Revell 1/72 F-18E Super Hornet
KIT #: 04298
PRICE: €17,95 at the LHS
DECALS: Two  options
REVIEWER: Jeroen Koen
NOTES: DXM decals 72-005 used.


Like it or not, the Super Hornet is about to be the only jet to be deployed on modern US carriers. Faced with the limitations of the F/A-18A/C, mostly limited payload and range, McDonnell-Douglas proposed a 30% bigger version of that aircraft to replace, after the A-12 Avenger II mess, the A-6 and F-14. The F-14 was then in the process of being upgraded to the B/D versions, but it was still an older maintenance intensive airframe that was being misused as a bomber, not to mention the price. McDonnell-Douglas advertised the Super Hornet as having a lot of parts commonality with it's smaller brother, while addressing the limitations of that aircraft. Both apparently aren't entirely true, and apart from the designation, it is very much a different aircraft.

The first units started getting the Super Hornet at around the year 2000, and were a mix of former F-14 and A-6 units. There does not appear to be a standard regarding who gets either single- or twoseaters: a lot of former F-14 units got the two-seater, but, for example, VFA-31 got single seaters. Currently F/A-18C units also convert to the Super Hornet, and the EA-18G is currently also replacing the ageing EA-6B Prowler, so in the not so far future, Super Hornets will be all you see on carriers, as far as fast jets go.

Personally, and honestly, I find the Super Hornet rather uninteresting... it is the paint schemes that make it a neat modelling subject!



So, there it is. Revell's Super Hornet landed on my workbench. Copyrighted 2009, this kit is supposed to be a direct scale-down of their much maligned 1/48th offering.

After opening up the typical end-opening blue Revell box, with a very nice box-art of the VFA-137 full colour version landing back on the carrier, you're greeted by a few grey sprues, some of which are marked “Super Hornet”, while the smaller sprue marked “Single Seater” holds the parts specific for the E model, such as the decking to cover up the hole for the backseater. This makes it obvious an F model is to be released, too, which they only recently did, in December 2012. Obviously also specific to the E model is the single seater canopy. Revell chose ease of use, no mould line in the middle, over accuracy here, since it it does not have the omega-shape of the real thing. The clear parts are bagged separately to prevent damage. Unlike Hasegawa, Revell provides a decent cockpit and weapons. These include 2 each of Mk83s, AIM-9Xs, AIM-120s and GBU-31s. Also provided are three fuel tanks, and an AN/ASQ-228 pod with an adapter pylon.

Due to the rather odd shapes of the Super Hornet, apparently there is no “easy” way to mould one. So, you get a four part nose, a rear canopy decking, and two side panels that extend into the intakes and a top and bottom part to make up the main fuselage. The wings are moulded on the top and bottom halves and have separate wing-tips, but no provision to show them folded. Slats and flaps are also moulded into the wings and can't be shown differently without cutting.

The panel lines are obviously recessed, but in a more heavy-handed Revell way, meaning they are a bit deeper and wider than e.g. Hasegawa, though they are better than say Airfix's 1/72 Bf110 or Spitfire IX. I must say the older Revell Ju290 and He177 have better surface detail, though.

The remaining stuff in the box is a very comprehensive decal sheet, that includes all the blue bits for the VFA-137 version, as well as free decals for HARMs that aren't included in plastic (the Italeri A-6 Intruder is happy with those decals, though!), and the typical Revell instructions. So far, so good!


