I’m not calling it a Growler. That means something else entirely.
Actually, given differences in slang on opposite sides of the Atlantic, it means two something elses entirely.
withstanding, I had been pondering one of these for a while. There
were some decent -18Fs on the market, all I’d have to do would put on
the pods… and wingtip receivers. I hadn’t figured out how to
make those… then, along came Italeri and their EA-18G. It’s not
perfect – there are some fit issues and omissions, but it’s a decent
place to start and I’m sure as the “Shocker” goes through
developmental and operational test, then hits the fleet in 2009, the
aftermarked will catch up.
engineering the kit, Italeri basically took their retooled F/A-18F and
added the wingtip receivers and ALQ-99 jamming pods. As a Hornet,
it’s decent. The shape and dimensions are reasonably accurate, panel
lines are finely engraved, and landing gear is respectable. On the
other hand, the cockpit is pretty basic with consoles and instrument
panels being represented by decals. Furthermore, the kit is based on a
pre-ACS Super Hornet (it’s not the only out-dated aspect of the kit;
read on). The wing pylons aren’t quite right, either. The biggest
issue is the fit of major assemblies, especially the wings to the
fuselage. Some people will elect to use Revell’s 1/48 Super Hornet
as a starting point – the fit is better. To me, it didn’t seem
economical to buy two kits to build one model.
starts in the cockpit. I decided I could live with the decal
consoles and instrument panels, though as things turned out I didn’t
need to settle for it in the back. Darren Roberts of Steel
Beach fame was kind enough to send a resin ACS aft cockpit (he also sent resin
tailpipes and FOD covers, but the kit tailpipes weren’t of the same
diameter, so I’ll save those for the next Super Hornet). It was
easy enough to put that in the aft cockpit later in the process, despite
the fact I had already installed the cockpit tub into the forward
fuselage. Seats are pretty basic. I highlighted what detail I
could with painting and drybrushing. After closing the cockpit tub
and nose wheel well (painted white) into the forward fuselage and
attaching the radome, I moved on to the rear fuselage.
here are if not over-engineered, then at least strangely
engineered, leading to some interesting fit issues. Most of these
were where the intakes fit to the underside forward of the main landing
gear wells, though I did have to do some work on the joints behind the
gear wells. The joints here aren’t along real panel lines so I put
the effort into making the joint invisible.
images below to see larger images
everything together reveals the fit issues at the wing root. There’s
also a large square shaped opening at the forward edge of each wing
root. It takes a fair amount of filling on both upper and lower
sides to make this area look as smooth as it is on the real plane.
There were quite a few cycles of fill, let dry, file, sand, fill
again. But, while all this was going on, I could make the additions
to the airframe that make the EA-18G not really a Super Hornet –
additions that Italeri didn’t include. First is a SATCOM antenna
on the spine. I cut it from sheet styrene following pictures.
I rolled the styrene a bit, but not too much – it’s curved but not to
the same profile as the airframe beneath it, so it winds up looking a bit
like a saddle. I secured it to the model with CA, then used CA and filler
to blend it in. Next are 3 pairs of antennae that go on the side of
the nose (1 pair) and the rear lower fuselage (2 pair). The front
pair were cut and shaped from scrap sprue. The first pair on the aft
end of the jet are “D” shaped and located between the stab and wing
trailing edge. Again using pictures as a reference, I made these out
of laminated sheet styrene. The last pair is further aft, beneath
the stabs and closer to the tailpipes, and these were made from scrap
sprue, as the first pair.
wings, there are fences just inboard of the wing fold joint. These
were made from sheet styrene cut as close to shape as I could get,
superglued to the wing (which helped fill gaps between the wing’s upper
surface and the underside of the new fence), and sanded to refine the
shape. Lastly, the “dogtooth” on the wing leading edge is faired
on the EA-18G and I represented this with sheet styrene, blended in with
CA (unfortunately I did this AFTER I took the picture of the wing fence
– sorry!). There is a subtle difference in the wing fold cover
between the -18F and -18G but I did not model it. I couldn’t
figure out how I wanted to do it, and after spending some time pondering
it I figured it was too subtle of a difference to be worth the angst.
additions are not EA-18G specific, but have to do with the block of Super Hornet
Italeri used for their kit. The ECS pipes between the tails need to be
changed – which is easy to do thanks to Darren at
. The resin pipes are easy to install and look great. Next is the
“pizza box” IFF interrogator on the nose. I cut and laminated sheet
styrene, superglued it down then tapered the edges with putty to match photos.
While I was working on the nose, I should have done something with the gun
ports. I didn’t but will next time.
While all this
was going on I built up the underwing stores. I used
Cutting Edge resin
ALQ-99 pods because I thought they looked better than the kit pods, but the kit
drop tanks and AIM-120 looked fine. I got the HARM and launchers from a
Hasegawa weapons set. As mentioned, however, the pylons in the kit
aren’t right. Brian Marbrey offered to send correct pylons from a Revell
kit – what I didn’t expect was for an entire Revell kit to arrive!
(There’s a slicked out F/A-18F in my future).
The last step
before painting was installing the windscreen, previously dunked in Future.
I mounted the canopy on its rail assembly, then temporarily stuck this in the
closed position with blue-tac. I masked the windscreen and canopy with
tape, and spots like gear wells and intakes were masked with blue tack. I
painted the plane with Testor’s Model Master Acryl Light Ghost Gray and Dark
Ghost Gray. White parts (landing gear, wells, door interiors and HARM)
were done in Tamiya acrylic flat white, and the tailpipes were done in Alcad.
After a coat
of Future, I applied the decals. I didn’t like the kit options, which are
VAQ-129 (the FRS) and VAQ-209 (the reserve squadron – which last I heard is
supposed to disestablish instead of convert, but I don’t think anyone really
knows what will become of them at this point…). So I struck out on my
own. I used the stencils, intake warnings, national insignia, and that
sort of stuff from the kit. The modex on the nose and tails also came from
the kit, but for whatever reason they didn’t provide numbers for the wing.
I scrounged this from the spares box. For squadron markings and tailcodes,
I raided a Superscale set to get markings for my old squadron. Since I was
out in conjecture land, I decided not to tie myself to current Hornet practice
when it came to tailcodes. Happily the angles matched up reasonably well
with the angles of the tail itself. I rather like having the tailcodes on
the inside of the tails.
I kept this
one clean, so after the decals set I applied dullcoat, brush painted the lights,
and applied antennae. There seems to be an extra dorsal blade antenna on
the EA-18G compared to the E and F, but I had plenty in my spares box so I
didn’t have to resort to making one – not that it would be splitting the
shortcomings, Italeri’s “Shocker” looks good in fleet colors and goes
nicely with the 1/48 Prowler from the same squadron. It will be
interesting to see what the aftermarket provides with regard to the added bumps
and blisters on the G!
images below to see larger images