The Boeing AH-64 Apache is an American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter for a crew of two. It is armed with a 30mm M230 chain gun carried under the forward fuselage and has four hadpoints on stub-wing pylons for more armaments. Stores are typically a mixture of AGGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.
The AH-64E Apache Guardian (previously AH-64D Block III), is the further improvement of the AH-64D. It features new composite rotor blades, improved digital connectivity, Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T700-GE-701D engines and other upgrades. The new rotor blades increase cruise speed, climb rate and payload capacity. Deliveries of the AH-64E began in 2011 and 500 have been delivered as of 2020.
On August 2013, Indonesia finalized a contract for eight AH-64Es worth $500 million with the first being delivered in December 2017. All the Apache Guardians are assigned to the TNI-AD (Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat aka Indonesian Army) Army Aviation Command (Korps Penerbang Angkatan Darat) Skuadron 11 Heli Serbu (11th Helicopter Assault Squadron) based in Pangkalan Udara TNI-AD Ahmad Yani (Ahmad Yani Air Base) in Semarang, Jawa Tengah. As outlined below, Indonesia’s AH-64E are not of the standard configuration.
This build depicts TS-7210, an AH-64E Apache Guardian of the TNI-AD’s Pusat Penerbangan Angkatan Darat (Penerbad or Indonesian Army Air Center) 11th Squadron Heli Serbu (light assault) based in Army Airbase Ahmad Yani, Semarang, Indonesia.
Academy had already previously released an AH-64A kit but this is a whole new tooling to depict the latest version of the Apache. The details and panel lines are very nicely done and options include:
- detailed cockpits with finely molded consoles and instrument panels
- no belt details on the crew seats
- one-piece canopy with no open canopy option
- various access doors for early/late production units
- early/late TADS/PNVS sensor options on the nose
- one-piece main rotor
- stores include 8x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and 2x Hydra 70 rocket pods
- markings for six US Army AH-64Ds
Checking the sprues, there are parts here that with good reference photos, will allow you to model the various AH-64s that other International users deploy. This is a very nice release.
Killing two birds with one stone, this is part of my annual TNI and helicopter build. After some research and chatting with fellow modelers I found out that the TNI-AD’s AH-64E has a mix of AH-64D and AH-64E: it has the new TADS/PNVS and main rotors of the E but uses the exhausts of the D. This particular Academy kit came closest to matching the TNI-AD’s AH-64E configuration. There were some further things to be added/modified however. I have edited the original instructions to show the required modifications required. The PDF can be found here and below:
One thing to note: it was reported that Indonesia has at least two Longbow radars in stock but all the photos I’ve seen of the AH-64E didn’t have them installed so I left it off which necessitated scratchbuilding a cover plate on top of the rotor.
Fitting was generally good except for the following issues I faced:
- some of the parts are so small and finely molded I broke them while cutting them off the sprues
- the exhausts are split horizontally which resulted in some hard to reach gaps that needed filling
- the canopy fits so well that it’s hard to remove once installed
- I broke one of the rotor blades while bending it with the help of a hair dryer
Colors & Markings
TNI-AD Apaches come in a unique two-tone olive drab and medium green camouflage and I based the color callouts from the decal instructions: FS34031 olive drab and FS34097 medium green. However, once painted the green didn’t look correct so I checked with a local modeler friend of mine who told me the medium green should be FS34095. It turns out my instructions an initial release before they had more accurate information. The decal maker had issued an errata sheet on his site. In the end, I did a custom mix for the medium green which thankfully, looked right.
One thing I’ve noted is how difficult it was for the olive drab to cover the black base and white marble coat. I ended up laying it on thicker which resulted in all the marbling work disappearing. I’ve recently heard that an olive drab color should be painted over a dark brown base color. It’s something to look at in future builds.
The kit decals were printed from Cartograph and there were a ton of stencils to apply. I’m not sure what happened but the decals had a tendency to fold up very easily. They also took longer than usual to lift off the backings and I only added enough for the kit to look busy. The main markings were home-made affairs and they didn’t come with any carrier trim. I cut these as close as possible and applied without much issue although the red warning markings on the tail did silver on me.
The TNI maintains their equipment well so I went very light with my panel wash. I also didn’t do any additional weathering after that. There were some last few things to be done though:
- attaching the stores which were painted and weathered separately
- attaching the belly gun which friction fit in place
- painting the TADS/PNVS lenses a transparent black
- adding the antenna on the tail rotor
- adding the side protruding antenna on each engine housing
- adding the formation lights on each engine housing and the bottom. These were given a drop of silver on their bases
- adding the multi-part window sill decals after removing the canopy masks, which look somewhat thick but thankfully went on without any problems
This was a relative smooth build for once, and I much enjoyed the kit’s general good fit. It was fun to research the details of the AH-64E which to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to with just the photos I found off the Internet. Much thanks to a few friends from the Indonesian Scale Modellers Society (ISMS) for the tips and additional close-up photos.
Number 09 of 2021