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1/32 Academy F/A-18C Hornet

 Part 1- In progress

by Everett McEwan


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     I wanted to share with all of you ARC'ers my current project and show off what an awesome kit it is! Those of you who don't have this kit have probably heard some good press about this kit and seen a few built but until you get into it yourself you have no
 idea how great it really is. Despite the massive box and the hundreds of parts this is the best engineered model you will ever build, it is flawlessly designed and goes together better than anything else I have seen. I thought this would be the most difficult kit I have ever built and so far it's turning out to be the easiest.

      I assembled a lot of after market parts for the project because I wanted to really make this beauty shine. The goodies include; Eduard color interior set, color placard set, and the mesh set, the Cutting Edge cockpit set (late lot) and the Black Box (click here to read my review of this Black Box exterior detail set) and Daco's new F-18 book. I include the Daco book as an after market item because I bought it for building this kit and it is essential! I have never seen anything like this book, it is the best reference book ever produced hands down! A true must have.

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     The cockpit set is incredible, I chose this over the black box set because I like the clear resin instrument panel that allows you to make great looking multi-function displays.

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     I made mine pop out a little more by painting clear green and blue and backing them with white instead of black (this is not as accurate but I like the look). After painting I used some of the PE parts to add even more detail to what is a great pit already (I really like the tiny stencils on the Eduard parts).  The ejection seat also got some PE placards and careful painting, man it looks great.

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     I have yet to add it but this set even includes a mesh screen to fit over the hell hole behind the pilot, a very nice addition.

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      I really like the kit nose wheel well, even though it could use a few more wires and
 hydraulic lines (I may add those latter) it is very easy to paint it up and get a accurate nose bay. I added some Eduard placards here too.

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The nose and main gear are a work of art, I am amazed at the quality and engineering here too. They actually come with a metal strut that you build the gear around making them strong enough for what will be a heavy load, and yet they are dead on representations of the real things. Academy did not compromise one bit on these little gems. The only things missing are the hydraulic lines but these are easily added with varying thickness of wires. I also added placards from the Eduard set but the kit includes decals for this as well.

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    The Eduard mesh set is not necessary but for $6 it adds a few nice details and is worth buying. It replaces the nose vents (this is for late lot Hornets only), the upper and lower vents near the exhaust, and the vortex generators on the intake splitters. Some cutting is required, so be careful and follow the panel lines and you will get a nice fit.

   I cut and assembled the wings and the wing fold mechanism, but have left the final assembly for later.   This is again a great addition, the limited Hasegawa release in 1/48th is the only other kit out there that includes a wing fold option as part of the kit, and  not even half as nice (or as accurate) as this.   Academy reproduced it in perfect detail including the upper wing latches that might be over looked in many other kits (I know Hasegawa forgot this).
     I also built up the rear fuselage and joined the wings, there is a small gap in the wings joint but this was easily filled and re-scribed. I am finding that even though it is a very big kit with big parts, it all fits very well.

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    That's about it for now, but I am chugging along on this baby and should finish it in no time. This is the first 1/32nd model I have built since I was a kid and now I see why so many people like them, they are easier because they aren't so many tiny parts. I have ordered some decals from Eagle Strike with VFA-105 markings for a dirty bird from OIF and I am still trying to decide what to hang on the wings. The only bone I have to pick with Academy (and it's minor) is with all the ordnance included in the kit how could they forget the most common air to ground weapon? The GBU-16, the 500 pound Mk 82 based LGB, this is by far the weapon of choice for the modern Hornet. Oh well, if they included everything, what would the after market companies be left with?  God I love this kit, if you don't have it yet go out and get it! It rocks!
 Stay tuned for more.


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Photos and text by Everett McEwan

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