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F/A-18D Hornet, VMFA-121 *Finished!*


Alan P

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As you know, the USMC is part of the Department of the Navy so we're safely legit for the groupbuild 😁

 

This is also part-started but barely close to the 25% minimum...I began it four years ago when I was really struggling with illness but quickly lost heart. This is the perfect time and place to rescue it from the shelf of doom! 

 

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The kit. It's all the Academy variants (A+, C and D) reboxed by Kinetic. Incredible value for money. Includes an excellent decal sheet but none of the screws and bolts from the original Academy version. This is in my mind the best Hornet kit you can get and probably Academy's best ever. 

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Flying Leathernecks decals: I'm using the VMFA-121 color ship from the end of its deployment in 2007, a nice two-sided scheme with a flag on the airbrake.

 

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Other aftermarket: Avionix cockpit, Aires SJU-17 seats and Flightpath access ladder. There's some Wolfpack JSOWs in there as well but not sure if the Marines used them. 

 

This is as far as I got before joining you for the GB:

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Cockpit and forward fuselage installed

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Landing gear legs - these are little works of art

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I don't know how many pieces are in each but it's loads. The plastic has a metal core for strength. There are metal landing gears in the box but the intricate buildup of the plastic parts is more detailed. 

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Finally, I opened the vents the lower forward fuselage and added mesh from the Aber range. No longer intending to superdetail this kit as it's perfectly good out of the box, so this is probably the last bit of scratchbuilding before I restart work on it. 

 

I intend to display it as a clean show bird with minimal underwing stores, but that may change! 

 

Glad to be able to join in, thanks to @rob85 for giving me the green light.

 

Alan

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Just had my whole work week cancelled. Trying to see this build as 'the bright side' 🙄

 

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Aires seats liberated from moulding blocks and primed. The detail is extraordinary. 

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Instrument panels got their first touch of paint.

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Not sure what to do with the screens yet, possibly some acetate film blanks or maybe I can use the kit decals.

 

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Looking at displaying the wings folded, but it involves a lot of fiddly cutting which is sure to go wrong... 

 

Cheers, Alan 

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Looking very nice so far alan, shame about your work , i reckon we'll all be having extra modelling time very shortly, I'm searching the stash atm for something to keep me busy in the coming weeks

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14 hours ago, Hewy said:

I'm searching the stash atm for something to keep me busy in the coming weeks

I might have to search the stash to see what I can sell 😕

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11 minutes ago, exdraken said:

Great project and progress!

I do hope that your work situation does not get too serious...

Thanks very much, really hope so too! 

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Bit the bullet and started chopping the wings... 

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Nerve wracking stuff! Ended up with this:

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Can't quite see how the fold actually works but there are a few other parts involved which I need to get my head around.

Moving on to the fuselage... 

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I did a quick and dirty assembly of the intake ducts and engines - I'm going to use FOD covers because all that awkward puttying and sanding isn't remotely appealing.

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The upper and lower halves go together really well. I've built one of these before (about fifteen years ago) and it's been good to remember how impressive it was then and still is now. 

 

Cheers, Alan

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9 hours ago, rob85 said:

Lovely stuff, 1/32 as well so not a little build!

 

Rob

You're not wrong... 

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It's a beast! 

 

You remember this big open space down the sides:

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The kit provides a single fascia part to cover the whole side.

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Looking at all those angles and corners you can't help being sceptical of the fit... 

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But look at that. Seamless. Hats off to Academy for this one.

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Both sides fitted and the rear fuselage is complete. 

 

Great kit, just what I needed to take my mind off the horrible Vulcan kit I'm building at the moment! 

 

Cheers for looking in, 

 

Alan 

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Assembly of the fuselage is complete:

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Looks weirdly front-heavy without the LEXs and wing flaps.

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Not the seamless fit I originally thought - bit of Squadron grey filler and some sanding sorted it out nicely.

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Shaping up to be a great result! Hope I can do it justice.

 

Next step - fins, flaps and slats!

 

Cheers, Alan

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Quick question - does the USMC use AGM-154 JSOW or is that just a Navy thing?

Also - does the ablative coating on USN bombs only apply to shipborne munitions, or do the land-based Marine units load the ablative bomb casings as well?

(Yes, I've decided it will carry some things that go bang!)

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23 hours ago, Alan P said:

Quick question - does the USMC use AGM-154 JSOW or is that just a Navy thing?

Also - does the ablative coating on USN bombs only apply to shipborne munitions, or do the land-based Marine units load the ablative bomb casings as well?

(Yes, I've decided it will carry some things that go bang!)

No - I am pretty sure they don't use JSOWs in the USMC. They could be carried on the Legacy Hornets (now retired from the NAvy) but as they are stand off weapons and the primary role of the "D" is Close Air Support (or Fast Fac), then I can't see why the USMC would use them.......but what do I know :)

Mind you I was adament that USMC "D"s never operated off carriers, until I took this picture back in 2010!

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although just being off the Virginia Coast he was just making a trap & next cycle launch.

 

Again another "guess" but I think the ablative coating applies to USMC bombs as well - because they share the same supply chain for munitions as part of the Navy Department (same reason shore based USMC Harriers have the coating on their bombs)

 

Loving your build by the way, if you use the kit supplied main legs for the wheels, (even with the wire insert) the "knees" will eventually sag. If you can afford some, go for the SAC white metal ones (same detail, but much stronger).

