F/A-18 Hornet

Hasegawa 1/72 F/A-18 Hornet by Gary Jarman

As mentioned last month, one of my current projects was a 1/72 Hasegawa Hornet. I have the Hasegawa box that contains three kits and a decal sheet giving a choice of five Chippy Ho schemes.

I am building this kit for inclusion in a diorama together with my F-14 Tomcat. This kit will be chained to the deck while the Tomcat is landing in front of it.

As far as kits go I would not say that it’s the best Hornet kit. The Revell kit is a better one. The only thing that lets the Revell kit down is the fact that it has raised panel lines. The Hasegawa kit has soft mouldings and not nearly as much detail as the Revell kit in areas like the undercarriage and wheel well bays. The Hasegawa kit also has some horrible dents in the area toward the rear of the fuselage close to the wing root.  Having said that though, the decal options of the Hasegawa kit are fantastic. If Revell released their kit with some of these decal sheets it would be a winner.

Unlike the Revell kit, the Hasegawa kit provides a crew access ladder. However it is missing many of the supports that are on the real thing and is far too thick. I tried to file mine into a better scale but next time I will scratch build the ladder as I did on the Revell kit.

To build the kit with the wings folded required a huge amount of surgery on the wings. Apart from cutting them at the fold line, you also need to cut the leading edge and flaps. Then you need to apply plastic card to all the relevant parts and file them to the correct shape. Finally you have to scratchbuild a hinged flap shroud to cover the gap between the wing and the flap when the flaps are lowered, As with my Revell build, it was this area where I felt I still needed vast improvement on. But on the plus side, I think my Hasegawa build shows some improvement in this area over the Revell one, so I am getting there. As with all builds. You learn as you go along, and those of you familiar with the Hornet will also notice that I don’t quite have the right angle on the folded portions.

I added some `remove before flight’ tags to areas where my reference photos show them. These are primitive affairs, being Tamiya masking tape stuck to the end of stretched sprue, painted red and then dabbed randomly with white. Despite that, they do add a little something extra to the kit. 

A decision made as a result of this build is to stop using Klear. I’ve found that it takes many coats to build up a sufficient gloss surface, and with each coat the amount of dust gets more noticeable (my wife is one of those liberated types who doesn’t believe that housework is (one of) a womens primary task(s) in life so dust is a problem). Part way through this build I tried Revell Aqua Gloss varnish. It’s fantastic! I’ve used the Matt before and found it to be good, and so, on a trip to ModelZone, I bought the Gloss equivalent as well and found it to be just as good as the Matt, and, in my opinion, better than Klear.

I had planned to finish the kit with the canopy closed. When I build kits the canopy is usually the last part to go on (something I am going to have to change). However, as is often the case, canopies often don’t fit that well and require some work to blend them in with the rest of the fuselage. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve finished the kit. So I’ve left the canopy open.

Once painted I attempted some weathering. In other words I put a layer of dark grey oil paint on and then wiped it off. This was my second attempt at this technique. On the first (my Tomcat) the effect is very subtle, on this kit it’s more noticeable but still not perfect.

 

Overall I’m pretty happy with this build. I learnt a lot, I know it’s not perfect, but I do think it will complement the Tomcat.

My first purchases of the year were two 1/48 Hornets (The A and D versions) from HobbyBoss to go together with my 1/48 HobbyBoss F-18C. The detail and quality of these mouldings looks fantastic with great decal sheets to match.  So everything I learn from these 1/72 builds will be in preparation for the 1/48 builds, and they will in turn be learning curves for the 1/32 Academy kit which I have waiting to be built.

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