Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aurora Huey Cobra

I wish I could remember what order I built my model airplanes starting in 1974; I can however pin two of them to the summer of '76 because I built them at the house of Manny & Virginia Ybarra, good friends of ours who lived in La Mirada, California. I spent a week there that summer and mostly remember the kid who lived in the house behind them, and going to see "Logan's Run" at the theater. The boy's name was Steven, he was a year or two older than me, and he liked to build model airplanes too. We must have been bored one day, so Virginia gave me a couple bucks to buy a model kit at the dime store across Leffingwell Rd. Leffingwell is an extremely busy four-lane city road, and was difficult to cross even back then (you can see our trek below.) We made it though, and I bought two kits: an Aurora AH-1 Huey Cobra, and a Hawk SNJ. I don't remember what Steven got, but this little dime store had all the Aurora helicopter kits from the 1970s including the now very rare Lockheed Cheyenne. I wish I had gotten them all, but the Cobra was the only Aurora chopper kit I built from the series.
When we got back to Virginia's house, we started building immediately. I didn't bring any paints with me, but Steven brought over his, and I painted the Cobra minimally, mostly just a few interior details, and the rotor blades. It looked pretty good because Aurora, thankfully molded the kit in a matte olive drab color. On the rebuild you see pictured here, I again painted only a few details. All the instruction sheet says is to paint the model in accordance with the box art. Now that's not very helpful! But many model companies such as Aurora, Lindberg, and Hawk, did this; it's as if the model engineers couldn't be bothered with painting guides or instructions. Revell and Monogram were much better at this. Lack of painting guidance aside however, the Aurora Huey Cobra is a nicely scaled and molded model kit. You can see that by the late 1960s, Aurora was making an effort to get away from toy-like models to more accurate ones for serious hobbyists. I don't know how it compares to the other choppers in the line such as the Jolly Green Giant, Cheyenne, Huey, and Sky Crane. I have seen the Chinook, and it hearkens back to Aurora's earlier toy-like days, probably because it's an earlier kit than the other helos.
I enjoyed building the Huey Cobra again; it looks almost exactly like my original! It brings back good memories of that summer in La Mirada, hanging out with another kid who appreciated models - something a guy my age now sorely misses. By the way, before I left Virginia's house to go back home, Steven gave me his unpainted Monogram 1/48 DeHavilland Mosquito! I painted it when I got home, and it was a treasured addition to my collection for some time afterwards.


  1. The first time I saw a Cobra, it was flying over our company area in Nam at about 50 feet. What a slick-looking craft.

  2. Shame on you! I just noticed you've got it on ebay. You're going to miss it...