 

I recently built the Trumpy AV-8B+ and used an after market Lightning 2 targeting pod. The kit supplied one is actually as good, and the kit comes with a spare - more than happy to post to you for the centre line station if wanted?

 

 

 

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Excellent @FIGHTS ON, I hoped you'd come in on this. Thanks for confirming what I was thinking. I like the idea of using the Litening on the centre station, also using the goofy gas bags and some LGBs or Mavericks on the outer wing stations. Plenty of scope to choose from. Thanks also for the logical answer to the ablative question, might find a space for a 2000lb JDAM as well. 

 

Regarding the gear legs, my last one from 2006 is still standing on its kit legs (as far as I know, I sold it a while back but it was fine years later). The Kinetic boxing actually contains the SAC gear legs as standard but I didn't like them, the detail was too soft...besides, I thought SAC stood for Sadly Always Collapsing as I find them quite pliable and bendy in the past 😂😂😂

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On 3/19/2020 at 7:39 PM, Jabba said:

Coming along nicely Al, like the wing fold mechanisms.

Cheers Mark, hope I can work out how they fit together 😂

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Moving on a bit slower than expected with this:

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LEXs are fitted - again, with a little squeezing they fit perfectly. The intakes are also assembled, again perfect fit. I'm liking this unfamiliar experience of kits fitting together after a year of Revell and Kitty Hawk builds!

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Look at those 3D curves, very smart!

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Seam needs a bit of cleanup but thankfully no filler required.

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Here's a poor photo of the Daco Hornet book, so far it's a pretty good likeness.

 

More hopefully this evening...

 

Alan

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1 hour ago, Hewy said:

Really looking good alan, here i was hoping it was going to be in adversary/aggresor camo ,still bombs and missiles will make up for a grey bird 

Thanks Hewy, I'm probably going with blue practice bombs so it'll look reasonably colourful in the end 👍

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On 3/25/2020 at 7:42 PM, Jabba said:

Any progress is still progress, no matter how slow. Keep it up Al.

Struggling to find anything worth photographing, but I am making progress!

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One of the big bonuses in the Academy kit is the tons of high-quality modern weaponry. These L/M Sidewinders are very nice.

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I built them up but subsequently decided to hang drill rounds from the finished product. Luckily there are two more in the box! These will undoubtedly come in useful in future.

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All the flaps and slats are assembled and finished. Again, the fit was excellent, just needed a dab of putty at the ends to hide the joins.

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Here are the bombs that will be fitted - the GBU-12s are from Trumpeter's Modern US Weapons set and the GBU-38s are resin by Wolfpack. They've all had nose jobs so I can add some additional details. They'll be blue inert rounds so no need for ablative coatings after all!

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Finished the folded wingtips - these went together so easily it made me want to sing for joy. Absolutely loving this kit. It's been 13 years since I last built one and I appreciate the quality so much more after those 13 years wrestling with clunkers.

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One of the few areas that really needed putty - the LEX joins and the starboard wing. Fixed.

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Painted the area behind the intakes, and the intakes themselves.

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Once attached it's clear these will need some attention. However, I intend to use FOD covers so might cheat and not bother...

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Probably will because I'm picky about stuff like that.

 

Anyway - bit of a dull update, but it's going really well. By the way, if anyone fancies moving up to 1/32 scale for a one-off modern jet project you should definitely pick this kit. It's an absolute corker.

 

Alan 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Now that pesky Vulcan's out of the way, on with the Hornet...

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Intakes are cleaned up - probably the only part of the kit so far that needed proper intervention

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Fins assembled - the sharp-eyed among you will realise these are the wrong fins for the type (the kit includes the older ones for the A/B version on an otherwise identical Sprue D - guess who got the wrong one :doh:)

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The massive barn door flaps ready for installing - these are almost exactly the same size as the entire wings of a 1/72 Mustang!

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The correctly angled flap actuators - the kit provides three sets for flap 0, 20 or 45. Luckily I didn't mix them up.

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Here's the next potential weakness in the kit:

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I fitted the leading edge flaps slightly drooped as they would be on a de-powered aircraft, but they should be flush at the upper edge hinge line. There's a big gap, even though the underside sits flush.

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I opted to glue them in place and putty the gap

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With hindsight I should have  cut the bottom edge flap back the required amount to fix both edges flush in place. Tip for next time or anyone else intending to build this.

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With that done, the trailing edge flaps were fitted along with the (correct) fins.

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Finally, the nose upper and lower sections were fitted - this needed a spacer between the nose halves to make it all fit properly:

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Now it looks like a Hornet - it's a big, chunky kit in 1/32 and feels pretty sturdy. Hopefully not an invitation for me to drop it...

 

Cheers, Alan

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On 26/03/2020 at 21:41, Alan P said:

anyone fancies moving up to 1/32 scale for a one-off modern jet project you should definitely pick this kit. It's an absolute corker.

 

Alan 

Very nice work alan ,its coming on a treat, i am thinking of building a big jet ,if only italeri would hurry up and release the blasted tornado they keep promising us, but i do have a few back ups in all scales in case it doesn't materialise in time for the tornado gb

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Just now, Hewy said:

Very nice work alan ,its coming on a treat, i am thinking of building a big jet ,if only italeri would hurry up and release the blasted tornado they keep promising us, but i do have a few back ups in all scales in case it doesn't materialise in time for the tornado gb

Thanks Hewy 👍 What have you got for standbys? There are a lot of good choices for jets in 1/32 though sadly not very much at all for UK subjects...

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