|PRICE:||4600 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2020 Limited Edition|
Formerly known as AH-64D Block III, in 2012, it was redesignated as AH-64E Guardian to represent its increased capabilities. The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), full IFR capability, and improved landing gear. New composite rotor blades, which successfully completed testing in 2004, increase cruise speed, climb rate, and payload capacity. Deliveries began in November 2011. Full-rate production was approved on 24 October 2012, with 634 AH-64Ds to be upgraded to AH-64E standard and production of 56 new-build AH-64Es to start in 2019/20. Changes in production lots 4 through 6 shall include a cognitive decision aiding system and new self-diagnostic abilities. The updated Longbow radar has an oversea capacity, potentially enabling naval strikes; an AESA radar is under consideration. The E model is to be fit for maritime operations. The Army has expressed a desire to add extended-range fuel tanks to the AH-64E to further increase range and endurance. AH-64Es are to have the L-3 Communications MUM-TX datalink installed in place of two previous counterparts, communicating on C, D, L, and Ku frequency bands to transmit and receive data and video with all Army UAVs. Lots 5 and 6 will be equipped with Link 16 data-links. As of April 2020, 500 AH-64E have been delivered.
What Hasegawa has done with this one is to take the standard AH-64D boxing, add some extra sprues to deal with the avionics updates, new rotor blades, and a new lower airframe panel along with a photo etch fret not found in the D boxing. Then kick the price up near $50.00, add new decals and there you have it.
Actually, that is pretty much how Hasegawa generally deals with all of its upgraded kits so that should not be a surprise to most. What this does is really fill the box as those additional sprues take up a lot of space and added to the standard kit, means a lot of parts.
This is not a kit for those who like quick builds or minimal parts. According to the box, there are 301 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. 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.
One thing you will have to do is follow the instructions quite closely. There are a number of areas where you need to drill holes, fill detail, remove detail, and add bits to properly portray the E variant. This all adds to the complexity of the build, but Hasegawa's instruction sheet is very well done and provides small detail drawings to help you out. As usual, Hasegawa uses Gunze paint references, which means you have to mix some shades, including the overall color. Testors used to do a helo drab that was perfect for this and I hope that is not one of the shades they discontinued. Markings are for two Korean Army helos that differ only by serial number. As you can see, most of the decal sheet is stencils so that will occupy a lot of your time applying them.
The Apache is a quite successful aircraft and just looks like an attack helo. Nothing is streamlined or smoothed out and all those 'lumps and bumps' just add to the overall look. I built the AH-64D and can tell you that you have to be very careful during the build. I especially ran into issues fitting lower fuselage side pods and landing gear so pat attention to assembling this area. It will not be a quick build, but the end results are well worth the effort.
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