by: Kevin Brant [ ]
The F-18F Super Hornet is an evolution from the original F-18 series. Having upgraded electronics and avianotics, it has allowed the F-18 to continue serving with the United States Navy, as both a fighter and attack role aircraft. Strike Fighter Squadron 103(VFA-103) with the nickname the Jolly Rogers, are based out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. The squadron is assigned to the Seventh Carrier Air Wing, and currently flying of the USS Harry S. Trumman aircraft carrier. Originally activated in 1952 with Corsairs, VFA-103 has flown off many carriers with different aircraft finally relegating their Tomcats in 2005 to the F-18, the squadron has served many duties around the world. In 2007, being assigned the F/A-18F, the squadron participated in Operation Freedom flying of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
For the squadron's 70th anniversary, the squadron took on the original skull and crossbones insignia to include colors and tail fin marking. This new F/A-18F kit from Academy features this scheme as based at NAS Oceana in July 2015.
4 Grey Plastis Sprues plus fuselage and nose parts separate
1 White Plastic Sprue
1 Black Plastic Sprue
1 Clear Plastic Sprue
1 Sheet of Decals
1 Sheet of Stickers
2 Instruction Sheets
My first impression on opening the box was this looks like a nice kit, and I was not wrong moving further in. The kit is molded in three colors: grey, white and black. The sprues colors, plus the kit is stated can be assembled without glue, could be a perfect kit for a beginner or child. But a closer inspection of the sprues, show great surface details, to include some fine panels lines. Thus with the included details, this could also be a kit for the advance modeler.
In addition to the fine surface details, the kit includes a full cockpit with raised surface details. Also Academy was nice enough to include decals to deck out the instrument panels. The seats look nice, but do not include seat belt details, but for the more advanced modeler, this is easy enough to add.
The molded under carriage detail also looks good, including the landing struts. In my opinion where the kit falls a little short is in the molded details on the engine nozzles and included armements. The details on these parts are little soft, and could use a little refinement. Also a big let down is the seam line going lengthwise over the canopy. While it may be subtle, it is there and visible. With the right sanding and polishing, this could be removed with care.
Looking through the instruction, the step by step construction does look organised and should be easy to follow. One concern may be in how the kit assembles. As stated the kit can be built without glue, and there are a lot of pin locators to accomplish this, and I am not sure how this will impact the overall fit of the parts. I would also have a little concern in the strength of some of the un-glued connections.
To also make the kit simple for beginners, Academy has included both a sticker sheet and decal sheet, thus allowing the beginner to apply stickers. As for the decals, they do look to be very well printed, but there will be some masking and painting required for some areas, like the fins to match the scheme. The decals also include a good number of the small stencils, which can be tedious, but really adds to the completed model.
The instruction sheet includes marking schemes for two aircraft:
AG200, July 2015 - NAS Fallon
AG201, 2014 - NAS Oceana
Overall this looks to be good kit from Academy for either the beginner or advanced builder. With the multicolor sprues, no-glue attachements, and stickers it would allow a beginner to build their first kit. And with great looking surface details and extensive decal sheet, it could be a great masterpiece for the advanced modeler. While the kit does include some short falls, like seam on canopy, some weaker details on engine nozzles and armament, with a little work, these could be rectified. I would definitely recommend this kit for any range of modeler to show off a modern F/A-18F Super Hornet.