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Revell Super Hornet

Build review of this challenging 1/32 scale aircraft kit with lots of fit issues
The parts for Revell’s big Super Hornet look impressive in the box, but unfortunately that’s where it ends. I’ll talk about the issues later.

It has several nice build options, including a boarding ladder and posable leading and trailing edge flaps as well as optional parts to show the wings folded or extended. A good selection of weapons is provided, including two each of the following: AIM-9M Sidewinder (practice or live); AIM-9X Sidewinder; AIM-120C AMRAAM; GBU-12 Paveway II; GBU-31 JDAM; and GBU-38 JDAM.

The best part of the kit may be the decals. Two marking options are included: A full-color bird from VX-9 Vampires and a regular line bird from VFA-109 Gunslingers. Full stenciling is included for the planes and the weapons.

Now for the problems. First, there is flash throughout, molding seams along the mating edges of most parts, and tons of fit issues. That means that I had to do some sort of clean-up at almost every point. The instructions make note several times about flash needing to be removed or gaps needing to be filled.

Instead of going step by step, I’ll stick to the assemblies that need attention and how I fixed them. (If I were to talk about every little thing this review would make War and Peace look like a comic book.)

In steps 7a and 7b, the main gear bay frames (parts R7-13) don’t match the profile of the bay ceiling (intake trunks) and I had to sand all of them to fit. The bottom of the fuselage (Part C18) just fits over the bay and intake assembly.

Now comes the fun part: the intake trunks. All the parts involved in building the intakes, and I mean all, in steps 13-16 needed filing, fitting, and clamping to get everything together. I spent three days getting the parts together, then I had to fill and blend seams at the mouths of the intakes.

In Step 17, parts R28 and R29 (vents of some sort) had to be filed way down and dry-fitted to get them right. On the other hand, the ECS vents on top of the rear fuselage (Part B39) is loose and sloppy in Step 23.

Joining the lower fuselage, upper fuselage, and lower wings in Step 24, proved challenging. I had to sand the upper and lower fuselage parts aft of the wing for fit. Then came the clamps; I did mine one side at a time because the fit was tight and springy. 

To ensure the windscreen fit correctly later, I sanded the top of the instrument panel, forward bulkhead, and the panel shroud. They are fitted in Step 31, but I didn’t discover the problems until final assembly.

Fit between the forward and rear fuselage (Step 35) wasn’t even close, requiring copious trimming of the horizontal mating surfaces to get it nearly there. After this, I filled and blended the lower fuselage mating surfaces.

The vertical stabilizers also needed filling and blending to match the fuselage. I used white glue; it’s quicker than putty.

The main landing gear struts comprise four pieces, two halves for the upper and lower sections. I drilled out the hole in the upper section and thinned the corresponding pin in the lower part to allow the sections to slide together. The drag links (parts G171 and G172) weren’t long enough to reach the molded locator holes, so I glued the lower end where it made contact with the strut. The good news was that the completed struts fit into the bays almost perfectly.

The hinge tabs for the outer wing panels didn’t fit the corresponding slots; I kept grinding away at the upper and lower halves until they did.

The weapons are nice, but there is very little in the way of gluing surfaces on them or the pylons. I used an oval file to produce a better mating surface on the pylons.

I painted the Super Hornet with Testors Model Master enamels and applied the decals, which went on without problems.

The kit looks great once together. However, the myriad fit problems and excessive flash make it a challenging build and I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners. 

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2020 issue.
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