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Academy 1/72 scale F/A-18C Hornet

Kit: No. 12411
Scale: 1/72
Manufacturer: Academy, from Model Rectifier Corp., 732-225-2100,
Price: $32
Comments: Injection-molded, 145 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent exterior detail; great fit; good ordnance; fine decals
Cons: Some tricky assemblies; shallow intakes
Issue Published: July 2008
For two decades, Hasegawa's "Legacy Hornet" (A through D models, not the E/F "Super Hornet") has been the go-to kit for builders of 1/72 scale models. Finally, a state-of-the-art replacement has been released from Academy. While not a scale-down of its magnificent 1/32 scale kit, Academy's little "Bug" clearly achieves superiority. It is obvious from the moldings and optional parts that more versions are to come. There's no question a two-seater will be issued, as the cockpit tub includes the rear office as well as two ejection seats.

This kit represents a late C model, with various add-on humps and bumps, enlarged chaff/flare dispensers, and advanced cooling vents on the underside of the nose.

The cockpit interior detail is adequate - better than older kits - and you can paint or use decals on the raised-detail instrument panel. Assembling the 10-part fuselage can be tricky, and I recommend at least one dry run before you commit the parts to glue. It all fits very well, but you have to be careful as alignment will affect subsequent assembly. Use a slow-setting liquid cement so you can adjust as you go. I also found it easier to install the cockpit unpainted (!), then mask around the opening and paint it after applying the main camouflage.

The intake throats are only about 1/4" deep, but you can see this only from a narrow view at the front. Two different types of chaff/flare dispensers are given for the bottom of the fuselage, indicating a choice, but there's no explanation of which should be used for the three aircraft featured on the decal sheet.

The excellent landing gear attaches solidly and features good detail in the bays. Ordnance includes Sidewinders, Sparrows, four LGBs, three drop tanks, and three different electronics pods for the fuselage stations. Again, no explanation on which should be used with what type of ordnance.

The two-piece canopy is well molded, fits perfectly, and can be posed opened or closed with alternate actuator arms.

I painted with Testors Model Master light and dark ghost gray enamels. Landing gear and bays are in gloss white. I used a couple of coats of Pledge Future floor polish to prepare for decals and a wash.

The kit decals are nicely printed and went on pretty well, but getting the leading edges of the blue designs on the fins and pylons to lie down tight was difficult. I don't recommend a setting solution; too strong for these decals. I touched up a few gaps with Model Master "true blue" - a perfect match. After a dark gray sludge wash in the recessed details, I overcoated with Testors Acryl clear flat.

I spent 28 hours on my sample and was impressed with Academy's new "old" Bug. While modern prices may give some pause, consider the excellent detail, top-level fit and finish, numerous equipment and ordnance options, and overall accuracy. They make this kit worth the price.

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