ICM 1/32 AH-1G Cobra Build Review
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||September 2021||Manufacturer||ICM|
|Subject||Bell AH-1G Cobra||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||32060||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$108.00|
Earlier this year, ICM released the first new-tool kit of the single-engine AH-1 Cobra in 1/32 scale, the only other option being the venerable Revell kit released back in the early 1960s, also in 1/32 scale. One might automatically assume that the ICM kit is superior to the Revell kit, but that is more subjective in this case. The ICM kit seems to have an 'MSRP' of around $108 in the US, while the Revell kit can be found at kit swaps for next to nothing, if you don't have one already stashed away in your collection. The ICM kit consists of five parts trees molded in gray styrene plus one tree of clear parts. The fit of the fuselage is great, the details in the cockpits are better than the Revell kit, and the clear cockpit enclosure is thinner and clearer than the Revell kit. In fact, the cockpit entry doors are positionable on the ICM kit, not so with the Revell offering. That allows one to see the more accurate details inside both cockpits of the ICM kit. The Revell kit has positionable engine access doors with representations of the Lycoming T53 engine and transmission inside. The ICM kit only offers a positionable access door to the transmission. So is the ICM kit around $60-$70 better than the Revell kit? You be the judge.
On the plus side, the ICM kit has parts for both an early production aircraft (tail rotor on the left side) and the late production (tail rotor on the right side) as well as a variety of details unique to early, mid, and late production variants. The instructions and decals are only for the early production examples, but with some good reference photos, you can figure out how to render a later example as we're going to do here. On the downside, a little bit of scratch-building will be required to make the model (early or late version) correct as it is missing the sand shields on the rotor head, and the pilot's gunsight is a shape atop the instrument cluster without controls or combining glass. I'm sure there are a few other details along the way that we'll also deal with (or not).
What drew me to this project was the Quinta Studio cockpit detail set, so the first step was to remove all of the molded-on details on the instrument panels and side consoles before applying the base coat.
While the paint is drying in the cockpit, I glued the late-model tail to the fuselage halves and test-fit the fuselage to ensure that everything aligns. I also assembled the exhaust deflector that protected the aircraft from the shoulder-fired SA-7 missiles.
I could have simply added the Quinta Studio parts to the cockpits and the results would have been stunning, but I was concerned that the painting recommendations provided by the kit instructions were a bit too simplistic. I grabbed a copy off my shelf of the Walk Around AH-1 Cobra (Wayne Mutza) and used the color photos to replicate the color/feel of the interior. The combination of the Quinta Studio set plus some detail painting really made the difference.
Here's a closer look into the front and rear cockpits and how nice those instrument panels, side consoles, and crew restraints look installed. I also added a few details and a combining glass to the pilot's gunsight. I also added some pastel powder to 'dirty up' the floors since the aircraft usually operated from less than pristine facilities.
The fuselage interior behind the cockpit has been painted chromate yellow along with the bulkheads/floors of the transmission compartment while the transmission and air filter were painted aluminum. I briefly considered stealing the engine out of my Revell kit and having one set of doors open to reveal the engine and transmission, but instead, I'm opting to close the access doors and focus on the upcoming paint scheme work.
After building the transmission (doghouse) compartment, it was time to put the fuselage halves together. I followed the instructions and nothing seemed to work as the kit would not fit together with the transmission compartment and cockpit installed. Time for Plan B: remove the cockpits, leave the cockpit rear bulkhead in place, keep the doghouse compartment in place as best as possible, then calmly go to the rear of the aircraft. I glued the tail and tail boom, and used clamps to keep them together. Moving forward, the engine exhaust had shifted in the previous hand-to-hand combat, so re-glued that into position and glued the rear of the doghouse from underneath. I let that all set up before moving to the doghouse compartment, adjusting the position of those parts before gluing/re-gluing them and clamping, then set it all aside (again). Since the forward fuselage is not yet glued, the cockpit will slide in from the front and can be glued before we move back to our regularly scheduled kit instructions. The first words in those instructions for assembling the fuselage should have read: stop chewing gum and take your time! Note: Given time, the Tamiya Extra Thin Cement and clamps work well. There was no need of cyano nor filler, just overcoming some awkward assemblies.
To be continued - stay tuned!