Kinetic 1/48 F-18A/C/D Hornet

KIT #: K 48088
PRICE: $25.00 'used'
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 release


The F/A-18C/D is the result of a block upgrade in 1987 incorporating upgraded radar, avionics, and the capacity to carry new missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile and AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon air-to-surface missiles. Other upgrades include the Martin-Baker NACES (Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seat), and a self-protection jammer. A synthetic aperture ground mapping radar enables the pilot to locate targets in poor visibility conditions. C and D models delivered since 1989 also include an improved night attack capability, consisting of the Hughes AN/AAR-50 thermal navigation pod, the Loral AN/AAS-38 Night Hawk FLIR (forward looking infrared array) targeting pod, night vision goggles, and two full-color (previously monochrome) MFDs and a color moving map.

Beginning in 1991, Hornets were upgraded to the F404-GE-402 engine, providing a 20% increase in thrust. In 1992, the original Hughes AN/APG-65 radar was replaced with the Hughes (now Raytheon) AN/APG-73, a faster and more capable radar. The A model Hornets upgraded to the AN/APG-73 are designated F/A-18A+. Since 1993, the Nite Hawk also has a designator/ranger laser, allowing it to self-mark targets. By now, all of the 'legacy' Hornets have been retired from service, replaced by the F-18E/F or by the F-35B/C.

Interestingly, when I was in my last years of USN service, the F-18A/B was the 'latest and greatest' with the later F-18C/D only just entering service to replace them. Now all the legacy Hornets are gone with even early Super Bugs being sent to the boneyard. Still, the aircraft is being flown by overseas operators and won't be gone for a while.


Judging by the part number on the photo etch fret, the F-18 was one of Kinetic's earlier releases. As such, the builder needs to take care when building to ensure all the parts are clear of sprue nubs and to test fit each part before gluing.

Kinetic has designed the kit with the upper wing section as part of the upper fuselage. Really helps in alignment. The kit provides full intake/exhaust up to and from the first and last compressor stage. The cockpit is well done and you can build either a single or two seat aircraft from this kit. Interior is well appointed and includes not only fairly nice bang seats, but also instrument panel/side console decals. Those wanting more detail in the latter areas can go to aftermarket for some of the 3D printed 'decals' on the market. A variety of options are provided that include a raised/lowered boarding ladder, extended or retracted refueling probe and speed brake. The flaps can be posed lowered, which is normal on the deck. Wing tips can be folded, though you have to cut them away to do this. Canopy can also be posed open or closed. Leading edge slats are separate pieces, but do not seem to have a lowered option. Since these are aggressor aircraft, no weapons are included and the pylons and fuel tanks, though shown on the box art, are not addressed in the instructions. Fortunately, the tanks and pylons are included on the sprues so it should be a simple matter to open the required holes and attach them. A photo etch fret is included for some of the areas on the jet.

Instructions are well done and provide a nice color chart with many manufacturers listed. When one gets into the build, only MiG colors are listed so many of us will be constantly going back and forth through the instructions until we memorize the shades used. Markings are provided for three planes. Two of them are in the wraparound splinter scheme from VFC-12 as shown on the box art. The other is an aircraft with an all black upper surface, including wings and tailplanes. The color chart given in this section is somewhat usable, though thanks to the limitations of grey scale, two of the darker shades look the same. For those not wanting to do a lot of masking, there are aftermarket sheets that should fit this kit just fine. The accompanying decal sheet is nicely done and includes upper surface walk areas. 


I've not built a Kinetic F-18 but based on other Kinetic kits I have constructed, one does need to think ahead and test fit a lot to keep from making some sort of goof. I found it interesting that the F-18A option has F-18C/D tail fins with the additional antennas. It may well be that these were retrofit later in the plane's life, so do your research as straight A fins are not included. This kit will take time to build, but should provide a very nice model when done.


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