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Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet

18 Sep
2012

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Kit: Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet

Scale: 1:48
Kit type: Injection moulded Decal options: (four) VFA-143 ‘Pukin Dogs’, NAS Oceana, Virginia; VX-9 ‘Vampires’, NAS China Lake, California; VFA-137 ‘Kestrels’, NAS Leemore, California; VFA-27 ‘Royal Maces’, NAF Atsugi, Japan UK price: £19.99 Website: www. revell. de
The Revell Super Hornet is packaged in one of the company’s slightly irritating end-opening boxes. 

Photographs on the side of the box depict a ‘prototype’ model complete with an incorrect rear-fuselage air brake, but this is absent from the kit. On initial inspection the kit parts seem to feature nice recessed panel lines and a good overall level of detail. However, a closer study of the moulding shows that there is considerable inconsistency in the panel lines, particularly on the lower fuselage, obvious flash on many parts and a noticeably grainy finish to the plastic. The instructions are typical Revell, with logical construction steps and well illustrated but printed on very low quality paper and with only colour call outs for Revell paints, not an F. S. number in sight.
Construction follows the usual sequence, starting with the cockpit. This features a tub with slightly basic moulded side console detail, a well rendered stick and throttles and a nicely detailed instrument panel. The ejection seat is a reasonable attempt at a Martin Baker SJU-17 NACES unit, but its rear is enclosed rather than featuring the rail and tube detail which is visible in this area. While correcting this I also rebuilt the instrument coaming and HUD, since those included appear inaccurate. The forward section of the upper fuselage spine is then added to the upper fuselage part. With a little care this fits quite well, but be aware that where Revell has the joint line is not a panel line on the real airframe. This is actually further forward and needs to be carefully scribed in. Also be aware that the cockpit opening as supplied in the kit has no sills, merely following the angle of the fuselage sides
The intakes and lower side panels are built up next and proved a real headache, since the parts fit quite badly. Two parts make up the trunking and despite much trial fitting I could not get a satisfactory finish. I decided to build intake covers to hide the problem. The intakes are not deep enough and the engine fronts (which on the real machine are actually behind radar blockers) are at a point about level with the front of the main undercarriage bays, when they should really be well behind the rear of the bay. The completed intake assemblies are added to the lower fuselage. Again fit is not good, although with patience and superglue a decent fit was achieved, albeit at the need for filling and sanding at the side and rear. The upper and lower fuselage parts were joined next and on my example this was something of a test of patience. The two assemblies bow in opposite directions and required considerable clamping and taping to get them to fit. Considerable use of filler was required to smooth things out.
The nose section, which extends back part way under the lower fuselage, is built up next from four pieces. The fit is reasonable and with care only a little filler is needed. Careful sanding is required here to avoid removing the panel lines for the inflight refuelling probe. However, the shape of the doors as scribed is not entirely correct, although I left it alone. I added nose weight but on reflection I doubt it was needed. The finished nose assembly was added to the main fuselage and again fit is quite poor. It is necessary to remove plastic from the area in front of the instrument coaming to allow the nose section to fit. The sides of this assembly also require significant filling and sanding for an acceptable finish.
The single-piece outer wings are added next and although the joint falls on the wing fold line, no fold option is included in the kit. The depiction of the fairings on the wing fold is more representative of a development aircraft than production machines and another disappointment may be the lack of an option to display the model with its flaps down, something often seen on parked Super Hornets. I added the fins at this point and their fit is somewhat vague, but with care only a little PVA and Mr Surfacer were required to tidy up the assembly. The fairings at the base of the fins are rather inaccurate, being too angular in shape.

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With the airframe now mainly complete, the two-part canopy was tackled, its central mould seam being removed before both parts were treated to a dip in Future to restore clarity. The rear part had its three-piece internal detail fitted before both parts were masked and sprayed with satin black inside and out. The front section was fitted to the model with the open rear area (which had been carefully masked and sprayed black at the same time as the clear parts) being masked ready for application of the main colours. I also added the arrester hook and cleaned up the tailplanes. The hook is reasonable if a little basic, but the tailplanes are not shaped correctly where they meet the fuselage. The exhausts are also poor, with their openings undersize. They also lack any real depth and their petal detail is very soft.
The undercarriage and wheels were now cleaned up. These are something of a mixed bag with the general level of detail being quite good. However, the nose wheel tyres seem slightly odd in shape and due to the way they are moulded the knuckle joint on the main gear legs has been completely missed. The underwing pylons and weapons were added next and the ordnance supplied does not represent a particularly accurate load. The main pylons are all made up from two parts and have good panel lines, but the mounting and sway brace detail is somewhat simplified. All six pylons are correctly toed out. A full load of stores is provided, but disappointingly, just a single 480-US gal fuel tank. The Mk 83s and JDAMs are nicely done, although the JDAMs seem to represent the GBU-31(V)3/B BLU-109 variant that I think is actually a USAF weapon. The AAMs are a little basic and questionable in shape, while the FLIR pod and its mount are quite wrong, having more of a resemblance to the early Legacy Hornet pod. I’m not totally convinced about the shape and size of the centreline fuel tank either. Its mounting pylon needs its blunt leading edge thinned and its height reduced by about half to be anything like acceptable. The launch rails for the AMRAAMs are also poor; their leading edges are the same shape as those of the wing tip AIM-9 rails, but should actually be curved. The well-detailed multi-part access ladder was also built up at this point.
Attention now turns to painting and the markings included on the large DACO-designed decal sheet. I chose to model the test machine from VX-9 ‘Vampires’. Having primed the model with thinned Mr Surfacer 1200, which seemed to cover the slightly grainy texture of the plastic, I painted it in the standard US Navy Light and Dark Compass Grays (F. S.36320 and F. S.36375, respectively), using the appropriate Xtracolor paints. The fins were masked and sprayed Xtracolor Insignia Yellow and this was then masked before a mixed blue/black was applied. The decals went on very well with the white being very good, but I think the national insignias are too dark.
The undercarriage parts were now assembled; everything fits reasonably well although it is advisable to fit the nose gear door, part 29, before the strut. The weapons pylons and their associated ordnance were fitted next, the outer pylons needing some sanding and filling with a little PVA. The ladder and fuel tank were added last and then the whole model was given a good coat of Xtracolor varnish to seal everything in.
Revell’s last few new-tool 1:48 kits (F-15E, Rafale and Sabre Dog to name but three) have been outstanding, but the Super Hornet falls well short of these efforts. In addition to the problems outlined here several areas of the fuselage on Revell’s Super Hornet seem to be incorrectly shaped. Personally I am rather disappointed with the kit. Some will undoubtedly say, ‘but it looks like a Super Hornet’ and to be honest if you are happy with the model at that level then that’s fine. Some will run away in horror at the thought of building a model with ‘so many’ problems and again that’s fine. I’m interested to see how many Revell Super Hornets we see at Model Exhibitions in relation to those from Hasegawa!

Connected themes: military aircraft model, aircraft buy, build rc plane, Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet, models planes, scale model shop, radio controlled model airplanes.

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