Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler Kit First Look
|Date of Review||August 2011||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||07252||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice external details||Cons||Simple cockpit|
|Skill Level||Novice||MSRP (USD)||$89.95|
The Boeing EA-18G Growler follows a strong electronic warfare (EW) lineage that dates back before the Vietnam air war. While the US Navy used modified A-3 Skywarriors to serve as early EW platforms, the US Marines had been operating a more tactical airframe used for EW in the EF-10B Skyknight. By the time of the Vietnam airwar, the EF-10B was getting old and its systems outdated. A new airframe was adapted from the A-6A Intruder to render the EA-6A.
The EA-6A was an ideal escort jammer in its day as it could easily keep up with US Navy and USMC strike aircraft including the A-4 Skyhawk and the A-6 Intruder. The EA-3 Skywarriors usually operated from a safe distance as they didn't have the maneuverability nor were they equipped with ejection seats if they were attacked.
The Navy quickly opted to integrate a more capable EW platform into the carrier air wings and the EA-6B Prowler was developed from the Marines' EA-6A. The Prowler entered service in 1971 and is still flown today. Even though the Prowler was put through a series of modernization programs, the basic A-6 airframe was outdated as the subsonic strike aircraft were replaced with the F/A-18 Hornet and later the more advanced Super Hornet.
As the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was entering squadron service, the Navy and Boeing envisioned an EW platform that could operate effectively with the current generation of strike fighter aircraft. The EA-18G was based upon the two-seat F/A-18F that was modified with specialized avionics as well as the current family of jamming pods from the EA-6B. The newer avionics automated much of the workload that took three operators on the Prowler to be accomplished by a single operator in the Growler. As the Super Hornets took their places in the carrier air wings for fleet defense, strike, and tanker duties (replacing the KA-6D), the Growler is now coming online to replace the EA-6B on the carriers. While someone might have thought briefly about it, there is no truth to the rumor that Boeing is putting a rotary radome atop the Super Hornet to replace the E-2C Hawkeye in order to achieve an all-Boeing air wing.
Hasegawa first previewed the Super Hornet kit six years ago at an IPMS/USA National Convention, so it was only fitting to do so again at this last national convention recently. As you read this, the kit is now reaching store shelves around the world. So is this the F/A-18F kit with some new parts? Nope - read on.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and is presented on nine parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. Once again, Hasegawa provides an impressive clear sprue tree with huge shields to protect the canopy and windscreen. Bravo Zulu (well done) Hasegawa!
Like the F/A-18F release, this kit features finely scribed panel lines. Unlike the F/A-18F release, this kit features updated dorsal venting to reflect the low-observable vent stacks that reside between the tails. The kit does provide new parts trees to render the features unique to the Growler. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Simple cockpit but see text below
- Optional crew figures
- Pilot has choice of new helmet with cueing system or older helmet
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable crew boarding ladder
- Optional folding wings (see text)
- Full-length intake ducts with engine faces
- Positionable leading edge flaps
- Positionable trailing edge flaps
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable rudders
- Beautifully detailed landing gear and wells
The cockpit is nice though the instrument panels and side consoles are rendered as decals (and simple decals at that). The ejection seats are good though they will need some Eduard color-photo-etched seat belts and shoulder harnesses to set them right. The kit does provide the side-stick controls for the rear seat operator. I expect that we'll see color-printed photo-etched instrument panels and side consoles from Eduard for this kit in the future to really bring this front office to life.
The wings are molded in flight-ready position, but on the insides of the wing halves, you'll see a cut line molded into the wing fold that you can easily score with an X-Acto knife and use the included parts for the wing hinges/mounts should you want your Growler parked.
The intakes have full trunking leading to the F414 compressor faces.
There are some stores options:
- 2 x ALQ-218(V)2 pods for the wingtip stations
- 2 x AGM-88 HARM
- 2 x ALQ-99 high-band jamming pods
- 1 x ALQ-99 low-band jamming pod (centerline)
- 2 x 480 external tanks
- 2 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
Hasegawa provides a good-sized decal sheet that has marking options for two aircraft and one large selection of maintenance stenciling, walkways, etc. The two subjects featured here are:
- EA-18G, 166928, VFA-141 Shadowhawks, AJ/200, USS George HW Bush, 2010, CAG aircraft
- EA-18G, 166858, VAQ-129 Vikings, NJ/550, NAS Whidbey Island, 2008
Hasegawa has really done a nice job with this Growler kit and out of the box will be buildable by modelers that have some experience. AMS modelers will really have some fun with this kit given the wealth of aftermarket parts for the Super Hornet airframe, ejection seats, etc. Only the instrument panels and side consoles will need some attention to render the multi-function displays (or wait for Eduard to do that job).
In any case, this kit features lots of display options and there is no doubt that the aftermarket decal companies will provide more markings options as the Growler settles into more squadrons.
My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!