by: Frederick Boucher [ ]
The Bell Helicopter AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter replaced the ubiquitous UH-1 "Huey” in gunship duties in 1967. Fast, maneuverable, heavily armed and small (a.k.a., hard to hit), the sleek Cobra and its deadly bite has been steadily upgraded to a tank-killer with TOW missiles, while still depended upon for aerial fire support, armed escort, and reconnaissance. In service for forty years, Cobras are still in use with the U.S. Marine Corps.
The model is built with seventy-six pale grey styrene parts (including several optional weapons), a clear styrene canopy, and decals for two schemes. These are on five sprues sealed in plastic bags.
The styrene is slightly brittle, but not fragile. Hobby Boss’ molding is clean and crisp, with no flash. No ejector pin marks or sink marks are present on visible surfaces.
The airframe parts have engraved panel lines and details. Some rivets are raised where appropriate.
The airframe is molded as two fuselage pieces. This is a pseudo modular style for multiple Cobra versions. The specific fuselage halves are on a separate sprue joined around the cockpit. The fuselage is completed with the two boom and sponson airfoils; the helicopter is finished with the two-part skids, nose mounted Telescopic Sight Unit (TSU), chin mounted M28A3 armament subsystem with M134 minigun and M129 grenade launcher, belly plate behind that chin turret, antenna fittings, rotors and seven-plane semiflat canopy. Additionally, cable cutters are provided for the canopy and belly.
The cockpit is built with ten pieces, a basic tandem cockpit tub, two seats (with molded-on harnesses), collective, sticks (gunner and pilots’), two instrument panels with raised bezels, gunsight and rear bulkhead. Finally, the three exterior armament choices, each built with four or seven parts. These are the (two of each) 7-round 2.75 in (70 mm) M158 rocket launcher, M261 19-Tube 70mm (2.75”) rocket launcher, and BGM-71A 4-round TOW missile launcher.
The profile and dimensions appear accurate. The three-barrel M134 three-barreled electric Gatling chin gun is molded as one piece. Aside from the cockpit tub with some raised switches, there is no detail inside the crew compartment.
The canopy shows linear distortion. The sharply defined framing is textured. The kit includes no clear navigation or landing lamps.
Instructions, painting and decals
Hobby Boss’ instruction sheet is two pages of eight undefined stages. It should not be confusing.
The painting guide is a page with a color 4-view of each Cobra. Colors are referenced for Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol.
The kit includes markings for two:
1. AH-1S, a/n JG-3416, Japanese Self Defense Force.
2. AH-1S, a/n unknown, Israeli Air Force, 160 Sqn.
The decals appear on the sheet to be very good, with excellent registration, fine printing and color density. Scanned and enlarged, they look rough. The finish is glossy, with the carrier film trimmed close to most markings.
Hobby Boss did a grand job on their Cobra. "Rivet-counters" may find things to constructively critique. Nevertheless, Hobby Boss’ new kit offers some good detail and plenty of options.
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