Academy 1/72 F-18A+ 'VMFA-232 Red Devils'
|PRICE:||$18.98 which included shipping.|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
In 1992, the original Hughes AN/APG-65 radar was replaced with the Hughes (now Raytheon) AN/APG-73, a faster and more capable radar. A-model Hornets that have been upgraded to the AN/APG-73 are designated F/A-18A+. Thanks to reliability issues with the AN/APG-73, Marine legacy Hornets are being upgraded with the AN/APG-79, which is currently installed in later F-18E/F/G Super Hornets. In addition, thanks to the slower than expected integration of the F-35B/C, low time F-18A/C airframes are being pulled from the boneyard and brought up to current standards. This is done as the current legacy Hornets operated by the USMC are reaching the end of their airframe life.
To my knowledge this is the first time a proper A+ airframe has been kitted. The external clue is the arrow shaped row of IFF antennas on the upper nose of the aircraft. These were not carried by the standard A or early C models. Another is the swept back radio antenna on the underside of the nose.
What Academy has done, is provide what is pretty much a later C model airframe with an additional sprue to include the A model fins along with their small reinforcement plates at the bottom of the fin This was installed to reduce the effects of turbulence on the fins along with the small fences on the upper LEREX. As a result, there will be a few holes that need filled where some of the C model antenna lumps were located as the A+ did not have these.
Overall, the molding looks excellent and based on building other Academy kits, I am hoping this one fits well. One thing about Hornets is that there are several tricky areas, one of them being the intakes. After having built several Hasegawa Hornets, I'm really hoping this one does a better job. Like most Hornet kits, this one is designed as a two seater, with the back seat being covered over by an upper fuselage insert for the single seat plane. It has a basic four piece bang seat with some belt detail a control stick and an instrument panel onto which you can put decals. Rudder pedals are molded into the floor. Pretty standard 1/72 jet stuff.
The fuselage seems to require a lot of parts and if there are any build issues, it will be here. The wings are separate and already have the holes open in them for the pylons. Intake trunking is about a half inch deep. All the landing gear can be attached once the airframe is complete if you wish and appears to be well detailed. I don't recall if any nose weight is required, but I'll say it isn't and if you feel a need for it, there is room for a bit.
The only optional position items are the canopy and the speed brake. The Hornet normally sits on the deck with the flaps and ailerons drooped full down as shown on the box art so duplicating this will require some cutting. Academy does provide a lot of things under wings including fuel tanks, AIM-9 and AIM-7 missiles. you aslo get GBU-12 laser guided bombs and the two targeting pods.
Instructions are well drawn with generic and FS 595 paint references. There is only one markings option and that is for the box art plane. It is the squadron commander's plane from VMFA-232. You will have to paint the red for the fins but are provided the white for the rudders as decals. Personally, I'd paint the fins white and mask off the rudders. The decals are nicely done and include stencils and upper fuselage walk areas.
While there are things I'd like to have seen on the kit (the ability to lower the flaps and ailerons), it looks to be a very nice kit. What's more, it is quite reasonably priced if you don't mind ordering it from Korea and having the box arrive a bit smushed from its trip.
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