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Bell AH-1F Tzefa

by Cobra nut (1:48 Monogram)

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

This is probably my favorite helicopter of all. Bell's AH-1 Cobra has served long and well and in many different variants with many users. I used the Monogram AH-1S kit 5444. This is a great model with typical Monogram features. Cockpit detail is excellent with fine detail on the instrument panels, side panels and rear cockpit. I built the cockpit out of the box with the addition of a photoetched HUD on the pilot's instrument panel shroud. This was from my spares box and I can't remember who produced it.

The inside of the fuselage sides and cockpit tub was painted Tamiya XF-69 Nato Black. I like to use this for cockpits as it's not as dark as flat black and looks more to scale. Raised detail was picked out with drybrushing. When mounting the cockpit to the fuselage sides take care to ensure proper alignment as no locating pins or stops are provided. This is critical to ensure the tub is level when the fuselage is closed.

The next area of attention was assembling the engine and transmission. The insides of the upper rear fuselage halves was thinned considerably and fine mesh was added. It's larger than scale but I just felt the open area needed something. Next time (and there will be a next time!) I'll try to source a finer mesh. The insides were painted a shade of interior yellow mixed to match references. As this is a late Israeli machine I needed to upgrade the air intake filters with Integrated Particle Separator's (IPS).

I purchased a set from Werner's Wings http://www.scale-rotors.com/news-reviews/werners-wings. This is a great addition as can be seen in the photo's and I heartily recommend them. They are direct replacements for the circular moulded kit part which needs to be cut out. I didn't use the debris deflectors as late Israeli aircraft don't feature them. Their function is to provide clean engine air intake airflow during rocket firing but Israeli Cobra's ceased using rockets in the mid 90's. Prior to assembling the fuselage halves I added the requisite amount of nose weight to ensure a proper sit.

Once the fuselage and skids were assembled I turned my attention to adding the Israeli specific RWR sensors and antenna. These were scratchbuilt from plastic stock and filed and sanded to shape. The bulge on the top of the front of the doghouse was removed as well as the small raised plate on the nose in front of the base of the gunner's windscreen. The port side tailboom chaff and flare dispensers were sourced from the spares box. They originally came from a Hasegawa F-4E I had built some time back. The mounts were made from styrene sheet and brass rod.

Next were the stub wings and weapons fit. The 19 shot rocket pods were removed from the pylons and the sway braces were thinned to scale. Israeli Tzefa's are most often seen with two TOW rounds per launcher so I removed the bottom launchers and added the launcher harness cables. The launch and blast ends of the tubes were drilled out and thinned to scale. The missile tubes were painted Gunze H304 FS34087 Weapons Olive Drab. Llive missile colour bands were masked and airbrushed.

Every Monogram kit I have ever built has featured very clear and reasonably thin clear parts for canopies. This kit is no exception. Unfortunately as was the case in the 80's the clear parts were not separately bagged and tend to get scratched. I used toothpaste to polish the transparencies after I cut the gunner's and pilot's hatches from the main canopy. Once this was done I dipped each piece in Future. Next was masking the interior of the canopy and hatches to paint the inside Tamiya XF-69 Nato Black. The fit of the canopy to the fuselage is not great and larger gaps were filled with strip stock. Once the fit was improved the canopy was attached. The cockpit interior was sealed and the model was prepared to receive paint.

I wiped all surfaces with rubbing alcohol to ensure good paint adhesion. The ALQ-144 IR jammer was painted Model Master Stainless Steel Metalizer and sealed. Yellow was sprayed for the chevron ID markings and the markings masked. The model was then airbrushed with Tamiya XF-59 Desert Yellow. This is a near perfect match for Israeli Sand FS30145. Once the paint had been applied several coats of Future were airbrushed. The decals are Sky's Decals No.19 IAF Helicopters. I applied the markings for Southern Squadron aircraft 514. This aircraft featured prominently in my photo references and was my choice to model. Included on the sheet are decals for the chaff and flare dispensers. A nice touch which really look great when applied. The decals are very nice, thin yet strong. They never had a tendency to curl and responded well to the decal softener and solvent solutions.

Once decalling was complete several light oil based washes of a mix comprising Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Ivory Black were applied. Once that was done the flat coat was applied. Final details were now ready for mounting. The tail rotor, pitot tube, tail skid and air sensor probe went on along with the gun. Additional weathering was accomplished using my preference of pastels and graphite powder. The cockpit canopy hatches were added and gas strut supports were scratchbuilt and mounted. The clear red anti-collision light on top of the doghouse was mounted along with the clear red and green stub wing position lights. The main rotor was added after also receiving the appropriate weathering.

And there you have it, a mean looking desert snake and one of my favorite schemes. Now, on to another one......

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Bell AH-1F Tzefa

Cobra nut

Published on 25. September 2009

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