Aircraft Resource Center

                                 

1/48 Monogram AH-1S Cobra

by Albert Moore

--------------------

Birthday-announcement banner

Gal mainpage Ad above main pic

 

Gal mainpage Ad below main pic

History  

          Bell ’s Model 209, better known as the AH-1 Cobra, was conceived in the middle stages of the Vietnam War.  While ad-hoc weapons systems were added to existing helicopters for gunship use, the Cobra was the first mass-produced, dedicated heavy attack helicopter.  Built around the UH-1 Huey’s engine, transmission, and tail boom, the Cobra would prove to be deadly efficient at its intended role.  The AH-1G entered front-line service with the US Army in 1967, with AH-1F/S being the last variant to serve before being superceded by the McDonnell Douglas AH-64A/D Apache.  In the late 1990’s the AH-1 was retired from the US Army, some 30 years after it had entered service.  The AH-1W Super Cobra (twin engine, navalized variant) serves as the primary attack helicopter of the United States Marine Corps, and serves with the armed forces of Turkey, and Taiwan, while the AH-1F/S is in service with Israel, Japan, Jordan, and Pakistan (The Cobra was exported to a host of other countries, but their operational status is unknown).  Upgrades in armament, avionics, and defensive aids keep the Cobra in pace with the latest generation of attack helicopters. With the introduction of the AH-1Z Viper, the Cobra will continue to strike for sometime to come.

Click on images below to see larger images

Building an Israeli Tzefa             

First order of business was gathering references.  After I had gathered what was needed, building commenced.  First order of business was to add brass screen mesh to the engine cover openings. After thinning the plastic from inside the fuselage and enlarging the openings a bit, the mesh was glued into place.  Work on the cockpit started next. The cockpit tub, instrument panels, interior walls, and seats were painted Tamiya NATO Black. Various shades of black were used to detail paint the instruments, controls, and interior bits to avoid a monochromatic look.  Everything was dry-brushed again, then individual knobs and switches were piqued out with grey, red, yellow, and silver.  The seat cushions were painted dark green, with light grey seat belts, then glued to the pit’ tub.  The cockpit received a final dry-brushing before being sealed into the fuselage halves.  After all exterior sub-assemblies were added, the fun job of seam clean-up began.  The kit was tooled in the hey-day of raised panel lines, so care is needed when eliminating the seams.  A combination of CA glue and Model Master red putty was used to fill gaps and seams.  The trickiest part to fit and clean up was the where the bottom plate/landing skid assembly attaches to the fuselage.  The piece was warped, plus there were major gaps where the skids meet the fuselage.  Once satisfied with the seam clean-up, I began the task of making extra RWR and other assorted lumps found on Israeli Cobras.  Resin pour stubs were reshaped for the RWR housings behind the canopy and on the right side of the tail boom (also for the whip antenna base on the tip of the tail).  A plume detector from a RoG MH-60L was modified then added to the left side of the tail boom, just below the exhaust.  Another sensor was whittled into shape, and then added to the top of the nose.  There is a triangular housing on top of the doghouse that needs to be removed.  The holes for the towel rack antennas that would be mounted behind the horizontal stabs need to be filled as these were deleted from Israeli Cobras.  The tail skid was replaced with brass rod for added strength.  A new blade antenna was made from sheet styrene, and then placed on the bottom of the fuselage, between the skids.  The last obstacle to tackle was the external chaff/flare dispensers.  Sheet styrene was used for the base of both dispensers, while brass was used for the mounting brackets.  The dispensers themselves came from a Pro-Modeler F-4E Phantom kit.  Screen mesh was added to the back end of the dispensers to replicate the egg-crate look.  Perhaps the most nerve-racking portion of the build up was cutting the canopy apart.  With all the detail painting, plus I wanted to add HSS rails and the associated wiring, it would’ve been a shame to cover it with a closed canopy.  The canopy was cut apart using the backside of an Exact-o knife blade, cleaned up, strip material added to replace material lost in the cutting process, and then polished and set aside.  Some strip styrene was used to shim the canopy/fuselage join (another major fit issue) to improve the fit.  Before adding the canopy, HSS rails were added to styrene brackets, and then attached to canopy.  Copper wiring was used to replicate the HSS rail wiring.  With canopy added and sealed off, the last of the fiddly bits (cable cutters, braces, ADS Boom) were added prior to painting.

