in real life. They look like a multi-faceted set of red/gold windows. It's tiny, I could hardly mask it or anything, so I freehanded as best my eyesight could support. I think it looks ok from a distance.

The decals, fortunately, are few, because unlike most HobbyBoss decals these were a little bit shiny despite the best efforts of my good friend Mark. That's Mr Mark Softer, to you. The red national markings are out of register, which is pretty obvious as it's the only colourful thing on the whole helicopter.

But I really like the camouflage scheme, especially the little ripples of black. Overall the Cobra has a pretty sleek, menacing appearance, more graceful than the more recent alternatives like the Mangusta I recently built, or the Apache and Tiger.


Any easy to assemble kit (not an EasyAssembly kit, but easy to build) which is let down just a little bit by its basic cockplt and the out of register Japanese national markings. But I enjoyed it and while I've not built a Cobra from other brands I think most non-Cobra devotees will be happy with this, and the real fans could use it as a sound base for something more detailed.



Richard F

March 2015

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