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
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!
the image below to load the full size photo)