Mantis Gunship: 1/48th Monogram AH-64A Apache
Introduced in 1986 Monogram's Apache represents an early version of this U.S. Army attack helicopter. The kit captures the shape and overall details of this aircraft at a very reasonable price point.
Notable Kit Features:
Nice raised details in the cockpit (although for early version)
Seat belts molded into the armoured seats
Pilot figures included
Optional open crew hatch glass
Good overall shape and dimensions
Comparatively low parts count
Rocket pods and Hellfire armament included
I picked up this kit the year it came out as this was quite the dangerous looking, insect like machine when it was introduced in 1983. The largest and most expensive attack helicopter built for U.S. forces, the Apache was first used in combat in 1989, during the U.S. invasion of Panama. It would later play a key first-strike role in the January 1991 Gulf War.
So-so parts fit
Raised line and rivet details (although fairly appropriate on this bird)
Filler and sanding required (so you are going to lose some detail - that'll need to be recreated, or not depending on your mood... the dark scheme may help hide this either way)
Additional updates and sensors added over the development years are not included in this kit
Ideally the rotors should be given a bit of droop to better represent an "at rest" Apache
Kit Additions / Modifications:
The paint scheme for this aircraft is the very dark FS 34031 Army Helo Drab (not the typical U.S. Army dark olive Helo drab). You'll barely notice the difference between this colour and the black rotors. I rotated the sensors to face back as that is what my research told me an at rest AH-64 is configured like (which was just as well as the kit glass sensor covers fit wasn't great). It was quite a few years ago that I built this one, and I've since broken off the crew door handles and finer parts during cleaning, however it still looks dark and stormy on the shelf.
The After-Build Report:
I would still recommend this Monogram / Revell kit as a good budget or simple solution for getting an AH-64 into the collection. It does look the part in the end without too much extra effort.
In 1992 & 1994 Academy released their versions of the later AH-64A (MSIP) and the D Apache (both with recessed panel lines) which appears to be marginally better than the Monogram kit (although it has some inaccuracies, reportedly in the cockpit). In 2001 & 2002 Hasegawa released their "New Tool" version of the AH-64D and AH-64A bringing this aircraft to a new level for model builders. The Hasegawa kit has a much higher parts count and greater attention to detail. Depending on your budget you can get a decent to great looking Apache assembled from any one of these kits (the less expensive kits requiring more effort).
Note: I have not built either the Academy nor Hasegawa AH-64 kits - comments are just from what I have seen and read.
Completed build #39 - December 1991 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5443 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers