I like Hornets...a lot. I don't know what it is about them but the combination of elegant design, capability and cool factor do it for me. I occassionally see them zooming around Brisbane although they seem to be flying a lot higher and faster than the F-111's ever did. I hear them but spotting them is a harder game, probably due to their colour scheme blending into the atmosphere.
Steve Evans from Ronin decals released the 1 Squadron Anniversary decals in 72 scale earlier in the year and I was quick to jump on them. My only problem was that I didn't have a kit so I was stalled for the moment.
Our recent swap meet here in Brisbane yielded nothing either so it took a trip into one of the Hobby Stores in the Brisbane CBD to acquire the kit that was appropriate to do a RAAF version that would wear the Ronin decals.
So with that in mind and a few accessories plus a few on order I'm going to turn this...
Or close at least a smaller version.
The original kit of the 1/72 Hasegawa F/A-18F family has been around for a while now with releases seeming to come out of Japan at a steady rate of either the latest CAG jet or aircraft that adorn colourful artwork. This release which was released in early 2016 fortunately has all that's needed for a RAAF jet. The only real draw back is the lack of ordnance supplied. You need to supply your own and in my case I'll be loading it with two GBU-38 and two GBU-54 ype bombs, both 500lb class bombs. The correct bard stacks are also moulded in place which is correct for our Rhinos.
I recently found some excellent photos of this jet on the Defence Media site while it was deployed on combat operations overseas which is where I got the one above. It's an interesting load out in the fact that it's asymmetric. The tanks are loaded in the 'goofy gas' configuration which allows a greater field of view for the designator pod on the left shoulder station. The port wing carries two GBU-38 bombs on the inner two pylons and a single GBU-54 on the outer. Turning to the starboard side we can see the drop tank and then a single GBU-54 on the middle pylon with an empty outer pylon. Both wing tips are carrying AIM-9X Sidewinders and the right shoulder station carries a lone AIM-120 AMRAAM. As mentioned the ATFLIR is being carried on the port shoulder station.
With regards to the kit, it does have the correct ACS coaming that the later Lot jets have, however the rear instrument decal IP represents the earlier style of rear cockpit. I'm not too fussed on this as the model will have the canopy closed. I have ordered a set of Quickboost resin seats to add some visual interest to the closed cockpit as the kit seats are quite simple one piece items. I’ve also got the GBU’s covered with some Attack Squadron products on order.
Construction is fairly straight forward however there are a few spots that need some attention. The kit intakes are extremely short and have an obvious seam in the roof of the intake. There's not much to do about the short intakes unless some major plastic surgery is undertaken. The seam however can be easily dealt with. It had a touch of Tamiya grey putty mixed with some Tamiya lacquer thinner to make it into slurry, kind of like the texture of soft butter. This has been applied and I've started to smooth it in as you can see in the photo. I'll sand it back and apply some primer to see how it looks.
The cockpit tub has been installed on the lower forward fuselage half and has had paint applied along with a gloss coat ready for the decals. The same thing goes for the front and rear IP.
The engine exhausts are a simple affair and in hindsight I wish I'd gone for some aftermarket items. I might get away with sleeving they outlet with some tube with the right OD, we'll see.
The basic representation of the flame holder has been painted Burnt Iron from the Mr Color Metallics range. The great thing about this stuff is that it can be polished. You can see the results in the picture of the differences between a polished and non-polished paint. I hit the polished parts (on both sides) with a micro q-tip and it looks the part. Sealing this stuff is a bit of a grey area for me at the moment as any form of lacquer or hot thinner in the gloss will cause the grey to change shade, not exactly something I'm interested in achieving. If you have any info on how you go about sealing these paints I'd be interested to hear.
An upper and lower half capture the polycaps for the elevators which in turn also holds the flame holder. This part is installed in the rear of the fuselage. I’ve added a splash of the same Burnt Iron in the bare plastic after i took these photos.
he upper and lower half of the fuselage are one piece items. I’ve applied some Gunze FS36231 on those. [PIC]
The fuselage join is pretty good. The dark grey paint is the Burnt Iron after it hit it with some Humbrol poly. I’ve used this on the fuselage seams as I’ve heard it’s a bit more forgiving with regards to ghost seams than Tamiya Extra Thin.
The fit of the LERX is very good too. The first pic shows the fit of the parts held in place by gravity and the second two images shows it buttoned up with glue applied.
So far, so good.