When Kinetic announced they were doing a F/A-18C series, there was a lot of interest based on the fact that the Hornet has been a long serving fighter with an iconic shape and lots of great markings. When the markings were announced, my interest became a little more personal as one of the markings was for VFA-25 on the USS Carl Vinson. I was lucky enough to be on that very tiger cruise and I have included a series of pictures of this plane. How could I not build it (plus you can never have enough Hornets).
Looking in the box, there are 18 light gray sprues with crisp engraved panel lines and riveting. Six of the sprues are dedicated to weapons (missile, bombs and pods). There are also two clear sprues, a photoetch sheet and the instructions which include separate building and painting instructions. A large decal sheet covering the six markings:
- F/A-18C, 164266, VFA-25, AA/400, USS Carl Vinson, 2011, CVW-11 CAG
- F/A-18C, 164250, VFA-87, AJ/400, USS George HW Bush, 2013, CVW-8 CAG
- F/A-18C, 163746, NSAWC, 33, NAS Fallon, 2009, 'Russian Splendor' adversary scheme
- F/A-18C, 163754, NSAWC, 20, NAS Fallon, 2009, 'Sukhoi Blue' adversary scheme
- F/A-18C, 163750, NAWDC, 45, NAS Fallon, 2016
- F/A-18C, J-5014, Swiss Air Force, 2014
- F/A-18C, HN-457, Finnish Air Force, 2006
- 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-7M Sparrow
- 2 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
- 2 x AIM-120C AMRAAM
- 2 x AGM-88 HARM
- 2 x GBU-12 Paveway II LGB
- 2 x GBU-38 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-87 CEM
- 1 x AAR-38 FLIR
- 1 x AAR-50 TINS
- 1 x ASQ-173
- 1 x AAQ-28 Litening
- 1 x Sniper XR
- 3 x 330 gallon tanks
There are a lot of options with the kit also including optional position flaps, wing folds, refueling probe, multiple nose parts for different versions, boarding ladder, optional position flaps and even more. Let’s dive into the build; I will cover the highlights and things I found when building the kit.
Construction starts with the seat and cockpit. Detail is very nice and the kit includes photoetch for the seatbelts. They are Ok but I used Eduard’s set which enhances the build. The cockpit structure definitely shows a two seat version coming. The intakes and exhausts also need built and fit is good all the way around.
To prepare the bottom, paint the wheel wells, exhausts and intakes prior to installing and then glue the intakes, exhausts wheel wells into the bottom fuselage. The nose gets assembled next and there are several options for Swiss, US Navy early and late nose bottoms. There are also several holes that need drilled. The cockpit and the nose are then attached to the bottom. The intakes and splitter plates are glued to the bottom and I painted mine first so there is a great break between the out color and the white intakes.
The top fuselage is prepared next and here you have to decide whether or not to fold the wings. I did decide to fold them so watch as there is a different set of directions for folded and unfolded. I also decided to drop the slats and flaps. Another point to note- there are bunches of things to drill out to accommodate pylons. I wanted all of them attached so I drilled them all out. To fold the wings, you need to cut the out half of the wings off the top and bottom fuselage. Kinetic gives complete new out folds which is great. Once done, the fuselage top and bottom can be joined and the fit is really nice with one exception. The top fuselage extends all the way to te gun port and this joins right next to the optional refueling probe. The fit is a little off maybe due to me but when I build another one, I will cut the nose off the get the fit tighter.
One thing I wanted to note was the air brake at the back of the fuselage- the fit is awesome. I close these when I build and they almost always take putty to close on other kits. The fit is so good with this one, it needed no putty! Nice work.
The rest of the build is adding the details which all fit great. I also built the weapons and decided on two AGM-88’s, two AIM-120C’s and two AIM-9X’s which all have decals included. I also built the three drop tanks as they had Fist of the Fleet decals.
I painted the kit and glossed it. Decals were designed by Fightertown Decals and are really good. They all settled very well with no issues. A flat coat, wash and chalk and were ready for the clear parts. The canopy and windscreen both have seams to polish out but that only took a few minutes. These were added along with all the lights and we’re done.
As a kit, this builds very well and has a lot of options. One thing I haven’t mentioned is the instructions. They are very weak. I have built a lot of kits (over 400) and a lot of Hornets (maybe 15) so it was simple for me figure out where parts go but for a newer builder, the parts location is poor without exact parts and weak drawings, it could be frustrating. Second, there are a lot of great options with the weapons and [pods but virtually no mention of the of how the pods are attached or their decals. This isn’t good.
In summary, this is a great kit and its only deficiency is the instructions. Fit is superb and it looks great when done. Recommended but with the reservation that the builder needs references for construction due to the instructions.
My thanks to Lucky Model for the opportunity to build this kit. Go get one, you won’t regret it.
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