 I started out by painting all cockpit bits grey and glossing them over to apply the cockpit instrument decals. There is also raised and recessed detail for you to paint, but I refrained from that and used the decals. Somewhat odd, the display screens on the decals are medium grey, where I thought they should show something when on, and are black when off? Anyway, I used a cocktail stick and some green and blue paint to add some lines and scribbles on them to make them look “on”, as I would be doing my Echo in flight. The seat was assembled, painted scale-black (I used Humbrol Panzergrau for this) and some details picked out. The rest was given a dry-brush with lighter grey, and wash with black. Since there would be a pilot in there I didn't do much further work in the cockpit, other than washing and dry-brushing the ribs of the decking behind the seat, which is very visible through the canopy. Speaking of which, I polished some small scratches out using toothpaste and a cloth, and then dipped them in Tamiya Smoke tinted Future to make them a bit darker. I then attached the cockpit to the lower fuselage without problems. The next step was to assemble the intakes. Unlike the Hasegawa kit, the Revell kit has some ducts (though they are on the short side of things) and fan blades, but these obviously require clean up to make them look seamless. I slathered them with Milliput and used cotton swabs to smooth most of it out. I then sanded them using a roll of sandpaper around a paintbrush-handle. On the internet I read that people pour white latex paint into them to make them smooth and white at the same time. I tried that, but I must have done something not quite right, as I was left with an even worse looking intake than before! I could not get it out either, so I took my loss and assembled the rest. Like Carmel Attard indicated in his review of this same kit here on MM, the completed intake assembly will not fit though the hole in the fuselage. Unlike Carmel, who removed a bit of the fuselage side (that will be hidden by the side inserts), I first added the ducting parts, then left them to dry overnight. Then I built up the supports in the lower fuselage for the aluminium tubing that would hold the acrylic rod stands through the exhausts, added the cockpit (minus seat, stick, pilot and instrument panel), epoxied the tubing and exhaust pipes in place and when that had settled after a day or so, I joined the top and bottom halves. Apart from the tail end, the fit is quite good. I had already assembled the four part forward fuselage earlier, and glued that in place.

 After that had settled, I added the seat and stick, and tried to fit the pilot. Apart from the rather pointy looking nose, something appears not quite right with the forward part of the fuselage, as the pilot (from an old Hasegawa set, with a transplanted F-16C pilot arm to make him grab the control stick, not quite correct, as nowadays Super Hornet pilots have that Playstation-like-helmet) could hardly look over the edge of the instrument panel and canopy. However, somehow the headrest of the seat was a lot higher up than his head, which only reached about where the seat harness starts and his shoulders are supposed to be. I took the seat out, and had a good look. I compared it to an Academy seat from their F/A-18C, though I'm not sure it is the same type, it gives an idea of relative sizes, and it appears that the headrest part is stretched to make it look correct in relation to the canopy. However, the stretching is needed, since the side consoles appear to be too low, as a matter of fact, the entire cockpit looks to be that way. When I used a blob of Milliput under his butt to position my pilot somewhat correctly, I was really averaging between having him look good in relation to his headrest, side consoles and HUD. In the end, he still looks to be low in the cockpit as you can see on the pictures, yet his knees are still above above the side consoles. One proper solution might be to beef up the side consoles (use the decals because you'll lose the details), and get a properly proportioned aftermarket seat that you can then raise higher, so that it'll sit correctly in relation to both the consoles and, when viewed from the outside, the canopy.  The instrument panel, needing a bit of filler at the top, was added next, as was the rather thick HUD clear part. Then the rear decking was added, which is an excellent fit, even on the outsides. The only issue with it, is where it meets the fuselage at the rear. That gap is a bit too large to mask as a panel line, and needs a bit of Mr. Surfacer to tone it down.

 After that had properly dried, I finally added the outside fuselage inserts, which also form the outer halves of the intakes. These, however, do not fit quite right, and there wasn't much I could do about them now. Since the intakes looked not-quite-pretty anyway, I used some white Vallejo putty smoothed with a wet finger to cover up the worst of it, and left it that way. Still not pretty, but there wasn't much I could do about it at this stage. I'd really recommend Carmel's way of assembling the intakes, which he described in his review. That will ensure the intake trunks are aligned properly, and since they are not glued to the fuselage yet, it'll be easier to clean them up too.

