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ACH-47A Kit

Italeri 1/48 ACH-47A Chinook Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2006 Manufacturer Italeri
Subject ACH-47A Chinook Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2647 Primary Media Styrene
Pros The kit looks like it came from the same designers as the Academy CH-46 series! Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $65.00

First Look

ACH-47A Kit
ACH-47A Kit
ACH-47A Kit
ACH-47A Kit
ACH-47A Kit
ACH-47A Kit

In June 1959, the Army issued a specification for a new Battlefield Mobility Helicopter which could carry 40 fully equipped troops or two tons of cargo internally or up to eight tons of cargo via external sling. In addition, the aircraft would have to be able to transport any component of the Pershing missile system.

While a number of designs were submitted, the Model 114 from Boeing/Vertol was selected. This aircraft bore more than a slight resemblance to the Model 107 that was being operated by the US Navy as the CH-46, but the Model 114/CH-47A was a significantly more powerful aircraft. Where the CH-46S was initially powered by a pair of 1,400 shp engines, the CH-47A started off with a pair of 2,650 shp engines.

The Model 114 made its first flight in September 1961 and entered service soon afterwards. Fairing pods on each side of the aircraft housed the non-retractable quadricycle landing gear and large portions of these pods were sealed to provide buoyancy to the aircraft while it operated from water.

I remember a marketing trip that Boeing/Vertol took to South America many years ago and the crew landed their Chinook in Lake Titicaca. What's so impressive about that? Any helicopter operating from water must be able to lift itself back out of the water as well as the weight of any water that naturally enters the aircraft. This is challenging enough at sea level, but Lake Titicaca is located high in the Andes mountains at over 12,500 feet, well above the safe hover altitude for most helicopters. The Chinook took the challenge in stride, attesting to the brute power of the aircraft.

The Chinook didn't have long to wait before its baptism of fire, the CH-47A went to war in Vietnam, proving its worth many times over.

For those of us who've been building Italeri kits for a while, we're accustomed to a certain approach they take to designing their molds to strike a good balance between detail and cost. Detail is important to the more sophisticated modeling market of today, but tooling is getting ever more expensive, and the more the tooling costs, the higher the final retail price will be. Italeri has been criticized for the lack of detail in some of their kits, but these critics think nothing about comparing these kits to some of the Japanese equivalents at several times the price.

So what's the point of this introduction? When I open an Italeri kit, I have certain expectations of what is inside the box. And what is inside this box? If I didn't know better, I'd swear this was an Academy kit. The design approach used by Italeri for the ACH-47 is strikingly similar to the design of Academy's CH-46 and CH-53 series. These are completely different aircraft, so obviously there wasn't anything useful to copy from the Academy kit. Nor is this in any way a scaled-down version of the Trumpeter 1/35 scale kit. In short, Italeri hit a home run with this one.

Molded in olive drab styrene, this kit is presented on five parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. There are no metal, photo-etched, or resin parts used in this kit, so this is buildable by any modeler with some experience (this is a large model, even in 1/48 scale, so this isn't the best choice for younger or less experienced adult modelers).

If you look carefully at the second parts tree, Italeri used the same design approach as Academy for the interior. The cockpit and cargo bay floor is one piece. There is a pair of interior walls for the cargo bay as well as an overhead ceiling. Unlike the Trumpeter kit, it looks like Italeri got it right for the look up into the rear rotor mast.

The parts layout is such that a vanilla trash-hauler is possible, and we'll likely see such a version in the future, as well as additional parts to perhaps render the CH-47D as well. But for now, Italeri has provided the parts for an awesome looking gunship!

The cockpit features armored crew seats, full flight controls, and an instrument panel that uses decals for all of the instruments. The rear cockpit bulkhead is a multi-part affair that provides the avionics racks that are visible in the cargo bay as well as the overhead console and circuit breaker panels visible in the cockpit.

In the cargo bay, Italeri did something different with the passenger/troop seats. These are included inside the cargo bay, but they are folded up out of the way. With a little work and some brass rod, you could probably pose some or all of the troop seats down if you so desire. This is a gunship however, and the cargo bay comes with two port side and two starboard side gunners. A large ammo container is mounted just behind the cockpit to feed the thumper on the nose.

Weapons mounts are fitted to the sides of the fuselage sponsons, each mounting a forward-firing 20mm cannon and a rocket pod. The nose-mounted grenade launcher (thumper), the four window-mounted 50s and a single 50 caliber mounted on the rear cargo ramp round out the armament options.

Another major detail that Italeri got right was the aft cargo ramp and door. As with the full-scale machine, the door goes inside the ramp when the ramp is opened, as opposed to folding up inside the cargo compartment ceiling like a C-130. Kudos to Italeri!

One unique option in the kit is a set of positionable clamshell doors that provide access into a maintenance service bay at the front of the rear rotor mast.

The project is rounded out with the 14 antenna masts that go along the port side of the aircraft. These are mounts for the HF longwire antenna that is fitted to the aircraft for long-range communications. Check your references for proper rigging.

This kit comes with markings for three aircraft:

  • ACH-47A, 64-13149, 1 Avn Det, 2/20 ARA, Vietnam, 1967, 'Easy Money'
  • ACH-47A, 64-13145, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, 1966
  • ACH-47A, 64-13151, 1 Avn Det, 2/20 ARA, Vietnam, 1967, 'Stump Jumper'

As I said earlier, Italeri has hit a home run with this release! This kit is every bit as nice as the Academy CH-46s and their new CH-53, all of which are in the same scale. Rotorheads rejoice!

Thanks to MRC for the review sample.