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F/A-18C

Hobby Boss 1/48 F/A-18C Hornet Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2007 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject F/A-18C Hornet Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80321 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, great external details Cons Sparse cockpit detail
Skill Level Novice MSRP (USD) $69.99

First Look

F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C
F/A-18C

The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C was a major block upgrade of the F/A-18A incorporating new systems including the upgraded APG-73 radar, new avionics and software to expand the Hornet to carry the AIM-120, AGM-84, and more. The ejection seat was also upgraded to the NACES, which equipped the upgraded F-14 Tomcats as well.

The F/A-18C upgraded most operational units previously operating the F/A-18A as well as other attack squadrons transitioning late into the Hornet. The F/A-18C is extensively woven through non-Tomcat fighter squadrons, USN light attack squadrons, USMC fighter squadrons, and is also operated by the Air Forces of Finland, Kuwait, and Switzerland.

If imitation is a sincere form of flattery, then Hobby Boss has offered some flattery to rival Hasegawa. This 1/48 version of the F/A-18C Hornet is very similar to the Hasegawa kit - similar, but not a carbon copy. While the parts layout is similar, the parts are a little different.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees, plus a two trees of clear parts. The molding is very nicely done and make the panel lines and details on the Hasegawa kit look soft. While there are many similarities between the two kits, there are some differences as well.

The fuselage halves of the two kits do not line up. The Hobby Boss fuselage is just a hair longer than the Hasegawa kit. As I mentioned above, when you hold the two fuselages together, you're instantly struck by just how soft the panel lines are on the Hasegawa kit. They aren't overdone on the Hobby Boss kit, but they are deeper. While you can see rivet detail on the Hobby Boss kit, it is also present on the Hasegawa kit as well, only softer.

The Hasegawa kit provides a two-place cockpit tub in their Hornets, with the rear tub being hidden in the single seat versions. Hobby Boss only provides the single tub in the C-model kit. Two types of ejection seats are provided in the kit, though only one is used. The other set is reserved for the F/A-18A kit (reviewed here).

The wings in both kits have positionable leading and trailing edge flaps and flaperons. Both kits also have positionable speed brakes.

The landing gear and gear wells in both kits are nicely done.

The intakes on the Hasegawa kit choke down to provide the illusion of depth. The Hobby Boss intakes don't choke down unrealistically, but they are still not very deep.

Both kits provide two types of engine nozzles, decent afterburner chambers and turbine faces at the end of each chamber.

Both kits provide positionable canopies and optional boarding ladders.

The Hasegawa kit provides a pair of external fuel tanks, a pair of Vertical Ejector Racks (VER), the navigation pod and the targeting/FLIR pod. The Hobby Boss kit provides:

  • 3 x external fuel tanks
  • Targeting/FLIR pod
  • IR Navigation pod
  • 2 x AIM-7 Sparrow
  • 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
  • 2 x AGM-84E SLAM
  • 2 x AGM-88 HARM
  • 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
  • 2 x GBU-10 Paveway
  • 6 x Mk.82 slicks
  • 2 x VER

You can compare this kit with the Hasegawa kit - go here to see our review of one of Hasegawa's nice Hornet releases.

This kit provides markings for three examples:

  • F/A-18C, BuNo 165217, AG/400, VFA-131, USN, 'CAG' USS Carl Vinson
  • F/A-18C, BuNo 164905, NF/400, VFA-195, USN, 'CAG', USS Carl Vinson, 2004
  • F/A-18C, BuNo 163777, NG/300, VFA-146, USS Carl Vinson

The decal sheet is one huge sheet and is nicely done though there are a few minor errors:

  • Chippy Ho is profiled off of the USS Carl Vinson though CVW-5 (VFA-195's airwing) is assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk
  • The same mistake was done with VFA-131 as this squadron has operated off of the USS George Washington, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, and previously off of the USS John F. Kennedy

Many folks won't notice this detail, but a savvy contest judge will nail you when you least expect it.

The molds for these F/A-18 Hornet kits are obviously based upon the Hasegawa kits with some improvements and a few minor bugs. As long as these kits were priced around $35, they were a nice step between the venerable Revell-Monogram and the beautiful Hasegawa Hornets.

Last year, the Hasegawa F/A-18C had an MSRP of $59.95 before they went out of production (for now). A quick survey of several online retailers (see the table to the right) indicate that these Hobby Boss Hornet kits are settling in with a street price around $60 in the US and at Hannants in the UK. So are these kits worth as much (or more) than the Hasegawa kits?

You'll also note that the kits are still available from Hong Kong for around $35 USD. The numbers are interesting, but Lucky Model wins with about one week delivery for a total cost less than the retail pricing here in the US.

Definitely recommended at the right price.

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!

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