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EA-18G Growler (LS-014) 1:48


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EA-18G Growler (LS-014)

1:48 Meng via Creative Models Ltd




The original Hornet design lost the Lightweight Fighter battle with what became the F-16, but after some re-designing and tweaking, it won the contract for the US Navy’s do-it-all fighter to replace the Tomcats, Corsairs et al, becoming the multi-role F/A-18 Hornet.  When more capabilities were required, a further re-design that was more of a total do-over but retained the same general shape and designation, only about a third larger for reasons best left unsaid, but probably budget related, and a way to get around possible restrictions or pitfalls barring a new type.  This much larger aircraft became the Super Hornet, with the two-seater designated F/A-18F, and the single-seat variant E, both of which began production in the late 90s, entering service just before the new millennium.  With the withdrawal of the F-14 Tomcat in 2006 they became the primary carrier-borne fighter of the US Navy and Marines, serving alongside the original Hornet for a while, but all of the “legacy” Hornets have now left US service, although they remain on the books of some foreign operators.  You can easily tell them apart without a size reference by checking the intakes.  Oval = Hornet, Rectangular = Super Hornet.


The enlargement of the wing area, lengthening on the fuselage and installation of more powerful GE engines changed the characteristics of the airframe markedly, giving it more speed, weapons capability and range, with even more tankage hung from the wings, and buddy-pods allowing same-type refuelling operations without having a vulnerable dedicated tanker on station.  There have been various upgrades over the years, and the Super Hornet has a wide range of munitions to choose from, making it a capable all-round war-fighter that is still nowhere near the end of its service life, although trials with pilotless carrier-based aircraft are underway.  In addition to the E and F variants, the G, or Growler is a heavily modified two-seater with a huge quantity of Electronic Warfare equipment carried both internally and externally on pylons.  It retains some weapons for self-defence such as the AGM-88 or AIM-120C, although the stations on the wingtips are filled by a pair of ALQ-218 jamming pods carried over from the EA-6B Prowler that the Growler replaced.



The Kit

This is brand-new kit from Meng that has been retooled from their recent two-seat F/A-18F, but with new parts to portray the electronic warfare pods and weapons suitable for the Growler’s role.  We have come to expect great things from Meng, as they have impressive technical skills and a penchant for high levels of detail in their kits.  It arrives in one of their standard satin-sheened deep boxes with a painting of the aircraft on the front, and a host of goodies inside.  Opening the box reveals fourteen sprues of various sizes in grey styrene plus two fuselage halves in the same plastic, a small sprue in clear, plus the canopy (all wrapped in protective self-cling plastic), three styles of small poly-caps, a Ziplok bag containing ten flat-headed pins, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) metal, two sheets of decals, a clear plastic sheet with pre-cut kabuki tape masks, the instruction booklet with colour profiles in the rear, three sheets of card with information about the EA-18G in four languages, and a similarly multi-lingual competition flyer to win cash prizes, apparently.


Everything is separately bagged with mildly annoying staples closing some of them up, and once you have found your way past these you see the high quality of the parts within.  Detail is right up there with the best, and has finely engraved panel lines, with raised detail where appropriate and slide-moulding used to improve quality further without creating more parts that make some people panic unduly.
























Construction begins with the cockpit, with the twin-seat tub having the sidewalls installed next to the detailed side consoles, a large control column part in the front and a smaller one in the rear, chunky HOTAS-style throttles, and a pair of well-appointed instrument panels, which have a number of individual decals supplied for both it and the side consoles, the numbers for which are called out in scrap diagrams.  The rudder pedals are moulded into the floor and could do with some more detail if you intend to shine a light in there, and you can see them in the shadows of the detail photos above.  The nose gear bay is made up from a roof, shallow sides, front bulkhead and some thick trunking/hoses snaking through the bay. Those two subassemblies are mated then trapped between the forward lower fuselage halves, with the top half moulded-into the rest of the new upper fuselage, to be brought together later.  In the meantime, the upper fuselage is prepared by fitting the wing lowers with a choice of folded or straight wing-hinge supports, and ECS ram air exhaust inserts of the multi-tubular type that have some impressive moulding.










