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SH-2F Seasprite

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 AH-1Z Viper Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2015 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject AH-1Z Viper Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80125 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First kit of this variant Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $44.95

First Look

80125
80125
80125
80125

The U.S. Marine Corps has been flying twin-engined AH-1 Cobra helicopters for decades and when they had the opportunity to transition to the AH-64 Apache, they opted to upgrade their fleet of AH-1W airframes instead. Bell Helicopter proposed a common upgrade program for the UH-1N and AH-1W to receive the same rotor system, engines, transmission, tail boom, tail rotor, avionics, displays, etc. The upgraded UH-1N would become the UH-1Y while the upgraded AH-1W would become the AH-1Z Viper (or Zulu Cobra).

While the AH-64 Apache and the AH-1Z Viper are similar in size, weight, engines, and armament, the Viper is about 20 knots faster, faster on the climb, and can carry the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder versus the Stinger on the Apache. On the other hand, the Apache is armed with the M230 30mm gun with 1200 rounds versus the Viper's M197 20mm gun with 750 rounds. The AH-1Z is still under production while Marine squadrons transition into this new capability.

Here is the first kit of the AH-1Z Viper in any scale, this one being Kitty Hawk Models' 1/48 model and it is a beauty. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched parts. I can happily state that this kit is not over-engineered and should be a straightforward build as we soon shall see.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautifully detailed cockpits
  • Photo-etched crew restraints
  • Positionable crew entry doors
  • Positionable engine bay doors
  • Nicely detailed T700 engines inside engine bays
  • Nicely detailed gatling gun and turret
  • Steel ball for ballast provided for inside of turret
  • Detailed rotors
  • Positionable forward avionics bay doors
  • Detailed avionics bays provided
  • Photo-etched screens and grilles provided for various parts of the airframe

External stores include:

  • 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
  • 2 x LAU-61 19-shot rocket pods
  • 2 x LAU-68 7-shot rocket pods
  • 8 x AGM-114 Hellfires on two M272 launchers

Markings are provided for three subjects:

  • AH-1Z, 168000, HMLAT-303, QT/640
  • AH-1Z, 168003, HMLAT-303, QT/615
  • AH-1Z, 168049, HMLA-367, VT/44

If you'll note the parts layout, Kitty Hawk followed Bell's lead and made the tail, engines, rotors, etc. on their own trees as we'll be seeing the UH-1Y coming in the near future. The decals are also nicely done and provide two training squadron examples including the commanding officer's colorful aircraft (the decals mistakenly identify this aircraft as bureau number 168000 when it is actually 168800). One operational squadron example is also included.

This is a nice looking kit and with the wide variety of images available online, you won't have any problems finding reference images from which to work your own magic.

Note: I've noticed that some online stores have this kit listed at prices higher than the MSRP of $44.95 USD. You might want to shop around to get the best price!

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!

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