Kinetic 1:48 F/A-18C Hornet BuNo. 163498/AA-07, VFA-81 Sunliners

The Kit

Here's my 1/48 F/A-18C in VFA-81 markings. I decided to build this one after seeing a photo of the real jet, on the USS Saratoga during the 1991 gulf war. VFA-81 is of course famous for LCdr Scott Speicher, who was shot down and killed, and for the two MiG kills by LCdr Fox and Lt. Mogillo. But I went for Sunliner 407 as on the photo, being launched with a single AGM-62 Walleye II ER under the right wing, a data link pod under the fuselage, and a single drop tank under the left wing. Not something you see very often, so I just had to build it. Luckily, I could find a decal sheet by Bullseye with VFA-81 ODS era markings. The Walleye and the data link pod came from Astra Resin. These were very nicely done, with no warping or bubbles in the resin and minimal clean up was needed. The kit I used was the Kinetic kit, specifically the boxing with the VFC-12 aggressor markings. This kit is a bit more modern than the Hasegawa or Hobbyboss kits, so not all the older equipment is included. I did find the older FLIR pod on the sprues, even though it is not mentioned in the instructions, but the laser spot tracker that goes on the starboard fuselage station was robbed from the Hobbyboss kit. I found the kit to be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand it has nice detail, and finely recessed panel lines and rivets and such, but on the other hand I found the fit at places difficult. The rear of the fuselage, the intakes and the nose were particularly troublesome. The door of the refuelling probe was too small, so I made a new one with some Evergreen styrene. The instructions were not always great either. Some part numbers like landing gear door parts were mixed up, so I ended up with the front nose gear doors being on the wrong side. Luckily someone pointed that out, so it's fixed now. I made some straight antenna blades with some more Evergeen stryrene, to replace the swept back ones that come with the kit. The kit's seat comes with some photo etch belts, that aren't mentioned in the instructions (strangely, in other boxings, they are), but they didn't look convincing to me anyway, so I got a pilot figure from PJ Productions to make it look a bit more busy in the cockpit. The kit does have the option to have the flaps up or down, and the wings straight or folded up, after some minimal cutting. To save some space, I went for the folded up option. After an Alclad flat black primer coat, I sprayed the model with Mr. Color lacquers, with some MR Paint for the radome, and Vallejo Metal Color for the engine exhausts. After a gloss coat, the decals were added. I did have to use the walkways from the kit's sheet, as the Bullseye sheet doesn't come with these. Both sheets were printed by Cartograf, so they didn't cause any trouble. A pastel wash was then applied, and this was all then sealed with a flat coat from VMS. This was the first time I tried this, and it was a very pleasant experience. It dries up very flat, with no frosting or shifting of colours, and is very durable when fully cured. All the smaller bits were then added, and there we have it, a completed model of Sunliner 407. This specific jet was later also assigned to the Blue Angels, so some of you might have seen it at an airshow at some point.