Academy 1/35 scale
by Steve Pritchard
Academy 1/35 AH-1Z Viper (Kit No. 12127)
- Flying Leathernecks Decal sheet USMC AH-1Z (FL35001)
- Eduard AH-1Z seatbelts Steel (33 243)
- Eduard Mask for AH-1Z (JX 242)
- Eduard AH-1Z detail set (32 961)
- DEF Model USMC AH-1Z FOD cover set (DM35090)
- DEF Model M197 20mm Gun barrel set (DM35089)
- Legend Productions AH-1Z Blade Fold set (LF1367)
- Legend Productions AH-1Z Avionics and Ammo Bay set (LF1368)
Mr Color 308 (FS 36375) for the main colour and 337 (FS 35237) for the darker grey on the upper fuselage, tail and stub wings. Tamiya acrylics XF-1 Flat Black and XF-69 Nato Black for the cockpit interior with a dark grey mix for the floor. Sidewinders are in Mr Color 307 to provide a bit of contrast, Hellfires in Tamiya Nato Black and the rocket pods in Tamiya XF-62 Olive Drab with Alclad Aluminium on each end. The FOD covers and RBF tags are in Humbrol Matt 60 Scarlet over a black undercoat.
Construction was complicated by the addition of the avionics and ammo bays – cutting out the kit panels was straightforward, but a lot of test fitting was required to get a fit that would be largely filler free. The Eduard display screens and seat belts add some interest to what is otherwise a fairly bland interior. A fabric effect was achieved on the seats by spraying through a piece of photo etch mesh with the brown shade over the black base coat.
The blade fold was fairly simple and means the large model takes up considerably less shelf space – I have the Legend Blade Fold Rack set on order, but this has been held up due to the current worldwide crisis – should be an interesting addition to the model once it arrives.
I found the location points for the Hellfires and rocket pods to be poor – I added some wire rods in an effort to attach these more securely. I expected to have difficulty with the multi part canopy but this went together without a hitch.
I added pieces of plasticard to the fuselage, tail and engine panels in order to strengthen the joins – the fuselage halves would otherwise be quite flexible and the joints prone to cracking with handling. The model is tail heavy and requires quite a bit of weight as far forward as possible. I used a lead fishing weight and half of the nose weight included in Tamiya’s 1/32 F-16 Viper.
I preshaded with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black, thinned with Mr Color Levelling Thinner in an effort to break up the grey finish of the model. The excellent Flying Leatherneck decal instructions identify the correct paint colour as FS 35237 Blue Grey for the darker grey – the Academy instructions note FS 36320 Dark Ghost Grey.
A light wash of Raw Umber oil paint heavily thinned with turpentine dirtied up the model prior to an application of Humbrol Gloss Polyurethane varnish.
Now the difficult part – which markings to apply? The choice in the FL35001 set is outstanding, but the red marking of HMLAT-303 really stood out. I had thought of perhaps having this scheme on one side and low-viz on the other, but in the end decided against. They went on beautifully – just a hint of silvering around a few of the tail rivets, easily touched up with the appropriate grey paint.
You also get some useful decals for the cockpit and a template to add a couple of parts around the canopy, as well as a quite convincing sticker to represent the larger of the electro-optical sensors.
The final finishing coat was Wattyl Estapol Matt Polyurethane interior varnish.
In summary, this was a very enjoyable, largely trouble-free build. The kit is beautifully detailed out of the box, goes together easily with almost no filler required and looks striking when finished. The aftermarket accessories take it up a notch further, especially the avionics bay and decals.
Text and Images Copyright ©
2020 by Steve Pritchard
Page Created 2 July, 2020
2 July, 2020
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