CF-18A Hornet
425 Squadron
"70th Anniversary"
1/48 Hasegawa SP98/Leading Edge 48.7


This is the Hasegawa 1/48 CF-18 Hornet, with Leading Edge Decals and parts from Verlinden Productions 689. I won't go into any of the history of the F/A-18 or any of the technical data because it's covered elsewhere on a number of pure F/A-18 sites.

This was without a doubt the biggest project I have undertaken since getting back into the hobby. To be honest, I had no idea how big it was, or how long it would take. Next up will be something a heck of a lot smaller.

It's a big kit that comes in a big box containing 225 parts. The kit I used, SP98, has the parts and decals to cover the CF-18 version of the Hornet in Canadian Forces markings. As far as extra parts go, the only difference is the spotlight forward of the cockpit on the port side of the nose. Hasesgawa mold the location for the light on the inside of the nose, so all the modeler has to do is cut out the opening if they don't wish to use the decal. Looking at the completed model, on which I took the lazy way out with the decal, I would have to recommend cutting out the opening and installing the clear lenses provided. Decals are provided for seven CAF squadrons, I believe that's all that operate the CF-18. The kit decal sheet is very complete, but as with the real aircraft, it's all in various shades of lo-vis gray, with the exception of the slime-lights. The big bonus with this kit is it was released with a set of 70th Anniversary Leading Edge Decals. These are just fabulous and as on the real aircraft they depict, they really brighten up a rather drab paint scheme. They literally hug the panel lines when applied and the only problem I had was with the starboard tail maple leaf. It shattered when I slid it onto the model, but with lots of water, patience and a shaky hand, I was able to piece it back together. Leading Edge not only provide the colourful red markings, they also include all the stencils, walkway, no-step, intake and slime-lights.

The Verlinden Set #689 is a comprehensive update set that includes cockpit rails, canopy detail, radar, wing-fold mechanism, instrument panel, HUD, boarding ladder, ejection seat and an assortment of underwing weapons. I tried to use the canopy inset, but botched it up, I just couldn't master the triple-fold required, and after a few tries, I had ruined it. I wasn't interested in using the radar on this particular project, but it looks to be an improvement over Eduard's F/A-18 photo-etched radar, but that is purely an opinion based on appearances since I haven't built either yet. The ejection seat is just great, everything molded on and waiting for paint. Modeler's with a steadier hand than I will have a blast detailing it. The kit-provided ejection seat looks pretty good as well, and while I didn't bother with it, I think it would be quite acceptable. The instrument panel is very nicely detailed, but the real panel is anything but flat, and Hasegawa's, with some time and paint invested in it, is just as good, and looks far more like the real one. I gave some thought to using the wing fold, but was somewhat intimidated after the debacle with the canopy frame, and with the news that Hasegawa has released a F/A-18 with a folded wing option, I decided to save a little piece of sanity and wait.

The kit was assembled and painted as per the kit instructions and overall, the fit was exceptional. The only problem area I encountered was the port rear fuselage (top and bottom) joint. But I had been forewarned that this could be a problem and in the end all that was needed was a tiny bit of filler. Having used Tenax-7R liquid cement for a while and with the excellent quality of kits available in the past decade, I had hoped never to use that hateful stuff we call putty or filler again. As it was, I used Testor's filler after masking off the surrounding area to preserve detail and smoothed it out with rubbing alcohol. It was actually a less distasteful chore than I had anticipated, but thinking about all the older kits in my collection and the conversions I'm getting up the nerve to do, I went out and got some Squadron green stuff, with which I am quite familiar from my early modeling days. One other construction item of note was the main canopy. Due to the shape of this part, a seam runs right down the centre of it, so a couple of hours with sandpaper, steel wool, rubbing compound, toothpaste and finally, future floor polish, it was removed and the canopy looked awesome. So good in fact, that I polished the windscreen and coated it with Future. I intend (good intentions, right?) to do this to all my clear parts in future.

Hasegawa provide white metal main and nose gear legs in the kit, and these look just great. I had to bend the main gear legs into the correct position, but once painted up, they look just like the brutal and complicated originals. Hasegawa also provide a sheet of photo-etched parts for the boarding ladder, HUD, nose gear well plumbing, rearview mirrors and the grills located just forward of the main gear wells.

Care and patience are required (my experience, anyway) with attaching the flaps to their actuators and then to the wings, but the completed effect is outstanding. All that wing area hanging down makes the plastic replica look all that more authentic.

Testor's ModelMaster paints, Tenax-7R and Humbrol cement were used to build the kit. A great kit all around, and now that I've finished one, I'm looking forward to the other three in my collection.

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