1/72 Chinook ACH-47 Armed Gunship

Kit Number 1054

Reviewed By Howie Belkin, #16

MSRP: $23.00 USD

The U.S. Army put weapons on helicopters of all types during the Vietnam War, from the small Bell 47 “bubble” to the huge Boeing CH-47, before the Bell AH-1G Cobra became the gunship of choice.  Nicknamed "Guns-A-Go-Go" or the "Go-Go Birds", three armed CH-47 Chinooks, originally designated the 53rd Aviation Detachment, were deployed to Vietnam with the 1st Air Cavalry in May 1967.  This kit represents serial #64-13149 named "EASY MONEY", while the other two were #64-13151 named "STUMP JUMPER" (lost in a freak accident) and #64-13154 named "BIRTH CONTROL".  Italeri also provides markings for #64-13145, the first A/ACH-47A built, as it appeared while stateside for further testing (it’s a shame Italeri didn’t provide decals for each gunship).  The 1st Cav’s commander, Major General John Tolson, commented, "Though anything but graceful, it had a tremendous effect on the friendly troops which constantly asked for its support.  From the infantryman's viewpoint, when the Go-Go bird came, the enemy disappeared".  ACH-47's destroyed every assigned target.  Armed with five .50 cal machine guns, a 40mm automatic grenade launcher, two 20mm canon and rocket pods, she was armed to the teeth.  #64-13145 eventually went to Nam named “COST OF LIVING” but sadly went down during a gun run with all of its crew, when the pip-pins on one of the 20mm vibrated loose.  There were over 2,500 non-combat helicopter losses vs. just over 2,000 lost in combat in Vietnam.  I’m not sure how “COST OF LIVING”s loss is listed, but have no doubt, it is the cost of war.  I recently heard a civilian try to draw a fine line between who is a hero today and who isn’t; an easy armchair exercise that has no sense of reality.

While gunships especially, are death dealers, "EASY MONEY" saved the crew of "BIRTH CONTROL", coming to the rescue when she went down outside Hue during Tet 1968 (where the media kept secret the war’s worst atrocity: the communist execution of thousands of civilians).  "EASY MONEY” was deactivated as a gunship on April 1, 1968 but a rebuilt Chinook in its markings remains as a memorial.  You can read their history and see lots of rare but awesome detail photos at Frank White’s website, "They Called Them GUNS A GO-GO" or visit  Helicopter maven Pete Harlem also helped with reference photos.  You might be able to nag Joseph Osborn at to make a Chinook gunship decal sheet.

As for the model, Italeri has finessed fine engraved panel lines, whereas the ones on the Matchbox (MB) Chinook that I compared to, were either too faint or too deep (I don’t have the Revell model).  The MB model has that MB “soft” look to the parts, whereas Italeri’s parts are sharp and crisp, even the tiny antennae, windshield wipers and drilled out 40mm barrel.  The one piece rotor heads look great.  I painted the parts on their sprue and did some airbrush retouching after assembly. OD paint didn’t weather the weather that well and should look well worn.  Frank White pointed out that the rear ramp ammo box is shown mounted backwards... the low end should face aft, not forward.  The armor plate under the cockpit was only on the right side (if you're looking at the front of the model) and the kit’s .30 cal machine guns should be .50 cals.  The name "EASY MONEY" should be on the left but the decal is incorrectly shaped (see photo printed with permission from Frank White)*.  There is “basic” detail inside rather than the plethora of plumbing on the real Chinook, so I added orange mesh from 1/1 scale onion bag to represent the cargo seat netting.  I replaced the machine gun barrels with ones from Armtec (Aeroclub .50 mgs might be easier to find), removed the handgrip but didn’t add flexible metal ammo chutes or ammo cans.  The kit has a raised instrument panel (MB’s is flat with a decal) and center console, bulkheads, seats with belts, pedals, sticks and collectives.  Photos show the overhead windows clear at one time, tinted green another; and the nose OD with and without antiglare black.  You decide.

You don’t have to remove the seam along the horizontal bar that each of the machine guns mount onto, as it’s a weld that appears in photos (leave a note for the judges though).  Both companies have you insert the side glass windows from outside, which show the window frame but prevents your popping windows while handling the model.  Keep track of which rotor assembly is front or back, and align them, the floor/bulkhead assembly and ramp when closing up the fuselage halves.  I decided to glue the ramp open so I cut away some of the hinges and that made assembly easier.  Note that the gaping gap between the ramp top and bottom piece is correct – don’t fill it in!  The decals went on easily with Future floor wax but most photos show few if any stencil or warnings so I left most off.  Photos show a shark mouth on the 40mm turret at a later time, but no decal was provided.  You could leave off Italeri’s gunship parts and build a “normal” Chinook but can’t readily build a gunship with MB.  Italeri recently released a modern Chinook, a credit to this a/c still flying combat.  Got guts?  Add a photo etch detail set.  Got room?  Trumpeter is due to release a 1/35th scale CH-47, possibly an ACH-47 version!

The finished model takes a little work (Zap-a-Gap helped get it together and A&B putty to fill gaps) so I’d recommend it to any but beginner modelers.  Most good hobby shops have it, or you can contact Testors at 620 Buckbee Street, Rockford, IL 61104, 815-962-6654 or Italeri at  Thanks to Testors for the review sample and to both companies for offering us one of the most complete lines of 1/72 helicopters.  Now if they’d only add the gunners’ M60s and pedestal machine gun mounts when they re-release their UH-1H models (or release an accessory set with figures, ammo, ammo chutes, stowage, etc), I’ll be one happy vet! 

*The decal for the name, “Easy Money” is incorrect and is shown on the wrong side of the aircraft.  Facing the front of the aircraft, it actually appeared on your left.  It was in all capital letters on a horizontal level, with a larger “E” and “M”.  It was white for a short time, then red outlined in white in photos.  Unit patches later appeared above the name in color: top row left to right: a skull wearing a pointed “VC” hat; a 1st Infantry Div red 1; 25th Infantry Div tropical lightning; yellow and black 1st Air Cav; yellow, white and blue USMC globe insignia; and 1st Special Forces shield.  The second row under them and immediately above “Easy Money” were a 173rd Airborne Brigade patch; 101st Airborne eagle on black shield; and a red Australian kangaroo.  To the left of the name was a Purple Heart medal, earned by crewmembers.

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