Hasegawa 1/48 F-18C Hornet
A blurb form Wikipedia: The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. The F/A-18 was derived from the YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations. It has been the aerial demonstration aircraft for the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, since 1986.
The fighter's primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), air interdiction, close air support and Aerial reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized for its lack of range and payload compared to its earlier contemporaries, such as the F-14 Tomcat in the fighter and strike fighter role, and the A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair II in the attack role.
This version of Hasegawa’s Hornet comes in a big box. The outside is adorned with a very nice picture of a VFA-115 “Eagles” bird. The inside is similarly decked out with gray plastic….lots of it. Parts count here is somewhere around 220 pieces, running the full gamut between large and itty-bitty, all with very nice engraved detail and no flash exhibited. One sprue of clear plastic, the canopy and various lights and lenses, round out the plastic bits. Also included is a small fret of Photo-etch parts and some nice metal landing gear. Of course, and unfortunately typical of Hasegawa, the kit has no weapons.
Construction started with me looking thru all the sprues with amazement. Lots of parts here and I was curious at the “how and why” aspect of the kits engineering. Looking over the sheer parts count here and looking at the Monogram Hornet I had bought for my son showed two distinct philosophies. The Monogram Bug is a simpler build with less detail and less finesse (and of course less parts) while the Hasegawa offering gives all that and the options of dropped slats and flaps, which alone accounts for a considerable number of those parts. I’m sure there are those “Experts” out there who would argue the fact, but I’m sure you can make a fine example of this fighter from either source….it’s just all about what you want from the build. Want one definitive Bug in your collection? The Hasagawa’s path will fill the bill. Want a fleet of bugs in different markings? I’m sure the Monogram offering would suffice just fine (and your pocketbook would be much happier at that!!). Whichever route you take, you can get there from here….just enjoy the journey either way.
Alright….I started the build by familiarizing myself with the instructions and deciding what options I wanted. For me it was going to be flaps and slats down, canopy and airbrake closed. I then set about trying to minimize that parts count, i.e., gluing together any subassemblies I could. Fuel tanks, pylons, slats, flaps, wheels, etc. where dutifully joined and set aside. I also removed the parts I wasn’t going to use from the sprues and threw them in a Ziploc bag to minimize confusion down the line.
The cockpit assembly was next; first on the instructions…go figure. The cockpit tub is for a two-seater, but parts are only added to front. The rear half is eventually covered up by a fuselage insert/cover giving you…abra-cadabra…a single seat fighter. Don’t be confused…it’s just Hasegawa getting the most out of their molds. The front office, out of the box, is quite acceptable, but I’m sure there are enough aftermarket bits for those who want to super-detail.
The flaps are a nice feature, and a tedious assembly. All I can say here is take your time. There are 8 separate hinges for the flaps. I glued the hinges to the wings, and after they had set up for a few minutes, I positioned the flaps to the hinges to make sure they lined up properly, making adjustments as necessary. After they had dried for a day I glued the flaps onto the hinges without difficulty.
The metal landing gear is nicely done. The front is a fairly complex assembly of about a dozen parts; the rear is quite simple at 5. Truthfully though, I do not understand the inclusion of these metal bits. It doesn’t up the detail from what can be done with plastic, and the Hornet isn’t such a large aircraft where the weight of the model would be a factor. I guess I just see it as something that would raise the price of an already expensive kit. YMMV.
The kit supplies targeting pods(?) for the fuselage sparrow stations but for the life of me I could not get the fairings to mate up at all without leaving huge gaps. I left them off. Behind the canopy there are two bumps on the fuselage, depicted separately in the kit by two tiny parts, K23. Well, of course, in the process of trying to get these off the sprue and on the plane, one of them escaped, never to be seen again. Bummer. There were no extras on the sprues and nothing similar in the spares bin, so I cut and sanded a piece of sprue to a similar shape. Good enough.
I found the PE fret to be
practically useless. The HUD pieces
were cool, but my attempt to bend these into shape resulted in a couple very
tiny, very mangled bits of metal. Besides those and the parts for the boarding
ladder, which I didn’t use anyway, the photo etch parts don’t add much to the
detail. Again, I just see it as a
price increaser. Can we have some
weapons instead maybe? Anyone?
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
Ahhh….Dark Ghost Gray and Light Ghost Gray; looking thru my stash of paints I discover that I have neither. Okay, fine, off to the local hobby shop I go….I needed some other supplies anyway. Sure enough, they don’t have any Light Ghost Gray. Hmmmmmmm…okay again; when I mix up the DGG, lightened for scale effect and thinned for the airbrush, I’ll lighten a portion of it for the bottom color. And this is what I did. Only problem is that I didn’t lighten it quite enough and so the two colors appear as one from anything more than a foot away. Still, many of the Hornet pics I’ve seen exhibit this same quality, so I left it be. I went back over both colors with lighter and darker mixes to highlight/weather panels and panel lines, respectively. I kept this to a minimum as I figure a CAG bird would be kept in pretty good shape. I then masked off and painted the fins Dark Sea Blue and dipped the radome in a small jar of some tan I had mixed up for, well….something. After all this dried for a few days a gloss coat of Future was applied to prep for decals. The Superscale decals went on without a hitch…..easy to apply, easy to position, and snuggled down nicely. Back to the spray booth for a final clear flat coat.
Then a strange thing happened. When I removed the Tamiya tape mask from the canopy, I it left behind an odd residue…almost like the tape reacted with the clear coat of Future I gave it weeks earlier. I tried rubbing it off with a fingernail and then a toothpick, but no luck. I finally removed the canopy and lightly wet sanded the blemishes off. Then I spent some time at the sink, polishing the canopy with some toothpaste on a finger, rinsing and reapplying often. Then a re-dip in Future and all was well again. I can’t explain what this was or why it happened, but I was just happy it was fixable. It was glued back in place.
On went the fiddly bits…landing gear and wheels, teeny tiny antenna, pylons and fuel tanks. I also added two AMRAAM missiles I had left over from a Eurofighter kit. These went on the outboard pylon. Hasegawa gives a nice chart as to what weapons can go where. (Nice of them even though there is nary a weapon in the box.) Afterwards while looking at Hornet pics on the web I noticed there should be an adapter between the missile and pylon. Oh well, it still looks better than bare; more like a fighter and less like a fuel delivery truck.
And at that she was done.
I am usually not a fast jet guy. My normal builds usually have a prop or two or four hanging off them. So when Scott offered this kit for a review, I though why not, it would be something different. I’m glad I did. Though I’m not a big fan of the Hornet, this is a mighty impressive kit. Big box, large parts count, awesome detail. The dropped flaps/slats option is a very nice feature…..and they are not an easy feature to replicate.
But come on Hasegawa, what’s with the no weapons thing? When the other manufacturers can come up with kits at half the price and a full weapons outfit with spares left over, I just don’t get it. How about leaving out the metal landing gear and practically useless PE fret and give us a sprue of weapons? Nobody should have to pay the asking price and then shell out more for a weapons set. This is one of the nicest kit I’ve done in a long time, and one that I am probably the most critical of. Hasegawa has recently lost their US distributor for some reason. I will shed nary a tear.
Now, after that rant, I do need to state that I wholeheartedly recommend this kit to all Hornet fans out there. It builds up to a most impressive quarter scale Bug. Just buy one when you find a sale!
Kit and decals courtesy of Scott Van Aken and Modeling Madness.
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