1/72 Italeri F-18E

by Joe Hegedus

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This is Italeri's 1/72 FA-18E, built almost OOB.  I corrected the major errors in the kit (sealing the upper fuselage speedbrake and adjusting the wing pylon orientation to reflect the 4-degree toe-out of the real article.  I chose to mark the model as the #4 development airplane, which was used for departure and spin testing before being employed as a weapons test airplane. 

I bashed a pair of Hasegawa FA-18 wing tanks to make a 480 gallon fuel tank for the centerline station.  The 480 tank is longer and a bit larger in diameter than the kit (and Hasegawa) 330 gallon versions, but the difference in diameter is negligible in 1/72 scale.  The Hase tanks were cut into 2 parts each, then the longer of each tanks pieces (one forward and one aft) were mated to yield a tank 3/8" longer than the originals.  This was reduced by 1/8" after I rounded the aft end off.  The aft fitting was then reattached in the same relative location as it was on the original tanks.

I used Kryon gloss white as the main color, with Model Master International Orange for the high visibility markings.  The white pinstripes were done by cutting thin strips of white decal film and applying these rather than masking and trying to get even lines by painting.  All other markings, except the national insignia, formation lights, and the gray data blocks around the canopy, were printed on an Epson Stylus 600 on SuperCal inkjet decal film, sealed with their topcoat.  The artwork was made in a graphics program by using a scan of the kit decal sheet as a template.  The black and white targets were printed both on white film and on clear, as the targets on the orange areas needed to be cut closely to ensure that no white was visible around the perimeter.  I used a target printed on clear over the one printed on white in these locations to get a clean black edge.

The wingtip and aft fuselage store separation cameras were manufactured from Plastruct stock, the camera bodies being made from a a lamination of strip to get the proper cross section and the lenses from rod inserted into holes drilled into the bodies.  The aft fuselage mounts were made from sheet stock, and the wingtip mounts were made from a pair of AIM-9J missles with the wings and fins removed and sheet stock.  The camera bodies and mounts were painted international orange, while the lenses and film magazines are black.  The business ends of the lenses were painted gold with an overcoat of clear blue to simulate coated lenses. 

The 4 MK-84 bombs came from the Hasegawa weapons set, and were painted to represent inert bomb bodies that had been sitting in the weather and carried on airplanes for a while, before being dropped.  The base coat of 35109 blue was drybrushed with Model Master rust on the bomb noses, some bombs heavier than others, then the noses were painted fresh olive drab to represent the blunt nose plugs in these bombs.  The nose fuses were cut off before painting.  All the targets on the bombs were individually applied, as were all the targets on the airplane and pylons.  There're a lot of decals on this model! 

Having finished this one, I'm in the process of doing a 1/48 FA-18E as the current weapon separation test airplane.  I guess I didn't have enough fun putting all those targets on one airplane, I'm gonna do it again! 

Joe

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Photos and text by Joe Hegedus