|Review: F/A-18E Super Hornet #04585|
|Review by:||Zoltan Pocza|
The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet was designed to replace the famous, no. 1 fighter of the US Navy, the F-14 Tomcat. Also it will replace the F-18 Hornets (as know as Legacy, or Baby Hornets) as well, and a special version, the EA-18G Growler, that will enter the service in the next year, will replace the old EA-6B Prowlers. Even though the Superbug was shiny and new, it already flew several sorties in Operation Enduring Freedom few years before. The new bird is about 30% larger then its predecessor, and although you can realize at first sight that it's a Hornet, in practice it's a brand new aircraft with larger range, more power, more weapons (11 external hardpoints), and more advanced electronics.
For the Tomcat fans this bird is nightmare, the devil itself, but it became really popular in short time. In my eye, Super Hornet is science, Tomcat is art, and both planes has their own place in the history of aviation.
It was more than clear, that almost every model manufacturers will come up with their Superbug offerings really soon, in multiple scales. This time I'll review the Revell's 1/48 new one seater.
After I successfully explained to the German customs officers (1 hour), that I was not paying for these kits, and I'm not a law-breaker, but I got them as review samples, I was ready to open the box. I had the Hasegawa F and this Revell E in one pack, directly from Luckymodel. (Later I plan a comparison article, and Italeri's offering will join the team as well for this event). The first impression was: Oh my god, I hate this big, soft box! It seems they try to mark the price category with the box sizes at Revell, doesn't matter if it's ridiculous.... Sometimes I meet some Revell kits in the same size of box, but a half of it would be enough. It's like the potato chip packaging, where you have a large, inflated bag, and only the 40-50% of it is the actual product, the rest is air. This soft box is not really good to put more kits on the top of it. The Hasegawa box is way better, and nicer, also it's much stronger, it seems more serious when you touch the box. Even the Italeri box is better, this one's quality gives the impression that there's no valuable stuff inside, even though it's not right! On the boxart you can see the a famous VX-9 Vampires bird. When you turn the box, you'll find some images of the model on the side, as it's usual at Revell....but wait...what model?!?!
Yes, it's something else, on the first image you can see the speedbrakes opened between the tails! Oh my god...just like in the case of the first Italeri Superbugs, it's totally wrong! If I recall right, the first production Revell E was something like this as well. The Superhornet does not have this speedbrake between the tails (at least not the production ones, I don't know about the very early prototypes), it's correct for the legacy Hornets only! Before you get heart attack, I have to say that the kit inside, has correct one, you cannot make it wrong! On the next image you can find some ordnance that is different from the ones included in the kit inside the box. There's a small text above the pictures: "Prototyp-model". Probably it's right, as it's something totally different. One thing is sure...if I would see only these photos, I'd never give money for this kit. But that would be a big mistake, as definitely it worth the money....let's see why!
First at all, If someone still does not have this info, I have to clarify, that even though there were rumors that Revell and Hasegawa Superbugs are from the same source, but Hasegawa will release the F and Revell will release the E, it's totally wrong! They are even not relatives, and are 100% different, no identical parts at all! Every single part, breakdown is different, and in both cases, is ready for E and F version.
Let's see what we have in this not that good box. Inside you can find a huge bag, containing smaller bags with the sprues. 15 darker grey sprues can be found with surprising quality for the 163 parts. I'd say that this surface detail quality is close to the famous Revell 1/48 F-15E's quality, that is really high! It's not that good as Hasegawa's offering, but better then the Italeri one. At some areas the sprues are bent, and gives the feeling that technology-wise there are some issues to be resolved. The kit is manufactured in China, and they don't miss to inform us about it, you can find it 2 times(!) in the lower fuselage part. Once inside the wing, that doesn't really matter, but the second one is on the underside of the flap on the same part, that may be a visible area. I don't know why they think it's a good idea...
From the parts breakdown it's clearly visible that a two seater F version is in the future plans. As I mentioned there's no incorrect speedbrake between the tails, but there's no other positionable speedbrake option either. Unfortunately there's no optional dropped slats and flaps, and no wingfolds. I understand that there's no slats and flaps option, but I will never understand why they missed the wingfold option, especially because there's an inner and outer wing part, where the connection line is really near to the line that would make it foldable! It's really close to it, but you have to cut, and rebuild if you want to fold the wings up. It's really a shame...
The surface detail is good enough, you can find nice engraved panel lines on all the surfaces. Although it's better than the average in this price category, it's not for the rivet counters, as it's still not perfect. There are some inaccuracies in the general shape as well, and some in the details too.
The cockpit is nice, I like the instrument panel details. The SJU-17 NACES ejection seat generally features nice details, but it's really simplified on the back side. The main seat part contains better and more natural looking harness than it's usual in the cases if injection moulded seats. 2 detailed part is included to detail the canopy framing inside, it's a really nice touch. The instrument coaming represents something that I cannot describe, I have no idea what they wanted to depict. It's a really bad designed part, and virtually there's no representation of HUD other than a clear part.
The landing gear details are nice, you have separate tie down rings for the main landing gear that I think is a good idea. On the real bird the front landing gear door has a grid section build in. We can find an interesting approach of Revell, they decided to make this part from clear plastic, and provided transparent grid decals for it. The best solution would be a PE part here, or replacing it with some other grids, but it's still better than nothing.
The kit includes a positionable canopy and boarding ladder that is optional.
With our Revell Super Hornet kit, a set of ordnance is included:
If I would say that the weapons are excellent, then I would not be honest. If you have nothing better to replace them, then using the kit armament is an acceptable option anyway. The missiles are moulded in one piece, that does not provide the possibility to achieve high level of details and accuracy.
One of the best parts are the decals. I always liked the really thin decals of Revell, and this one of these. A large decal sheet is included with 4 options and full stenclining:
And now let's see what we have in the box:
The instruction sheet is clear, easy to follow, and describes the building process step by step in 17 pages. In the instruction sheet there was the excellent decal sheet inserted. Unfortunately it's larger than the booklet, so I don't think it's too safe to store it there, especially because of the bad design of the box.
I received this kit together with the Hasegawa F version, so I made a fault by checking both before I write this review. I had really mixed feelings about this kit. This kit features several problematic areas, and I still feel that technology wise there are some issues left to be resolved. But at the end, I think it's a good model, with nice surface details and cockpit, it can be built up really nicely. The fit is not perfect so you'll need to fill, sand, and rescribe at some critical areas. Some details are really crispy, some are looking like something that is from 20 years before.
The good thing, that it's better than the Italeri, and based on the prices I know, it's cheaper. I bough the Italeri updated kit (with corrected speedbrake) here in Germany for 19.95 Euros, and this Revell E version is 21.55 US dollar at Luckymodel. We can say it's approximately the same level of price anyway, especially compared to the Hasegawa offering. I think this is the right price for this kit, it worth the money. With some work, this kit will look really stunning.
I recommend this kit!
If you like this kit, you can order it from Luckymodel at www.luckymodel.com
Sample kit courtesy by Luckymodel. Thank you!
Photos and text © 2006 by Zoltan Pocza
March 22, 2006