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RAAF F/A-18C Hornet (85809) 1:48


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RAAF F/A-18C Hornet(85809)

1:48 Hobby Boss




The F-18's humble beginnings as the loser of the light fighter contest that gave the US Air Force the F-16 Fighting Falcon were soon left behind when it was decided that something a little more rugged was needed for the Navy and Marine Corps, who would need to fly from carriers and wanted to carry warloads at supersonic speeds.  Single and two-seater variants were offered, with the A and C being the solo pilots, and the B and C the two-seaters, all of which were combat capable.  The larger E/F Super Hornets were later created to extend the capabilities of the airframes, with a substantially larger airframe and load carrying capability.


The US have recently withdrawn their Cs from service, but the aircraft carries on in service with other operators and is likely to continue to do so for some considerable time.  Now I'm going to stop talking about Cs, as Australia has As and Bs, with no Cs being held in inventory by the Australian Air Force that I'm aware of, which is further backed up by a quick check of their own website.  Checking the registry for the two airframes depicted on the decal sheet shows them as block 20 and 22 Model A Hornets, with a fair amount of corroborating evidence backing that up.  They were delivered to the RAAF in the late 80s, and are getting toward the end of their service lives now, which is being teased out until the long awaited F-35As are in service, and at time of writing the first few have reached Australian soil.  The Hornet airframes will be sold on where possible, with a deal already having been made with Canada for some of them.



The Kit

With an inauspicious start due to the misnaming of the type, I fully expected an F-18C to be in the box, which although ostensibly similar to the A, has some differences that we'll attempt to cover later in the review.  Firstly, it should be noted that this is not a new tooling, but a rebox of an earlier kit with new decals showing two display birds wearing Anniversary markings.  Inside the fairly standard Hobby Boss box are eight sprues in grey styrene, a sprue and a separate part in clear, two decal sheets, the instruction booklet and a glossy full-colour markings placement and painting guide.  First impressions are that some of the smaller parts are a little rough in places, with less attention paid to placement of ejector pin marks, and the occasional rough bit of tooling, however the main airframe is well detailed and from looking at builds of previous boxings of the kit online, it certainly looks the part.














As an aside I wouldn't set myself up as an F-18 expert (far from it), but I've been doing a bit of research and have noted what I've found along the way through this review to help anyone with this model create a more accurate version if they're so minded.  If you have access to an F-18 guru, I would suggest you seek their advice regarding the differences between the C and A variants of the Legacy Hornet, as I'm a fallible human (of sorts).


The build begins with the cockpit, with the Martin Baker SJU-NACES seat built up from side panels, cushions, headbox and ejection lever but without any harnesses, so you can either make your own or pick up some suitable aftermarket.  The cockpit tub is a single part, with a HOTAS arrangement and instrument panel added, with seven decals for the consoles and panel to bring out the nicely moulded detail without painstaking painting.  At the same time, the nose gear bay is made up from a roof with moulded-in detail, and two detailed sides.  It slots into the lower fuselage part, and is joined by the cockpit, which simply sits on top of it.  There is no sidewall detail, but little will be seen unless you squint really hard.  The upper fuselage includes the wings and the Leading Edge Extension (LEX), with the lowers added before the halves are joined, plus a small portion of the tip of the LEX, after which it can be mated with the lower, which locates with a number of pins.  The main gear bays are moulded into the lower fuselage, and are quite nicely done, as is the rest of the external detail.  The landing gear can be left off until after painting, which is always nice, and is built up from single part legs, with additional struts, linkages and dampers fitted as appropriate.  The main tyres are supplied in halves, while the twin nose gear wheels are each single parts.  These are put to the side and added further on in the build, which in fairness does seem to jump around a little.


The nose of the model is a separate section, with the front bulkhead of the nose gear moulded into the two halves, leaving a seamline unless you put them together carefully.  A small insert fits into a depression in the nose, and a group of sensors and aerials are installed underneath.  Parts J1 and J2 are shown fitted, but should be left off for accuracy's sake, as they appear on the C.  This is again the case with two more bulges J43 and J44, which are shown installed at the front of the fuselage where it joins the nose.  The intake trunks, elevators, gear legs and arrestor hook are all added with the airframe inverted, although many people will leave much of this off until later.  As yet the wings are bereft of the large flaps and slats, which are added next, along with the intake lips, which are made up with their splitter plates and a spacer, then inserted into the trunk later on.  There are no engine fronts or blanking plates, but little will be seen down there without a flashlight.  The exhausts are fitted to lengths of trunking that are split vertically, with ribbed detail visible inside, to which a blanking plate with moulded-in afterburner details added.  The exhaust cans are a single part with the notched petals moulded into the surface, which many of the Aussie birds have.  There are two of course, and they slot into the fuselage side-by-side.


Just like the real thing, the kit has a cockpit aperture suitable for the two-seater, which is covered over with a turtle-deck with equipment under the real one, with a spine extension that completes the contouring of the area.  The 3-part HUD goes on the coaming and is covered by the windscreen, and the canopy is attached to the frame before it is fixed in the open or closed position using the twin legs at the rear - this has a central seam on the outside due to the "blown" shape, so sand and polish this away if you're feeling brave.  There are two more parts J9 and J10 here that aren't required for the RAAF aircraft, so leave those in the box after checking your references and fill the little marks that show their location.  The tail fins are both handed, and have a central third sensor fairing in their trailing edge above the moulded-in rudders, which should be removed to backdate it back to an A, with plenty of pics on the net to help you with that if you fancy the challenge, and if you're looking for more work, a few small appliqué stiffener panels could be added for extra fidelity – again, check your references.  At this point the nose is also added, with a slot helping with alignment.  There are a number of antennae and blade aerials to fit along the spine, after which the airframe is ostensibly complete aside from the gear bay doors, some of which will need a little work to get them looking nice, and the crew access ladder that pops out of the port LEX and is made up from three parts.  The flap actuator fairings should be fitted too before you begin adding pylons, and these are all separate and will sadly need adapting if you wish to pose the flaps deployed, which is a shame as just a few additional parts could have made that a breeze.  The airbrake between the tail fins can be posed open by using the ram to hold it in position, with some detail within the bay if you choose to do so.


