A couple of initial reviews of the kit from another site. It sounds like it is a great kit. Both of the individuals below were US Army Cobra pilots; Rob in Vietnam ('69-'70), Floyd during the Cold War ('80s -'90s).
Rob Mignard -
I received the new ICM Cobra today. There’s a lot to be happy with here. It completely eclipses the old Revell kit (but don’t throw it away just yet). Overall, it looks great in the box. The shape appears to be right on (even the nose is correct; something we haven’t seen in some other Cobra models). Parts are included for both early and late G models. Both vertical stabilizers are provided. Weapons include XM-157, XM-158, XM-200 rocket pods, XM-18 minigun pods, and Tow missile tubes. The M-35 Vulcan is not included. The canopy is great; clear, thin and distortion free. Both clear and solid nose caps are provided. Decals are provided for the instrument panels (not my favorite way to do this). The cockpit interior is sparse and will need some extra detailing. The transmission area is provided, but no engine. The transmission doors are correct, but don’t have much detail on the interior. The only error I saw on the instructions directs the modeler to use the flush riveted synchronized elevators. Early G models had pop riveted sync elevators (parts C 37, 38, 39, and 40). The plastic is the typical ICM (soft) plastic.
I do have a few disappointments specific to Viet Nam Cobras, most are easy to fix:
- Early Cobras had blue tinted canopies (this is even depicted on the box art). You’re on your own here. Definitely consult a photograph of the Cobra you’re building
- The sand shields are missing from the leading edge of the rotor head
- The IR strakes (below the exhaust on both sides) are missing
- The air conditioning inlet (just below and aft of the pilot’s left side canopy) is not present on early Cobras
- The XM-158 pods (7 shot, exposed tubes) are poorly represented and should be replaced. This is a shame, since other than Aerial Rocket Artillery Cobras the XM-158 was almost universal on Vietnam Cobras
- Ground handling wheels are provided but Cobras never flew with them installed
I flew in the Central Highlands (II Corps) in 1969 and 1970. All of the Cobra photos I took have blue canopies and don’t have the ECS inlet. Many of them still had the clear plastic nose, but the twin lights had been removed and the single landing light installed on the belly. I don’t know when Bell switched to clear canopies, but it was well into the production run. If you look through John Brennan’s Helicopter Art/Nose Art books (which are excellent and highly recommended) you’ll see that about half the Cobras have blue canopies. The ECS units were retrofitted, but it was after I left. Also, The VHF Collins antenna was located inside the doghouse during this period; later moved to the underside of the tailboom as depicted in the kit.
The main point is: carefully study the data you have; they were continually changed and upgraded during their Vietnam service.
After building the ICM 0-2A, I’m concerned that the skids may not hold the model up; especially if you use the non-faired set. Don’t know that it will be an issue; just worried.
If you’ve got the Revell kit, you have a good start on an engine if you’re so inclined.
Overall, this is a very good kit. After several attempts to build the Revell kit; I’m really looking forward to building this kit.
Floyd Werner -
I got mine and started it yesterday. So far the fit is phenomenal. So far. The shapes looks great.
-The IR strakes that you are talking about below the exhaust are there. They are separate pieces.
-As for the blue tinted canopies and the lack of ECU inlet in the doghouse, they were only on the very first models. It was quickly changed to clear and the Enviromental Control Unit (ECU) was added (thank God).
-I didn’t notice that the sand shields were missing. I’ll have to repair that with some Werner’s Wings parts.
-I didn’t have an issue with the XM-158 pods…yet. I will see how they build up. I’m sure they aren’t as nice as Fireball Modelworks ones were. We’ll see how they look built up though.
My initial impressions are WOW! Significantly superior to the old Revell kit in every aspect. The kit has raised rivets. That is a nice touch. The instructions are easy to follow and understand. The amount of detail is great. Would I have preferred to have an engine too? Yes but the transmission is impressive. It does look like the gun sight in the back seat is missing the glass. Easy enough to fix. A CAD piece would be nicer. Both style of tailbooms, left and right handed, are provided. That is nice. Love the nose piece and the option of the cap. The belly panel is beautiful, something completely missing on the Revell kit. Both turrets are provided which is very nice. The M-28 turret allows for multiple options, twin minigun, or the usual set up of minigun and 40mm grenade launcher. The inclusion of both vertical fin caps is nice as well. The option of opening the transmission doors is a welcome addition. I love that they have the canopy in five pieces, plus the ability to have them open with support struts. So nice to have that option. Having the rotor blades in two parts is surprising to me. I love that the wings have the jettison actuators on them. Having the ground handling wheels and tow bar is a nice touch. The ability to have all the armament options on the wings is nice as well. Plus they give you a loadout option chart. Very nice. Having the masks designs in the back is nice. Hopefully Eduard will do a set of masks. The decals are nice and look in register.
Down side- As I mentioned the pilot’s gunsight XM-73, does not have the glass portion of the site. It needs a resin replacement. The transmission doors have a strange pattern in them that is a little pronounced. Its on the real thing just not as pronounced. A little bit of sanding should take care of that though. These are the only thing that I’m not keen on. The rest looks perfect. Decal options are not very inspiring. The Cobra had some very colorful markings, including full color shark mouths. Is there room for resin upgrades? Absolutely.
Unadvertised features- The parts are included in this kit to do a ‘late’ version AH-1G. It has the Anti-Strella toilet bowl exhaust system, the right side tail rotor and unfaired skids.
You can tell that they are going to do a later variant like the AH-1S (Mod), because there are TOW missiles on the sprue but not used. Plus the nose cone is a separate piece. Can’t wait for that one too.