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Boeing F/A-18A/B/CF-188 Hornet 1:48 Kinetic After losing out to the F-16 for the light fighter requirement with the USAF, the US Navy became interested, and the Northrop YF-17 became the F/A-18, hooking up with McDonnell Douglas for their carrier aircraft experience, and making substantial changes to make the aircraft rugged and easier to park on a crowded aircraft carrier. The initial variant was designated A, with a trainer variant coded B after it was cleared for combat flight. It led the field with a glass cockpit and advanced electronics, although its relatively short range limits the usefulness of the afterburning GE turbofans unless substantial additional fuel tanks are carried. Canada chose the F-18 as their new fighter in the early 80s, with the official designation CF-188, although the aircraft were almost identiQe, although the Canadian roundels should give away the aircraft type long before that becomes relevant. Early in the new millennium the Canadian aircraft were upgraded to the then-current standard of US F-18s of the same mark, in order to interact with other NATO forces on exercises and in combat situations should they arise. The Kit We reviewed the initial Kinetic F-18 in September of last year here, and this new edition adds a little flexibility of building either a single seat or two-seat variant, as well as a Canadian bird from the one box. The sprues are almost identical to the earlier boxing, with a few additions that may be used, depending on which variant you intend to build. It includes and extra cockpit with seat, two-seat canopy, different main gear legs, vertical stabs with separate rudders, pylons and a replacement port nose part to accommodate the Grimes Light used for identifying aircraft at night. The box art depicts a couple of Canadian Hornets, one of which has just loosed off a Sidewinder at an unseen foe, and inside are fifteen sprues plus the lower fuselage part in grey styrene, three clear sprues, a fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts, and the combined instructions and painting guide. The build proceed along the same path as the earlier boxing with the exception of the options that differentiate the variants, which are noted up by the markings options. For the single-seat A model, a simple cover is fitted over the rear cockpit aperture, while in the two-seat B, another instrument panel, coaming, rudder pedals, control column and side consoles are installed instead. Of course, there is also another seat, and both have a couple of stencils on the headbox, and a full set of decals are included for the instrument panels, with a wide choice of extra decals to individualise the MFDs with eighteen alternative displays. The aforementioned Canadian Grimes light necessitates use of the additional nose part, which has an aperture in the centre of the ammunition loading door on the port side, which receives a clear lens that you should paint silver on the back to represent the reflector. The bird-slicers on the nose are appropriate for the majority of F-18s, but should be shaved off for early airframes, so check your references. If you are planning on posing your aircraft with folded wings, which is a lesser used option for the Canadian birds, you will need to cut off the wingtips along the pre-weakened lines as per the instructions before joining the wings, so plan ahead. Different vertical stabs are found on the new sprues, with small PE stiffening strips applied to each assembly on the port sides, leaving the original stabs for the spares bin. The spine behind the canopy will be different depending on whether you are modelling a single or two seat Hornet, so take care in applying the correct one, although it would be difficult to make a mistake with the glue, as the 2nd seat will stop you mid-flow. The construction of the canopies are almost identical, with separate framing, a set of PE rear-view mirrors and HUD for the pilot, but the two-seat canopy also has a bracing strut between the seats, and a more substantial opening jack. The main gear legs also have optional parts for the Canadian aircraft, with a slightly different bracing strut differentiating between them, but the nose gear is the same between all variants. Munitions for this variant are slightly changed from the original boxing, and a new centreline pylon is included, although it is never shown installed on the instructions. On the sprues you have the following stores: 2x AIM-120B AMRAAM 2x AIM-120C AMRAAM 2x AIM-9M Sidewinder 2x AIM-9X Sidewinder 2x GBU-38 500lb JDAM 2x CBU-87 Cluster Bomb (referred to as GBU-87) 2x GBU-12 Paveway Laser Guided Bomb AAQ-28 Litening targeting pod Sniper XR advanced targeting pod AAS-38 Nitehawk FLIR & Laser Designation pod 3x 330gal fuel tanks Adapter rails for the missiles and pylon for