I only glued the forward parts of the fuselage side inserts, where they meet the intakes, and when that had set up, I glued the rear parts in with a bit of bending and fiddling. There are some gaps at the ends that needed filling in a place with a lot of scribed detail, so it had to be done rather carefully. I used masking tape to protect the scribing. Some of it had, obviously, to be re-scribed anyway. Another area needing sanding was the nose, though no filler was needed on it's four pieces, a bit of filler was needed where it meets up with the fuselage halves. Common to both the nose and the rear side insert, is an anomaly where on the 2-tone colour scheme the colour demarcation is. From the windshield to about the box on the nose, there is a recessed dent on the nose, and on the rear insert between the flap and horizontal stabilizers (where the NAVY text goes) there is a raised oval section, also shaped like the demarcation of top and bottom colours. Very odd, and due to all the details in that area, a curious error I wasn't prepared to fill (nose) or sand flat (rear).

A bit of filler was also needed on the windshield, and some sanding on the width of the main canopy. Doing my model gear-up, the gear doors were also added. These are one-part, requiring you to cut them apart when doing it gear down, and fit quite well. Only a bit of sanding was required on those.

 In between, I had already assembled the bombs and fuel tanks. On my Skyraider build, I left these for last, but I ran out of steam on a 90% completed model and left it that way for about ¾ year. So I started these external loads earlier on. Their fit is pretty good, though some sanding is required, and a bit of filler on the long seams of the tanks, but nothing spectacular. I painted the bombs Humbrol 127 first, then masked that off. The moulded on jacket on the GBU-31 was especially fun to do; I put some tape on it, and used a new knife blade to carefully cut around the edges. I then sprayed them olive drab, followed by a glosscoat, some touch-ups on the GBU-31 jackets, and some decals. The yellow stripes, especially on the Mk83s, fit well and are a welcome addition to the decal sheet. The Sidewinders were painted Humbrol 127 as well and had their decals added. I omitted the second GBU-31 in favour of a tank, and left off the AIM-120s and their rails entirely, but did add their pylons. The two tanks I would use were painted in Humbrol 127 as well at that time as a primer to check for flaws, and after that I pre-shaded them with dark grey and brown to give some contrast with the otherwise clean aircraft. Their final colour would be done at the same time as the rest of the airframe. The AN/ASQ-228 pod, though one piece, had a serious mould seam/mismatch that required clean up and rescribing. Since I wanted mine “as in use” I drilled two holes on the front, painted the big one silver inside, and the second smaller one black. After the whole thing was brush painted Hu127 as well, I put a blob of Clearfix in them to act as glass. Google turned up more than a few pictures of the pod. Without the sensors (the head can rotate to protect them) the pod looks rather bland. The pylon that it mounts to does not have any indication of where to fit it, so I used some pictures to get it approximately in position.

 Turning back to the fuselage, I cut the connection rod between the horizontal tails and shortened the ends, as the through is now blocked by the aluminium tubing. I also removed and cleaned up the not-quite-vertical tails and a test fit showed these fit well, making them easy to add after painting. I also added some thinned Mr Surfacer to the gaps between the wing halves on the bottom, which were a bit wider than the panel lines. The Mr Surfacer fills just enough not to make them stand out against those, though careful examination will show the difference. I figured, since it would be on a stand, and with all the stuff hanging underneath the wings, it looked good enough. Should I do another, I'd put some thin 0,25mm strips of Evergreen on the vertical mating surface to fill the gaps, and then rescribe a finer line. I did use regular filler on the bottom of the LERX, since a gap masquerading as a would-be panel line shows up, while the bottom should be smooth on the real thing. I should have used some Evergreen or stretched sprue here, too, but that is for the next one, should I do another. The boarding ladder was put in the sparesbox and the appropriate part glued in to seal off the gap. This also required some thinned Mr Surfacer treatment.

  At this stage I was still contemplating to do the VFA-137 box-art version, but instead of using the blue/white decals, I intended to paint the blue and white bits on the fuselage and tails. However, Scott's preview of the new DXM decals of the VFA-137 CAG aircraft with the digital camouflage piqued my interest, and I ended up getting the set from Scott and so, here I am, reviewing how they actually work and fit for MM. I then masked off the clear parts and shot a coat of primer, that somehow (despite being a new tin of Humbrol 1) kept being sticky for several days, without turning matt as it normally does. After more than a week it was still sticky, so I used a lint-free rag soaked in white spirit to remove it, and off it went really quick. I sprayed as I normally do, shaking and stirring really well, and thinning with Humbrol's own thinner stuff.

