Hasegawa 1/48 F-18B Hornet 'Test Pilot School'

KIT #: 09507
PRICE: $5800 yen when new
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2003 release


One thing that most nations realized fairly early in the jet age was that these increasingly sophisticated aircraft needed a dedicated trainer. In the past, generic trainers were utilized before the pilot moved on to whatever type they would be flying. It was all well and good to learn jets on a T-33, but sometimes transitioning into a more demanding type (like a Demon, or Cutlass, or Crusader resulted in crashes or fatalities that might have been prevented had a dedicated two seat trainer been available. To be sure in some cases (like the Crusader) one was developed, but was not put into service.

By the time of the F-18, there were training versions of whatever was in the fleet in terms of tactical jets. Since previous 60s and 70s era jets were two seaters anyway, having a few set aside to train pilots was not a major issue. With the introduction of the Hornet, a dedicated training version was developed and these aircraft were included in every foreign sales as well. Eventually the two seater was used in a tactical role by the USMC, but that is a different story.

 Hasegawa was fairly early in providing a twin seat F-18 with the single seat F-18A released in 1991 and a two seat F-18D in 1993. The external difference between the F-18B and D is minimal with the biggest being the vertical stabilizers.

The kit has a nice interior that doesn't use decals for the instrument panels. In fact, there are a few p.e. inserts that need to be applied. The five piece ejection seats are fairly good and you get crew members to cover up the lack of seat belts.

One has to open holes for the various pylons both in the lower wing pieces and the lower fuselage. Part of the upper wing is molded with the upper fuselage so this helps in alignment. Keep in mind that these trainers rarely carried weapons pylons or weapons as they simply were not normally needed. Since the flights were fairly short, either no fuel tanks or just a centerline was used.  The aircraft has a boarding ladder than can be posed lowered if one so wishes.

Probably the most difficult part of any scale Hasegawa F-18 is the intakes and rear fuselage sections. One does need to take care and test fit often to ensure minimal filler work. The kit provides the option to have the flaps and slats lowered and as most Hornets had at least the flaps down while on the ground, this is a welcome move. Again, one has to be quite careful when doing this section as it is easy to get things out of alignment.

Landing gear and doors are well done and quite hefty with the doors including retraction hinges. Reinforcements for the tailplanes are provided as separate items. The kit provides the A model tailplanes so you cannot do an F-18D with what comes in the box. Both the canopy and speed brake can be posed open, though rarely did one see the brake open while on the ground.

Hasegawa provides you with the instructions for the F-18D and a small addendum sheet for the B. Note that there are antennas on the D that are not used on the B so one really does have to be careful during construction not to add these superfluous items. There is a single markings option and that is the box art plane with the USN Test Pilot School. The aircraft is overall white and the decals provide all the color you need for this one.


The only 1/48 Hornet I've built by Hasegawa has been their F-18F. It seems that the layout of this and that kit are pretty much the same so I'd expect the build to go about the same. I have built several of Hasegawa's 1/72 Hornets and would like to think that the increase in major part size would equate to a better build. If you are wondering if there are any aftermarket decals for this kit, there are, but since the vast majority of these aircraft operated with VF-125 and VF-106, there isn't much.

April 2024

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