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1/48 Kitty Hawk AH-1Z “Viper”


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My next build is the 1/48 Kitty Hawk AH-1Z “Viper” attack helicopter. This is the first of a few commission builds I will be doing over the next few months. For this build I will be adding the Eduard interior and exterior photo etch sets, the Model Master M197 (20mm) brass barrels, and the Flying Leathernecks TSS Turret. The scheme will be aircraft 47 from the HMLA-267 Stingers.

As typical I started off with the cockpit using the Eduard photo etch detail set. The photo etch replaces the kit decals for seat belts and instrument panels. The side armor panels, seats, and side control panels required some putty to cover the mold marks. Everything went together very well. Next I am starting on the engines. I will be detailing these as at least one of the engine covers will be in the open position.

You can see more photos and details in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/


















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What a great launch of your newest project! This is gonna rock! Looking at that engine interior pic makes me glad I only build in 1/72 scale....with closed hatches!! LOLOL!!

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As week two of the AH-1Z finishes I spent most of the week building, painting and detailing the engines. There were a few mold marks that needed to be filled with putty on the engine bay walls. For painting I used the Vallejo Metal Air paint. I used the duraluminum for the bright metal, dark grey metallic, and Jet exhaust for the exhaust. For the added details I used 30 gauge wire for the steel lines and sleeved wires of green and blue for some of the hoses.

With the cockpit and engine bays assembled I began assembling the forward part of the fuselage.  The fit is very good along the seams with some minor putty where they attached to the trees. The poor fit is the well where the gun turret sits. There are lots of gaps. I was able to get most of the gaps close and then putty the rest. I am working on the photo etch details of the forward fuselage now. There are many screens, and access panels to add. Then I will be detailing the gun turret with brass barrels and then the resin TSS turret will be built and detailed.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/














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Posted (edited)

Week three of the Viper build was spent adding numerous photo etch details to the forward fuselage and detailing the avionics and cargo bays. The avionics bay detailing was started with the Eduard photo etch parts. I had to drill some .05mm holes thru the photo etch for the cables. I then used some 30 gauge to represent the numerous cables and routed them like the reference photo. I used a little gloss white pant to represent the ID tags on the cables. I located a small fire extinguisher to duplicate the one in the ref photo as well. 

The other side of the fuselage is a cargo storage bay. The photo etch set provides a cover with handles and the hinge at the top. I then added the various antenna pods and covers for the fuselage. I started working on the intakes by filling the mold marks. Next up is the gun and TSS turrets for the nose.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/

















Edited by Wolfman63
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Finishing the fourth week of the Viper build I began building and detailing the turrets. The TSS turret from the kit was replaced with the resin version from Flying Leatherneck. Speaking of the kit version it is very inaccurate. It has two small round lenses and two large round lenses. The actual turret has one small, one medium and one large lens and they are shaped differently. The resin kit does also have an issue. While they give you a prism sticker for the large lens, the resin turret does not provide the clear lenses for the small and medium lenses. I made these from a sheet of clear acetate.  The internal sensor faces were painted chrome using a Molotow chrome paint pen.

Turning to the gun turret I replaced the kit with the Model Master kit. The brass barrels are a little longer and have the barrel holders in the correct locations. The kit includes a weight that goes inside the turret so it does not tail drag. I then started to add more details to the fuselage. The landing skids have some photo etch details. They were then mounted. I then built the exhaust section and added the photo etch details. To mount it to the fuselage I had to use a piece of styrene to push the mating edge of the fuselage out a bit to line up with the bottom of the exhaust assembly as the fuselage edges were slightly warped inward. Once the seam was glued I removed the support. I am now working on the side wings and should be starting the boom this week.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/



















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 Five weeks into the “Viper” I added the exhaust to the fuselage. The exhaust was painted using Vallejo Jet Exhaust then heavily weathered with dark grey and black pastel chalk. I next started to assemble the boom and added the photo etch details. The boom and the side wings were then attached to the fuselage. I built up the main and tail rotors then began adding the photo etch to the panels that will be open.

There are many screens/vents on the fuselage. Some of these are open holes and some screens fit into a panel. For the ones that fit into panels I painted the panels black and then brush painted the screens with thinned paint so the screen holes do not fill with paint before installing them. This will highlight the appearance of these areas. I painted all the photo etch details with a thin coat as well so when the fuselage is painted the overall coat will be even. I noticed the vent just above the exhaust was incorrect in both angle and shape. The vent has a 90* turn which is incorrect. It is more of a 45* bend to the starboard side. The kit vent was trimmed and re-installed correctly. I will be starting some pre-shading and the base coat painting this upcoming week.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/



















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After six weeks the Viper now has paint on it. Once I added a few more details to the fuselage and mounted the gun turret I painted the base coat of the scheme. I used reference photos from the client rather than the paint guide of the kit. The kit scheme is very close to the actual aircraft. The major difference is the main rotor is half black and half grey and the line between the upper grey and lower grey is slightly different. I ten painted some of the details like the antennas, sensors, and formation lights.