The F-18 runs two GE F414 turbofans, with long intakes to keep the rapidly rotating fans away from the prying eyes of enemy radars.  The trunking is made from two halves, and has a few ejector-pin marks inside, but cleaning those up before joining the halves should make the task easier.  The rear is covered by a representation of the engine front, then the completed trunks are attached to the appropriate main gear bay boxes, which are made from three parts, and have more highly impressive detail moulded-in, as shown above.  The two subassemblies are inserted into the lower fuselage from within, and splitter plates are attached to the sides of the fuselage on two slots, with some fine detail moulded-in.  The rectangular sides of the intake trunking and lower fuselage sides fit around the assembly, then a pair of pivots are slotted into the rear fuselage with poly-caps allowing them to rotate without suffering from modeller’s droop.  The lower nose clips into the lower fuselage, then the upper fuselage is lowered over it, mating snugly even without glue from a quick test fit I made.  She’s looking like an aircraft now, but the cockpit is unfinished and she’s got no nose.  The coaming is first, and has the HUD sides added and a circular projector lens in the bottom.  The two clear panels are inserted between the supports one over the other, with a scrap diagram showing the correct position, then it can be glued in place and the windscreen fixed over the top.  The coaming between the pilots is also inserted, and a shortened turtle-deck behind the rear seat is made up from two detailed parts, followed by the nose cone and insert with the muzzle cover for the M61A2 Vulcan cannon at the top, joined to the fuselage with a stepped ridge helping to improve fit.


The Hornet’s upper wings are moulded into the fuselage, but the slats and flaps are separate paired parts, the slats capable of being modelled deployed, or by cutting off the nubs in the leading edge, retracted.  The flaps can also be depicted cleaned-up with one set of straight actuator fairings, or fully deployed by using a separate cranked set, with the gap between the sections filled by the upper surface inserts.  If you chose the unfolded wing joint earlier, it’s simply a matter of applying the top and bottom sections to the link, adding the spacer, then fitting the appropriate flap actuator fairings for the flaps, and the slats in extended or retracted positions, again by removing the nubs on the leading edge.  The folded wingtips are made up with retracted flaps and slats plus straight fairings before they are inserted into the L-shaped fold with a different set of spacers.  The two vertical fins have a T-shaped pivot point inserted under a small separate section of the rudder, then the completed rudder is trapped between the two halves of the fin without glue so it can pivot later.  A nav light is inserted into the outer side, and the other fin is a near mirror image.  The fins fit into slots in the rear fuselage, and the elevators push into the poly-caps hidden within the fuselage sides later on.




The twin exhausts start with a cylinder that has the rear of the engine moulded-in, a PE afterburner ring, then a two-part length of trunking with a corrugated interior.  A choice of exhaust petal types finishes off the rear, one set having straight petals, the other with cranked rear sections, and after painting they’re inserted into the two apertures in the rear of the fuselage.  The rugged nose gear of the Super Hornet has to be sturdy to withstand repeated carrier launches followed by spirited arrestor-hook landings, and you have a choice of setting the catapult bar in the up position for parked, or down for an aircraft ready to launch.  A landing light and a number of stencil placards are applied to the leg after painting it white, and the twin wheels fit either side of the transverse axle.  Additional parts are fitted in and around the nose gear bay when inserting the gear leg, then gear bay doors are fixed around the bay, causing much perspiration when you have to add the red edges to each one.  The main gear legs also have a number of placards added after painting, and the wheels are made up from two parts each.  These too have additional parts added during fitting into the bays, closely followed by the red-rimmed bay doors and their actuators.  Just in case you wanted to catch an arrestor wire, the hook nestles between the two exhaust fairings on a long lug.


The instructions have you making up the munitions and pods for a break before completing the model, but we’ll cover that later.  The ejection seat is made up from a series of very well detailed parts, and although it doesn’t have seatbelts for absent pilots, there are stencils for the headbox sides and rear.  They are installed in the cockpit, optionally along with the individually posed pilot figures that come on the sprues, who have separate arms, a wrap-around flotation vest and separate helmeted head with O2 hose.  The long canopy part is crystal clear with an external seam over the top that you can either leave there (it’s really fine), or sand flush and polish back to clarity.  There is a frame insert to fit within the canopy, and a choice of two canopy openers, depending on whether you wish to pose the canopy open or closed.  A pair of blade antennae in the centre of spine finishes off the top of your model.  Under the port Leading Edge Root Extension (LERX), the integral crew ladder is stored (on the real thing), and it can be posed open by adding the ladder with its two supports and the open door to the bay, or if you want to pose it closed, put the long narrow part over the shallow recess to represent one edge of the ladder.






