F/A-18E/F Super Hornet US Naval Aviation Centennial Combo
The F/A-18 Hornet has been around for a while, and it looks to be almost as big a winner as its predecessor, the F-4 Phantom. One of the stories going around St. Louis in the 90s was that the plant wanted to build 5058 Hornets, one more than the production run for the Phantom. Well, the production line is still open, and they’re past 1100 now.
The F/A-18 E and F are different aircraft from the A to D models. The whole plane is larger, the engines are more powerful, and it’s stealthier. The engine intakes are square and the landing gear doors have sawtooth edges, which reduce radar return.
Here’s a picture of my recent CF-18A with the F/A-18E.
You get two kits in separate plastic bags. The only difference between the two kits is that the F model has a longer canopy. Otherwise, they’re part-for-part the same kit. You even get two ejection seats and the extras for the rear cockpit with the E.
The decal sheet is in two sections and covers two USN CAG birds, an E from VFA-115 “Eagles” and an F from VFA-102 “Diamondbacks”. The decal sheet is very large, about 7 by 10 inches.
Assembly of the E was very good. I pretty much followed the instructions, and everything fit pretty well. I had to use some putty on the forward fuselage, but almost none on the wing/fuselage joint. The rear fuselage is split horizontally, and there is usually a problem getting the seam to behave, particularly behind the wing. Hasegawa handles this nicely by having the horizontal stabilizers cover this joint.
While on the horizontal stabilizers, the attachment method should be noted. Instead of gluing these on, there’s a pocket behind the flame holders on the engine exhausts which hold two plastic rings. When it’s time to put the stabilizers on, the pins on the part go inside the fuselage and into these rings. This allows the parts to be adjusted as needed, and they hold the correct anhedral/dihedral angle.
I used the Eduard canopy mask, which allowed me to paint the whole aircraft without worrying about painting the cockpit interior Ghost Grey.
The paint scheme was pretty basic – 36375 Light Ghost Gray for the underside and 36320 Dark Ghost Gray for the top. The vertical stabilizers were masked and painted black. With Future applied, it was ready for the decals.
The decals were the most time-consuming part of the project. My goodness, these Navy aircraft have a lot of markings! The tail markings are 4 decals, plus another on the inside of the part, so I let each one sit for at least a few hours before tackling the next step. In the meantime, I put decals on the nose, the wings, the rear fuselage sides, and the underside, each time trying to avoid having to work too close to a “recent” decal, until it had time to dry and set up. I also put on a coat of Future to protect the “early” decals between the second and third sessions.
To finish, I put on the landing gear and doors, the fuel tanks, the horizontal stabilizers, and the antennas. Zero fit problems. Gratifying.
Recommended. Assembly is straightforward and it all works. The decals are fine. But there is one of those nagging things about this project. The E model does indeed have a marking for the Naval Aviation Centennial. There’s nothing on the F about this anniversary.
I am really eager to see kits and markings for the aircraft we saw in Captain Rich Dann’s presentation at Omaha this summer.
The F model in “Navy Working Uniform” camouflage is going to have to wait for a mask or decals, but the other two are certainly “do-able”, but they’re an EA-18G and a C model.
Thanks to Hobbico for providing this really buildable kit, and to IPMS/USA and John Noack for the chance to get into the Naval Aviation Centennial.