Fireball Modelworks

1/32 AH-1G HueyCobra Part 1 U.S. Army in Vietnam decal sheet

Product # FM32-D01

Product Article by Mike Phillips




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..

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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!

The instruction 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 placement.

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 shelf!
Check out the Fireball Modleworks website at


Photos and text by Mike Phillips