Kit Preview: Academy’s 1/72 F/A-18A Hornet

academy_f-18-01Ken Judt submitted this kit preview of Academy’s F/A-18A Hornet. From the sound of it, this is a very nice kit! Thanks Ken!

History: (From Wikipedia.org)
The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. Designed in the 1970s for service with 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 Blue Angels since 1986. Its primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have proven it to be a valuable carrier asset.

The Kit:
This kit includes the following:
One 8 page directions pamphlet
One two page decal and painting guide
One extensive decal sheet for three different aircraft printed by Cartograf
One sprue of clear plastic parts
Five sprues molded in light grey plastic
One tube of cement

I ordered this kit when I first saw it come available from www.LuckyModel.com in Hong Kong. This kit is based on Academy’s excellent 1/72 F/A-18C kit with an extra sprue for the A version tails, different decals, and a new instruction booklet.

Kit:Academy 1/72 F/A-18A
Kit Number:12419
Price:$17.99 from LuckyModel.com
Decals:Markings for 3 aircraft. Number 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force. Number 433 Squadron Canadian Air Force. Ala de Caza 15 Spanish Air Force. Extensive stencil and weapons markings.
Reviewer:Ken Judt
Notes:Released in Spring 2009

Upon inspection of the kit I found it molded out of light grey plastic with a slight bluish tint. There is a slightly rough surface to the plastic but this would only cause problems if you are doing a natural metal finish aircraft. The parts are crisp with almost no flash and include fine recessed surface detail. The clear parts were also free of flash and were molded with large pieces of sprue plastic to protect them from being scratched. I wish more kit makers did this. There is a small mold line down the center of the main canopy; this will require some sanding and buffing to remove it. All in all the molding looks sharp with small sprue gates connecting the parts. There are some ejector pin marks on some of the parts these will need to be cleaned up for the more advanced modelers out there.

The directions of course come in a step-by-step exploded view. Everything seems laid out logically with paint call-outs included. The cockpit is sufficiently detailed enough for most modelers considering this scale. Decals are included for the different panels and screens. The cockpit tub is molded for two crew so I am hoping Academy someday adds an F/A-18D and F/A-18B to their line. The moldings come with various lumps and bumps and antenna. For example for an F/A-18A build you will be removing the five blade IFF antenna from the top of the fuselage forward of the cockpit but keeping the two bumps on the under side of the engine intakes. Which to keep and which to remove or add are clearly illustrated in the directions. The gear bays are completely enclosed on this model and sufficiently detailed for most modelers. The landing gear themselves are decently detailed and look more than robust enough to support this 1/72 scale model. The wheels and tires are not “weighted” and do have ejector pin marks in the inner side. The intakes are well detailed but only consist of about 3/8” of depth. This solution will look good with just some darker grey shaded for the back of the intakes. If this does not suffice then www.DrPepperResin.com offers full depth replacements. The extra sprue that includes the A version tails also includes an early version center pylon and six separate L shaped tail stiffeners. The ordnance included with the kit is impressive. Highlights are 4 external fuel tanks and 4 GBU-12 bombs. With the varied roles the Hornet has available and the aftermarket ordnance available leads to many interesting combinations.

This kit includes the following ordnance with decal markings where applicable:

4xExternal Fuel Tanks
2xAIM9L/M Sidewinders
2xAIM7M Sparrows
4xGBU-12 PavewayII Bombs
1xAN/ASQ-173 LDT/SCAM Pod
1xAN/AAS-38 FLIR Pod
1xAN/AAR-50 TINS Pod
2xBRU-33 Vertical Ejector Racks
4xWing Weapons Pylons
2xCenter Weapons Pylons (old and new versions)

The decals are printed by Cartograf in Italy and are in perfect register. Extensive stencils and ordnance markings are included. The markings are for one aircraft form each of the Spanish Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and Canadian Air Force. The Spanish aircraft is a Tiger Meet aircraft with lots of tiger stripes included.

Conclusions:
The quality evident in this kit has me looking forward to building one. I have seen many of the F/A-18C version of the kit built up and it is probably the finest 1/72 F/A-18 currently on the market. With the various markings and weapons available on the market you could spend years building them. Although my first build of this aircraft will probably be done with the excellent MAW decals for a VFMA-333 bird from desert storm. Not sure if I want to do a MIGCAP, SEAD or Cluster Bomb load out.

Bio:
Ken Judt is a recovering IT professional currently residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He has re-entered the hobby in fall of 2008 and splits his time between working at Wal-Mart, hobbies and family. Ken models in 1/72 exclusively and prefers World War Two and Operation Desert Storm subjects.

2 comments

  • Wow! Even comes with a tube of glue! Don’t see that much any more. Great kit review Ken. While trying to thin my stash I found a couple of 1/72 kits. Just for the fun of it I started one of them. Now I kinda feel drawn to trying a couple more. This sounds like a good one. Because of your great kit review I will probably ordering one of these babies.
    Thanks
    Steve

  • “For example for an F/A-18A build you will be removing the five blade IFF antenna from the top of the fuselage…”

    It depends on the era you’re modelling. All CF-18s (which are an -A type) have those bird slicers now. They also all now have the slanted blade antenna on top and bottom. The instructions in the kit, and the decals provided for the Canadian Balkan Rats don’t match because the Rats had all the updated avionics which the kit tells you to remove.

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