Anigrand Craftswork 1/72 AH-56A Cheyenne Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Only production kit of this subject available outside of the collector's market
|Poor canopy casting, airframe shape problems, awkward rotor head
When the US Army issued the requirement for an Advanced Aerial Fire Support System, Lockheed won the contract with an advanced design - the AH-56A Cheyenne. The Cheyenne was a rigid rotor aircraft that employed fixed wings to augment lift in forward flight and a pusher propeller that further augmented forward thrust. The combination was to give the aircraft a 212 knot dash capability and an impressive array of range and firepower.
A fatal crash of one of the prototypes, delays in the development schedule, and the general political climate of the day led to the cancellation of the production contract, followed shortly thereafter with the cancellation of the overall program. The Army regrouped and issued requirements for a more conventional attack helicopter, and that competition led to the current AH-64 Apache.
The Cheyenne was indeed an advanced design. Its main rotor could still function like any other helicopter, but it didn't require the aircraft pitch changes to accelerate and decelerate, thanks to the pusher propeller. The pusher had full pitch control so it could adjusted for different levels of forward thrust, reverse thrust (for rapid deceleration) and in beta for normal deceleration, all without moving the nose off target. The aircraft was armed with a 20mm cannon in a ventral turret, additional firepower in the nose turret, an array of rockets, missiles, and external fuel tanks under its wings. Unlike many attack helicopters, the Cheyenne also featured retractable landing gear to further reduce drag.
Here is one of those subjects that is a favorite of mine. I remember the Aurora kit of this helicopter when I was a young modeler and have missed seeing it as a subject in the decades that followed. Like the F-20 Tigershark, the AH-56 Cheyenne was one of those aircraft that should have made it into service. With this release from Anigrand, even at the prices of resin kits, we now have a much less expensive kit option than the collectors' prices for the Aurora kit!
As with any of Anigrand's releases, this kit is molded in light tan resin and packaged in heat sealed compartments within the storage bag to protect the contents. When I opened the box and held the bag for the first time, I had a moment of panic as there were only three main rotor blades in the bag. Evidently there was an error in the packaging of some of these kits but it was caught early-on as there was the fourth blade tucked away with the decals in the instructions.
The kit fits nicely together and looks to be a straightforward build. Anigrand has also captured the unique pivoting gunner's seat that turned the gunner in the same direction as the turret.
Assemble the fuselage halves, install the front and rear cockpits, plug in the wings and tail surfaces, mount the landing gear and three rotor assemblies and you're nearly there. The kit is armed with the 20mm gun in the ventral turret, a 40mm grenade launcher in the nose, four rocket pods under the wings, and a FLIR turret.
The kit provides markings for the tenth prototype, aircraft 66-8835.
After I started assembly of the kit, I discovered that my canopy had some molding issues which left the transparent panes with a molded-in texture that renders the canopy less-than-clear. Perhaps some Future will help things along. The canopy wound up also having a huge bubble that created an irrepreable hole in the windscreen.
In addition to the bubble in the casting, the kit suffered from a number of detail problems such as an angled (to the side) exhaust duct (probably a short-shot in casting), the wings were attached to the sponsons at too shallow of an angle of incidence, and the rotor head was really awkward and was going to be a persistent breaking problem. In short, the project was short-lived..
My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!