|KIT:||Italeri 1/48 EA-18G 'Growler'|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Since this plane hasn't flown yet, I'll quote from the instructions as the web was pretty silent on the whole thing.
"The EA-18G is Boeing and Northrop/Grumman's proposed replacement for the ageing fleet of EA-6B Prowlers, key components in America's 'electronic war' capabilities. Based on the F-18F Super Hornet, which has 90% parts commonality, it features the very latest version of the 'Search and Disturb' systems already installed in the Prowler, two AGM-88 Harm missiles to attack enemy radar stations, and two AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles for self defense. The tuse of tried and tested systems should smooth its introduction considerably; at present it is still being evaluated, yet the makers say they expect to deliver the first production models in 2009. Given the growing importance of electronic warfare in modern conflicts and the lack of direct rivals, the EA-18G's future in the US Navy seems assured".
Of course, your editor wonders why spend the bucks if we already have a capable system in the Prowler and the EA-18G uses the same electronics, but I'm not a lobbyist for Boeing or Northrop/Grumman nor a spend-crazy congressman.......
Boxed with each of the for sprues individually packaged, this kit seems to combine bits from the earlier F-18E and F-18F kits as there are sprues marked 2611 and 2619. The one sprue that is for this kit is marked 2641 and is the one that includes the jamming pods and new pylons and the rather odd looking wingtip pods that take the place of the Sidewinder racks. One fuel tank and several pylons are not used in this boxing. Otherwise, I'm thinking that you basically get the F-18F kit with some new bits. (Addendum):Several kind readers have written in to tell me that the kit has been updated to current specs and is not the old prototype version. The EA-18G kit itself is missing a few minor lumps and bumps, but is otherwise pretty much up to date. I've been told (thanks KP) that the prototype will fly in 2006 and be in squadron service by 2009. Ed)
The parts themselves are very well molded. I noticed no flash, no sink areas, but I did spot several pesky ejector pin marks in the wheel wells and inside of some gear doors. The large AIM-120 missiles also had these markings on the body. The cockpit is fairly well done with three piece ejection seats. There are decals for the instrument panels and side consoles. Generally, this area is more detailed in both the Revell and the Hasegawa kits.
The lower nose section is two parts into which the nose gear door is trapped. The upper fuselage section has the interior glued in place and then the lower nose section attached. Intakes are abbreviated, going back about an inch before having small compressor faces glued in. I guess this is to provide some forced perspective. The lower wing stubs and tail planes are part of the lower fuselage, which makes for a very sturdy construct. The flaps and leading edge slats are molded in the up position.
Landing gear are more similar to the simpler Revell versions than the complex Hasegawa gear. There are pylons for jamming pods, fuel tanks and missiles. The ones for the tanks and pods seem a bit thin when compared to the other kits in this scale. The canopy can be displayed open and has an actuating mechanism included in the kit. Another option is to have the boarding ladder down or up. An additional brace I've not seen on the other kits is provided that attaches to the fuselage side. I should point out that the kit does not include any anti-radiation missiles as would be normally carried but does include Sidewinders which would not.
Instructions are quite good as are most Italeri instructions. References to colors are generic, FS 595 and Model Master. Markings are provided for two aircraft and both are spurious as I don't think an EA-18G has flown as of yet. They are for VAQ-209 and VAQ-129, though neither set of markings has the unit name and the serial is for an F-18F. The decals are well printed and provide all the usual data markings, slime lights and walk areas. These are quite matte. I've no real complaints about Italeri kit decals as they are useable. It is sure that there won't be any aftermarket for a while so you may want to scrounge up some old EA-6B sets for this one.
One thing for sure is that Italeri has beaten everyone else to the punch when it comes to the Electric Super Bug and it will make into a very nice model when you are finished.
Thanks to for the review kit. You can find Italeri kits at your favorite hobby shop or on-line at www.testors.com
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