Academy 1/32 F/A-18C Hornet
- Product Name : Academy 1/32 F/A-18C Hornet
- Manufacturer : Academy
When it comes to building aircraft models, the comfort zone for most modelers is defined by 1/48 and 1/72 scale kits. Especially with aircraft developed after World War 2. The reason for that are the price point and the size of the Kits. Not everyone is willing to pay more than 100 bucks for a box containing some plastic sprues and decals and those people who would still consider buying a 1/32 scale kit are furthermore decimated by the fact that they just don’t have the space for huge replicas of real aircraft. Therefore, the options for kits that are bigger than the classic 1/48 scale are limited. But fortunately, that isn’t the case if you are looking for a 1/32 representation of the infamous F/A-18, also known as the Legacy Hornet.
About 17 years ago, Academy threw this kit on the market and set the standard for the Hornet in this scale up to his day. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise though, since there is almost no competition except for the both ridiculous old Hasegawa and Revell kits, that have a combined age of over 80 years. The Academy Hornet enjoys great popularity amongst modelmakers and calls for a high demand and thus, 7 reboots were issued with one of them being a version released by Kinetic. Due to this high demand though, the Hornet is currently sold out. The only place where you can get it right now is through private sellers i.e. on eBay. But curb your enthusiasm, you won’t find one below 170€ and even that is a pretty good price considering the retail cost of 140€.
The box contains 19 sprues of plastic, metal struts for the landing gear and some vinyl tires. All in all over 1000 parts but some of them may not be needed since Academy included most of the weapons that the Hornet can carry and depending on the loadout you are going for, some of these will stay on the sprues filling up your spare parts box. You will have the choice between GBU-10’s, GBU-24’s, JDAMS’s, AMRAAM’s, Sparrow’s, HARM’s and Sidewinder’s of course just to name a few. All the necessary stencils for the various missiles and bombs are provided as well. Even if you want to represent training (inert) versions. The detail of the weaponry comes pretty close to what you would expect from aftermarket resin sets. But considering the scale (and price) this is something the customer should expect.
Detail and Quality
The overall detail quality of the kit is appropriate too: crisp and clean with no flash to take care of. The cockpit with all of it’s switches will make the decision of buying an aftermarket set very hard. Looking into the gear bays, the quality holds up to the first impressions. There is plenty of stuff going on and with some additional wires added you would wish for a good way to show it off after the model is finished and stands on its wheels. The same level of quality can be seen on the clear parts. The canopy looks good and maybe because of its size and therefore increased thickness in contrary to its 1/48 counterpart it even shows the iridescent effect you would see on the real thing.
My only critique in terms of detail would be the nozzles, which lack the rivets on the individual blades. That’s something I would certainly expect from a 1/32 scale kit. Resin aftermarket sets, like the ones Reskit has to offer, might be a good idea, since the nozzles are a very prominent feature on an aircraft like the Hornet. What is refreshing to see though, is that Academy included three different nozzle sets: one for the parked position, open nozzles when the engine is working and the closed nozzle position. Well done!
Talking about options: Besides the huge amount of weaponry and the different nozzles, Academy gives you even more decisions: The Kit includes the AN/APG-73 radar and thus, you can build the Hornet with its radome in the opened position. The speedbreak is extendable and the wings can be shown off unfolded or folded. The latter will require some cutting and sanding though, since there are no separate parts for the folded options. You will have to cut the unfolded wings into 2 pieces each and you will run the risk of irreversible damage. Since Academy delivers us some pilot and deck crew figures, which have nice details, you can actually build a diorama OOB.
It goes without saying that the canopy can be build in a opened or closed state.
Instructions and Decals
The instruction booklet is doing a good job at keeping the number of pages rather low while not cluttering the individual steps with too much of construction work. It`s readability is very good even though it`s mostly kept in black and white.
Academy provides you with three marking options with two of them being a high viz scheme: VFA 192 “World Famous Golden Dragons” ,which is shown on the box art and VFA-146 “Blue Diamonds” with it’s cool looking stars and stripes radome. The low viz scheme also shows a Legacy Hornet flown by the VFA-192. The quality of the decals makes a good impression and does not disappoint.
- Lots of options
- Great detail OOB
- Good instructions
- Low availability
For everyone that wants to transition to a much bigger scale, the Hornet is almost a must have. With its level of detail as well as its quality mouldings it doesn’t feel like you have spent a lot of money for nothing in return. Of course, looking at sprues and instructions is fun, but the real test is when it comes to building it. Engineering and fit is what defines a really good modelkit. But since this kit is older there are already a lot of build reviews that state, that the very good impression of the kit is continuing during the construction part.
But keep in mind: Finding one on eBay with an appropriate price tag won’t be too easy and you should practice some patience before you can call one of these your own. You will have lots of competitors that are waiting to get their first or even another Academy Hornet as well. Like me for example.