I opted to try this kit knowing full well it was Italeri plastic with Cartograph decals and Platz boxing - with their instructions.
The box has a great image of a real F-18G on the front When you open the box you find gray plastic with clear for the canopy and taxi lights. Cartograph decals (yay!) and a very well-laid-out instruction manual from Platz. (yay!) The Italeri plastic was the negative.
I purposefully did not read any reviews on the model from either company before beginning. This will be a simple review.
First: the model was disappointing in that fit was either excellent (fuselage nose) or “sketchy” (intakes, wing root, ECM pods and the wing tip pods). I decided to save my expensive (what isn’t anymore) filler and jut build the model as if I were a kid receiving the kit for a birthday… time and money are premium these days. Intake bypass panels also fell into the poor fit category. The landing gear is sturdy enough for the basic mode, but I would not give this kit to a rank beginner due to their design. The lower axles are separate parts and by using “Same Stuff” cement, I was able to blend the seam. If you don’t use metal gear and knowing Hornets are notorious for being “Squatters”, I coated the gear lower section liberally with thin superglue to add a bit of structure. To date this has worked.
The wheels and tires are split halves and had sufficient tire to wheel engraved detail to simplify painting. The nose wheels appear to be a bit too far out on the axles. I did not use the uber-small axle washers designed to retain the wheels on the axles. I just pushed them in with a bit of cement to hold.
The F-18G-specific sprue had additional antenna, bumps and lump antennas for adding to the F-18F kit basic frame. The cockpit is 1980’s design. A tub with no detail, decals for instruments and side panels, and basic ejection seats with molded on belts of little detail. The control sticks were basic as well. The cockpit for the guy in back had (on the instruction sheet) indications of a modified “G” model instrument panel and coaming. Try as I could, there were no parts on the “G” addendum parts tree, nor were they listed on the parts layout diagram. I therefore used the flat panel and decal for the “F” rear pit, in order to fill the space.
I did not spend much time with filler (which I would normally do) to handle the wing roots. The exhaust AB cans are basic but actually looked a lot like what I have seen on the net for the Growler as far as the flame holder. Beyond that, nothing special.
The canopy fit pretty, although it was missing the flared profile when viewed from the front.
I dutifully assembled the kit in about four hours, including pre-painting the interior details. Again, not much there!
The load was ECM pods with the generator fans on front, and AAMRAM AAM-120’s on the intake launchers. I have not noted them being carried much, so I left them off.
The kit excelled with the decal sheet. The decals made the overall model look much better after I primed and painted the three-tone gray scheme. Gloss coat and decal performance was typical Cartograph. The decals for the ECM pods made up for their lack of detail.
In the end, I give the overall model a “5” rating on “10” scale. The box, decals, and instructions were world class. The model tripped at the finish line by using another manufacturer’s model. I understand using available plastic kits from other manufacturers to keep a company in business, but in the end, I was disappointed with the effort I would have had to spend to bring the kit up to current kit standards. Enough said.
I do not enjoy writing a review of this type, but it is what is. I appreciate Platz distributor for supporting IPMS/USA in sending us this kit and giving us an opportunity to see what’s in the box after building.