Thursday, November 2

Build guide pt. II: Takom's 1/35th scale AH-64E Guardian

Paul has already given us part I of his 1/35th scale AH-64E Apache build. Tune in today to see how the rest of Takom's kit went together & how the decal fared as his build concludes...

Build guide pt. I: Takom's 1/35th scale AH-64E Guardian
From Takom
Kit No #2602
1/35th scale
Photo-etched parts
3D-printed parts included
Designed with Snowman Model
Decals for 2 versions included 
Price: $91 USD from Hobbylink Japan

Today: Build guide pt. II: Takom's 1/35th scale AH-64E Guardian
I must admit that I was a lot further into this build than I thought by this stage, but this was a build that I was really struggling to get back into, not because of the kit itself, but more so the instructions were a real drain. However, an unfinished 1/35 scale Apache helicopter is not something I want to keep hovering around my bench so I really had to persevere to get this one finished.

The kit gives you two full engines to put out on display if you so wish and they do look very impressive sitting within their pods, but once again the lack of colour callouts raises its ugly head again so you will need to do your own research. To make my life a bit easier, I decided to close up the engine pods but the panels didn’t fit quite as well as I thought they would.
It is also possible that this was due to the fit of the pod in front of the nacelle because it connects to both the fuselage side and the nacelle itself. However I was left with a fairly sizable gap between it and the fuselage side, and I haven’t seen any other people with this problem so it just could be plain old operator error, however I had this issue on both sides.
The body gives you some moulded vents which are covered by PE grills which is nice, however these grills are then covered up by their respective covers which are mounted on some 3D printed bolts which makes the grills pretty much invisible so you could leave them out if you really want to. That little scepter shaped structure was a bit tricky to bend into shape which you have to do yourself as you can see, so some sort of jig would have been very handy to get the shape of the bend right. 
Takom gives you two weapon sprues with sixteen Hellfire missiles on each but you only use four two types on each sprue so I assume that the leftover eight are for the earlier D model. Some information on the missiles would have been nice but that seems to be a theme with this kit. The fins are provided in PE which look great but  there are no styrene alternatives, so I was thankful there were only eight missiles and not the full sixteen featured on the AH-64D.  I did find attaching the missiles to their rails a bit tricky as there are no actual attachment points and the body of the missiles and they do not sit on the rails so the surface for your cement of choice is quite minimal. There are also three rocket options for the Hydra rocket pods. Take care with the alignment of the front and back of the Hydra pods as they can be aligned at an incorrect angle, but there are four pods in the kit so you have spare if you get it wrong once. 
The canopy is quite a fiddly affair, and comes in four separate pieces, with one panel at the top, the left side in one piece, and the right side in two that can be positioned open. The top panel is quite tricky as there is also the pane which sits between the pilot and gunner positions inside, which also has a wire to be threaded through it twice and attached to the top panel. Given that the cockpit is basically black, and the canopy panels will essentially hide this detail, I decided to leave it off to preserve my already precariously placed sanity. However the trickiest element of this assembly is the fit of the top panel as it needs to be slid under a protruding part of the engine housing on the roof of the fuselage while the front of the panel is sandwiched into the front of the fuselage, however there is no real positive attachment point for this and I found it quite hard to get the angle right. Construction would have been much simpler if that protruding section was separate and could be attached afterwards so you can use the left side canopy panel to help with alignment. I started by attaching the left side panel first, and then sliding in the top panel from the right side, but struggled to get a good alignment. Add to the fact that these parts are clear so the standard styrene cements will not work on these parts….
The rear rotor assembly went together without a hitch. The main rotor hub had one error in the instructions with F46 used instead of F48. One of the rotor mounts was a bit floppier than the others for some reason as well. The rotors slide into the mounts and then secured using some metal tube provided in the kit and then a little ] shaped part glued over the top to stop the tubes from falling out. I found the fit of the tubing a bit tight and were quite hard to push into their relevant holes due to their small size, but decided that it was a bit gimmicky and just glued the rotors into place. The instructions give you two options for the top of the mast, either the APG-78 Longbow FCR, or a flat cover for when the radar is removed. Interestingly enough, the colour profiles show a more conical unit on top of the mast but a search of the sprues will show that the kit does give you this conical unit in parts D44 and D33. 
This kit also gives you the option to fold the rotors and the associated transport stand but by this stage, I had been worn down by the kit and wanted to just get it finished so I went with the simpler option. 

Those decals...
Thankfully, there is not a great deal of colour schemes out there and if you want to do an American Guardian, then it is pretty much just dark green, of which this box gives you two options, one with a shark mouth, and the other with an Air Cavalry badge. Now, the decals have been the big talking point on the forums, and I can say that they performed ok on a flat and smooth surface... but when there are raised details? And there are a lot of them especially rivets on a helicopter... The silvering on the blank areas was almost impossible to get rid of. I started with the unit badge and a few of the larger stencils but chose to give up on most of the smaller ones since they would be almost invisible on the dark green base anyway. The only way of salvaging the decals I had already applied was to spray over them lightly with the base colour to hide the silvering and give the markings a faded look. 

So what do I think of this kit? 
It’s not the worst kit in the world, and in general I think the engineering is fairly good although a bit over engineered in a few places, but I think you get a good representation of the Guardian when you finally get it finished. In saying that, I think it is definitely the instructions that are the real let down of this kit, and really made the build a lot harder than it should have been, and the missing colour callouts while not fatal, added a level of work that you needed to do, which may or may not be your cup of tea. Be prepared to work a bit extra to get this kit finished, but I think you do get a pretty good result if you do persevere. 

Paul Lee

Thanks to Takom for sending this kit to build and review. You can see more about Takom's kits on their website or on their Facebook page.