Ken Judt shares this build report for his great looking F/A-18D, and also some great lessons he learned in this build.
The F/A-18 family of aircraft is well documented and I will not go into an overview of the aircraft here. I do want to, however, give a brief background for the timeframe of the squadron that I modeled. When Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait a coalition of nations allied to oust them from the country. The United States deployed the Marine all weather attack squadron Green Knights VMFA(AW)-121 from El Toro, California to Sheikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain. The squadron was given the role of fast forward air controller (FastFAC) for the duration of the operation and was given the radio call sign of “Combat”. The aircraft and crews were tasked with the organizing and guiding air strikes on targets throughout the area. The most famous of these occurred on the night of February 26-27, 1991 on Highway 80 between Kuwait City and Basra. The FastFACs of VMFA(AW)-121 called in enough airpower to annihilate the entire force escaping from Kuwait City. This is the so-called “Highway of Death”. Because of the high visibility of this part of the operation I wanted to model a Green Knights Hornet. In my research I found that the only weapons the Green Knights carried for the entirety of Operation Desert Storm were air-to-air missiles and rocket pods to mark targets. This was only my second jet build since returning to the hobby in fall of 2008 and I was looking forward to the project.
Fujimi 1/72 F/A-18D “Bengals”
Repliscale 72-1038 USMC F/A-18D
Hasegawa 1/72 F/A-18D ET-2
Ejection sets from Verlinden 1/72 SJU-5A F/A-18
I had originally chosen a Hasegawa 1/72 F/A-18D kit for this project but replaced it with the Fujimi kit because of it’s higher level of detail. I was greatly impressed with the detail on this kit right out of the box. Unfortunately in our hobby with better detail comes greater complexity of the kit and more parts to deal with. Upon my examination of the kit my suspicions in that area were confirmed. I was also impressed by the quality of the molds and the lack of flash and short shots on this kit. To enhance the look of the cockpit I added Verlinden ejection seats. The external fuel tanks provided with the Fujimi kit were rather oddly shaped so I replaced them with the ones from a Hasegawa F/A-18D kit. The weapons were taken from the excellent Hasegawa 1/72 weapons sets. I needed LAU-10 rocket launchers, AIM-9M Sparrow missiles, and AIM-7L Sidewinder missiles. To model this specific squadron I used a combination of Repliscale decals, Superscale decals, Fujimi decals, and decals from the Hasegawa F/A-18D kit.
The Build, Painting, and Decals
During this build I stretched my modeling skills a lot, and I believe the extra effort was well rewarded with the results of the build. If you would like a complete description of the build I encourage you to join the Agapemodels.com forums. There is a build blog there with over 200 photographs, 14 pages, many how-to’s, and some comedy thrown in.
List of techniques I first used on this build
- Use of resin ejection seats
- Filling in open areas in the front and rear landing gear wells
- Filling and smoothing gaps in the kit supplied intakes
- Using sanding sticks
- Using a pin as a superglue application tool
- Using photo etch parts
- Using Tamiya acrylic thinner for MM Acryl paints
- Scratch build new rockets to put in the LAU-10s
- Using Future to thin Pactra acrylic paint
- Using makeup sponges to mask off landing gear bays
- Using earplugs to mask off the intakes
- Using tinted Future for HUD
- Using silver undercoat under clear colors for landing and marking lights
- Using red marker for landing gear door edges
Things that went wrong
- The compressor faces eventually got a coat of white, no longer metallic
- Some chunks in the paint near the intakes
- Clear parts cement on the inside of the canopy
- Center drop tank not strait
- Holes in the LAU-10s for the new rockets not strait
- One landing gear too low, one wingtip is about 1/8th inch higher then the other
There are other flaws in this build but they do not currently come to mind.
I am very happy and satisfied with the results of this build. I stretched my skills and enjoyed the process. I think the result was well worth the effort. I would like to thank Kevin (Agape member MIFlyer) for coming down and helping with photographs of this build.
On a side note, if you are a modeler or thinking of starting in our hobby I would like to encourage you to not be intimidated. Everyone eventually falls prey to the AMS mindset from time to time. This is the attitude that only perfect models are good enough. In this build I strove to use just a out of the box kit with very few additions. The quality of the build is established by the basic modeling techniques I used and the time and effort I put into them. Anyone with the time, patience and dedication can make a model of this quality or higher. We do not model for perfection, but for enjoyment. I get great satisfaction and enjoyment out of both the process and standing back and comparing my latest result with past results. I can see my personal improvement and hope you will experience the same thing with our hobby.
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.