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AH-1Z Viper Kit

Academy 1/35 AH-1Z Viper Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2019 Manufacturer Academy
Subject AH-1Z Viper Scale 1/35
Kit Number 12127 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros First kit of this version in this scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $69.00

First Look

AH-1Z Viper Kit
AH-1Z Viper Kit
AH-1Z Viper Kit
AH-1Z Viper Kit

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. First declared operational in 2010, the AH-1Z is still under production while Marine squadrons transition into this new capability.

You might remember that MRC/Academy produced the AH-1W in 1/35 scale and was released over time with airframe updates. It has been a while since the last release of this kit and when Academy first announced the AH-1Z, some speculated that this was going to be another update to the AH-1W tooling. If you've ever seen the AH-1W kit, one look at the parts trees to the right will prove definitively that the AH-1Z release does not share any parts with the older kit, this is 100% new tool. What's more, Academy used contemporary molding technology to produce this kit, especially looking at the one-piece tail boom using slide-molding. This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees (duplicate tree not shown) plus one tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautifully detailed front and rear cockpits
  • Nicely molded instrument panels and side consoles for easy painting
  • Crew seats do not have crew restraints - aftermarket restraints will be needed
  • Positionable cockpit entry doors
  • T700 engine compressor faces visible down intakes
  • Engine access panels molded separately but not intended to be positionable as there are no engines provided inside engine bays, but if you use an aftermarket engine bay detail set, this will make displaying the engines much easier
  • FLIR and gun turrets are movable/posable
  • Paint masks included for canopy/doors
  • Photo-etch grilles for air vents around the airframe

Among the armament options in the kit

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

The kit also comes with a huge sheet of decals to render the following four subjects:

  1. AH-1Z, 168961, HMLA-169, SN/47, MCAS Iwakuni, 2017
  2. AH-1Z, 168961, HMLA-369, SM/47, MCAS Iwakuni, 2018
  3. AH-1Z, 168961, HMLA-469, SE/47, Itazuke AB, 2018
  4. AH-1Z, 168003, HMLA-303, QT/615, NAS North Island, 2011

While this kit has been on the market for a few months, the feedback has been very positive and warranted a look for ourselves. The completed model will require a little more shelf space to display given the four-bladed main rotor, but the good news is that there are already solutions available in the aftermarket. Like the full-scale aircraft being stowed on (or under) the flight deck, there is (at least) one aftermarket conversion to display the rotor blades folded. While this conversion doesn't include the blade supports to hold them while folded, there is another aftermarket set that provides that feature. When we get this model on the bench, we'll take a closer look at these aftermarket options.

This is a beautiful kit in the box, and the images I've seen online of built examples reinforce the conclusion that Academy has done an outstanding job on this one.

For a look at this kit in our quick-build review, look here.

Here is a list of paints Academy identifies for use with this kit:

 
AMMO
AV
GSI
HAT
LC
MIS
MRP
TAM
TES
XTRA
Flat Black
0046
71.057
C033
H012
N012
A041
C041
LC002
 
020
LP03
XF01
1749
 
Black
0032
70.950
C002
H002
N002
A125
C125
LC002
MMP047
005
LP01
X01
1747
 
White
0050
71.001
C001
H001
N001
A528
C528
LC001
MMP001
004
LP02
X02
1745
 
Red
0049
71.269
C003
H003
N003
A276
C276
LC006
MMP003
002
LP07
X07
1705
 
Gray
0203
71.312
C308
H308
A037
C037
UA026
MMP073
038
AS26
1728
X136
XA1136
Gray
0208
71.120
C307
H307
A035
C035
UA027
MMP074
097
AS25
1741
X135
XA1135
Silver
0195
71.062
C008
H008
N008
A003
C003
LC074
MMM006
128
LP11
X11
 
X038
Steel
0191
71.065
C028
H018
N018
 
 
MMM002
030
X10
1780
X502
Olive Drab
0237
71.016
C012
H052
N052
A018
C018
UA106
 
 
AS06
 
X112
XA1112
Olive Green
0065
71.289
C303
H303
A021
C021
UA223
MMP066
102
AS14
1713
X116
XA1116
Clear Red
 
70.934
C047
H090
N090
 
 
 
266
LP72
X27
 
 
Clear Blue
 
70.938
C050
H093
N093
 
 
 
267
LP68
X23
 
 

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!

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