1/48 Hasegawa F/A-18A 

VMFA-451  'Warlords' 

by Craig Sargent

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McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A-21-MC Hornet

Lt. Col. Jim "Catfish" Hunter

VMFA-451 Warlords

MCAS Beaufort, 1996/97

The US Marines Corps’ Warlords were disbanded in Feb 1997. The CO’s aircraft was painted in patriotic colours just before the final ceremony.

With the release of the Black Box cockpit set, followed closely by the Aeromaster sheet which had this scheme included (AMD48-485 "Stinging Hornets Pt. VI"), there was no great effort required to decide to switch to 1/48th scale to build this aircraft. I was originally going to attempt to build this aircraft in 1/72 and use my ALPS printer for the attractive blue-grey, white and red markings. This aircraft is reasonably well illustrated in Concord Publication's "Hornets Nest".

The kit was assembled almost as per kit instructions. I used the Black Box cockpit set which made a big difference to the appearance of the "office". Other changes made to the kit include:

  • increasing the chord of the outboard ailerons by 1.5mm
  • increasing the length of the droptank by 2mm (see below)
  • added scratchbuilt angle of attack vanes to replace the overscale kit items
  • added the canopy safe lever and chaff switch to the left side of the cockpit (not in BB set)
  • reduced the length of the pitot tubes as the kit ones are too big
  • added the gun safety indicator on the forward port fuselage
  • etched grille added over the rear accessories panel between the main gear bays
  • intake blanks added from tissue and white glue
  • added pins and "Remove Before Flight" tags to gear legs
  • all panel lines forward of the nose rescribed to correct panel lines
  • tail nav light drilled out and replaced with 5 minute epoxy
  • added canopy handles between the mirrors

The fuel tank was lengthened by a whole 2mm by cutting the tank just behind the rear panel (see photo) and inserting 2 pieces of 40 thou Evergreen plasticard (tank is a scale 4" too short). The length of the full-size tank is 188" (99.5mm in 1/48th scale).

For those using the Aeromaster decal sheet for this aircraft, do not use the pair of decals numbered 38 (pilot's name "Maj. A. J. Savage"). This pilot's name is bogus, as stated on the decal sheet instructions. The pilot's name that appears on the port side of the cockpit (in the same place as decal 38) should read LTCOL J.E. HUNTER. The pilot's callsign is located on the opposite side of the cockpit in the same place and should read CATFISH. On the port nose gear door, there should be two lines of text; the top one should read PLANE CAPTAIN, and under that should be SGT MITCHELL. All these markings are the same colour as the squadron codes on the decal sheet. This information came directly from the Warlord’s final CO, Jim "Catfish" Hunter and one of the former unit’s pilots Bob "Brutus" Charette.

I also produced a new set of warning and data stencils around the cockpit. All these decals were done on an ALPS MD-1000 printer and are still legible under a magnifying glass!

Intake blanks were made from tissue and white glue, and the ALPS used to recreate the red stripe and white stars. Panel lines were preshaded with black acrylic. The aircraft was painted using Gunze Sangyo acrylics. Being the COs mount, weathering was kept to a bare minimum, with a wash of Payne's Grey oil paint thinned with turps in the panel lines and some Burnt Sienna representing a few post flight oil streaks.

Craig

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Photos and text © by Craig Sargent