Hasegawa 1/72 F-18C Hornet 'Golden Dragon History'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Three complete kits and a killer decal sheet.|
An aircraft designed to replace the A-6 and A-7 in the light and medium strike role, the F-18 Hornet was itself a highly modified design based on the losing USAF light fighter entry, the Northrop F-17 Cobra. A deal was struck between McDonnell/Douglas and Northrop that Northrop would sell a lighter non Navalized version and McDonnell/Douglas would build the other. Northrop, as always seems to happen, got the short end of the stick on that one and did not sell a single complete aircraft. Instead, it was tossed a bone and build subassemblies for McDonnell/Douglas.
The F-18, as with many new airplanes had a rocky start in that it was unable to meet the range and payload requirements. Like a good military, the Navy accepted these deficiencies as they really were not going to get anything else. So the F-18 entered service in the mid 1980s and A-7 units were the ones to transition over. Maintenance people liked them because the systems were new and more reliable. Pilots thought it was OK, but not what they were used to. Eventually, they got over it and the Hornet went on to serve for decades. The A model Hornets have all but been retired from the fleet with some of them being upgraded to A+ configuration for the Marines and Reserves. Even some of the earlier C models are in the boneyard with a number of earlier Hornet units converting to the F-18E Super Hornet, a nearly completely new airframe that finally takes care of some of the deficiencies of the Legacy Hornets (as the F-18A-D versions are called).
Hasegawa has surely gotten a ton of mileage out of its 1/72 F-18 kits. Released initially as an F-18A, a new sprue with F-18C fins and a few other bits was added several years later. I dare say these moldings are at least 20 years old and taking that into consideration, still look very good. Only a bit of flash on some of the pieces and the fact that the panel lines are not quite as crisp as they should be belie their age.
This set has three complete kits, each packaged in their own polybag. All of these are single seat versions of the F-18C and so all you get are the bits for that plane. The kits come with a fair cockpit that uses decals for the instrument. An OK bang seat is also provided, but one really should get a resin replacement as the detail is so much better.
Optional bits are to have the boarding ladder up or down (a hole needs filled for up), canopy open or closed, speed brake up or down (rarely seen up), and a choice of Sparrow missiles or the Targeting pods on the fuselage behind the intakes. The kit comes with Sidewinders, but no bombs. There are three drop tanks.
If you have ever built one of these kits, then the instructions will be very familiar. These do differ somewhat in that they provide any optional parts and colors depending on which of the four special scheme planes you wish to build. I am a collector of Hasegawa 1/72 F-18 kits and have found two of these markings already provided in other kits. Perhaps the remaining two have also been boxed at one time. Despite that, this boxing provides the latest in quality markings that are superior to the older boxings. There are planes from 1996, 2000, 2003 and the latest from 2007-9. Now, I'm not sure if there is still a ship home ported in Japan as the USS Kitty Hawk was decommissioned in 2007/8 and the 2008/9 plane is from the USS George Washington. Needless the say, the huge decal sheet is superbly done and provides all that you'll need to do your three kits proud.
Another very nice boxing from our friends at Hasegawa. The kit itself is not the simplest build on the planet, but with some skill and perseverance, you'll have a superb collection of CAG-5 Hornets.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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