Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Boeing-Westland WAH-64 Longbow Apache.

There are some aircraft that take my breath away because of their beautiful lines, their effortless grace in the air.............

Others that are so powerful and so fast that one marvels at the ingenuity that created them and then there is the WAH-64 Longbow Apache...............Ugly bugger isn't it?

OK, so it won't win any beauty contents at the Farnborough Air Show, but it has won respect. Having cut it's teeth in combat with the British Army in Iraq and Afghanistan this flying tank can approach by stealth, have a quick nosey at the target(s) and let loose a very bad day out for Mr. I hate Western Democracy.

Offensive weapons comprise the M230 Chain Gun located underneath the nose; the crews can aim this 30mm weapon simply by turning their heads towards the target. Main under-wing mounted weapons are Hellfire anti-tank missile in both AGM-114K Hellfire II (Infra Red) and AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire (Radar) variants, whilst CRV-7 rocket pods or auxiliary fuel tanks may also be carried.

With a fully digitally integrated cockpit both pilot and gunner are able to fly any mission, anywhere in any weather. As far as attack helicopters go, this is the world champion.

After admiring this wonderful beast for quite some time I thought it was I built one for myself. Trouble was, no one out there produces an "accurate" British Apache. There are two kits available in 1/48 the older Italeri kit and the later more detailed Hasegawa kit. Both come in Standard US Army Spec.

There was a resin upgrade produced by an aftermarket company, which on inspection, looked to me a bit expensive for what was included in the upgrade. So I thought I would attempt to make my own.............

What I ended up with was the Italeri 1/48 Longbow AH-64D  converted to UK spec using a scratch built rocket pod, external fuel pod and sensors. I didn't do much to the kit cockpit, but it looks OK from a distance!

Here is how the build turned out:

 It was an enjoyable build and I still have it on my shelf today. It's also reassuring to know that this particular helicopter had the Royal seal of approval with HRH Prince Harry flying the Apache on operations in Afghanistan. 

One good way of getting an insight to how the Apache was used by the British Army in Afghanistan is to read "Apache" by Ed Macy. In this book Macy recounts his experiences of flying the Apache in combat and gives the reader a very realistic glimpse of what it is like to fly and fight in this awesome aircraft. Definitely a book I would recommend.