One more issue I found on the kit is the Air Data Probe. This sticks up just forward of the cockpit. It consists of three parts, the pole, a junction and a round sensor. The instructions and the reference photos show the junction on the pole shaft. However the kit part does not have a hole in the center to slide onto the pole. I drilled a hole through it using a 0.5mm drill. Once in place the sensor points towards the rear of the aircraft. There is no mounting hole on the backside so using the same drill I made a small mounting hole as well.  This coming week I will be applying the numerous decals as well as working on the canopy details.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/












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The seventh week of the Viper I applied all the decals for the scheme. The kit decals are very good. The decals laid down and conformed to the surface with just the decal set. Once the decals had dried I sprayed a light coat of matte clear coat to seal the decals. I then used some light grey and medium grey chalk to add some weathering along the fuselage. I then added the clear lights. One thing the kit did not provide was a clear lens for the tail navigation light. I trimmed off the molded section and replaced it with a clear lens. I then added some photo etch details to the top of the canopy. I checked the fit of the canopy top and it will need some minor sanding on the front underside to meet the fuselage.

I then started to assemble the weapons. The 70mm HAP’s, LAU-68’s, and the Hellfire’s went together very well. The AIM-9 missiles had some mold marks that needed to be filled with putty. I also trimmed off the nose to make my own sensor heads using acrylic gel. Once the weapons are completed I will install all the panels and the rest of the canopy. I need to work on mounting the main rotor as it needs to be removable for shipping later. I am hoping to have this completed in a week or two. 


You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/














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As the eighth week closes on the Viper I finished all the weapons and have them mounted onto the fuselage. The kit does not supply decals for the assorted weapons. I had some spares for the rocket launchers and the Hellfire missiles but no decals for the AIM-9’s so the stripes were had painted.

From the last update I received many questions on the paint colors used. The kit painting instructions call out to use FS36270 Neutral grey for top and FS3495 Light Grey for lower part of the fuselage. These colors are not the correct colors for a U.S. Marine AH-1Z. I have a copy of the MIL-STD 2161C which is the official Military standard for painting and markings of U.S. Navy and Marine aircraft. There is a website called “Everyspec” ( http://everyspec.com/MIL-STD/MIL-STD-2000-2999/MIL-STD-2161C_49692/ )  that you can download this document as a PDF. It should also be noted that they have TO 1-1-4 which is the USAF aircraft painting and marking document as well. Anyhow, The MIL-STD calls out FS35237 Medium Grey on the top and FS36375 Light Ghost Grey for the lower part of the fuselage and these are the colors I used on this build.

I then started to polish and paint the side panels of the canopy. On the canopy panels that open there is a spot to attach the handles. I looked over the instructions and there is no reference that tells you to install the handles. It should be noted in step 16 or 21. Step 20 does not show the handles installed but step 21 does in the illustration. The parts are included on the tree. They are parts D32 and D33. I used some canopy glue to attach them. I need to review the reference photos for where the supports go on all the open panels and then I can install the panels and then finish mounting the main rotor to finish this build over the next week.

You can see more photos and details from the start in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/














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Nine weeks and the “Viper” has been completed! All of the panels and canopy doors have been installed. I used 30 gauge wire for the supports on the panels. On the canopy doors I used black sleeved wire and stripped half of it so it look like the compression supports. I did a little more weathering on the inside and outside of the panels. The next thing I did was to remount the weapons. The kit instructions have you mount two rocket launchers and the Hellfire’s under the wing. The problem is the “Z” only has three hard points instead of four. A fellow modeler pointed this out and the client also noted it as well.

For the main rotor I trimmed off the plastic links and replaced them with black 28 gauge wire. This allows the rotor to be removed and installed easily. This is for shipping reasons. With the main rotor finished this also finished this build.

The kit itself was a decent build with only some minor issues as noted during the build. The fit was very good. The instructions were in a good assembly order but had some parts not shown like the canopy handles. The paint schemes use the incorrect colors as well. It does build into a nice looking helicopter.

I will be packing this up today once the brass nameplate arrives and then ship it out. The client already has the display case for it. Thank you for following along. Happy modeling!

You can see all the photos and details from start to finish in my build log at:  https://davidsscalemodels.com/build-log/1-48-ah-1z-viper/

















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Love it! It looks menacing and like it's just waiting to slam the hatches down, crank up, and lay some hurt down! Thanks for sharing!


Gil :cool:

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