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woody37

F/A-18F Super Hornet 'VFA-32 Swordsmen' - Hasegawa 1:72

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F/A-18F Super Hornet ‘VFA-32 Swordsmen’

1:72 Hasegawa

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Developed from the successful f-18 earlier derivatives, the single seat ‘E’ and two seat ‘F’ versions are despite looking very similar, quite different aircraft. Primarily designed to replace the Tomcat as a multi-role fighter, the E/F models have in fact replaced the F-14, A-6 Intruder, S-3 Viking with the G model replacing the EA-6B Prowler. Having such a simplified line up brings about obvious benefits for a fleet that has to be maintained whilst at sea.

The ‘Super’ Hornet is about 20% larger than the original Hornet, nearly 7 tons heavier at maximum load and has about 35% more power throughout most of its flight envelope to cope with all that extra weight. Due to more internal fuel, it has about 40% greater range than its legacy too. One of the most noticeable changes was the new square intakes. These were redesigned to significantly lower the aircrafts head on radar signature. This together with redesign of other features both to reduce signature and to be able to better cope with ballistic damage make the Super Hornet much more survivable in combat operations. Initially, avionics were largely based on the legacy Hornet, but advances in technology have meant that the current aircraft differ significantly to the earlier machines. This includes a quadruplex digital fly by wire system and control system that can correct for battle damage. The latest radar is the APG-79 which allows simultaneous attack of both air and ground targets. This together with various defensive countermeasures, night vision goggles and FLIR all add to the aircrafts combat ability and survivability.

VF-32 ‘Swordsmen’ of which this kit is represented previously operated the F-14 Tomcat where they were famed for downing two Libyan Mig-23 Floggers in 1989 during a routine patrol. They first went on tour aboard USS Harry S Truman using their new Super Hornets being deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2007. Although not by VF-32, the Super hornet has been used in combat against the Taliban as far back as 2006.


The kit
Having reviewed the Revell kit recently, I thought it would be a good opportunity to have a good look at both together to see how they compare. The Hasegawa kit comes in the usual top opening box with ten light grey sprues and a rather complex clear one to protect the canopy and wind screen. Total part count is 121 compared to 97 in the Revell kit, although this isn’t something to determine quality either way. So let’s get into the detail. Flash presence in the kit is neglible as are sink marks, but there are ejector pin marks in various places which I'll pick up throughout the review. Of course, this isn't the first release of the F/A-18F by Hasegawa, they have released several with different schemes previously.

As with most kits, building starts with the cockpit. The detail in the cockpit is very simple with no panel detail, the intention by Hasegawa is to use the decals provided to add the panel detail. Revell in comparison has some rather pleasant moulded detail and give you the choice of either using this or decals. The Hasegawa seats are equally lacking in detail. If you decide to have the canopy closed, this lack of detail might be acceptable, however if you prefer to show off all your hard work in the pit, you may want to look at some aftermarket options such as resin or etch.

With the cockpit assembly done, it fits between the two nose section halves mounted on the separate nose wheel bay. Exterior detail on the fuselage is superb. The panel lines are finely done and the rivets where applied are pin sharp which from completed builds I’ve seen come out really well after a panel wash. Hasegawa in my opinion have done a better job here than Revell in that many of the panel lines on the revel kit have rivets running alongside them, but the combined effect looks over done in comparison. Prior to joining the top and bottom main fuselage halves, an assembly is fitted into the rear end that includes rear engine faces and soft poly caps that the tail planes push into later in the build. The nose section is then mounted to the main fuselage section followed by the intakes. One let down with the Hasegawa kit that’s widely known is the lack if intake trunking. The intakes are blanked off inside quite near to the front and with much larger intakes than the legacy Hornet, this will be noticeable. Revell excels here as they provide deep trunking in their kit.

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panel, engine rear faces & pylons

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Cockpit tub

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Panel

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Seat...

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The main wheel and nose wheel bays are very nicely detailed. The detail is different than Revells rendition and I believe it will be personal opinion as to what people may prefer as both kits look good. The undercarriage detail is very good too and quite substantial although the doors themselves lack any great detail on the inner surfaces and have several ejector pin marks. Furthermore, the door arrangement is quite complex, so if creating an in-flight model, it would be more fiddly to achieve. Revell get round this by having the doors for each bay moulded as one that you cut up to have the gear lowered. The wheels have good detail in them although all the tyres have ejector pin marks in them which will need a tidy up.

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The wings attach at the wing roots on this kit where as Revell have them attaching at the wing fold point. Detail on the wings carries the same quality as the fuselage in terms of panel detail refinement. The burner cans are slightly better than the Revell ones, being sharper in presentation and thinner at the edges. The tail planes are fitted without gluing into the holes where polycaps were previously fitted inside. This method allows the position of them to be adjusted at any time which is a clever idea that only Hasegawa seem to have adopted on a large scale.

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Tail & gear doors

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Payload pylons are included for 4 stations on each wing including the wing tips and a centre line position as well as the FLIR on port intake. Payload includes three fuel tanks, 2 x AMRAAMS, 2 x sidewinders and the FLIR pod. It would have been good to see more weapons options included to create further value.

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The canopy and windscreen are crisp and free from distortion, again typical Hasegawa quality here. There is a slight seam along the centre of the canopy which you may prefer to polish out. The canopy can be positioned in the open position with the parts included too. I've removed the parts from the sprue as it was the only way I could get a good photo of them that wasn't obscured by the sprue itself.

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The decals

The decal sheet has over 130 individual decals with stunning artwork for the Swordsmen scheme. Detail is crisp, vivid and perfectly in register. The high vis tail decals are supplied in two forms, one with the black background already on, the other as just the markings to apply to a black painted surface. The sheet also includes decals for the weapons.

Schemes included:

Aircraft 166661 – VFA-32 CAG, US Navy 2010 (high vis scheme)

Aircraft 166793 – VFA-32, CO, US Navy (low vis scheme)

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Conclusion

On the whole, this is a very nice kit, however has two main draw backs in comparison with the Revell kit; the lack of cockpit detail and blanked off intake trunks. Exterior detail looks sharper than its rival, but the kit also carries a higher retail price, so I can only recommend doing your homework to determine which kit is right for you given budget, skill and feature benefits.

Amerang Hasegawa Review sample courtesy of
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