by: Scott Gentry [ ]
Academys' new 1/32 scale F/A-18C Hornet has set a new standard for not only Academy, but for the rest of the hobby world as well. In this reviewers opinion, this kit is quite possibly the finest static model aircraft ever manufactured.
Size (and quality) Counts!!
This kit is huge, and although it is very expensive, the modeler does not come away with the impression that his/her money has been poorly spent. If the size of the box isn't impressive enough, then the contents will surely do the job.
Included in the kit are almost 1000 pieces on 19 sprues. All parts are molded crisply with recessed panel lines and fine, sharp detail. Plastic is dark grey in color, and there is no flash anywhere. Plastic seems to be of the same hardness and quality as that used by Tamiya.
The decal sheets (2) are the biggest I have ever seen. A full-color sheet with 2 very attractive hornets is included, and a second sheet of stencils, figure details, cockpit details, and weapons details is also included.
The instruction manual, errr, book, weighs in at no less than 40 pages. Instructions are clear and are easy to understand. A full painting chart with correct colors and FS numbers where applicable is included. Also included is the inventory section with illustrations of each sprue.
The box is subdivided by a huge transparent cover that I refer to as the "droolguard". The primary function of this device seems to be protection from the modeler. :-)
Also included is a separate box, similar to the higher-end Hasegawa jets with the metal landing gear parts, canopies, radome, and vinyl tires in it. An impressive Academy catalog, screwdriver, and a funny safety sheet rife with "Engrish" is also in the small box. Please note that in the photos, the model you see is a 1/32 Hasegawa BF109G-6. If any of you have seen this kit, then you will have a good feel from the pics on how big that this beast really is. (grin)
Details, Details, Details...
A COMPLETE selection of weapons, fuel tanks, pylons, and targeting pods are included in the box. Weapons include Sidewinders, Sparrows, AAMRAAMs, JDAMs, LGB's, Mavericks, Harpoon/SLAMs, HARMS, and dumb bombs. Also included are all appropriate pylons and three huge fuel tanks.
Also included are 4 complete figures-two pilots and two ground crew. Figures represent Navy and Marines personnel, and both the figures themselves and the painting instructions are quite nice.
Metal landing gear ensures strength to support this huge kit, and both styrene and vinyl tires are included. The gear and accompanying wheel wells are crisp, accurate, and gorgeous. Wheel wells are surprisingly well detailed for a model kit.
All control surfaces are molded separately and are positionable. The model can be displayed with the wings out or with the wings folded. The radome can be posed open to reveal the fully detailed radar. Canopy and wind screen are both molded exceptionally clear and sharp. There is a seam present, but nothing that can't be addressed with some minor sanding and polishing. Price you pay for the perfect contour.
Cockpit and that Ejection Seat...
The cockpit is outstanding and is aftermarket quality with the exception of the ejection seat. The frame of the seat seems fairly good but the cushions and especially the seat belts are lifeless and not realistic. This seat isn't the worst that I have seen, but in this scale, and in a kit this good, the seat could have and should have been better. I will be picking up a Cutting Edge ejection seat for my kit, they are simply the best you can get IMHO, and Scotty B. really takes care of his customers.
The balance of the cockpit is amazing. Unless you are planning to model a different model than the one that comes in the kit, an earlier or later group, then an aftermarket cockpit is probably unnecessary.
In short, unlike many manufacturers, you get everything you need to build the aircraft in the box. The lack of a need to buy many aftermarket parts really helped cushion the blow of the hefty price of the kit.
This kit has set a new benchmark for static aircraft models. The only kit I have seen that rivals this one for quality, engineering, and yes, for overall value is the Tamiya 1/32 A6M5 zero.
Academy has really enhanced its reputation with this effort, and has loudly announced that it will not only compete with Hasegawa, Dragon, and Tamiya in the future, but perhaps even set new standards.
This kit is highly recommended for all of those who have enough space to store it. :-)
Copyright ©2021 text by Scott Gentry [ ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.
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