I then shot a new coat of my proven tin of Humbrol 127, to act as primer, using the same method and it went on really beautiful and smooth. A few area's required some more sanding and a bit of filling, and I noticed the top and bottom sides of the flaps had big sunken areas in them that I filled with Surfacer and sanded smooth. Then it was off to...


 Painting this was done according to the instructions provided by DXM. They call for overall Hu127, with a Hu147 lighter grey nose tip. I re-shot Hu127 over the entire airframe, but had to use a new tin, since my previous one was suddenly dried out -despite this kit being the first time I used it! That new tin, while purchased at the same time as the hardened out one, turned out much more blue than the rest, so all the bits I did not repaint, such as pylons and tail surfaces, were now a different tint... Seems like Humbrol isn't what it used to be?

 The original plan I had was to use pre-shading and post-shading, but now that 80% of the topsides were to be covered in decals that would be useless, so I skipped that. After letting that cure for a few days I shot a glosscoat of Dutch equivalent Future, and got a dust-attracted orange-peel look that I had to remove again, this time using window cleaner. Isn't this hobby fun? After asking help on the MM forums I eventually got a decent glosscoat on and I could focus on getting all those decals on. Using warm water, they race off the backing, are thin yet quite durable (I had none tear up, in spite of being quite large in some areas) and cover up very well. I only needed to be careful to prevent them from folding over themselves, due to their thinness. Unfolding them is, thanks to their durability, not a problem. A dab of Daco Medium decal setting made them draw into the panel lines really well as you can see on the picture. The only drawback is that there are so many of them, and that it is really a giant puzzle to get them both back-to-back without gaps, and conform them to areas like the spine hump and cockpit surround, but I knew that beforehand, didn't I, so quit complaining! While no kit is indicated, they might be scaled for the Hasegawa, as they don't fit well around the cockpit and nose, and I had to trim some off and overlap a bit on the spine, both of which are bigger on the Hasegawa kit. I also had to cut some away where they end on a panel (such as the flaps) but don't line up entirely. Fortunately I suppose the canopy got exchanged on the real aircraft and was not repainted, so I could get away with not doing the canopy, and could use the minuscule bits of extra provided to help patch up the nose. All of this, including the best sequence to apply the camouflage decals, is indicated in the instructions. Except the patching up, that is... As it is, covering up about 80% of a model with decals will always be a lot of work and require some fiddling and cutting here and there. Those who have built WWI Fokker D.VIIs entirely covered in Lozenge decals will know what I mean!

 Overall, though, I was pleasantly surprised. As you may know from my previous reviews, decals are my least favourite modelling aspect. A few minutes after the envelope from Scott arrived, I had a good look, and thought: “What the …. was I thinking!”. Thanks to those DXM decals I actually had a lot of fun, seeing the scheme grow with each newly applied decal, and thanks to both the decals and a finally good glosscoat I had no silvering, either. The instructions are well done, too, showing the exact sequence to apply the digital camouflage, and also when to apply the decals that go on top of those. However, the panel lines of the drawings the artist used don't match the Revell kit exactly, so I had to guess and look at pictures sometimes, mostly for the smaller decals that go over the main camouflage items. I did have to attach the vertical tails in between, because the decals run over from the tails to the fuselage.

If I may offer some constructive critique, it would be that colour of the lightest grey seems a bit too pale/cream, and that there is very little contrast between the recommended Hu127 base colour and the provided insignia and intake warning stripes. A little bit more of each colour decal would also be welcomed in case you mess something up and have to patch up an overlap or flaked off bit. There are some small 5x2mm rectangles provided for that, I think, as they are not numbered nor mentioned anywhere in the instructions. All in all, I spent about 20 hours, over the course of a few weeks, applying just the decals on the model, but the results speak for themselves. The reason for the spread out period is not just my six month old son, but also that I didn't want to damage previously applied decals by handling the model too soon.