Click on images below to see larger images

 

Painting and Rotors/Weapons construction

        After one final check of the seams and masking off the canopy, it was time to apply the paint.  No complicated paint scheme here as the overall finish is FS 30145.  A Humbrol mix of Hu110 and Hu119 was sprayed onto model for a base coat.  The color was lightened, and then applied in light coats.  More white was added to a separate jar of the base color, it was randomly applied to replicate patch work on the finish.   The panel lines were post shaded with the base color.  While the model was left to dry, I assembled the weapons and rotors.  The operational load-out on most Israeli Cobras these days consists of just four TOW launchers (two per side, mounted on the outside pylons). After removing the lower half of the TOW launchers, sheet styrene was used for the mounting brackets and retaining straps.  The rotors and TOW launchers were painted with the original base color, and then detail painted where necessary.  For a touch of color, the armed portion of the TOW launchers was painted blue to represent inert weapons.  Dark grey paint was used to replicate the anti-slip material on the wings (upon re-evaluating that decision, Interior Black would have been a better choice).  Model Master Metalizer Sealer was sprayed onto all assemblies in preparation for the decaling/panel line/weathering process.

 

Click on images below to see larger images

 

Markings/Weathering

            In the latter stages of 2002, Northern Cobra Squadron AH-1s’ started to sport a new large, black snake motif on the fuselage.  Ra’anan Weiss (owner of Isradecal) designed the motif and applied it to first NCS Tzefa himself.  The snake is actually FS 34031 Helo Drab, but looks black in photos.  Imagine my delight when I received word that Ra’anan was going to issue a set of decals for this scheme (along with decals for the desert camo’ed Apache and S-70 Yanshuf).  Applying those large decals was daunting and proved to be very challenging.  I had to use decals from my spare set of as one of the snakes rolled onto itself while trying to apply it to the model.  I ended up destroying the decal while trying unroll it, GRRR!  Oh well, that’s why I get a second set, just in case things like that happen.  The rest of the snake segment decals went on without a hitch.    An acrylic sludge wash was used to darken the vents and shadowed areas. It was also used on the rotors and weapon racks.  After the wash was applied, I sealed everything with Acryl Dull Coat.  Dry-brushing was done on various places of the fuselage (mainly on the rivets and some access panels). 

 

Click on images below to see larger images

 

Final Assembly

            With the painting, decaling, and weathering completed, it was time to put the final touches on this baby.  A new anti-collision beacon was made from a piece of clear sprue, added to its base, and then painted clear red.  The wing tip and other fuselage navigation lights were painted at this time as well.  The ALQ-144 IR Jammer was first painted silver chrome, then tinted with Tamiya Clear Yellow and Orange .  A small section of brass rod was used to replicate the targeting turret location marker (then painted hi-viz orange).  The operational sections of the canopy were added next.  The actuators and handles came from an Italeri AH-1T Sea Cobra kit.  The 20mm gun was installed, as were the TOW launchers.  The launchers themselves received some wiring for added detail.  Two whip antennas were made from stretched sprue, and then added just ahead of the doghouse.  A section of guitar string (E1 for you music types ) was used for the UHF antenna on the tail.  The exhaust was painted a burnt metal color, and spotlight lens was added to the bottom (from layered five minute epoxy).

The last touch was using black pastel powder to replicate the exhaust stains on the tail boom.

 

Click on images below to see larger images

 

Conclusion

            Monogram’s 1/48th AH-1S was originally released in the mid 1980s’.  Accurate in shape and detail, Monogram’s Cobra still continues to be one of the best AH-1 kits on the market.   To this day, it is a Rotorhead favorite.  The level of detail is outstanding, with cockpit being the most impressive aspect of the kit.  It builds up somewhat hassle free, and with some extra TLC, a stunning replica of the is important aircraft can be made.  

 

Shana Tova,

Albert

Gal mainpage Ad above main pic

Vertical ad

Photos and text © by Albert Moore

footer banner