the Sniper XR pod are included on the sprues, as well as a pair of Multiple Ejector Racks (MER) should you require them. A page of the instructions deals with their painting and decaling with stencils, as well as their possible locations on the pylons in a graphical format. As always, if you are going for a real-world load-out, check your references before settling on your final choices. Markings Colour call-outs are given throughout with Mig AMMO paint codes, but at the end of the main instructions equivalent codes for Vallejo, Gunze, Tamiya and Humbrol paint systems are given in a large table above the guide for the instrument panel decals mentioned earlier. Stencil details are given in the next two pages, after which the decal choices are shown in greyscale drawings from the sides only, as the upper and lower decaling is completed in the stencil pages. From the box you can build one of the following: CF-188A, 409Sq Canadian Air Force, June 2016 CF-188A/B, 410Sq Canadian Air Force, June 2016 CF-188A/B, 425Sq Canadian Air Foce, 2015 F/A-18A A21-35, No.75Sq Royal Australian Air Force, 2015 Australian International Airshow Special Scheme F/A-18A A21-4, No.77Sq Royal Australian Air Force, 2014 F/A-18A A21-57, No.3Sq Royal Australian Air Force, Operation OKRA against ISIL, 2015 EF-18AM C.15-25 Ala 15, Spanish Air Force, Anatolian Eagle exercise in Konya, Turkey, 2015 EF-18AM C.15-50, Ala 12, Spanish Air Force, 2016 F/A-18A+ (Ex US Navy) C.15-85, Ala 46, Spanish Air Force, 2016 The Australian and Canadian Hornets are painted medium grey (FS35237) over light ghost grey (36375), while the Spanish aircraft are light ghost grey (36375) all over with black canopies painted on the underside of the nose to confuse the enemy in a dogfight. Decals are designed by Cross Delta, printed by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin glossy carrier film cut close to the printed areas. An additional decal sheet is also included, adding a few that appear to have been missed from the main sheet. Conclusion Another nice looking model from the Kinetic stable, giving some of the non-US operators precedence out of the box. Detail is excellent throughout, the stores provided in the box are more than adequate, and the choice of decal options is pretty wide. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
Royal Navy Tow Tractors 1:48 Skunkmodels Workshop The Vickers 4x4 Mk.2 Type tractor was used on our now retired Through-Deck Cruiser fleet from the 1960s to the end of the Sea Harrier's service and beyond to the withdrawal of the Harrier fleet at the end of 2011. They are small vehicles and guess what? They are used to tow aircraft around the deck when the engine is off. The Kit This release has been timed to coincide with Skunkmodels' sibling company Kinetic's release of their Sea Harrier FRS.1 and will also go well with their earlier FA.2. It arrives in a slim but wide end-opening box, and inside you will find sufficient parts to create two tractors and nine figures. There are two identical sprues for the tractors, and one tree of small linked sprues containing the figures. The tractor builds up from a basic chassis part to which side, top, front and rear panels are added, plus the driver's compartment, and various small parts including fire extinguisher, top of the fuel tank and a rolled up hose. A three-part wheel with separate hub and stub axle is added to each corner, and then it's just a case of adding the V-shaped axle and small wheels to the towing bar to finish the build. The figures are each moulded within their own frame, and inside are all the parts needed for that figure. There are no instructions included to assist you building them, so you'll have to test fit them together to see their eventual pose. Curiously though, there is only one seated driver figure, which is a shame given you get two tractors. Markings These little tractors were painted Golden Yellow until the mid-80s, after which they were Olive Green, so pick your era and go for it. They saw hard labour, and got quite beaten over the years, so check your references and weather them accordingly. As to the figures, you'll need to check your references for the correct uniform colour, as no direction is included. The decals are nicely printed on a small sheet, with numeric codes and ABCDE in black and white, plus yellow and white number plates. For those of you not familiar with UK plates, the yellow one goes on the rear, with the white on the front. Conclusion A nice little set to help you build a diorama with your SHAR, and there's even a section of carrier deck printed on the back of the box in case you fancied using it. It's a shame there are no instruction or colour guides for the figures, but I can't help wondering whether I've either lost them, or they weren't included in my box. Recommended. Review sample courtesy of