McDonnell Douglas F/A-18D Hornet


Model review

The Hasegawas F/A-18D Hornet in 1/48 scale is exellent kit, unfortunately it is very expensive (600 fim) but I think it is worth of it ! The kit includes phote ethced parts and the undercarriage is cast metal. The fit of the parts is good expect the nose cone where you have to use file and putty and carve the panel lines again. The only bigger broblem was the canopy, which had a casting joint through of its length.

I sanded it off very carefully with sandpaper n:o 1000 and then I switched to toothpaste. I polished the canopy with toothpaste and smooth cloth untill it was clear again. At the end I used plastic shiner (wax). The nose wheel doors were positioned wrong on the plan, I assembled them using photos as a reference. The decals are for three planes of US Marines and US Navy. You have to be very careful with the decals, because the bigger ones may breake in pieces quite easily. At all the kit included plenty of small parts and it took many hours to get it fully completed, but I think I got a very impressive model in my gallery.

History

In the early 1970s the US Navy was looking for a multi-role fighter to replace its Phantom fighters and Corsair attack/bombers. It was intented that the new plane would replace both the types. Attention was focused on the USAF light fighter competition. The planes under evaluation were General Dynamics F-16 and Northrop F-17. It was widely anticipated that the winner of the contest would be selected. But the Navy chose the Northrop F-17 because it had two engines which offered extra safety when flying over the ocean and it also offered more development potential.

McDonnell Douglas teamed with Northrop for the project which emerged as the F-18, a quite bigger and much heavier plane than the original F-17. Originally it was purposed to develop two planes, a lighter version for land-based use without arrester hook and catapult systems and a version for carrier use. Only the latter was carried on. McDonnell Douglass designed also same kind of the new generation cocpit with multi-function displays and HOTAS systems like their earlier F-15 had.

The prototype McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18 first flew in 1978. The first single-seat F/A-18A massproduction plane flew its maiden flight in 1982. The two-seater was marked F/A-18B. The modernized F/A-18C and D versions has more powerful engines and updated weapon- and avionic systems. F/A-18C and D has the Hughes AN/APG-65 multi-function air-air and air-ground capable radar. With its versatile armament the F/A-18 Hornet can manage in different type of missions, for example interception, ground attack missions, bombing etc. Also the two-seaters are fully combat-capable. The F/A-18 Hornet has a total of nine weapon stations for different kinds of armament and for fuel tanks. The plane has also so called fly-by-wire control system.

The designation F/A-18 (fighter/attack) is often used but is strictly unofficial. The last development version F/A-18E and F Super Hornet is in operational service in the USA. It is totally new plane and 1/3 bigger than the previous C and D models. The production of F/A-18C and D models has already ended, the Finnish made planes were the last examples of C/D model.

Operation "Desert Storm" in 1991 on Kuwait took part 106 Hornets from US Navy and 84 planes from US Marine Corps. Royal Kanadian Air Force planes also saw action in the Gulf War. Hornets flew air defence, suppression of enemy air defence , interdiction, close air support, escort, counter-air and anti-shipping missions. F/A-18s from USS Saratoga scored two kills on 17 January 1991 when they shot down two Iraqi MiG-21s.

The model represents a plane of the VFA-106 "Gladiators" squadron in 1991 at Cecil Field in the USA. The squadron was then a training unit of the US Navy.

Technical data of F/A-18C

Engine(s) 2 x 7257 kp F104-GE-400 EPE
Dimensions Length 17,07 m; span 11,43 m; height 4,66 m; wing area 37,17 m2; max. wing load 634 kg/m2
Weights Empty 9900 kg; Max. take off 23540 kg; external stores 7711 kg ( A-version )
Performance Max. speed 1,8M (2000 km/h); ceiling 15250 m ( A ) climb rate 254 m/sec ( A )
Armament 1 x M61 Vulcan gun, 2 x AIM9 Sidewinder, max. 10 x AIM-120 AMRAAM; air-to-ground Mk-82, Mk-83, Mk-84, AGM-62, AGM- 65, AGM-88 and N-57
Users Finland, USA, Australia, Spain, Canada, Kuwait

Sources
Modern attack aircraft, Mike Spick, Tim Ripley

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