AFV Club 1/35 OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2011||Manufacturer||AFV Club|
|Subject||OH-58D Kiowa Warrior||Scale||1/35|
|Kit Number||35S62||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-etch, Resin|
|Pros||Provides a modern OH-58D configuration||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$74.00|
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is an armed reconnaissance helicopter in service with the US Army and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Built upon the earlier OH-58 series of light observation helicopters, the OH-58D was designed to be the hunter element of the OH-58D/AH-64A hunter/killer team. The mast-mounted sight allowed the OH-58D to observe the battlefield while masking behind terrain and then laser-designate targets for the Apaches.
As the Apache and Kiowa Warrior evolved from their initial capabilities and tactics, the OH-58D was upgraded into an armed scout with the addition of weapons stations capable of carrying a gunpod, rocket pods, Stinger missiles, and/or Hellfire missiles. In a low-intensity conflict, the OH-58D is capable of supporting troops on the ground and in greater threat environments, it can suppress and track enemy elements until the Apaches and/or fixed wing aircraft can arrive on station.
The only kit on the market in 1/35 scale for the OH-58D is the MRC kit which is configured in its early Fulda Gap scout configuration. The basic kit is nicely done but it hasn't been kept up-to-date with the latest airframe modifications of the current generation of OH-58D armed scouts. When I learned that AFV Club was releasing the OH-58D in 1/35 scale I was quite interested given the engineering that has been done on their 1/48 F-5E/F Tiger II kits. Of course I had to check this out!
When the kit arrived, all became clear rather quickly. This new OH-58D is the old MRC OH-58D with the airframe updates rendered in resin and photo-etch. The basic MRC OH-58D kit is nice right out of the box. Rendered in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on four parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The main weaknesses of the kit are the lack of small details and no options for a contemporary configuration.
AFV Club takes the MRC kit and addresses these issues. First is the dog house, the fairing that encloses the transmission and swash plate. The updated OH-58D has a larger dog house that is not easy to replicate. There have been some magnificent scratch-builds online of this feature, but now AFV Club provides the new dog house in resin. This is also the only serious surgery you'll have to perform with the MRC kit as the old dog house will obviously need to be carefully removed.
The interior of the kit remains unchanged, so while there are lots of avionics racks in the rear cabin to detail, you'll either want to keep the access doors closed or find some good references to make the changes back there to bring the aircraft up-to-date.
Where the majority of the enhancements go are to the exterior of the aircraft. The resin parts replace the kits' stabilators, rear cabin/avionics bay doors, and add a number of vents to the original airframe. The photo-etch parts also add new antennas, access panels, airframe reinforcements, hinge details, vent grilles, updated IRCM mount, etc.
The main problem I see with this kit is the instructions. AFV Club started with the MRC instructions and replaced the plastic parts with the associated resin parts as you'd expect. These steps are easy enough to follow for the average modeler. Where it gets challenging is with the photo-etched parts. Rather than add new graphics to show photo-etch placement, AFV Club simply took photographs of the OH-58D and point to where on the airframe the photo-etched parts should go. This might have looked fine on their master copy, but the dark-printed black and white instructions are going to be a pain to follow. Not impossible, but this was an unfortunate shortcut.
Markings are provided for three Republic of China OH-58D examples: 31027, 80059, and 31021. The decals also provide a set of generic numbers so you can replicate just about any other OH-58D in Taiwan Army service. The decals also provide an extensive set of airframe stencils in English as well as stencils for the weapons.
The painting instructions are vague as they don't provide paint colors or reference the paints from any paint manufacturer in the instructions. Airframe color is referenced as Flat Black 60% + Olive Drab 40% rather than FS 34031.
Despite the shortcuts in photo-etch and painting instructions, this kit provides the first decent kit of the contemporary OH-58D in 1/35 scale. While the markings are for RoC Army examples, you can easily change these over to render the US Army OH-58Ds operating in the deserts and mountains of Iraq and Afghanistan. AFV Club indicates that they only released 800 of these kits, so if you're thinking about getting one, you'd better move quickly before they're gone.