Hasegawa 1/48 AH-64D Longbow Apache Kit First Look
|Date of Review||August 2006||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Subject||AH-64D Longbow Apache||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||07223||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||The best Apache kit in any scale||Cons||Flash problems from aging molds, bait and switch box art, over-engineered for the average modeler|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$62.98|
The AH-64 Apache was the result of a competition between Hughes Aircraft and Bell Helicopter for the Advanced Attack Helicopter (AAH) program. After the cancellation of the AH-54 Cheyenne, the US Army was in need of another replacement for the AH-1 Cobra. First flown in the mid-1970s the YAH-64 would emerge the victor against rival Bell's YAH-63.
The AH-64A provided the US Army with a number of improvements over the Cobra. The Apache had better range, armor protection, all-important dual engine redundancy, an advanced rotorhead for a smoother ride, independent night attack sensors for the pilot and gunner, and much more. With the Apache came a new anti-tank bullet to replace the TOW - the Hellfire. The Apache was designed to operate and survive in the worst scenario - a Soviet attack into NATO.
Even before the fall of the Soviet Union, technology was improving to the point where it could be feasible to install a battlefield radar into a helicopter. A new mast-mounted radar could peer over obstacles that masked the Apache, allowing the gunner to survey the battlefield, identify targets, coordinate target engagements digitally among a flight of Apaches, then fire a new radar-guided Hellfire against each of the designated morts. The Longbow Apache was born.
Initially, the radar-equipped Longbow was designated AH-64D while the non-radar equipped aircraft that still had all of the other electronics became the AH-64C. These would later be all classified as AH-64D.
While the capability was impressive on paper, the Longbow faced the same problem as the F-14 Tomcat. How can you shoot your advanced missile into the battlespace and be assured of hitting the right target? In the case of the Tomcat, the AIM-54 Phoenix was never fired in anger for that reason, forcing all air-to-air engagements to be conducted after visual acquisition. With the Longbow, a new generation of friendly force identification tools were developed, but there was no room left in the aircraft to install these capabilities. Additional programs are currently underway, such as JTRS, to reduce the volume and weight of the avionics in order to allow for the updates to be installed into the Longbow so it can finally realize its full potential on the battlefield.
The Hasegawa Apache has been on the shelves for some time, but I thought it would be worth having a closer look at this excellent kit. Molded in light gray styrene, the Hasegawa 1/48 AH-64D kit is presented on 12 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus four trees of clear parts.
The detail of this model straight out of the box is quite nice. Hasegawa did not skimp on details in this release. Even the armored crew seats have seatbelts and harnesses molded into place. An optional pair of figures is also included for the flight crew.
Construction of the kit (naturally) begins in the cockpit. The kit has all of the essentials there. The side consoles are represented as decals, so you might consider looking for the Eduard photo-etch details for this kit.
The one area where you'll have a little work is with the infrared suppressing exhaust system. The exhaust ducts are molded top and bottom with a seam that will be visible in each of the exhaust channels. Some careful fitting and patience in sanding will pay dividends here.
The 25mm gun, radar, main rotor and tail rotor are all designed to be movable after assembly. The main rotor can also be removed for transportation as well. Nice touch. The canopy can be posed open or closed for either crew station.
You don't have any armament options in the kit other than two sets of Hellfire launchers (with four missiles each) and two sets of rocket pods.
I wanted to get this kit because I picked up the IsraCast AH-64D-I Saraf Conversion which updates the aircraft inside and out with the Israeli's version of the avionics updates.
Markings are included for one AH-64D example:
- AH-64D, 96-5006
The decal sheet also provides you with more than enough spare numbers to replicate virtually any Longbow in the fleet.
This is definitely the nicest AH-64 kit produced in any scale. With the signficant number of parts that go into this project, I'd recommend this kit to a more experienced modeler - young modelers might get frustrated with the work involved in this project.