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EA-18G Growler Kit

Hobby Boss 1/48 EA-18G Growler Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2022 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject EA-18G Growler Scale 1/48
Kit Number 85814 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $119.99

First Look

EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit
EA-18G Growler Kit

By the end of the 20th century, the only dedicated carrier-based electronic warfare (EW) aircraft remaining in service with the US military was the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, a highly modified four-place variant of the A-6 Intruder. By this time, the Prowler was almost 30 years old and the fleet had undergone several upgrades to keep its capabilities tactically relevant. Even so, the EA-6B was getting more expensive to maintain and the Navy knew that a replacement would have to be procured. Northrop-Grumman and Boeing submitted a proposal to modify the two-seat F/A-18F into the next generation EW platform. A contract was awarded to produce a proof-of-concept aircraft, and that evolved into the EA-18G Growler. While many questioned the capabilities and workload requirements on a two-person crew, the automation in the avionics reduced the workload and eventually became the Navy's new advanced capability platform. Like the Super Hornet, the Growler can fly supersonic (unlike the EA-6B) and has the capability to defend itself in the air-to-air arena with two AIM-120D AMRAAMs, the aircraft can carry a variety of pods, external fuel tanks, and air-to-ground weapons to counter a variety of advanced adversary air defense capabilities.

Several years after Trumpeter released the Super Hornet/Growler family in 1/32 scale, the designs have been down-sized to 1/48 scale and released under the HobbyBoss brand. As you would expect, this kit is based upon the parts trees from the F/A-18F kit and adds the parts that make up the unique features and details of the EA-18G, so you'll have weapons spares to be certain. Molded in gray styrene, this kit is presented on 18 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) plus two trees of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpits
  • Nice ejection seats with photo-etch crew restraints and decal placards
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed canopy frame
  • Detailed APG-79 AESA radar
  • Positionable radome
  • Detailed F414 engines (no positionable engine bay doors to see them)
  • Intake ducts to engine compressor faces
  • Choice of normal or 'kneeling' nose gear struts/launch bars
  • Detailed avionics bays with positionable access doors
  • Positionable slats
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable flaperons
  • Positionable outer wings
  • Positionable rudders
  • Positionable elevons
  • Positionable boarding ladder
  • Nice landing gear and gear well details

Among the external stores provided:

  • 4 x external tanks
  • 4 x ALQ-99 ECM pods
  • 6 x AGM-88 HARMs
  • 6 x AIM-120D AMRAAMs

There are additional bombs, AIM-9X, BRU-32s, ATFLIR, TERs, and even buddy stores included that were used in the Super Hornet versions of this kit, but not used for the Growler.

Markings are provided for six examples:

  • EA-18G, 169136, VAQ-129, NJ/516, NAS Whidbey Island
  • EA-18G, 166941, VAQ-135, NL/521, NAS Whidbey Island, 2011
  • EA-18G, 166940, VAQ-135, NL/520, NAS Whidbey Island, 2011
  • EA-18G, 168268, VAQ-130, AC/500, USS Harry S. Truman, 2016
  • EA-18G, 166928, VAQ-141, AJ/500, USS George HW Bush, 2010
  • EA-18G, 166894, VAQ-132, NL/540

This kit is highly detailed without being over-engineered (except for the F414 details that won't be seen after assembly). A little clean-up work will be required before assembly as there are some small ejector pin stubs around the fuselage and wings that will need to be removed and patched. Aside from that, the details really stand out and there really isn't much needed from the aftermarket. The Quinta Studio detail set for the cockpit and ejection seats are one I'll consider (they have't released a set for the HobbyBoss kit yet, but they do have a set for the Hasegawa F/A-18F/EA-18G that can be adapted. If you want other marking options aside from what comes in the kit, there are some really nice aftermarket sets that cover the Super Hornets and Growlers out there to consider. I will give kudos to HobbyBoss for providing more than enough external stores to have options for three ALQ-99 or three external tanks (depending on which of either you want on the centerline station.

My sincere thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review sample!