Meng 1/48 F-18E Super Hornet
|PRICE:||$65.00 delivered from China|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Boeing F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet 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-to-air refueling system.
Designed and initially produced by McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet first flew in 1995. Low-rate production began in early 1997 with full-rate production starting in September 1997, after the merger of McDonnell Douglas and Boeing the previous month. The Super Hornet entered fleet service with the United States Navy in 1999, replacing the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, which was retired in 2006; the Super Hornet has served 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 General Dynamics F-111C fleet. RAAF Super Hornets entered service in December 2010.
This Meng kit is not the first single seat Super Hornet kit offered in this scale. Both Revell/Monogram and Hasegawa have provided this prior to the Meng option. These earlier kits are around 20 years old and Meng figured it was time for a new tooling. What they have produced is a super looking kit that provides a considerable number of options. It is not inexpensive, but, like the Tamiya 1/48 F-14 kits, has gotten a lot of positive feedback from those who have to have the latest and greatest as soon as it is released.
It is obvious from the parts breakdown that the two seater was planned for release and indeed, it is on the way and available for pre-order for about the same price as this kit from Asia. The fuselage has an upper section that includes the upper inner wings. The lower fuselage goes up to near the nose gear well with the rest of the fuselage including the nose gear well and cockpit section. The radome is separate.
Intakes are connected to the multi-piece main gear wells. As with the Hasegawa kit, this one includes separate slats and flaps which can be posed lower. One of the nice things about this kit is that the upper rear fuselage vents are optional in regards to the earlier or later versions. The outer wings can be modeled folded and you have inserts for the inner wings to accommodate this feature. There are three pieces of photo-etch included. One fits in the aft cockpit and the other two fit into the exhaust. I should also mention before I forget, that Meng offers canopy masks for this kit, something I wish all kit makers provided.
Landing gear are nicely done and one can pose the launch bar raised or lowered. Another neat option is that the horizontal stabs fit into polycaps installed during the fuselage building. This allows some more dynamic positioning. Holes for the wing pylons are already opened up and that is fine as the plane rarely flies without a full set. You have enough weapons and such to fill all the pylons. Though the box art shows only weapons on the wing pylons, the range of the Super Bug so equipped would be very short so you should use the fuel tanks for the inner pylons. The rest of the pylons hold either guided munitions, iron bombs or Sidewinder missiles.
The instruction booklet is nicely done and provides both AK and Acrysion paint references along with generic color names. Those of us who have built a lot of USN aircraft will pretty much know which FS 595 shades to use on this. Markings are for four aircraft. One is the box art CAG bird with VFA-31, and a standard line bird is also offered. Another is a line bird with VFA-87. The fourth is a striking bird with Top Gun. This latter option and the CAG bird will need some dedicated masking to paint the large black areas. The large decal sheet is nicely printed and not shown is a smaller sheet with weapons markings. There are a lot of aftermarket sheets if you want something different.
So there you have it. The latest darling of the modern jet fraternity. I'm sure the two seater will be equally well received. I really do need to build this one as the last 1/48 Super Bug I did was the Hasegawa F-18F and that was nigh on 20 years ago.
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