Not Just Jets! - Italeri's 1/72 scale AH-64D apache Longbow

 
Completed model depicting US Army Bu #00234 debut airframe.  Model photographed on custom display base and background.  Settings: 5D Mark II w/ 24-105 f/4L lens @ 105mm, f/22, ISO 200

Completed model depicting US Army Bu #00234 debut airframe.  Model photographed on custom display base and background.

Settings: 5D Mark II w/ 24-105 f/4L lens @ 105mm, f/22, ISO 200

Italeri's Kit #080

Italeri's Kit #080

The majority of the models we make resin accessories for are for modern jet aircraft.  After all, they're my personal favourite subjects.  I have a lot of ideas for the jet models in my huge stash in the way of upcoming resin sets.  But, that in no way means I don't have a affinity for the modern military marvels that are attack choppers.  I think they're all awesome!  Whether they're helicopters originating from the U.S., NATO, Russia, or wherever the country of origin; like our logo tag implies; if its modern military aircraft, were a fan.  So, in the spirit of scale modelling and inspiration for my fellow 1/72nd scale modellers out there, I wanted to share a few photos and talk about of one of our display models.  

The AH-64D Apache

My supply of bits and pieces for scratch-building, organized in their own plastic baggies for detailing model kits and creating our resin accessories.

My supply of bits and pieces for scratch-building, organized in their own plastic baggies for detailing model kits and creating our resin accessories.

I looked over at the display shelf and grabbed the first helicopter that caught my eye..Italeri's 1/72 scale AH-64D Apache.  I'll forgo on a history lesson, as fellow modellers, you guys are all too familiar with this formidable war machine.  I built the model primarily straight from the box, however I added details here and there to enhance its appearance and to improve accuracy.  Out of the box, the models over-all appearance and features is accurate.  Italeri did a good job of establishing the look of the updated Apache Longbow featuring it's AN/APG-78 Fire-Control & Targeting Radar above the mast and rotors.  Another standout feature of the Longbow done well by Italeri are the forward fuselage expanded avionics banks.  Details I wanted to add that appear on the real machine that were not depicted in the kit were various grab handles and antenna wires.  I also wanted to scratch-make the cage around the Apache's 30mm M230 chain gun.  For scratchbuiding details, I keep a supply of bits and pieces of styrene, sprue from old builds, thin cooper wire, etc.  I keep things organized in individual plastic baggies to make it easier to find bits I need for detailing. 

To create these various small parts for my Apache; I would employ one of the most used scratch-building techniques, heat-stretching sprue.  In the photos below are the steps on how I created the tiny grab handles:

There you have it, the grab handles are made.  I repeated the stretch-sprue technique to make the antenna for the tail fin, tail boom UHF wire, and the gun cage.  I completed the model using other tried and true tips and techniques that I mention in my E-Book, Building and & Finishing 1/72 Scale Modern Military Aircraft.  Below are several photographs of the completed model:

Click on the photos below to have a closer look.

Well, I hope you all found this useful for your own 1/72 scale modern military aircraft!  Like I mentioned, "Its not just jets."  As you can see, you can do a lot with just a versatile technique like heat-stretched sprue to add much needed details not present straight out of the box.  I hope this inspires you to try your hand at the technique and more scratch-building.  Keep the radar on!  Cheers. 

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New E-book | Now available!

Click her to take a closer look and order your digital copy!

Click her to take a closer look and order your digital copy!

It's been a busy few months around the workshop here at Modern Hobbies.  In addition to steady orders, I've been writing like crazy and have just completed our first e-book under a new recurring series: Building and Finishing 1/72 Scale Modern Military Aircraft.  Our first title "Tomcat to "Flir-Cat" takes modelers of basic, and intermediate skill levels step-by-step on a complete build, conversion and finishing of Italeri's F-14 "Bombcat" kit into VF-103 "Flir-Cat".  

In the e-book, we'll cover tips, techniques and personal secret methods I use to build 1/72nd scale modern aircraft that has earned several IPMS Regional 1st place awards.  From kit preparation, preliminary painting, detailing tips and techniques, finishing skills, airbrushing and more.  The complete e-book will consist of 9 chapters, 52 pages with over 200 high-resolution colour photos throughout in PDF format.  It's now available directly from Modern Hobbies as a digital download for just $8.99.  To order by credit card navigate to the regular Shop page or with PayPal, navigate to the PayPal Ordering page.  I can't wait till you all get your your copy!

