1/48 Hasegawa F/A-18F

Gallery Article by Dan McWilliams on May 1 2009

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This build was done entirely OOB.  It is the first time I've built a Super Hornet.  Usually I build CF-18s, so after years of thinking I should build an E or F model, I couldn't resist when I saw the colourful markings that came with this one.  I noticed some differences between this and the A/B/C/D Hasegawa Hornet models, such as the lack of photo-etched parts in this kit for HUD posts and other detail bits.  Frankly, though, I found that this didn't make a big difference to me.  The cockpit panels were strange - done up as decals with some raised detail as well!  I tried the decals in one cockpit, and painting in the other - turned out I preferred the result when painted.  The decals wouldn't sit in place, and required lots of setting solution to stay down.  They also looked quite hokey.

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I used the kit red decals, rather than trying to match paint colours for the bright spine and tails.  They generally went on very well, especially given their large size and the complex curves they had to cover.  At the front and bottom of the vertical tails there were some small decal size problems.  The bottom portion required very minor trimming, while the fronts needed trimming as well, plus a bit of Future to coax them not to separate away at the leading edge.  I was a bit surprised to see that the navigation lights (tops of LEXes, plus sides of aileron actuator housings) were represented with decals in this kit.  The lights atop the LEXes don't look too bad, but I had already painted the underwing nav lights before discovering the decals existed.  The foot-walk no-skid panels were all decals as well.  They were a bit thick and tough to get to sit down properly on the top rear; if I had been less lazy I probably would have painted them instead. 

I made a minor attempt to do some panel line pre-shading, but kept it very light because this CAG bird looked very clean on the box, and in an aviation magazine article I stumbled across.  One part I would do differently is the colour of the top of the aircraft.  I tried adding a bit of black to the FS 36375 bottom colour, but didn't use enough.  Turns out it is almost impossible to see the difference between top and bottom colours, but I didn't take the time to totally redo the paint job to correct this.  Many American Hornets I've seen tend to show fading between top and bottom colours, so that's what I went for - honest!  And don't confuse me with the fact that the fading would also come with mottled-looking panels vice the clean look of this model... :-)

Dan McWilliams

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Photos and text by Dan McWilliams