by: Darren Baker [ ]
The F-18 Hornet predecessor was the loser to the F-16 Falcon predecessor when the US Airforce was looking for a low cost fighter to compliment the F-15 Eagle. Come forward to today and the F-18 Hornet is the primary aircraft of the US Navy and has had great export success. If I am honest I have a bone to pick with the F-18 as it caused the demise of the F-14 Tomcat, but I guess it is a case of time marches on. In this review I get to look at the F/A-18C in 1/72nd scale from Academy.
This offering from Academy of the US Navy F/A-18C VFA-82 Marauders is packaged in a card tray with a separate card lid. Inside are three sealed plastic bags containing the injection moulded plastic sprues. The contents break down as follows:
4 grey sprues
1 clear sprue
A decal sheet
An instruction sheet
Decal placement and painting guide
2 advisory sheets
This offering from Academy has it routes in a 2008 release they made, since then a few new parts have been added and various releases with new decal options have also made an appearance. With that time period and number of releases you may be concerned about the parts in this kit; good news is that this offering looks fresh to my eye. A full examination has presented me with no concerns in respect to the moulding as I see no flash on what are very clean mouldings. There are a few flow marks on larger mouldings, but these do not look or feel to have caused any issues. One part has broken free of its sprue, but this also does not appear to have caused damage. There are a few ejector pin marks that will need fixing.
The cockpit of the model is fair as detail goes in my opinion, especially given the scale of the model and large canopy. The tub is the tandem setup and there are two seats supplied in the set, but this is a single seat version of the aircraft, the rear being hidden. The ejector seat is made up of four pieces despite its small size and looks quite good. The harness for the ejector seat is moulded raised on the upper rear portion of the seat, but is otherwise absent. The instrument panel is fair as regards dials and painting is indicated on the instructions, but it will need someone with better eyes and a steadier hand to tackle it well. The only other detail provided here is the yoke.
The fuselage is tackled next and this does cause me some concern as regards the many parts that need to come together to complete the fuselage. There are 7 parts that need to come together well or a lot of filler will be needed on what are very nice mouldings. The panel lines are of a very high quality in that they are shallow and finely recessed, also checks against schematics indicate that the panel lines are mostly correct, at least where my reference is concerned. The air intakes on the model look to be particularly well detailed and shaped. One possible concern having never built this model is the risk of a tail sitter, no weight is indicated as being needed but I will add some weight to the nose cone.
The flight and control surfaces of the model share the same attributes of the fuselage in that the panel lines appear to be accurate and nicely rendered. One aspect that is a let down in this offering is the flight control surfaces on the wings; during my search through reference material, I noted that aircraft that were powered down and unmanned had lowered flight surfaces. It is this that I feel has let down the model as the flight controls have been moulded as part of the wing, that said some work with a razor saw will make it possible to alter them, the actuators on the underside of the wing will be harder to alter. The tail planes fortunately do not share this issue and can be correctly placed easily.
The undercarriage is the next area to come in for attention and for the most part I am a happy modeller with this aspect. The struts are very well done for a 1/72nd scale offering and I am very pleased with the positive locations of the struts, something that I have found poor in much larger scale models in the past. The addition of some cabling will lift the detail of the struts, but as I said I am happy as it currently stands. The wheels are also very nicely detailed for the scale, but I would have liked them to be weighted. The wheel wells have a nice level of detail, but there is a lot of wiring detail absent. The doors for the undercarriage are also nice, but the inner face is where you will find ejector pin marks, they are nothing drastic but will need filling.
The canopy is disappointing due to a mould seam running down the centre and creating repair work that is both unnecessary and difficult to achieve. On the positive side Academy has raised panels that protect the clear parts from damage very well. The thickness of the canopy is quite good, but it does seem to distort anything seen through it. Another positive is that the canopy can be displayed either open or closed.
I also looked at the airbrake in this area and while it is good in most respects and can also be displayed open or closed it does have ejector pin marks if displayed open. The jet exhausts each consist of 4 parts and these parts do look to do a very good job on the detail.
Academy has supplied a very large quantity of stores for this model including weaponry, pods and fuel tanks
4 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinders
4 x GBU-12 Paveway II
4 x External Fuel Tanks
2 x AIM-7M Sparrow
1 x ASQ-173 FLIR
1 x AAS-38 Laser Designator pod
1 x AN/AAR-50 TINS pod
The decal sheet supplied with the model is very good, but then again it has been prepared by Cartograf. The decals only cover a single aircraft which is identified as:
US Navy F/A-18C VFA-82 ‘Marauders’, USS Enterprise (CVN65), Arabian Gulf, Jan 2004
Squadron Walk Around No 18 – F/A-18 Hornet
Osprey Combat Aircraft Series - F/A-18 Hornet
This is a very nicely detailed model of the F-18 and has some very nice attributes to recommend to you all. The fly in the ointment with this one is a seam line down the full length of the canopy and this creates a lot of work to correct that should not be needed in my opinion. The ejector pin marks that are present are of an acceptable size and quantity, as such I am not going to complain too loudly about them. All told this model has a lot of potential limited only by the modellers’ ability.