1/48 Hasegawa F/A-18D Hornet  

by Douglas K. L. Chan  



Some time last year I found the ARC web site while I was browsing around in the internet. Since then I check everyday the ARC site for any new master pieces made by modelers from all over the world. It is interesting that there are new pieces almost every day. And now it is my turn.

I would like to build a 1/48 F-15E. Somehow I couldn’t find the kit in Hong Kong. After several months of searching, I finally found one (a damaged box and faded cover art). As this is the only one I can find in the world, I don’t want to spoil it (because I haven’t built any aircraft for years). So I decided to buy a low priced kit to recall my skills, and to discover new skills too. 

The Kit

The kit is Hasegawa’s 1/48 F/A-18D Hornet “Night Attack”. I bought it for HK$190 = US$24 in a local model shop. There was another kit of the C-model, but it was priced HK$380 = US$49. Both kits were supplied with Hasegawa’s photo etched part and metal die cast undercarriage. Only the decal was different. I chose the D-model because I am always a fan of two-seat fighters.

Opening the box you will see a 15-page instruction book, a large decal sheet and painting guide for markings of VMFA(AW)-242 Bats, VMFA(AW)-121 Green Knights and VFA-106 Gladiators, nine pieces of injection parts, a small sheet of photo etched part, and three metal die cast undercarriage. What disappointed me is the lack of weapons. Only the external fuel tanks, navigation pod and the targeting pod are supplied. 


Construction began with the cockpit. Here I have replaced most of the Hasegawa’s kit parts with add-on parts. I bought in a local store two resin SJU-5A ejection seats. Compared with adding photo etched parts to the original ejection seats, the use of resin ejection seats saved me a lot of effort. All you need to do is to remove the flash and then paint all the details according to photos of the actual ejection seat. I highly recommend this method to finish the seats. First I sprayed the seats all over with flat black. Then I painted the cushion with khaki, the safety belts with grey, buckle with titanium silver, and safety latches with yellow and black strips. The ejection handle at the lower center of the seats were replaced with photo etched part and painted in black and yellow strips too. Finally a dry brush of light grey and silver was applied to highlight the details.

Click on images to see larger images

The instrument panel for both the front and back seats were replaced with Eduard photo etched parts. There is no photo etched part specifically designed for the D-model. So I bought two sets of Eduard FE131 (1/48 scale detail set for Italeri kit F-18A Hornet) and one set of Eduard 48221 (1/48 scale detail set for Hasegawa kit F/A-18A Hornet) for this task. The instrument panels were replaced with parts of the Eduard FE131. This is a new product. The gauge and MFD (multi function display) detail is no longer a black and transparent film as in the old Eduard 48221. The detail is now printed in color on a white photo quality paper. I cut out the gauges and MFDs, put them on the proper positions, mounted the gauge and MFD frames, and then finished by painting the frames with black and buttons/switches with grey/red and silver. The result was good.

The D-model cannot be flown in the back seat, so there should be no control stick and throttle lever in the back seat. However, there should be control sticks, one on each side of the back seat office for operating the targeting pod and other instruments. So I modified it. 

Before the fuselage was assembled, the air grills near the wing joints (leading edge) were replaced with photo etched part no. 33 (Eduard 48221). The fuselage halves fitted well, but the parts near the air inlet (both side) couldn’t fitted. Here I needed to put on putty and finished with abrasive paper. All the panel lines were later inscribed.

I wanted to make the Hornet as it was on the ground with engine stop. So all the flaps, taileron, and rudder would be in down position. All these were prepared and painted before assemble.

The canopy was of normal injection part, with a seam line right at the center of it. The seam line was removed (remove the seam with #11 knife, finish with #2000 abrasive paper, then rub with #3000 abrasive paste) and then photo etched parts (Eduard 48221 and FE131) such as mirrors, canopy lock etc. were added and ready for painting.

The retractable ladder was replaced with etched parts from Eduard 48221. 


I never used a metal die cast undercarriage before, so I really couldn’t figure out the advantage of using such a material at the moment. I removed the seam lime and then sprayed all of them flat black. Then I sprayed white on them until a little black was left and looked like dirt. Then I removed with a #11 knife the color on the hydraulic cylinders and cable clips. A shinny surface appeared. Then I understood the advantage of using metal die cast undercarriage.

Painting and Decal  

It is stated in every instruction books and painting guides that the upper surfaces of the Hornet is of FS36320 grey and that the under surfaces of the Hornet is of FS36375 grey. FS36320 and FS36375 is only slightly different. With a little dirt and weather effect, they are almost of the same color. So I decided to use one single grey FS36375 for the whole aircraft. This would make life simple and easy. 

The original decal supplied by Hasegawa looked good, but I would like to use a different marking. AeroMaster’s decal (48-485 Stinging Hornets Pt. VI) was used instead. The decal is for VMFA(AW)-533 Hawks which flown missions in Bosnia during Operation Allied Force. AeroMaster’s instruction was clear and there was no problem to put the decal onto the correct positions. A minor problem with the decal was that they wouldn’t stick very well onto the surface, great care must be taken to avoid damaging the decal before semi-gloss clear was applied. 

The tail marking in the AeroMaster’s instruction is “ED”. But photos of the VFMA(AW)-533 aircraft flown in Bosnia shown a marking of “BM”. Fortunately, there were “BM” on the AeroMaster’s decal. So I just switched them. 

Bare Metal Foil was used for the section near the jet nozzles. The result was good.




  F/A-18Ds were usually assigned for “swing role” in Bosnia. They carried a mix of weapons which usually used for different missions. I guessed they didn’t really know the threat so they carried different kinds of weapon and they were ready to deal with all these different threat should one of the threat really appeared. My D-model carried (from port to starboard) AIM-9M, HARM, 1000 lb LGB, AN-AAS-38 Nite Hawk FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) Targeting Pod, Center Fuel Tank, AIM-7F, 1000 lb LGB, Maverick, and AIM-9M. All these weapons, except the center fuel tank, were from Hasegawa’s separate kits 1/48 Aircraft Weapons C and Aircraft Weapons D. These two kits were of high quality.   

Final Wash

With all things assembled, color painted and decals on, I applied the final wash. Only a subtle wash was applied and I felt that was enough. A little heavier wash was applied at the wing folding positions. The result was quite satisfactory. Finally, semi-gloss clear was sprayed all over the aircraft. And the last step was to install the canopy with special adhesive.


Error in Hasegawa’s Instruction

In step 16 of the instruction, kit part J5 should be a little forward of the said position. 



  • Hornet’s Nest Marine Air Group 31 by Randy Jolly, Concord Publications Co. ISBN 962-361-732-1

  • U.S. Navy Photo Gallery at www.navy.mil by U.S. Navy

  • 21 Minutes to Belgrade by Lt. Col. Philip C. Tissue, USMC USNI Proceedings, Sep 1999

  • Air Operations over Bosnia by Dr. Dean Simmons, Dr. Philip Grould, Dr. Verena Vomastic, and Col. Philip Walsh USMC(Ret.) USNI Proceedings, May 1997


Photos and text © by Douglas K. L. Chan