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F/A-18C Hornet Kit

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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2016 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject F/A-18C Hornet Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48031 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros See text Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $39.99

First Look

F/A-18C Hornet Kit
F/A-18C Hornet Kit
F/A-18C Hornet Kit
F/A-18C Hornet Kit
F/A-18C Hornet Kit
F/A-18C Hornet Kit

There is a wealth of good information about the history of the Hornet available, but if you want a brief history, look here (since we'll be looking at that kit in comparison anyway).

Last year, Kinetic Models announced that their kit design and production processes will be taking another major leap forward. You'll recall that their early kits had some shape issues as well as the 'textured' plastic surfaces common to limited-run kits as well as early offerings from new kit manufacturers. Since that time, Kinetic has come a long way in their kit quality, but they took the aforementioned leap forward with the release of their 1/48 Su-33 Sea Flanker kit. The panel lines and details are sharper and the fit of the model is nice. Building on that experience, Kinetic has released their first installment in the F/A-18 Hornet series - the F/A-18C.

This kit is molded in the usual gray styrene and presented on 16 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus two trees of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. Just looking at the kit, you can see just how far Kinetic has come as the surface details are sharp, the panel lines and rivet details are also sharp and not overdone.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit complete w/detailed sidewalls
  • Detailed NACES seat w/photo-etched pilot restraints
  • Positionable canopy
  • Photo-etched canopy bow w/mirrors
  • Positionable boarding ladder
  • Nice intake ducts down to F404 compressor faces
  • Nice afterburner chambers and nozzles
  • Positionable air refueling probe
  • Choice of grille patterns on the two portside LERX vents
  • Choice of four ventral nose panels for early and late-block F/A-18C w/different antenna positions and vent grille patterns
  • Optional portside spotlight for Swiss interceptor
  • Positionable outer wing panels (flight or folded)
  • Positionable leading edge flaps
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable flaperons
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable speed brake
  • Photo-etched chaff/flare launcher faces

Weapons/stores options include:

  • 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
  • 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
  • 2 x AIM-7M Sparrow
  • 2 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
  • 2 x AIM-120C AMRAAM
  • 2 x AGM-88 HARM
  • 2 x GBU-12 Paveway II LGB
  • 2 x GBU-38 JDAM
  • 2 x GBU-87 CEM
  • 1 x AAR-38 FLIR
  • 1 x AAR-50 TINS
  • 1 x ASQ-173
  • 1 x AAQ-28 Litening
  • 1 x Sniper XR
  • 3 x 330 gallon tanks

Marking options include:

  • F/A-18C, 164266, VFA-25, AA/400, USS Carl Vinson, 2011, CVW-11 CAG
  • F/A-18C, 164250, VFA-87, AJ/400, USS George HW Bush, 2013, CVW-8 CAG
  • F/A-18C, 163746, NSAWC, 33, NAS Fallon, 2009, 'Russian Splendor' adversary scheme
  • F/A-18C, 163754, NSAWC, 20, NAS Fallon, 2009, 'Sukhoi Blue' adversary scheme
  • F/A-18C, 163750, NAWDC, 45, NAS Fallon, 2016
  • F/A-18C, J-5014, Swiss Air Force, 2014
  • F/A-18C, HN-457, Finnish Air Force, 2006

The decal artwork was produced by Fightertown Decals and printed by Cartograf. You can se there are two sheets of decals included, one for the aircraft and one for the weapons and stores.

So how does this kit look? I decided to use the Hasegawa 1/48 F/A-18C kit as a standard since nobody has produced a better kit of the Hornet prior to this.

F/A-18C Hornet KitF/A-18C Hornet Kit

On the left is the Hasegawa upper fuselage half, on the right is the Kinetic upper fuselage half sitting atop of the Hasegawa half. When the two halves are held together, the outline and shape are nearly identical with the notable exception of integral nose deck on the Kinetic part and a slight difference in leading edge (flapless) wing sweep. You can see in the image on the right how, with the leading edge flaps missing, the wing leading edge is a few degrees more swept than the Kinetic wing. Chances are that the sweep will be identical again with the leading edge flaps in place, we shall see.

F/A-18C Hornet Kit

Speaking of that nose deck, you can see that it has the APX-111 IFF antennas molded in place. This detail is correct for the F/A-18A+ and some F/A-18C aircraft. The instructions do not mention these antennas and most of the subjects depicted in the decals won't have these antennas installed. Please check your references to see if your subject has these, but kudos to Kinetic for replicating this as it is far easier to remove them than to find them should your subject need this detail.

F/A-18C Hornet Kit

You can see in this shot how nicely scribed those panel lines are and how the rivet details are crisp and not overdone. The two round recesses in the portside LERX are designed to accept the corresponding photo-etched grilles. The set provides two different configurations. In addition, there are four ventral nose panels provided with different antenna and grille patterns to represent one of three early block F/A-18C configurations as well as the late-block pattern. Nice!

F/A-18C Hornet KitF/A-18C Hornet Kit

Looking into the main wheel wells, the Kinetic wheel well (left) has more details and sharper relief than the Hasegawa wells (right).

F/A-18C Hornet Kit

The canopies are very similar though the Kinetic clear part (right) has more of the canopy frame represented. Both have the mold line across the top, but the Kinetic mold line is finer and will be easier to clean.

F/A-18C Hornet Kit

Here are the windscreens and the Kinetic part (left) has that mold line as well and it has part of the framing present to make gluing and seam-filling (if needed) safer.

After taking these shots, I also held up the horizontal stabs together and they are identical in shape though the hinge pin is finer (thinner) than the Hasegawa part.

The bigger mystery lies with the vertical stabs. As you can see in the parts shots above, the rudders are molded integral with the stabs which is unfortunate since these tend to droop when power is removed from the aircraft. When holding the Hasegawa stab against the Kinetic part, on one hand you're struck by how much sharper the detailing is molded on the Kinetic part, but the Kinetic vertical stab is shorter (by 3mm). When you look closely, you can see that the antennas and such are proportionally moved downward. I don't know which one is correct height-wise, so I'll defer to a plane captain with a tape measure who can measure the vertical height of the stab.

Make no mistake, this is a beautiful kit. I'll be curious to see if Kinetic has found a dimension error in the height of the tail with the Hasegawa kit, or the worst that will happen is that I'll rob the vertical stabs out of a Hasegawa kit as the rest of this model is nice. Given the otherwise close shape and size of this kit with the Hasegawa offering, many (if not most) of the aftermarket sets should work with this kit. On the other hand, many (if not most) of those aftermarket sets either add or update details in the Hasegawa tooling that are already here in this release. In any case, we have a new Hornet kit that offers a variety of configurations to represent the F/A-18C in different production blocks as well as the only kit of the Hornet to represent the modern (current) F/A-18C. Plus at the price from Lucky Model ($39.95), you won't find many 1/48 Hornet kits in that price range.

I'll be putting this on the bench for a quick-build to see if it assembles as nice as it looks!

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!

References:

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