Revell 1/32 F/A-18E Super Hornet 'Vampires'
After over a year of being on and off the shelf of doom, this crossed the line last week. I bought this cheap on a well known auction site and upon opening the box, thought it looked pretty decent so with a wave of enthusiasm, dived right into the build. I'd read the horror stories about this model previously and usually take these with a pinch of salt, but sadly most of what you read about this kit is true.
Before you can begin assembly there is lots of flash on numerous parts that needs removing, as well as many visible seam/moulding lines. The fit of some parts is rather 'interesting' and more akin to building a short-run kit than a supposedly state of the art 21st century kit. All of the interior bulkheads need reducing in height to ensure the upper fuselage fits the lower, which is well worth doing as it reduces the amount of filling and rescribing needed by 90%.
The fit of the undercarriage is poor and this isn't helped by the rather hard-to-interpret instructions, but with with patience and lots of superglue you can get it to stand on its own feet with out too much issue. Saying that, the landing gear does feel a little weak - it survived a trip to my local model club the other night and is holding up fine so far, but time will tell...
When I came to join the nose section to the rear fuselage (this is the natural break where either single or two-seat noses can be fitted) the join was terrible and the fuselage had a noticeable twist that needed lots of clamping and gluing bit by bit to eliminate. There was, in places, a 2mm gap along the underside of the leading edge extensions where they meet the fuselage and this meant the nose had the structural properties of a windsock - these all needed filling with plastic card to strengthen everything up.
When I came to fit the canopy I found you couldn't close it because the ejection seat sat too high - the bottom 2mm had to be shaved off to close the lit. The instrument panel is too tall meaning the coming above fouls the forward part of the canopy - this then resulted in me breaking the canopy when trying to force it on in a moment of frustration. Thankfully Revell provided a replacement but beware! The solution was to trim down the instrument panel (again by 2mm) which means you can just about get the forward clear section to sit ok.
I found the fit of the weapons really poor and every single one needed filling. The rear stabilisers are supposed to attach to the fuselage using the smallest tabs you can imagine which are completely useless - I got rid of them and used brass rod instead. The fit of the twin fins is probably the worst fitting part of the whole kit - the slots are far too big for the tabs and they slop around all over the place, leaving at least 2mm gaps all round. Again I pinned these with metal rod and built up the farings with Milliput. I wanted the wings extended on mine and again the fit of the outer wings was poor - the hinges foul the upper fairing/plate and need to be trimmed considerably for them to fit. I think the kit was designed for wings folded to be fair.
There are some positives, however.
The detail in the undercarriage bays knocks the Trumpeter kit into a cocked hat, and panel and surface detail over the kit is really quite excellent. The decals are superb and bed down beautifully with setting solutions. Cockpit detail is good out of the box to be fair, and seat comes up well with some careful painting. Er... that's about it.
The crowning glory of this build was when I had masked up the black areas to spray the upper grey, and when removing the masking tape paint started coming away resulting in most of the upper surfaces exposing the bare plastic beneath. This was despite a thorough cleaning and priming, as well as a mottle coat beneath. At this this point it very nearly went into the bin, but I thought I'd got so far as may as well strip it and repaint - thankfully the problem didn't repeat itself of that really would have been it.
In short, expect a bit of a battle when building this kit - it's worth sticking with as it does make a very impressive model when done, but it's one well of a journey! This certainly is not my best work, but considering the trials and tribulations along the way I was just glad to get it done.
All the best,
9 additional images. Click to enlarge.