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Kinetic 1/48 F/A-18C Hornet preproduction review. Part 1

1/48 isn’t my usual scale for modern jet aircraft, but it is for many of my modelling compadres.

To this end a collegue of mine involved at the retail end of scale modelling recently returned from the Toy fair in Nuremberg with an advance copy of the new Kinetic F-18 Hornet offering and requested I throw it together and “let us know how it turns out:..   So here’tis

I received a plastic bag of parts, no instructions, no decals.. and as it turned out, not all the parts were there either !

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At this point I inspected the parts and found some glaring omissions, some of which are mentioned in the photos above. As this is a preproduction kit I can only assume the shortfalls I mention here will be remedied by the time the kit comes out.

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Parts breakdown have a very “Academy” feel to them.

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Have a look at the decal options  and you’ll see they have intentions of having enough parts to build 7 different aircraft covering 4 basic airframe versions…  however there’s  couple of things that will need to be sorted before it goes into production.  More on that in a minute.

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Undercarriage bay is softly detailed.

With assembly beginning using the Academy 1/32 F18C instructions as a guide I found the cockpit simple with a “ye olde Revell” charm rather than a “crisp” Hasegawa feel.  As the shroud was missing from the preview example I had to fabricate one from scrap.

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Here’s where the kit starts to lose it’s “shake and bakeability” and will start to require actual modelling skills. There’s a bit of flash – this may be an artifact of it being preproduction – but the contour on the front nose section and some extra protrusions on the rear cockpit cover ensure it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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I thought I’d have a go at cutting the wings into the folded position.  The trenches indicating where the cuts are to be made are quite wide so judicious checking with the obverse to ensure you don’t overcut is a must.

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I’ve skipped demonstrating the intake installation and engine insides as they were pretty straightforward – suffice to say it’s nice to have an Academy-like intake trunking system in a smaller scale, in fact the whole assembly feels like they’ve imitated the 1/32 Hornet’s construction method.

Cementing the top half to the bottom and checking some details I find there’s more holes in places that don’t need them and vice versa. The nose is a bit of a worry – as mentioned earlier, there are versions in the proposed decal selection that require the port light to be fitted ( Swiss, Finnish, Kuwaiti etc) but unlike the Academy 1/32 kit, there’s no separate part. As there’s a lens on the clear sprue I can only assume the production kit will have an extra portside nose half with the hole in place. I chose to drill one out as I’m going to make this one a Finnish example.

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With the fuselage assembled I dry fitted the canopy..  oops, it doesn’t fit.  The base of the canopy coaming is about 1mm shy of the required width – the width being of a part ( the top fuselage) that is already moulded – so it’s not the modeller’s fault !  This will have to be remedied. Another question I had here was the front undercarriage doors. As there were no instructions I can’t confirm but there appeared to be 4 starboard doors and no port doors. I used one of the unused parts to serve as the port door ( as seen in the photo with  question mark) but the big issue here is that these doors are supposed to be assymetric.  I’ll skip the wing assembly description as it was simple, the only issues being having to measure up where the pylons go and having no locating or adhesion points for the trailing edge elevator covers.

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Thanks to my good friend Tapio from Kuusankoski, I have a copy of a Finnish airforce book that has some excellent reference material in it, and so this model will be Finnish.  Now to find some decals !

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Part two will follow soon – and I’ll try to be more positive with my impressions but at this point it’s feeling very much like a budget price mini version of the Academy Hornet with a slightly 2005 issue Revell feel.   With a little care I’m sure I can make a presentable early model Hornet out of it.

PROCEED TO PART 2

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Preshading gone overboard.