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Hasegawa 1/48 F/A-18C Hornet 'Chippy Ho Final' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2012 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F/A-18C Hornet 'Chippy Ho Final' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09979 Primary Media Styrene, Photo Etch
Pros Best Hornet kit in 1/48 scale Cons Minor fit and fragile challenges require patience and some skills
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $99.99

First Look

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

The history of the F/A-18 Hornet program is colorful to say the least. After recovering from the financial and schedule impacts from the mandated F-111B program and gaining the most capable fleet defense fighters in history with the resulting F-14 Tomcat, the Navy was still faced with replacing the F-4s on those carriers that were not capable of operating the F-14 as well as replace the fleet of A-7E Corsair II strike aircraft.

The Air Force was in full swing with its lightweight fighter program that pitted the General Dynamics YF-16 against the Northrop YF-17. The Navy was considering a purchase of the same type that won the Air Force's competition, but when the YF-16 was declared the winner, the Navy had second thoughts. The YF-16 had some inherent problems at the time, not the least of which was only one engine. The Navy decided to base their next fighter on the YF-17 Cobra.

During the acquisition process for this new aircraft, somehow McDonnell Douglas was selected to convert the YF-17 into a carrier-capable lightweight fighter while Northrop became a subcontractor to support their design. The conversion process turned out to be more difficult as time progressed as the Navy added requirements to the aircraft and these requirements translated into additional weight and cost. The resulting airframe was quite different from the original YF-17 and nearly 7,000 pounds heavier at empty weight.

The F/A-18C was an incremental improvement over the F/A-18A with upgraded engines, radar, weapons, the NACES ejection seat, and other avionics. While the F/A-18B was a two-seat trainer variant of the Hornet, the F/A-18D was enhanced to fulfill the night attack mission and replace the A-6 Intruder after that type's original replacement, the A-12 Avenger II failed to enter production.

Hasegawa has made some wise investments in kit tooling over the past few decades. The F-4 Phantom II and the F-14 Tomcat series continue to sell as Hasegawa continued to turn out reissues of each variant with different decals. The F-14 was a super-detailer's dream and Hasegawa applied that kit design philosophy into their family of F/A-18 Hornets.

The upper fuselage is molded in one part with the upper wing halves molded in-place. This makes the job of assembly and alignment SO much easier. The rest of the kit is presented on seven parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts, one set of white metal landing gear and one small fret of photo-etched details. The surface details of the model are finely scribed and not overdone.

Like the full-scale airframe, the design is set up to support single- or two-seat Hornets. The kit's cockpit tub is a two-holer where the rear pit is merely covered over with a plug and canopy fairing. The design of this kit is quite impressive which allowed Hasegawa to render all the different variants of the 'Bug' with minimal differences in parts.

The variants produced of this family include:

  • F/A-18A
  • F/A-18B
  • F/A-18C
  • F/A-18D
  • CF-18A/CF-188A
  • CF-18B/CF-188B

Among the features and options in this box:

  • Detailed NACES ejection seat
  • Detailed cockpit with options for decal instruments and side console details
  • Optional pilot figure (wearing older 'hard' helmet)
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable boarding ladder
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable horizontal stabilators
  • Positionable rudders
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable leading edge flaps
  • Positionable speed brake
  • Nose gear catapult bar is positionable up or down
  • Pylons have anti-sway braces
  • Stations 4 and 6 have AIM-7 ejector frames
  • Chaff/flare launchers
  • Vertical stabilizer reinforcement brackets
  • Vertical ejector racks (2)
  • External fuel tanks (4 - only 3 needed)
  • Targeting pod/nav pod

No weapons are included in the box as you're expected to acquire the requisite loadout from one or more of the weapons sets sold separately. One common tweak applied to this kit are the intakes. The stock intakes neck down to narrow rather quickly from the intake openings. There are several aftermarket intake replacement sets that provide seamless longer intake trunks that improve the look of the model from head-on.

Markings are applied for two examples:

  • F/A-18C, 164899, VFA-195, NF/400, NAS Atsugi, Japan, CAG's aircraft 'Chippy Ho 2010'
  • F/A-18C, 164905, VFA-195, NF/400, NAS Atsugi, Japan, CAG's aircraft 'Chippy Ho 2008'

I don't know about you, but the Chippy Ho paint schemes are one of my favorites on the F/A-18 and were obviously a big hit with the Hasegawa folks who've released a number of Hornet kits in earlier versions of these markings.

Hasegawa continues to do a nice job with the F/A-18 series and have more recently produced the next generation Super Hornet kits including the F/A-18E, F/A-18F, and EA-18G. Patience, dry-fitting, and some trimming will be required to get all of the parts to come together but the result of that patience should render a beautifully detailed model straight out of the box. If you add any of the plethora of aftermarket details available for these kits, you'll really have some fun (especially if you're an AMS modeler!).

Until the release of the Academy 1/32 F/A-18C/D kits, these Hasegawa kits were the best Hornets in any scale on the market and still retain the best of breed in 1/48 scale today. This kit (and all the others in this series) is highly recommended.

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!