Academy
1/72 F/A-18C Hornet
Kit Number: 12411
Reviewed by  Dave Morrissette, IPMS# 33653

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MSRP: $31.95
Web Site: www.modelrec.com

Can you ever have enough F-18's? My answer is no and Academy has come out with a newly tooled F-18C. The kit is molded in Academy's normal light grey styrene with excellent line definition and detailing. The clear parts are very clear have something I have never seen before - molding clear boxes around both canopy parts which provides cover from them getting scratched. What an excellent idea. Also included with the kit is a very nice array of armament including:
· 4 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinders
· 2 x AIM-7M Sparrow
· 4 x GBU-12 Paveway II
· 1 x AAS-38 Laser Designator pod
· 1 x ASQ-173 Laser Detector/Tracker pod
· 1 x AAR-50 TINS pod
· 2 x Vertical Ejector Racks (VERs)
· 3 x External Fuel Tanks

There are a couple of things to note when first looking at the kit. One is that this is not a scaled down version of the 1/32 gem in that the flaps and slats are molded flat and don't drop. Second, the nose bottom section is molded from four parts and the cockpit tub is molded as a two seater. More versions are coming!

I started the build with the only tricky part and that is the bottom of the front fuselage. This is four parts that have to be aligned and seamed. Any misalignment will cause fit difficulties when joined with the normal fuselage. I glued this all together and then added the cockpit which has a nice instrument panel and seat. One other thing to note is that there are a lot of options that require specified holes to be opened. This starts as soon as step three and goes on through the build.

The top of the plane is all one piece except for the nose and joins to the bottom which is also a single piece. The wheel well sides are added and then the bottom section built previously - and I had a few fit issues. I managed to get the bottom slightly narrow when assembling and had to use some glue and tape as persuasion to make it match the top near the nose. It turned out well but took a little time.

The intakes were added and here where I deviated from the instructions. They call for the landing gear and fiddly bits to be added and I didn't - I did add the nose and all tail parts as well as closing the speed brake. Lastly, I added the back spine and cover for the cockpit. I cleaned up the canopy and glued it shut (a change of pace for me) masked and had the basic airframe ready to paint.

Before I started this, I had an old Superscale sheet I was dying to use and did. I used Xtracolor enamels and gave it the gray over gray treatment. While letting it dry, I built and painted the landing gear and armament. I chose to add 4 LGB, the FLIR and TINS pods and Sidewinders to the end of wing rails. The instructions include excellent painting and decaling instructions for the weapons. Once the airframe was dry, decals were added and the small bits such as landing gear doors, etc were attached. The kit was flat coated and weathered with pastels and flat coated again. I then pulled the masks and added color to the lights with Gunze transparent colors.

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This is a very nice kit! Outside of the slightly tricky nose arrangement, the fit is good. I am looking forward to the two seat version too. Because of its ease of assembly and fit, I can heartily recommend this kit to all aircraft fans. I would like to thanks Ed Sexton and MRC/Academy for the chance to review the kit.

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