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Modeller’s Datafile #34 - The McDonnell Douglas Hornet F/A-18A/B/C/D & International Versions

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Modeller’s Datafile #34 - The McDonnell Douglas Hornet (9781999661670)

F/A-18A/B/C/D & International Versions

MA Publications




The F-18 originally lost out to the F-16 in the light-weight fighter programme under the name of YF-17 Cobra, but was revitalised as the F/A-18 by the US Navy and Marines to replace their ageing and disparate fleet of warplanes such as the F-14 Tomcat, A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair.  There were a lot of noses put out of joint by the retirement of the Tomcat especially, as it was well-loved in the modelling and spotting communities, but the Hornet has won people over in the various conflicts it has taken part in, especially thanks to their ruggedness and successful execution of their duties.  The type began with the single-seat A and two-seat B models, which were upgraded later to the C and D models respectively.  A new programme to upgrade the capabilities of this robust fighter was instigated that resulted in a substantially larger airframe with the new name Super Hornet that can easily be differentiated from its smaller sibling by the rectangular intakes, if the difference in size isn’t immediately obvious.  The A-D models became “Legacy Hornets” when the new design went into service, and the last of them were drawn down by the US Navy in 2019, but have continued in Marine service who are holding out for the F-35C and don’t want to expend their limited resources on Super Hornets that they see as a stop-gap. 


Other nations have bought Hornets to use in their own air forces, and there are still plenty of legacy Hornets out there now, although none of them are getting any younger. 






This book is the 34th in the long line of books in the Modeller’s Datafile series, and arrives as a perfect-bound A4+ book in portrait format with 192 pages within the card cover.  If you’re familiar with the series, you’ll know the content is split between the real aircraft and modelling them, but here’s a more thorough breakdown:


Glossary of Terms


Design and Development

  • The F/A-18A, F/A-18A+ and F/A-18B
  • The F/A-18C, F/A-18D and F/A-18D(RC)

International Versions

Colour Side Views

Modelling the F/A-18 Hornet in popular scales

  1. Desert Storm ‘Delta’ - 1:48 F/A-18D USMC Green Knights (Ian Gaskell)
  2. Omar’s Aggressor - 1:48 F/A-18B US Navy Aggressor (Alan Kelley)
  3. War Party - 1:48 F/A-18C US Navy War Party (Alan Kelley)
  4. Maple Leaf Hornet - 1:48 CF-188 RCAF Maple Hornet (Gerry Doyle)
  5. ‘Moonlighters’ Striker - 1:72 F/A-18D USMC Moonlighters (Danumurthi Mahendra)
  6. CAG Bat - 1:32 F/A-18D USMC CAG Bat (Toby Knight)
  7. Super-Sized Stinger - 1:32 F/A-18C Fist of the Fleet (James Ashton)
  8. NORAD Hornet 1:48 CF-188A NORAD Hornet (Ashley Dunn)


i Walk Arounds

  • F/A-18C 164067 of VFA-94 (James Eberling)
  • F/A-18C 164716 of VFA-151 (James Eberling)
  • F/-18 Cockpits
  • F/A-18D Swiss Air Force (Andy Evans)
  • F/A-18D Finnish Air Force (Andy Evans)
  • F/A-18A A21-6 Royal Australian Air Force (Andy Evans)

ii Understanding the Subject

iii Technical Diagrams

iv Hornet Squadrons

v Kitography

vi General Characteristics

vii Hornet Gallery

Scale Plans in 1:72






There is a lot of text on the subject in the book, and some of it makes heavy use of acronyms, so the glossary at the beginning could come in handy during the following pages that covers the airframe beginning with its redesign from the unsuccessful prototype into the tough carrier-based fighter that it became in single and two-seater guises, plus subsequent upgrades to its capabilities in the plus and later the C and D variants, as well as the numerous overseas operators, some of whom are still flying them at time of writing.


After the discussion of the airframe comes 12 pages of side profiles of various marks and operators with some colourful schemes on display, including Blue Angels and a NASA airframe.  The modelling side of the book begins now, and extends to eight builds of various kits in 1:72, 1:48 and 1:32 scales that are carried out by various modellers, the names of whom you can see in brackets in the list above.  There are lots of different techniques on display to accomplish the often-weathered look of the Hornet, and with plenty of pictures and text to guide us along, we can all learn something from the builds here.  As you can imagine, the recent Kinetic kit in 1:48 and 1:32 makes more than a few appearances, with a couple of Academy kits filling the gaps.






The next section consists of a number of walk around photos printed on a cream background that shows the airframes close-up and sometimes in gory detail, all of which is grist for the mill for us modellers, and includes some nice photos of the glass cockpit in suitable sizes that won’t tax ageing eyes like mine, with credits to the photographers where available, which you can again see in brackets above.  The “Understanding the Subject” section, although it may sound a little condescending, covers the differences between the types, using my favourite quick-reference style that helps the forgetful folks like me by marking the differences between types in grey, with various invisible changes such as radar and engines helpfully pointed out with arrows and text.  The Technical drawings show the various systems and controls of the fighter, including aspects of the ejection seat and how the pilot is connected to it, as well as the flight stick and the effects its various buttons and functions have on the flight envelope.  Finally, there is a diagram showing the take-off and landing cycle of the type, alongside the ejection sequence should the need arise as well as all the hand-signals that allow the pilot and ground crew to communicate effectively over the din of the engines when they don’t have comms.


A list of Hornet squadrons is next, interspersed with some appropriately appealing pictures, then it’s on to the Kitography, which I’ve always felt is a tiny bit redundant as things change so quickly in our hobby and we now have helpful sites like Scalemates that are updated constantly.  It’s only three pages though, so nothing to fret about, and it does include some boxtops, decal sheets and visuals of resin sets in the margin.  A short section laying out the general specifications of later C/D marks follows, then we have a gallery of various schemes and operators, followed by some 1:72 scale plans of the F/A-18A and B plus their weapon load-outs.  At the very end is an index of contents that is also interspersed with some handsome photos of the type.




It’s a good reference for the legacy Hornets, and is a handy one-stop source of information for anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of the type.  There is a lot of information within and a lot of excellent photos in full colour, one of the bonuses of a book about a modern fast jet.  Well worth a read, and a useful reference down the line.


Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of



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