In 1967, the U.S.
Army fielded a new helicopter, the Bell AH-1G HueyCobra. The helicopter was the
answer to the Army's quest for a replacement for the UH-1B and C gunships it had
been using in the war up to that time. Using components from the UH-1C such as
the engine and transmission, and the rotor design, the Cobra became the world's
first true, purpose designed attack helicopter gunship. Developed entirely with
company funds, Bell's design must have been a good one, because it is still in
use today with the U.S. Marines as the AH-1W and the soon to be AH-1Y, along
with other countries around the world.
The only large scale
kit of the Vietnam era AH-1G to be released to date has been the Revell kit from
the early 1970s. This kit has been re-released over the past 30 years with
various markings, and those were usually just changes to the unit markings, and
occasionally a new shark mouth design. Enter Fireball Modelworks. Joseph
Osborne, the proprietor of Fireball Modelworks made a move late last year to
update the Revell kit with his release of a "late war" Cobra
modification, which included an updated exhaust area, air scoops for the sides
of the intakes, an anti-Strella "sugar scoop" exhaust deflector, and
even a new tail section with the "tractor style" tail rotor mounted on
the left side, all in resin. All that was needed was a set of markings for some
of these late war AH-1s to make the model complete. Those are now here with the
release of FM32-D01, "AH-1G HueyCobra Part 1: U.S. Army in Vietnam..
images below to see larger images
For a first release,
these decals are great! The decal sheets are Alps printed, so of course the
carrier film covers the whole sheet. I've used a few Alps decal sheets, and they
seem to be more delicate when handled than the normal silkscreen printed sheets,
so take care when handling them. The markings on the sheet are extremely well
printed and are in perfect register. All of the Alps decals I have ever used
work well with most of the setting solutions out there, so there shouldn't be a
problem there. The stencil markings are very well done and are also very crisp
and detailed. Two sheets are included with the set, each half the size of a
normal sheet of paper. The first sheet includes the markings specific to the
four ships included in the set. Also on this first sheet is a bonus...extra unit
markings. These include badges for the 1st AirCav, 101st Airmobile Div, both in
two different sizes, and some markings for "Blue Max" units, along
with a few other items. There are some extra generic helicopter stencil items on
this sheet too. Sheet number two contains all of the stencil data, enough to do
one complete Cobra. Also included are items like Cav flags and crossed sabres in
different sizes and designs. There are enough "UNITED STATES ARMY"
markings included to allow you to use them with other kits, or for spares in
case you damage one. Serial numbers are included as well in three colors; black,
white and yellow.
A third item is also
included, a very ingenious addition to the set. The decals for the two
sharkmouths have only the outline and the teeth, but no color for the interior
of the mouths. This third sheet is a paper mask for the sharkmouth markings.
Instructions are included on how to use the mask, but basically you spray the
color of the mouth on the nose of the model, apply the mask, then spray the
color of the helicopter. After that, just remove the masks and then apply the
sharkmouth markings! Simple enough!
sheets are a work of art! Two full sized glossy color sheets are included. The
sheets are folded with credits and some tips on working with Alps decals
included on the back of the cover sheet. Instructions for using the masks are
here also. On the back of the cover sheet are four-view drawings showing stencil
The second sheet
shows the four aircraft that the set supplies markings for:
66-15272, 334th AHC
"Playboys" at Bien Hoa 1967 (VERY early model Cobra).
68-17054 "Sounds of Silence" C/2/20 ARA, Early 1971.
68-15068 "Cindy Ann", a 20MM equipped late model Cobra from C/1/9th of
the 1st Air Cav at Phouc Vinh, August 1970-March 1971.
68-15012 "#1 Du Me Mi" from F Troop, 4th Cav, Phu Bai in late 1972.
This is the "ultumate" Vietnam Cobra, with the left tail rotor, and
anti Strella mods.
The sheet shows left
and right side views and includes a little history behind each aircraft. Joseph
says there is an error on the historical info on the ARA Cobra. Jim Moran was a
Warrant Officer at the time, not a Captain. Painting instructions are also
included with each view, for things like the tips of the main and tail rotors,
and the horizontal stabilizers.
The set costs $15
for the 1/32 scale set. 1/72 scale is also available for $12. If you also buy
the 1/32 late war conversion, Joseph says he'll cut you a deal for the decals!
Overall, this set is
as close to perfect as I feel you could get. The instructions are beautiful, as
are the decals themselves. If you enjoy Vietnam era helicopters as much as I do,
then this is the set you've been looking for. Considering that Revell's decal
sheet has NO stencils on it at all(at least none of the sheets I've ever seen
included with the Cobra kits had any, and I've built ALOT of them!), you can
build four different helicopters with this release, and one of those will have
full stencils! And then, you will still have enough markings left over to fill
out the rest of your "Hunter Killer Team". I wish this set had been
available about four years ago, when I hand painted the shark mouth that
"#1 Du Me Mi" carries!
Used with Cobra Company's AH-1 items, you can have a prize winning model on your
Check out the Fireball Modleworks website at http://www.fireballmodels.info/