Back to the weapons and pods.  This is where the rest of the pins and tiny poly-caps come into play, allowing you to switch and change your load-out whenever you want on some of the pylons.  Most of the pylon types have the pins trapped between them, four of type-A, two of type-B, and one of type-C.  Type-B also has an adapter rail fitted instead of pins, and these fit on the outer wing stations, while the four identical pylons fit on the two inner stations per wing, and the solitary Type-C attaches to the centreline.  The wingtip rails are filled with identical ALQ-218 jamming pods, which are made up from six parts each, and are handed for each wingtip.  For self-defence there are two AIM-120Cs are each moulded complete, with a slim adapter rail, and another pair of AGM-88s with chunkier rail adapter and separate perpendicular fins for extra detail.  Scrap diagrams show the correct location of the missiles on their rails, pods and he two external fuel tanks, which also have polycaps inside them.  The AIM-120Cs have anti-sway braces to locate them on their semi-conformal mounts above the main gear bay apertures.  It’s always best to look at some real-world photos for examples for demonstrable and practical load-outs, but it’s entirely up to you.




There are three decal options on the sheets, and you also get a set of canopy masks that are pre-cut from kabuki tape.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • VAQ-132 ‘Scorpions’ Electronic Attack Sqn., Operation Odyssey Dawn, 2011
  • VAQ-132 ‘Scorpions’ Electronic Attack Sqn., Misawa Air Base, 2014
  • VAQ-139 ‘Cougars’ Electronic Attack Sqn., USS Carl Vinson, 2014








Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The main sheet includes all the markings for the airframe, while the smaller sheet contains the stencils for the pylons and the weapons, of which there are many on a modern jet.  The colours are called out in Meng/AK codes, as well as Gunze’s recent water-based Acrysion paints, which don’t seem to be prominently available in the UK.




The masks on the clear sheet have been pre-weeded so you only get the masks, without all the surrounding tape.  There are masks for all the wheels and the landing light, and frame-hugging masks for the canopy and windscreen.  You are advised to fill in the highly curved centres of the canopy and screen with liquid mask or small sections of tape cut to length with some angles cut where necessary. 




Meng have brought their own particular set of skills to the party with both the E and F variants, and now an EA-18G Growler, which I’ve been waiting for the most.  They have produced a highly detailed model of this two-seat electronic warfare variant, with some excellent moulding and markings to create a model that is excellent out of the box, without the necessity of aftermarket.


Extremely highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of



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30 minutes ago, Tojo72 said:

Looks like a great kit,have not tried any kind of F-18 since a Hasegawa probably in the early 2000's

You won't be disappointed - these things are phenomenal :)

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45 minutes ago, Vapouriser said:

I’ve had my eye on this one for a little while - only thing putting me off right now is the potential complexity for a relatively new builder. However maybe one for the stash !! 

I wouldn't worry unduly.  The instructions are clear, the parts fit will be good, and it's just Meng.  They have a reputation that's well deserved for being good kits :)


Have a squint at the instructions if you're not sure.  They're available on Scalemates here :yes:

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Pity the equipment bays on either side of the forward fuselage aren't open and visible as on option (like HobbyBoss).


Does Eduard do PE options (seatbelts/cockpits) for increased details?

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2 minutes ago, SubOne said:

Does Eduard do PE options (seatbelts/cockpits) for increased details?

Give them a minute, and I'm sure they will.  They already have sets for the HB kit :yes:


2 minutes ago, SubOne said:

Pity the equipment bays on either side of the forward fuselage aren't open and visible as on option (like HobbyBoss).

It's a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't.  A lot of modellers would consider that extraneous detail, and a waste of tooling effort. :shrug:

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23 hours ago, SubOne said:

Pity the equipment bays on either side of the forward fuselage aren't open and visible as on option (like HobbyBoss).


Does Eduard do PE options (seatbelts/cockpits) for increased details?


Coming in August from Eduard.

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