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Academy F/A-18F Super Hornet

The latest in Academy’s new line of press-fit kits, the two-seat Super Hornet combines superior detail and ease of assembly.

The kit is labeled MCP for Multi Color Parts; the main assemblies are gray; tires, seats, afterburners, and extra vertical stabilizers are black; and landing-gear struts, main-gear bay, and intake interiors are white. A once-piece clear canopy is included.

The easy-build, no-paint theme continues to a sheet of self-adhesive markings. For experienced builders, a comprehensive waterslide decal sheet with markings for two VFA-103 Jolly Rogers jets is included.

Surface detail comprises fine, shallow recessed panel lines and fasteners. The largest part incorporates the upper fuselage from just aft of the radome to where the exhaust nozzles are attached and includes the top of the wings. To this you simply press fit the bottom wing surfaces and the lower fuselage while trapping the horizontal stabilizers (molded as a single part), intakes, and main landing gear bay. The nose gear bay is molded into the fuselage.

The cockpit tub with two-piece ejection seats (no harness detail, though), sticks, and instrument panels slips into the upper fuselage. All that’s left of the airframe then are the nose and vertical stabilizers.

Excellent describes the fit throughout. Everything presses together — not so much a snap-fit as a squeeze-fit — and glue isn’t needed.

If you are fussy about visible seams, careful application of liquid cement and an extra squeeze will clean up most of them. The only noticeable gaps were at the rear of the bottom forward fuselage and where the nose attaches to the forward fuselage. I used glue to reinforce the attachment of the landing gear and secure the Sidewinders to the wingtip rails.

I was impressed by the molding of the underwing stores. The kit provides a pair of 500-pound JDAMs, two AIM-120 AMRAAMs, four AIM-9X Sidewinders, and three drop tanks. Academy nails the toed-out alignment of the pylons.

I was disappointed by the flat edges of the intake lips, the lack of an option to pose the canopy open, and the decals.

The last are thin but stiff and resist most decal solvents. The kit includes decals for the black around the canopy, including the framing. After applying them, I blasted them with a hairdryer on hot to shrink them to the surface. This worked, albeit not as well as solvents would on thinner decals.

I painted my model with Testors Model Master enamels sealed with Pledge FloorCare Multi-Surface Finish for decals. Testors Model Master Acryl clear flat finished the job.

I spent 26 hours on my Super Bug, much of it holding a hairdryer. An unused upper fuselage section indicates a single-seat E is coming. There’s no single-seat canopy is in this kit, however.

Beginners can slam ... er ... squeeze this one out in a couple of hours if they use the stickers and don’t paint the model. Experienced modelers will reshape the intakes, add harnesses to the seats, maybe open the canopy, and find other decals.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2017 issue.

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