If many of you are like me, I'm very found of e-books having embraced digital media over the years.  I've found that they're convenient, they're accessible on all of my mobile devices, they're searchable and now with cloud storage, they don't take up any room on my PC, tablet or smart phone unlike the mountain of reference books on my workshop shelves!  I like e-books also for their cost savings.  While they're rich in content, production savings on printing, layout design and other print-based overhead costs are largely eliminated.  These savings are passed to the consumer.  I hope you enjoy our first e-book!  Also, feedback is always welcome and appreciated.  Cheers!  Keep the radar on...

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The AN/AAQ-28 LITENING POD Re-mastered

 

Just before the holidays, I received an email from a customer and fellow modeller Jason Liang about his order.   He was generally pleased with his items, but noticed some inaccuracies with our 1/72 AN/AAQ-28(v) LITENING Pod.  The LITENING Pod was one of handful of resin accessories in our product line way back in 2007.  When I created the master for it, I have to admit that it was a challenge due to the lack of adequate references.  As a result, some inaccuracies in dimensions and details where inadvertently created.  I have to be honest, and I'm not ashamed to say, I was a bit embarrassed.  However, I'm grateful for Jason's email, because It's an opportunity to re-visit, re-evaluate and improve the product!  Fast-forward now 8 years; references are plenty online and in print, and more detailed now that the LITENING Pod has been in service with International airforces for over 16 years.

Fixing the length

Figure #1   After transferring the actual length to paper represented by the drawn line I could clearly see the error in length.  From here I can now figure the correction using my 1/:72 Scale Ruler and trusty caliper tools. 

Figure #1  After transferring the actual length to paper represented by the drawn line I could clearly see the error in length.  From here I can now figure the correction using my 1/:72 Scale Ruler and trusty caliper tools. 

The actual AN/AAQ-28(v) LITENING Pod measures 87inch. long or (7.25ft.) Converting it down to 1/72 scale using my 1:72 Scale Ruler, that is approx. 1-7/32in or (31mm) when checked with my caliper tool.  My early Litening Pod was too long at 35mm..yikes!  See (Figure #1) I corrected this by cutting the 4mm difference from the pod.  I reattached the pod with superglue and sanded it smooth, including all detail for a clean canvas.  The diameter of the actual Litening Pod is 16in or 0.046 meters.  After checking this against my pod; it looked about right so I moved on to other areas that need attention.

Correcting Details

With new references at the ready, I noticed other details that would need to be fixed like the air intake.  It's a major visual characteristic of the Litening Pod design.  I scratch-built the new intake with small strips of sheet styrene.  To achieve the curved profile of the inlet to match the body of the pod, I used Mission Models Multi-Tool (Small) to curve the tiny sections of styrene.  After assembly of the intake I matched the inlet walls to reference photos by carefully carving the mouth of the inlet.  I also replicated the tiny air-flow vane under the intake (visible in reference photos) with tiny sheet styrene.  The completed intake was finally attached to the pod with superglue.  Gaps and seems were filled with Apoxie Sculpt and sculpted to blend the intake to the pod.  The result is an much improved accuracy in appearance to the actual Litening Pod. (Figure #2) 

Figure #2   A big difference in over-all appearance in the air-intake and inlet.  

Figure #2  A big difference in over-all appearance in the air-intake and inlet.  

Panels & Details

I then went to work on the re-scribing all the panels.  Relying heavily on the new reference photos, I re-scribed the main panel that house the internal electronic boxes, screw holes and panels that indicate sections of the pod.  I also improved the appearance of the ball camera sensor windows, now more accurately depicting the small circle windows in a deployed configuration.  After much work with micro saws and scribing tools, I finished things by adding all appropriate rivet details.  Finally, a primed the pod and mounted to its new casting block in preparation for a master mould.

Check out additional photos below to compare the old with the new MH Litening Pod.

I'm just finishing up minor touches, making the production moulds and the re-mastered Litening Pod will be back in the MH inventory and ready for new orders in the next several days. 

Don't look now but I think 1/72 Col. Robin Olds likes it.

Don't look now but I think 1/72 Col. Robin Olds likes it.

*For those of you out there who have recently purchased the old Litening Pod, you will be able get a replacement copy for free when I announce availability.  You will just need to contact Modern Hobbies from the website or by email with your prior order number or PayPal invoice number.  I'll send you an invoice for shipping only and thats it!

 

  

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