Before you can decide which of the supplied weapons to use, you will need to construct the pylons, with four identical units for under the wings, and a centreline pylon, plus the moulded-in wingtip rails and separate adapters for the Sidewinders.  There is a fairly generous helping of munitions on the two sprues, as follows:


2 x AIM-9L Sidewinders

2 x Mk.82 bombs on dual ejector rack

1 x AAR-50 thermal navigation pod with fairing

2 x AGM-84E SLAM Cruise Missile

1 x AN/ASQ-173 laser tracker pod with fairing

2 x AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile

2 x AIM-7 Sparrow A2A missile

1 x AN/AAS-38A Nitehawk FLIR pod with fairing

2 x JDAM laser guided bombs

2 x GBU-10 Paveway II laser guided bombs

2 x Fuel tanks




A diagram on the rear of the instructions shows where each weapon can be carried, but check your references to see what kind of loads are carried in the real world if you're looking for accuracy.



The two colour schemes included with this kit are likely to be the biggest draw, because they're quite colourful and appealing.  The decals are up to Hobby Boss's usual standards, with decent registration, colour density and sharpness, which is nice.



A21-26 - 20 years of F/A-18 scheme

The modeller will need to paint the dark blue topside to match the red and white pinstriping, but the dark grey walkway sections are supplied as decals, so there's that!  Most pictures show the airframe having five bird-slicers in front of the windscreen however, which isn't an option on this kit.  They stand out because they are painted grey and appear just in front of the central white star on the nose.  You might want to check your references and consider scratch building the strakes if it bothers you.  It's a high gloss finish, so preparation and gloss varnishing after painting and decal will make or break the finish.




A21-35 – 30 Years Anniversary

A more straight forward scheme with darker grey topsides over a light grey, with red tails.  You will need to paint the tails and apply the stars and 30 year logo, which is a good thing, as decals sometimes don't settle down well on the edges of flying surfaces.  The instructions note that the leading edges and tips of the inner faces only are red, with the rest grey.  The arrow on the spine is broken down into three parts, so alignment will be key here too, and this aircraft wasn't quite as pristine as A21-26, with some difference in tone between panels here and there to give the weathering fans a bit of leeway.  This airframe also seems to have the bird-slicers on its nose, so break out the styrene strip!






It's an older kit, although 2007 isn't all that long ago unless you've been waiting for a bus since then.  This does show in places, but thankfully they're not too many, and easily fixed.  The biggest head-scratcher is the marking of the kit as an F/A-18C, but as that's not exactly a massive issue to get around, with only one aspect (the tail fairings) requiring any scratch-building (plus the bird-slicers), it's just a bit of an "oopsie" for HB's people, and a case of not paying 100% attention when putting the package together, or hoping against hope that we won't notice.  With these aspects aside however, it's not too tricky to make a decent model from it.




Review sample courtesy of


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  • Mike changed the title to RAAF F/A-18C Hornet (85809) 1:48


2 hours ago, Stephen said:

Nice review Mike.

Cheers ^_^

22 minutes ago, Stephen said:

It is curious to use the C plastic when they have an A kit in their range.




You've got me there, I have no idea, unless someone genuinely got confused and it went on from there?  Who knows?  :shrug:

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5 hours ago, tonyp said:

Looks like the decals will have the Roos on one side of the jet facing the wrong way!

D'ya know, I actually looked at that, as that's the sort of issue you sometimes get when people flip designs during creation, and I could have sworn they were OK. :hmmm:  Whether I was looking at a flipped photo, had taken too many pain killers, or was just away with the fairies, we shall never know :hypnotised:


EDIT:  Just double-checked with some different photos, and the feet of all the roos are facing away from the stripes, and tails at pointing toward the fat end of the stripes, which were the metrics I used to check they weren't flipped last time.  Am I wrong? :hmmm:  I used a pic from a decal review on HS here, which handily had all the angles in the one pic. :)

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4 hours ago, Julien said:

Not those on the wings, but the roundels.

That makes more sense... didn't even think to check those, I was so fixated on the BIG ones :lol:

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RE: "The US have recently withdrawn their Cs from service"


I believe only the USN has retired their legacy Hornet squadrons. The USMC squadrons continue, as do the Blue Angels.




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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/19/2019 at 8:36 AM, Mike said:

That makes more sense... didn't even think to check those, I was so fixated on the BIG ones :lol:

For A21-35 the starboard one on the nose, the starboard one on the tail and the starboard underwing will all be pointing the wrong way. Luckily I've got a 30 year old (approx) Roodecal sheet of RAAF and RNZAF roundels that should fix the problem.


Good walk around for this bird here



Edited by unlikeKansas
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  • 1 month later...

Looks like a very good kit basicly. 

We have Kinetic and Hobby Boss and also the older Hasegawa offering in the back. Which is the kit to go ?

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