Building Quality & Realistic Models Since 1969
Academy 1/35 USMC Bell AH-1Z Viper ACA12127
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an American twin-engine attack helicopter, based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, that was developed for the United States Marine Corps as part of the H-1 upgrade program. The AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. The AH-1Z, one of the latest members of the prolific Bell Huey family is also called "Zulu Cobra", based on the military phonetic alphabet pronunciation of its variant letter.
Aspects of the AH-1Z date back to the Bell 249 in 1979, which was basically an AH-1S equipped with the four-blade main rotor system from the Bell 412. This helicopter demonstrated Bell's Cobra II design at the Farnborough Airshow in 1980. The Cobra II was to be equipped with Hellfire missiles, a new targeting system and improved engines. The later Cobra 2000 proposal included General Electric T700 engines and a four-blade rotor. This design drew interest from the US Marine Corps, but funding was not available. In 1993, Bell proposed an AH-1W-based version for the UK's new attack helicopter program. The derivative CobraVenom featured a modern digital cockpit and could carry TOWs, Hellfire or Brimstone missiles. The CobraVenom design was altered in 1995 by changing to a four-blade rotor system. However, the AH-64D was selected instead later that year.
In 1996, the USMC launched the H-1 upgrade program by signing a contract with Bell Helicopter for upgrading 180 AH-1Ws into AH-1Zs and upgrading 100 UH-1Ns into UH-1Ys. The H-1 program created completely modernized attack and utility helicopters with considerable design commonality to reduce operating costs. The AH-1Z and UH-1Y share a common tailboom, engines, rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software, controls and displays for over 84% identical components.
Bell participated in a joint Bell-Government integrated test team during the engineering manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the H-1 program. The AH-1Z program progressed slowly from 1996 to 2003 largely as a research and development operation. The existing two-blade semi-rigid, teetering rotor system is being replaced with a four-blade, hingeless, bearingless rotor system. The four-blade configuration provides improvements in flight characteristics including increased flight envelope, maximum speed, vertical rate of climb, payload and reduced rotor vibration level.
The AH-1Z first flew on 8 December 2000. Bell delivered three prototype aircraft to the United States Navy's Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in July 2002, for the flight test phase of the program. Low-rate initial production began in October 2003, with deliveries to run through 2018. In late 2006 NAVAIR awarded a contract to Meggitt Defense Systems to develop a new linkless 20 mm ammunition handling system to improve on the gun feed reliability of the existing linked feed system. These systems are now being retrofitted into the AH-1W and AH-1Z fleets with good results during combat in Afghanistan
In February 2008, the U.S. Navy adjusted the contract so the last 40 AH-1Zs are built as new airframes instead of the previously planned rebuild of AH-1Ws. In September 2008, the Navy requested an additional 46 airframes for the Marine Corps, bringing the total number ordered to 226. In 2010, the Marine Corps planned to order 189 AH-1Zs with 58 of them being new airframes, with deliveries to continue until 2022. On 10 December 2010, the Department of the Navy approved the AH-1Z for full-rate production.
- Newest upgraded variant of AH-1 attack helicopter used by USM
- Weaponry features 20mm rotary cannon, AGM-114 and AIM-9 missiles, as well as two types of rocket pods
- Accurately detailed cockpit, panel lines and rivets
- Photo-etched parts
- Mask for canopy included
- Cartograf decal