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Takom 1/35 scale AH-64D Apache Longbow plastic model kit review

Big kit with impeccable detail, but the instructions leave you hanging
Kit:2601 // Scale:1/35 // Price:$94
Takom (Sample courtesy of manufacturer)
Fantastic surface detail; single-piece missiles; folded rotor blade option; detailed avionics bays; detailed engines
Exceedingly complex build; thick decals; tedious assemblies without helpful order of assembly guidance
Injection-molded plastic (gray, clear); 958 parts (200 photo-etched metal; metal tubing; wire; flexible plastic ammo-feed chute); decals
In service from the early 1980s to the present, the AH-64 Apache is an iconic attack helicopter used in multiple conflicts by many nations. The AH-64D Apache Longbow incorporates the AN/APG-78 target acquisition system within the radome that sits atop the extendable mast above the main rotor. The helicopter is able to stay out of sight behind the cover while extending the targeting system to simultaneously track and engage multiple targets. The radome gives the Longbow Apache a unique look among the many AH-64 variants.

The Takom 1/35 scale AH-64D Apache Longbow plastic model kit, with a 16-inch fuselage and rotor blades that measure 8 inches each, is no small model. Spread over 16 sprues, the parts exhibit exquisite detail and molding: fine rivets, single-piece Hellfire missiles, separate parts for either bulged or non-bulged tires, comprehensive engines, and an intricate cockpit avionics bay are just some of the highlights.

Warning: This will not be a quick build. In fact, this complicated build will test experienced modelers, and I think I could write a book about it. Instead, I’ll keep to the highlights.

First, the kit provided photo-etched metal (PE) seat belts (parts TP A) but doesn’t show them installed during steps 1 or 2. Consult reference photos to see how they are installed.

Decals are provided for cockpit displays, but not for gauges. I chose to show them turned off and did not use the display decals. Careful painting will make the fine cockpit details pop.

In Step 3, you’ll have to drill holes in the lower tail. It’s tricky work; I broke two drill bits in the process. When you do it, make sure to hold the fuselage perfectly still.

When building the bottom of the main rotor assembly in Step 4, study the diagrams and test-fit often; the fit of the parts is not clear until they all come together. I broke Part F24 and had to cut Part F38 out and refit, which made getting the correct alignment more difficult. Luckily, the bottom part of the rotor shaft is mostly hidden, some imperfections won’t be a big deal.

There are no masks for the cockpit glass provided, so you’ll have to take the time to cut some masks yourself.

Before you glue the fuselage halves together, you need to have Part N12 in place. This was unclear in the instructions, and I had to split the top of the tail open to fit the part in. Once in place, the part wouldn’t fit flush on all sides and required putty and scraping to help the fit.

Large slots are provided for the main interior and exterior fuselage components and make for a tight and sturdy fit. I had to use clamps to hold fuselage halves in place for gluing. Seams generally run along panel lines, but some minor filling was needed.

Installing the wire for the ventilation system in the cockpit roof is difficult. You’ll have to bend the wire around the handles and through the interior glass. Leave interior masking in place until you fit this part and paint it. It’s a nice detail, but it could probably be left out without much notice and save time and frustration.

The decal diagram doesn’t indicate where the No. 17 decals go, but references show they belong in the cockpit. And now is as good a time as any to warn you that the instructions do not supply color callouts during assembly. Luckily, there are plenty of reference images online.

Fitting the cockpit windows was tricky, and I ended up with gaps that needed filling at the front and side. Perhaps it was an alignment issue that I caused, but the result was difficult seams where tiny rivet details were lost during filling and sanding.

Step 8 shows Part F48 as the retaining ring for the gun assembly, but it should be F46.

In steps 9 and 10, there are pin marks to remove on the avionics-bay doors. These are minor and can be easily sanded if you plan to position the doors open, which would show off the well-detailed equipment inside.

Fitting the landing gear and side bays during Step 11 is tricky, and the instructions don’t help. I suggest the following: leave parts P60, P45, P61, and P46 of the landing gear wire cutters off. Press fit the main gear struts to the body; you may have to sand the attachment points a bit, but don’t glue them in place. Press fit parts P31 and P32 to the landing gear sides; again, no glue. Work the sides into place, thread the main struts, and use a file or similar tool through the tight openings to move parts until it all clicks in place. After breaking parts, including knocking the gun off so it had to be glued in a fixed position, this is the best approach I could come up with. Good luck!

I did not add parts C54 and C57 inside the access panel C8 in Step 12. The PE screen covers the area, so you can paint the recess black and call it good. For those who want to leave the panel and scratchbuild the interior parts, the kit provides some panel details. This holds true for Part C9.

You’ll find ejector-pin marks in the bottom engine housing parts (nos. C1 and C10), but most aren’t visible around the engine. However, you’ll want to scrape away those closest to the fuselage.

In Step 26, attach Part F48 to Part F56 before attaching parts A42 and A43. Follow up by attaching Part F49. The instructions do not make this sequence clear. You may want to fill the sink marks in parts A38 and A37, but they may not be noticeable with a full missile loadout.

I placed the decals over a coat of gloss clear. They’re thick and took multiple coats of decal setting solution and manipulation to conform to surface details. I expected it with the raised rivets, but the many stencil markings became a chore. After trying Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol and Solvaset, I settled on Mr. Mark Setter and Mr. Mark Softer as the best solutions for Takom’s decals.

Decals for Hellfire missiles are provided but not shown in the placement diagrams.
There were several instances where the stencil markings provided were only enough for one side. There are also many leftover stencils that are not called out in the instructions.

After applying decals and a flat coat, I finished placing many of the fragile parts, like the rotors, engine covers, and the cockpit doors. The folding main rotor is like a kit unto itself and even includes the hoist to lift the rotors into position in the holding bracket. This is a great detail and shelf space saver.

The complex Takom 1/35 scale AH-64D Apache Longbow took me over 150 hours to build (I stopped counting!). With amazing detail from top to bottom, I can only recommend this kit to advanced modelers who do not get frustrated by fragile, fiddly assemblies. If you are up to the task, you will be rewarded with a highly detailed model that does an outstanding job of representing the complexity of the real subject in a big scale.
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