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Trumpeter 1/32 scale F/A-18-E Super Hornet

At the same time Trumpeter released its 1/32 scale Tomcat, it also issued a big-scale kit of the F-14’s replacement on U.S. carriers, the Super Hornet.

BIG: That’s Trumpeter’s 1/32 scale Super Hornet. Measuring more than 1' 9" long, with a wingspan of nearly a 1' 6" with the wings down, this bad boy will take up a lot of space on your display shelf. However, its size does not take away from the detail or the quality of the 645 parts.

Tightly packed into the large box are 15 sprues for the airframe and an additional 22 sprues for the ordnance (boxed separately), as well as four vinyl tires, a photoetched-metal fret, four clear parts sprues, and three metal landing gear strengtheners.

It’s not easy to decide which of three beautiful CAG birds you want to build: Bureau Number 166776, VFA-31, Tomcat-ters; Bureau Number 166608, VFA-143, Pukin’ Dogs; or Bureau Number 165860, VFA-27, Royal Maces. Decals for the jet are nicely laid out on two decal sheets. An additional decal sheet is included for the ordnance.

Included is an APG-79 AESA radar that can be exposed; leading- and trailing-edge flaps can be positioned up or down; wings have the option of being folded; stabilizers and ailerons are positionable; and the refueling probe can be exposed as well. A boarding ladder can be added, and two avionics bays can be exposed also. It seems the options for this model are endless.

Instructions are laid out like most other Trumpeter kits. The 23 pages and 30 steps are easy to follow and are broken down so you won’t need to deviate from them. A parts map is included in the main instructions book, as well as an ordnance placement guide. A separate, full-color paint and decal placement guide helps with colors and markings. Unlike some of Trumpeter’s other offerings in 1/32 scale, the Super Hornet is an easy build.

Surface detail is outstanding, but detail is lacking in the cockpit and wheel wells. Trumpeter did include photoetched-metal seat belts, which adds some detail to the NACES ejection seat. Two complete engines are included and build up nicely – but they won’t be seen after the fuselage is closed.

For a model this size, I was surprised at how well the parts fit. Some filler will be needed where the upper and lower fuselage halves meet, and in the intakes to make them look seamless. Attaching the horizontal stabilizers can be tricky because there really isn’t much of a post on the stabilizer to attach to the fuselage. I would recommend adding a post to help strengthen that joint. I was pleased to see that the kit came with metal landing gear strengtheners. This model is heavy!

A plethora of ordnance is included in this kit: four AIM-120Bs; two AGM-84As; two AGM-84Hs; two AGM-84Es; two AGM-154s; six GBU-22s; six GBU-12s; two LTGRs; six ADM-141s; and three different targeting pods. However, the Super Hornet does not carry GBU-22s. I was disappointed there were no JDAMs (GBU-31 and GBU-38), which the Super Hornet often carries.

I sprayed the underside with Model Master light ghost gray, the upper fuselage with Model Master dark ghost gray darkened with a couple drops of black, and decanted Tamiya gloss black for the black spine of aircraft.

Be warned, the decals are extremely thin and tend to fold in on themselves (especially the larger decals). I did not attempt to use the red pinstripe decals that border the black spine; I masked and painted them instead. The plus side of the decals being so thin is they settle into rivet detail with little or no solvent needed.

My “Super Bug” took me 70 hours to build, about par for a model of this size. With the kit being much more simplified than other 1/32 scale Trumpeter kits, someone with a couple of years’ modeling experience should have no problem turning out a great-looking Hornet. I had a blast building this beast!


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