Academy 1/72 F-18F Super Hornet 'VFA-103 Jolly Rogers'
KIT #: 12535A
PRICE: $24.00 shipped from Korea
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2016 boxing


The Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and related single-seat F/A-18F are twin-engine carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E single-seat and F/A-18F tandem-seat variants are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.

Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Full-rate production began in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006; the Super Hornet serves alongside the original Hornet. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which has operated the F/A-18A as its main fighter since 1984, ordered the F/A-18F in 2007 to replace its aging F-111 fleet. RAAF Super Hornets entered service in December 2010.

In September 2014, Boeing readied plans to close its St. Louis production lines for the Super Hornet and F-15 in 2017. Not surprisingly, thanks to the constant delays with the F-35, the plant is still assembling planes.


I bought this kit as I'd been told that this is more up to date than the Hasegawa super bug. Well, it does have the more recent protector grilles over the rear deck intakes that the Hasegawa kit does not, so perhaps that would be a good reason to choose this one. An interesting addition to this boxing is that the sprue with the vertical stabs, wheels, exhaust and some other parts is molded in black.

Interestingly, the kit starts you assembling the upper fuselage. This contains the upper wings and part of the lower. There are two lower wing/lerex pieces to put in place. There is a rear lower fuselage section that includes the main gear and the gear wells are a separate piece. You are also required to build up the engine intakes and install the landing gear legs prior to trapping the horizontal stab when attaching the upper and lower fuselage sections.

It is only then that you move on to the cockpit. This is the standard two seat tub with a two piece seat and control stick  for each opening along with an instrument panel. There are five small decals to fit on each  panel with one each for the side consoles. The lower forward fuselage also includes the nose gear well.

The nose is more than just the radome; basically everything forward of the lerex and a single piece. There is an insert for the upper fuselage that makes this an F model. There is a one-piece windscreen/canopy. To complete the airframe, you build up and install the nose gear, attach all the gear doors and the wheels.

A supplemental instruction sheet covers the installation of the 'things under wings'. All the holes for attaching the pylons are already open and quite large. This includes the fuselage centerline. If you don't want a pylon, you'll need to fill holes. From the wing tip we have: Sidewinder, AIM-120, Mk82 bombs, fuel tanks. A fuel tank is provided for the centerline. The fuel tanks have the pylon molded to one tank half. I'm not jazzed about the AIM-120s being in three pieces.

Instructions are very nicely drawn and has some rather welcome color. You have markings options for two planes from VFA-103. One is the CAG bird. One from 2015 while the other is the squadron commander's plane from 2014. Both have the black tail and canopy surround with the CAG bird having colors other than white and greys. An interesting addition to this kit is a set of stickers for the CAG bird. They actually look rather nicely done, but I'm not sure how many modelers will really use them. The standard decals are well done and have all sorts of stencils. There is a stencil placement guide that lists the plane as being with VF-84. The upper sheet are the stickers.


Well, I have to say that the parts breakdown is a bit unconventional for Hornets from other kit makers and only the building will tell if it is better or not. The large attachment points will gain marks from many modelers as will the general simplification of the kit. Others won't like the pre-drilled holes or the one-piece canopy. Still, if super bugs in this scale are something you like building, then this is probably a good choice.


June 2018

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