1/48 Monogram F-18A

Gallery Article by Uncle Rick Chin


1/48 Monogram F-18A using Leading Edge Models CAF 2002 20 years Special

The 2002 CAF CF-18A ; in my opinion, has one of the most striking paint jobs around. I first saw it in Calgary when it made it's press showing. I was lucky to be there at the right time. I will share more close up photos with ARC'ers later.

This is the first time I've built a CF-18A in 1/48, my previous CF-18 models were all 1/72. I decided to take out a kit that was bought as a "Nobody's Child" collection a few years back. Dennis Johnson was one of the nicest Calgarian's who lived a simple life until he passed away young a few years ago. He built a lot of models, but left behind some started kits that no one would take, I bought them all to help his wife and three daughters.

The kit is a incomplete Blue Angel F-18A/Chippy Ho F-18C combination, which was released before the current F-18C. I thank George (Crazy) Spilitez who donated the missing parts after a few rounds of Kokanee.

Leading Edge Models web site has a good model section for available F-18 kits for F-18A, which is very helpful.


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The simple way for changing a F-18C into a F-18A, with additional reference to the Leading Edge Models decal instruction sheets:

  • "Teardrop" Antenne to be remove/delete from the spine and below cockpit sides.

  • Remove "bumps" from Vertical stabilizers (tails).

  • Remove the pods from the conformal missle stations.

  • Search light on a panel on the left side just below the windscreen section.

Building the Monogram kit:
It is an easy kit to build, it takes a few hours to build up. It has an excellent cockpit, seat and canopy frame details which I paint and dry brush to highlight the dash details. I dip tiny drops of gloss clear on the screens and the HUD to make the "glass" look. I also cut out and save the two small stabs on the bottom of the canopy frame, (to be added back on after 'unmask'). Mask the inside and outside of the clear canopy, "weld-on" it to the canopy frame, glue the assembly in place over the cockpit with a tiny drop of glue. The mask on the inside of the clear part will keep them clear from the mirco overspray on them. You will not need Future!

I add the search light by scribbing a circle with Eduards circular template. I scribe the 2 nav. lights next to the Lex fences. The fit is not bad with a little putty along the top and bottom joint and the wing fillet. I break the Horizontal Stabilizers to make the painting and sanding easier.

I also leave the exhaust cones and the two vertical tails aside with the Horizontals, they will be painted separately and will also help when painting and decaling the tail section later.

I glue the landing gears and all the doors in positions and paint them white, they will be oversprayed a little bit with grey later, but it will give a weathered effect after drybrushing with white again. (An accidental tip.)


  • Read and follow the Decal instructions, Dave took alot of time fitting this one to make the painting and decalling easier.

  • cut the mask stencils provided to the dotted lines, precision is essential.

  • The painted surface for decalling has tpo be smooth or gloss to get the best result.

  • Hold the larg/long pieces in water in "curve Position" until you are sure they are loosened from the paper. I broke the first piece!

  • Use a sufficient amount of water "on" the model especially for the larger pieces of the decals.

  • Use Gunze Sango or something like that for the perfect result, remember not to touch the decal after the solvent has been applied. The Mark Softener" will melt down the clear films to make them almost invisible.

You will be sorry if you do not follow the above instructions.

Painting the model:
Follow the Leading Edge Models instructions, remember!?!

I paint the nose and the top side black, also both sides of the 2 vertical tails. Allow extra painted area.

Mask out the spine as indicated. I use the optional NOSE CONTOUR decals as a masking guide, the only change from the instruction is reverse the two decals: the pointy side up and the straight side down to get the black curve painted area in front of the blade antenna and nose gear door. I use liquid mask on all the area to be remained black.

Paint the gunship grey "triangle" areas from the wing roots outwards, allow extra painted area. Also paint the top and bottom sides of the horizontal stabilizers gunship grey.

Cut out the 2 triangle masks for the top of the horizontal stabilizers and the 2 masks for the wing root areas---TO THE DOTTED LINES. Use them as masks plate on the exact positions, then paint the top colour of FS#36237. The dividing lines have to be exact/at close to the dotted lines as possible.

Cut out the 2 bottom triangle masks for the wings undersides and the 2 stabilizers undersides. Use them as masks for the underside gunship grey areas. Paint the undersides of the wings, stabilizers, fuselage and the sidewinder rails with FS#36375.

Cut out the masks for the upper parts of the "tail", use as masks to paint the lower part FS#36375.

Cut out the masks for the tail sections, now paint the section with Testor 1127 orange or some colour matching the "Bug" tail on the decals. Paint the tail hook, but do not glue it on.

I free hand the 3 yellow stripes with a fine tip and head, they go on perfect.

I think the model is painted!

Now remove all the mask except the canopy.

Gloss coat the entire model with whatever you are comfortable with.

Decals application, still want to go on?

This is the first time that I dry fit before I put on decals!

I start from the nose to the sides, no problem with the small stencils and logos. The blue "eye" decals suck perfectly onto the antenna with Mark softener. A drop the Mark Softener will stick the eyeballs in places.

I put all the stripes in place on the stabilizers.

I line up the "Hornet" with the eye to the forward base of the vertical stabilizer, the tail stripe to the base of the tail bumps, I cut the "Hornet" decal in two at the middle of the "wing and waist" near the FLS, I lost a very tiny part of the decal there, but the decal line up from the "eye" to the trailing edge of the decal match perfectly after the FLS stripe is added and I cannot see the difference.

The red decals on the spine line up perfect, the only problem here is the canopy frame is a bit big for the decal, I spray it red.

I put the 3 black stripes on top of the tail section first, then line up the 3 bottom stripes with them. A little black touch up at the joint and the bottom near the tail hook housing did the trick. Yes the tail hook needs black painted stripes.

The 2 almost invisible "faded triangles" have to be applied before the the maple leafs decals. Put the left one on the right and the right one to the left! You will know what I mean after closer look at the decals.

The forward tip of the "faded triangles" have to be placed directly over the forward tip of the gunship grey area of the "arrow" as painted on the paper mask, with a little space of l/16 of an inch away from the air louvers on the side. (confused!?) The light blue line decal will then cover up the rest.

The large double maple leaf decal does not come as a complete piece, so extra care and lots of water is needed. I almost wrinkle up one of them while trying to line up the front. I have to admit that I do not follow the "triangle" rule and ended up with a 1/16 inch of gunship grey showing between the blue and the white. I am lucky that it is fixed.

The two Roundels should be a little closer to the wing folds, may be about 1/8 of an inch.

Paint the radome "radome tan", dry brush the wheel well areas and gears (oversprayed with light grey by now!) white, paint the edges of the landing gear doors red, tires with Pollyscale grimmy black. Glue the stabilizers, tail hook and exhausts, time for dull coat or satin coat, your choice. Paint the lights and oleo chrome silver. Paint over the lights with whatever clear colours needed. Take off all the masks from the canopies. High light all moving surfaces and vents with thin-down black paint.

Not bad for a 7 days job. Did I miss anything?

Thank to Dave Koss from Leading Edge Models for producing the nice decals.

Uncle (maybe a 1/72 next) Rick

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Photos and text by Uncle Rick Chin