Hasegawa 1/72 F-18E Super Hornet
|00549 (E 19)|
|¥1800 (about $17) at Hobby Link Japan|
|Scott Van Aken|
|New Mold kit|
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the U.S. Navy's newest strike fighter which will replace the F-14 Tomcat and supplement the current F/A-18C/D fleet. The program came about because of the accelerated retirement of the Tomcat, which was already filling the the massive void left by the retirement of the A-6E Intruder in the early 1990's. This would leave the U.S. Navy without an strike aircraft that could perform long-range attacks. The only other plane left was the F-18 Hornet, which doesn't quite fit the bill. The F/A-18C/D, while an excellent weapons platform, lacks the range to perform deep-strike and interdiction missions. Boeing improved upon the original F-18 design, emphasizing greater range, payload and endurance. In short, they made it bigger and better. The Super Hornet is listed as having 40% better range than the C/D, and is cheaper to maintain than the F-14. The design also has "growth space" incorporated into it which will allow for future electronic systems to be added on as they come on-line. All of this means the Super Hornet will be at the cutting edge for years to come.
Thanks to Richard Bingham for the background info. Couldn't have said it better myself!
It is with much delight to modern jet enthusiasts that Hasegawa has released the single seat version of the Super Hornet so quickly after the F-18F kit. While the Italeri kit was nice, it was also a prototype and so did not have all the things changed for the production version. It is a bit unusual for Hasegawa not to have done a prototype kit when the F-18E/F was first brought out as they have a history of doing just that and then modifying the molds to match things up with the production version later on. This was not the case with the Super Hornet. Hasegawa actually waited until it had been in squadron service for some time before releasing these kits. The results are that they have the latest and greatest. Undoubtedly, it will be followed my multiple boxings of the base kit with little more than decal changes. No problem as they will be eagerly purchased by Super Bug fans the world 'round.
To give you some idea on this kit, it is 98% common with the previously reviewed F-18F so I'll not trouble you with the showing the sprue layout. The different bits are the inclusion of the 'E' sprue that has the cover for the back seat section and a canopy attachment point, and the K sprue which has the single seat canopy. That is a total of three different parts out of a total of 117. Since the 'base' kit is the two seater, there are a few holes that need filled and a couple of parts you won't use (like the second instrument panel), but all the rest is exactly the same. The kit supplies AMRAAMs and Sidewinders, but you'll have to dig into a weapons set to fill the center wing pylon. All the pylons are faced outward, though it seems that they are not precisely at the correct angle. Have a read of the F-18F build review for more info in that area.
Instructions are the excellent ones we've come to expect from Hasegawa so there is no need to comment further on those. Markings are provided for two CAG birds. First is the VFA-14 plane as shown on the box art. This is the only ex-Tomcat squadron to convert to the single seat F-18E, all the others going to the F or being disestablished. The other is for VFA-115, a long time Atsugi based squadron, but now attached to the USS Abraham Lincoln. Both planes are in FS 36320 over FS 36375. The modeler will have to paint the black tails and, on the VFA-14 plane, the black wing and stabilizer tips. If these decals are as good as the ones in the 1/48 RF-4E kit, then they will work great with Microscale solvents. A really nice touch is the inclusion of missile stripes, something that is always difficult to come by for most modelers.
This kit is going to sell very well and it should as it is superbly done and reasonably priced. For those of you that can't wait or want to be first in your club to have this one, you can get it direct from Japan at www.hlj.com .
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