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F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs'

Hasegawa 1/48 F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2017 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 07450 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $94.99

First Look

F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs'
F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs'
F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs'
F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VX-23 Salty Dogs'

The Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet was scaled up in size from the early F/A-18A/B/C/D Hornet, and the Super Hornet has more power, range and payload than its predecessors. The aircraft replaced the F-14 Tomcat as the fleet air defense aircraft and also replaced some of the older Hornets in the multi-role missions as well. The aircraft is a true multi-role aircraft, able to conduct precision strikes on enemy targets while providing its own self-protection. The Super Hornet is in service with US Navy squadrons and has seen extensive combat in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. The aircraft is rated to carry and launch just about every type of weapon in the US Navy inventory including the AIM-9X, AIM-120, JDAM, JSOW, AMRAAM, HARM, etc. Even as the F-35 Lightning II is entering service, the Navy is considering acquiring more F/A-18E/F airframes in the Block III configuration as well as updating in-service Super Hornets to Block III as well.

Unlike many other kit subjects, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was produced in kit form in relative short order after it entered service in 1999. Italeri was first in 1/48 scale with their F/A-18E in 2001 followed by the F/A-18F and finally the EA-18G in 2005. Revell released their own 1/48 F/A-18E in 2002 followed by the F/A-18F in 2006. Hasegawa released the F/A-18F in 1/48 scale in 2005 followed by the F/A-18E that same year and the EA-18G in 2011. You can see the First Look of the Hasegawa F/A-18F that Fotios Rouch conducted when that kit first appeared at IPMS/USA Nationals in 2005.

Like many of Hasegawa's kits, the Super Hornets are released in limited edition boxings with a different decal subject in each release. In this F/A-18F release depicts a colorful test aircraft from VX-23 stationed at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland. Look closer at the box art and decals, and you'll also see that this is one of the very few Super Hornets to wear US Marine Corps markings (though VX-23 and other test squadrons have aircraft like this one with US Marines on one side of the aircraft and US Navy on the other to signify the joint USN/USMC operations of these test organizations).

Molded in gray styrene, the kit is presented on seven parts trees (duplicate tree not shown) plus a single tree of clear parts. Surface detailing is finely scribed. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nice front and rear cockpits
  • Nice NACES ejection seats that do need aftermarket crew restraints
  • Optional crew figures with choice of helmets (see notes below)
  • Positionable crew ladder
  • Positionable canopy
  • Intake ducts to the compressor faces
  • Positionable outer wing panels (folded or extended)
  • Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable stabilators (see notes below)
  • Positionable rudders

Like many of the modern fighter kits produced by Hasegawa, this kit does not provide much in the way of external stores as these are sold in separate weapons kits. What is included in this kit:

  • 4 x 480 gallon external tanks
  • 1 x ASQ-228 ATFLIR

Markings are provided for one example:

  • F/A-18F, 165801, VX-23, SD/223, NAS Pax River, 2016

Here are some notes to consider:

  • This is one of the first kits to provide modern crew figures with the JHMCS helmets as well as the standard lightweight helmets. Since the back seater doesn't wear the JHMCS, that provides a modern helmet/head for your F-15C MSIP II, F-16C CCIP, or upgraded F/A-18C/D capable of employing the AIM-9X Sidewinder
  • The Revell and Italeri Super Hornets are based upon the initial production airframes that entered service in the early 2000s. The subsequent and current production Super Hornets have the visible low-observable exhaust ports between the vertical stabilizers and the Hasegawa kit is the only one in this scale in this configuration
  • The Hasegawa kit is the only one to have positionable flight control surfaces and flaps
  • The kit does have shallow afterburner chambers as the engineers provide a structural tube to hold the positionable/movable horizontal stabilators. This will result in a more reliable stab mount!
  • The kit uses some modular features to render the E/F/G versions so the more time you spend cleaning up the fuselage seams and test fitting before assembly, the less filler you'll need to build this bird
  • This color scheme is very colorful and you can hang just about any external store currently in use on this aircraft since it is a test bird

While this kit has some nice options to pose the airframe parked, in taxi, take-off or landing configuration, Hasegawa kept the kit very straightforward so it won't be a challenge to build. It won't be long before we see the proposed Block III modifications enter flight test including those dorsal conformal fuel tanks. So many possibilities, so little time...

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!