MRC/Academy 1/35 AH-60L DAP Blackhawk Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|AH-60L DAP Blackhawk
|Interesting armed gunship version of the Blackhawk
The US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (160 SOAR) is a unique entity in Army aviation. If you find a 'stock' helicopter on their flightline, it is probably a transient. These are the folks that go where sane folks fear to tread, but they carry a big stick!
Many folks will remember the 160th from the movie 'Blackhawk Down' as these folks not only starred in the movie, they were also in the midst of it in Somalia. Their trademark AH-6J and MH-6J Little Birds (significantly updated OH-6 Loaches) have wreaked havoc behind enemy lines in virtually every formal US action as well as many more that we will never know about. The 160th also operate the MH-47E Chinook and the MH-60K/L Blackhawk.
The AH-60L is an armed outgrowth of the MH-60L and provides more firepower over a greater operating range than the AH-6J. The 'DAP' in its title stands for Direct Action Penetrator, which is evidently Army speak for their new bird's ability to kick the door down.
Equipped with shortened External Stores Support System (ESSS) 'wings', the AH-60L is armed with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile (up to eight per aircraft) or two 19-shot rocket pods. In addition, the aircraft is also equipped with two 7.62mm gatling guns as well as two .50 caliber machine guns, either of which are efficient at converting terrorists to martyrs.
The MRC 1/35 AH-60L kit consists of six trees molded in light gray styrene as well as a single tree of crystal clear parts for the windows, etc. The molding is crisp, with finely scribed details throughout the kit. The parts are free of flash and there were only a few ejector pin marks visible in the main cabin.
The cockpit features a pair of armored seats with the sliding side armor protection also present. The only thing missing from the any of the seats are the appropriate seat belts and/or restraint systems. The cockpit instrument panel has a good representation of the electronic instrument displays, analog instruments and enunciator panel. The center console and overhead console also are good representations of the actual aircraft as well. Rounding out the cockpit are two complete sets of flight controls. The only things really missing in the cockpit (aside from the seat harnesses) are some small control levers on the overhead console.
The main cabin doors can be positioned open or closed, as are the gunners' windows. While not mentioned in the instructions, the pilot's and co-pilot's doors have cut lines molded on the inside, giving you the option to position either or both cockpit doors open. There are no door hinges included, so if you do open the doors, you'll have to fabricate some hinge mounts from scrap plastic.
One interesting option is the port engine bay. You have the choice of building it open or closed. If you do open it up, there is a nicely done T700 engine with an APU duct and some plumbing in place. You'll probably want to 'busy' this area up a bit more with the various cables, hoses and linkages that are too fine to mold in styrene. The engine bay is boxed in with bulkheads that match closely with the actual aircraft. The kit is rounded out with a variety of necessary details, such as cable cutters, antennas, an IR jammer, chaff/flare launchers, and the HIRSS exhaust shields.
The AH-60L kit is an interesting blend of these previous releases. All of the parts trees from the original UH-60L release are included (some of which were left out of the second release, the MH-60G Pave Hawk). The MH-60G's parts (tree G) are also included to provide the requisite air refueling probe, cargo bay fuel cell, and updated horizontal stabilizer.
One new tree (K) is added to this kit that contains the shorter (single pylon) ESSS 'wings', eight Hellfire missiles w/launchers, two 19-shot rocket pods, radar dome, FLIR turret, machine guns, gatling guns, updated CRT-based instrument panel, SATCOM antennas, etc.
Markings are provided for two specific aircraft:
- AH-60L, 160 SOAR, 26365 'Southern Comfort'
- AH-60L, 160 SOAR, (serial unknown) 'Razors Edge'
In addition, a variety of generic numbers are provided to allow the modeler to depict other aircraft in the fleet. A complete set of maintenance stencils are also included.
It is great to see MRC/Academy continue to evolve their Blackhawk to represent the interesting array of variants out there. This AH-60L is probably one of the most interesting in my opinion, but it will be great to see some USN versions as well. While the classic Seahawk would require a major fuselage re-tool, the new MH-60S Knighthawk should be doable with the majority of the key molds.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!