Meng 1/48 EA-18G Growler
|PRICE:||$58.00 delivered from China|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an American carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet. The EA-18G replaced the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers in service with the United States Navy. The Growler's electronic warfare capability is primarily provided by Northrop Grumman. The EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered operational service with the US Navy in late 2009. Australia has also purchased thirteen EA-18Gs, which entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2017.
This Meng kit is not the first Growler kit offered in this scale. Hasegawa has provided this prior to the Meng option. This earlier Hasegawa kit is, like the Meng offering, based on the F-18F kit. Neither kit is inexpensive, though the Meng kit is newer and has some features that makes it the choice for many. As a single example, the Meng kit provides metal pins for the weapon pylons, something that is very helpful.
It is obvious from the parts diagram that it has much in common with the F-18F kit, though it does include additional sprues for the Growler boxing. The cockpit tub includes room for both seats, instrument panels, etc. As with many kits, this one provides decals to spruce up the instrument panels. 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 two pieces of photo-etch included.These 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. These are most unusual in that only the mask parts are provided on a plastic sheet backing.
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. In this case, it means the ALQ-99 jamming pods for the middle pylons and one for the centerline, which is the normal fit. There are AGM-88 HARM missiles for the outer pylons and a pair of AIM-120 missiles for the intake mounts. On the wing tips are the ALQ-218 pods. All of these Growler specific bits are on the J, K, and L sprues
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 three aircraft. One is the box art plane with the two tone brown exterior fin to hold the VAQ-132 'Scorpion's' tail marking. There is also a standard VAQ-132 plane and one from VAQ-134 'Cougars', aboard the soon to be retired USS Carl Vinson. An interesting note is that in my day, the NA tail code was only on those units not yet assigned to an air wing. 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 this kit will be well received. I built the F-18F a short time back and found it to be well engineered. You could probably build an F model with this one as it doesn't seem to be lacking anything to do that version, though I could be mistaken. I ordered this one direct from China and even with shipping, it was cheaper than any of the US retailers wanted for just the kit. Downside is that often the kit box takes a hit during the shipping process, but if you are building the kit, that isn't an issue.
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