Hasegawa 1/48 EA-18G Growler
|KIT #:||07252 (Pt 52)|
|PRICE:||5340 yen (about $54 at today's exchange rate)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2011 base boxing|
The first Growler for fleet use was officially accepted by VAQ-129 "Vikings" at NAS Whidbey Island, on 3 June 2008. The Navy planned to buy approximately 85 aircraft to equip 11 squadrons as of 2008. The EA-18G completed operational evaluation in late July 2009. The Growler was rated operationally effective and suitable for operational use. On 5 August 2009, EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) and Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) completed their first at-sea carrier-arrested landing aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). The first deployable EA-18G squadron is to be VAQ-132 "Scorpions", which reached operational status in October 2009. The first Growler operational deployment was announced on 17 February 2011.
In service, the EA-18's radio name during flight operations will be "Grizzly". The "Growler" nickname sounded too much like the EA-6B's "Prowler" name, so "Grizzly" will be used to avoid confusion. With the termination of the EB-52H standoff jammer, the Growler will become the sole remaining manned tactical jammer and Air Staff requirements director Maj. Gen. David Scott has indicated that the USAF will seek to provide electronic warfare officers to fly on US Navy Growlers, without providing funding to purchase additional aircraft. By May 2011, 48 Growlers had been delivered to the U.S. Navy. The EA-18G now equips all USN VAQ squadrons with only the Marines continuing to use the Prowler.
The EA-18G was first used in combat during Operation Odyssey Dawn, enforcing the UN no-fly zone over Libya. Five EA-18Gs were redeployed from Iraq to support operations in Libya.
Producing this kit was an easy one for Hasegawa. They basically took their F-18F kit from back in 2005 and added the pods needed for the jammer version. They also added the different rear instrument panel and the proper side stick control for the back seater. In addition, there are new forward slats. There is a bit more to it, but if you look at the sprues diagram, it seems that the S, T, U, and V sprues are additions to this particular kit. These are the ones with the pods and the HARM missiles. The rest of the kit seems to be basic F-18F, though they did upgrade the rear fuselage vents. Undoubtedly because it is a mod that removed material from the extant molding. I can tell you that if they had to add material to the molding, it would not have been done.
While the sprues don't bulge in the box, there is everything in there that we want. There are three bags of sprues. One with the clear bits, and the other two with the rest of the sprues. Sprues with the fuel tanks and jamming pods is duplicated and contains other bits like bang seats, pylons and the like. The fuselage is split horizontally with many of the seams fitting on the underside of the leading edge extensions. All of the flight surfaces have separate control surfaces, which is great as the Hornet normally has the flaps bled down after sitting for a while. Separate flap actuators are provided for this feature as the flight controls are designed to be in the neutral position.
One would expect a well appointed cockpit in a Hasegawa 1/48 kit and one gets it. Two nice seats (no belts), and various control sticks fit into the tub. Consoles and instrument panels have raised detail, though decals are also provided for those who like to use them. Nicely detailed wheel wells and complex looking landing gear are part of the mix. Intake trunking is given, though taking care of the seam will require a bit of a challenge to fix. The wing tips can be removed and put into the folded position if one wishes to do so.
For things under wings, you have two fuel tanks, three jamming pods, and a pair of AGM-88E anti-radiation missiles. Finally, the canopy can be displayed open and a boarding ladder is included as well.
Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references. As usual with a kit of this complexity, things are a bit busy, but if one takes their time, it will all go together well. Markings are provided for two squadrons. Both are CAG birds in FS 36320 over 36375, the two greys being quite close to each other in shade. One is from the training squadron, VAQ-129 while the other is the box art plane from VAQ-141. All the black/dark blue-grey areas will need to be painted. The decals are very nice, and include a full stencil suite.
I can tell you from experience building the F-18F that this will be a fiddly kit. Not overly so, but enough to where you have to pay attention while building. The kit markings are nice, but I'm going to plug Furball Decals as they are the reason I bought this one. They have two great sets for the Growler and you'll find markings for every squadron operating the type on these two sets.
You can thank your editor for picking this one up. He thanks Furball Decals for the motivation to actually spend the money on it!
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