 Just when you think you're done, there are still 3 million stencils from the kit sheet to apply, mostly on the bottom, which work nearly as well, but have a flat finish instead of gloss like the DXM decals. I did not glosscoat between the large digital camouflage decals and those that have to be applied on top of that, but afterwards, when all were on.  I also noticed I had forgotten to paint the nose tip, so it was masked off using parafilm-M and shot with Hu127 with a few drops of white, as I did not have the recommended Hu147.

Then it was time for a panel line wash and some weathering. I normally try to vary the colours of the wash with the camouflage colour onto which it flows, but on this complex scheme that is nearly impossible. Also, in spite of the fact that they settle really well into the panel lines, there is still a small ridge that I had trouble getting the wash to flow into. I tried acrylic artist paints, as well as enamel, but wasn't really satisfied. In the past I tried using a lead pencil in cases like this, so that's what I used. It does require an addition flat coat for the pencil to grip into. The metallic shine the pencil leaves is taken care of with an additional flat coat. I used Revell Aqua acrylic flat for this, which is really dead flat -perhaps a bit too flat for this particular aircraft? I could not think of a proper way to weather this thing, with all those colours. With those complex shapes, post shading did not seem to be a good idea with my, ehhhmm, airbrushing skills, so I left it at the pencil lines and some light pastels. The real thing, while not exactly shiny-new, did not look like a flying wreck either.

Since I did not want to flat-coat the metal parts, these were done last. They required some creative masking! Normally I would have attached the exhausts last, but since I had installed the tubing for the stand, that wasn't really an option. I painted them Revell Aqua Iron (91) and washed them with Tamiya Smoke -only to have the Aqua peel off.. forcing me to repaint.  

After that it was just a matter of assembling all remaining parts. Since I was doing this gear up, that meant only pylons, missiles, bombs, tanks, tail hook, and a few antennae. I then unmasked the canopy so that the poor pilot could finally see something again, and called her done. Well, nearly. I still have to do the stand, but that will have to wait until my wife isn't around, as I'll need her oven for that!


Seen as a model kit, the Revell Super Hornet is  a pretty good kit, that builds quite well and has few trouble spots. It comes with a good selection of weapons, a decent cockpit, and a very large decal sheet, for a decent price, too. However, in the accuracy department, there appear to be some lesser points. There are those dents and humps on the nose and rear part between the wing and horizontal tails; where on the normal 2-grey scheme the colour demarcation is. Kind of reminds me of those really old kits, where you get lines in or on the plastic to paint the markings on. The nose looks too pointy to me, the cockpit proportions and ejection seat appear to be off, and the spine looks too skinny as well. These things aren't easy to fix. A bit harsh? Perhaps, but after their 1/48 F-15E and Rafale, I perhaps expected more of them. The Hasegawa kit may be more spartan and not have the latest ECS exhausts between the tails, but it has better shapes and panel lines. If accuracy is more important to you, I'd suggest getting the Hasegawa kit. The basic boxing isn't a lot more expensive than this Revell kit, though you still need to get some weapons and perhaps do some work on the bare cockpit and intakes. If you want a nicely detailed model that looks like a Super Hornet for a good price, like I do, get the Revell. Due to it's relative ease of construction, it would also be a good choice for “fleet-owners”. Posing it with open canopy makes the shape issues less obvious, and just don't try to install a resin seat of proper proportions, or fit a pilot, like I did! :-)

The DXM decals were very nice to work with -well thought-out instructions, good quality Cartograf printing, and mostly proper scaling, even on a kit I suspect they were not designed for. If you like the scheme, get them and have fun -if I can do it (and like it!), I'm sure you can do as well... :-) Just be sure to adjust your base coat a bit so the insignia and intake triangles show up a bit better, or use those from the kit sheet. The model, even when it was only half-decalled, attracted a lot of attention in my display case, even from people who have zero interest in models and/or aircraft.

Finally, thanks to Scott for giving me the opportunity to use these nice decals for my build.


Google only this time -many pictures of this aircraft are on the internet, and the scheme looks different on all of them!

Jeroen Koen

April 2013 

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page