|KIT:||Revell 1/48 F-18E Super Hornet|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
"Following the cancellation of the A-12 Avenger, McDonnell Douglas proposed a new variant of the F-18 Hornet as a cheaper alternative to the stealth attack plane. Though sharing great commonality with the previous F-18C single-seat and F-18D two-seat models, the F-18E and F-18F have been extensively redesigned with a lengthened fuselage, 25% larger wing with room for two additional pylons, enlarged tail surfaces, and enlarged leading-edge root extensions (LERXs) for better high angle-of-attack performance. The enlarged fuselage and wing provide space for 33% more fuel capacity for greater range and endurance as well as a larger payload. Due to the increase in weight, the aircraft is fitted with more powerful General Electric F414 engines to maintain the same thrust-to-weight ratio.
Other modifications from the original F-18 include an updated cockpit complete with glass displays and more modern avionics, a new radar, simplified landing gear, and new trapezoidal inlets that provide increased airflow to the new engines while lowering the Super Hornet's radar cross-section (RCS). The design also provides room for future growth with additional space and power available for an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar as well as the advanced targeting forward looking infrared (ATFLIR) system. Other advanced items to be installed include the multifunctional information distribution system (MIDS) and the joint helmet mounted cueing system (JHMCS), which will be used in conjunction with the high off-boresight AIM-9X missile.
Flight testing of the Super Hornet began in late 1995 with delivery of the first production aircraft several years later. Early testing revealed two significant aerodynamic problems with the aircraft. Most important of these was an uncommanded "wing drop" wherein one wing would suddenly stall without warning during certain maneuvers causing the aircraft to roll rapidly to one side. Modifications to the dogtooth as well as other wing adjustments corrected this undesirable behavior. In addition, turbulence beneath the wings was found to be so severe that it had the power to damage stores carried on the under wing pylons. This problem was corrected with a rearrangement of the under wing pylons, but at the price of increased drag and decreased performance at high speeds.
Nevertheless, the F-18E/F has otherwise proven quite successful and is currently entering service with the US Navy. Current plans call for 548 aircraft to be procured as replacements for the F-14 and F-18A by 2010 with each carrier air wing receiving 12 F-18E and 14 F-18F models. Four or five of the aircraft delivered to each wing are also to be fitted with under wing "buddy stores" to serve as in-flight refueling tankers. An additional model is the two-seat EA-18G Growler electronic warfare platform intended to replace the EA-6B Prowler jamming aircraft. Ideally, six EA-18s would equip each carrier air wing. Though the Navy would like to acquire 1,000 F/A-18E/F units to serve until at least 2030, further production will be subject to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Singapore and Malaysia have also reportedly shown interest in an export version of the F/A-18E/F."
Shamelessly pinched from www.aerospace.org
It is only natural to compare this kit with the slightly newer Hasegawa F-18F. Of course, it is a bit like comparing a Kia to a BMW, but that generally doesn't stop many from wanting to make the comparison anyway.
The most obvious is that these are two different versions of the F-18 with the Hasegawa kit being the twin seat version. Hasegawa's kit also has finer engraved detailing. The Revell kit's is more like their F-15E Strike Eagle in that the engravings are a bit larger. The Revell kit has also simplified some of the parts. For instance, where Hasegawa uses five or six parts (plus wheels) for the nose landing gear, Revell uses two. Revell also offers an array of weapons which includes bombs in addition to the two missile types (which Hasegawa also provides. In the place of bombs, Hasegawa has drop tanks. Hasegawa's missiles are also 9 pieces each whereas the Revell ones are a single piece.
Both kits seem a bit fiddly to build, but thanks to the additional simplicity of parts, I'd be willing to bet that the Revell kit goes together with less fuss. What Revell does not offer are the options of dropped slats and flaps and the additional bits to do so. The intake trunking on the Revell kit is also shallower, not going back as far as those provided with the Hasegawa kit. I guess I should put in here that the Revell kit is about a third the MSRP of the Hasegawa version. Like I said, doing a direct comparison is rather meaningless, but for those who must have it, there it is.
A few other options are the ability to have the canopy raised or lowered and there is an actuator. You can also pose it with the boarding ladder extended. As with the Hasegawa kit, an AS-228 FLIR pod and mount is provided should you wish to use it. I did note a bit of flash on some of the sprue branches, but none on the parts themselves.
Instructions are excellent with very well drawn instructions and color information in generic and FS 595 references. Markings are provided for two aircraft from VFA-14; one the CAG bird with the additional black bits and the other a standard 'line bird'. The sheet is well printed and my experience with newer Revell decals has been quite positive. The sheet includes full stencils and the IR slime lights as well as weapons markings.
I know that Hasegawa will be doing an F-18E in a few months, but really, unless you want the additional detail that the extra $40+ dollars will buy, you'll be very happy with this one. It has everything one expects from R-M in terms of quality moldings at a reasonable price. You'll be happy with this one as it should make into a beauty of a model.
Purchased by me for you.
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