The F/A-18 Hornet has been in service with the US Navy and US Marines for more than 2 decades. Through the years, its capabilities have been refined and upgraded to meet with new mission requirements.
Most of these upgrades are software-related and internal changes. However, once in awhile, modifications involve external changes. One of these is the integration of AIFF antennae. These involve adding 5 blades (commonly called ‘bird slicers’) on the nose, between the canopy and the gun. Late Block Hornets were all duly modified.
The 1/48 Hasegawa F/A-18 Hornet is touted as the best Hornet kit in the market and has been since it has been released. However, out of the box, it renders an early production Hornet. One would have to scratchbuild the AFF antenna. MAW Decals has come along however, to offer a resin version.
Now instead of simply molding 5 small blade antennas on a pour stub, MAW Decals has decided to offer the whole Hornet nose! So you basically swap out the kit nose and plonk in this new one.
A late Block Hornet doesn’t just involve the IFF antennae on the nose though. So MAW Decals includes the following along with the nose:
A small instruction sheet is also included with the locations of the various items. There is also a small decal sheet with what looks to be like wire mesh patterns to put all over the kit. Not being too familiar with Hornets, I’m not too sure what these actually are. But with the attention to detail MAW Decals has done, I’m pretty sure these are accurate!
The resin parts are a white color and the panel lines on the nose itself are very fine. I would have liked for the panel lines to be deeper but it’s a personal preference and an easy matter to remedy anyway. The resin stub itself is at the end of the nose you attach to the kit fuselage so it’s convenient. No fear of losing any details.
One of the UHF antennae and IFF antennae on the nose came bent. This will require some fixing with hot water. MAW Decals packed all the parts in a small ziplock bag and doesn’t secure the pieces in any way so I guess some bent parts is inevitable.
All in all though, this all-in-one package is a welcome addition to my collection. Sure the changes this set does aren’t hard to DIY, but it’s quite convenient. Plus, I’m always glad to support cottage industry items.
Crap. It’s been almost 3 months since I did anything else to this build. Today, I finally got around fixing the demarcation lines. And boy did I have a ‘great’ time doing it.
First I used blutack to mask all over the kit. And ended up not doing anything to it for 3 weekends. And what happened? For some reason the blutack left some sort of residue that of course, couldn’t be rubbed off. So I ended up having to spray everything all over again.
So what I did was for each color, I’d slowly blutack and spray to fix the soft camouflage pattern. Took awhile. Over 3 weekends in fact. But I… am… done! In the process however, I lost the shade of green I originally used, so I ended up respraying all the green again. I also quickly masked off the grey parts and sprayed that on too. The left stablizer also fell off but that’s a small easy fix. So all the major parts (except for the parts that need to be white) are… done! BOO YEAH!
Here’s a before and after look at the camo:
Up next will be the rest of the detail parts. Won’t be long now. Won’t be long…
Another 3 months has gone by and we have moved to our own place. Ongoing house matters put this on the backburner. Now it’s back on the worktable.
Gear has now been painted and ready for assembly. Unlike some modelers, I don’t even try to mask the wheels before painting the tires. I just freehand everything. Carefully. Aircraft kits tend to have a lot of itty-bitty parts so this might take awhile even after everything has been put together.
I… am… edging… closer… to… finishing!
Typically for me, something bad happens to my builds about 70% into the project. I’d then have to spend some time and elbow grease to fix the problem(s). I thought it won’t happen for this one, seeing as how I was 90% into the build. But Mr. Murphy must have known and well… disaster has struck.
In my zeal to quickly finish this thing, I decided to use spray paint to finish the inside of the air intake. And in my zeal to get it over quickly, the spraypaint ended up being too thick. Sigh… so now the air intake looks like something exploded in it and messed up the lip.
After looking at it for 15 minutes, I realized there’s only 2 things that can be done:
Of course, I also realized I should have keep them separate in the first place. But I’m an idiot.
Both aren’t easy solutions, but I’m leaning towards the latter. Which still bugs me either way. More delay! Pah!
Back to the Viper! Now it’s time for all the itty-bitty details. First up are the weapons. Aggressor aircraft are usually armed with one inert AIM-9 Sidewinder and an ACMI (Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation) pod. I got these from Hasegawa’s Aircraft Weapons Sets C and D respectively. The inert (blue) bands are not included so I had to mask off and paint the bands.
Inert rounds and ACMI pods come in a variety of colors actually. Red, blue, white and various shades of grey. I went with grey as it’s the color shown in my reference photos.
Spent the last two evenings doing the decals. These are aftermarket from Two Bobs.
I must say these are very nice compared to Hasegawa ones. They are very thin and handle Mark Softer very well. There is tissue residue around the decals which I hope won’t cause silvering. I’ll have to wipe down the kit with a damp lint-free cloth when I’ve given it some time for the decals to dry.
After this is weathering!
All decals on! And I must say there is some silvering of the decals. So I did another round of gloss coat. Looks quite OK now. Minute silvering in some angles but it’s much much better now.
And this was when I realized the instructions on Two Bob’s decal sheet was wrong! The checkerboard pattern is not supposed to be on the tip of the tailfin as depicted on the instructions. It’s supposed to be slightly below. Sigh… that’s what I get for not looking at enough reference photos. Too late to fix it now.
Anyway, before commencing with weathering, I glued on the landing gear. Which isn’t how I normally do things. Normally I’d weather everything before putting them all together but I couldn’t resist. Let’s hope I won’t regret doing it this way.
I did leave out the weapons, the pitot tube and some of the smaller antennae blades till after weathering though.
The details in the gear wells are actually quite bare compared to the real thing, but it should look much better after a wash.
I use artist oil diluted with turpentine for my wash. Took me a lot longer than I used to. Probably rusty. I ended up making the wash too thick so I had to spend some time removing excess oil paint. I’ve also forgotten how badly turpentine smelled. Lots of ventilation required!
The wash makes the panel lines pop out which isn’t realistic by any means (friendships have been broken over this sort of thing). However, I chalk it up to artistic license as I find it gives the whole kit a more 3D-look.
I added the final touches to the kit. This includes the remaining antennae blades and the weapons. The ACMI pod and Sidewinder are mounted with CA glue.
Another small detail that Hasegawa left out of their mold is the AOA (Angle Of Attack) vanes. These are very small needle-like protrusions on each side of the nose. Based on a suggestion by good friend Gerald, I cut out the tips off safety pins to simulate the probes. Then I drilled holes onto the radome and CA glued the tips into place. These are then painted the same grey as the radome.
There’s also the matter of the static dischargers on the tailfin, wings and stabilizers. I tried fishing line but it’s so thin the CA glue had nothing to stick on. I’m considering brass rod, stretched sprue or copper wire. Who knows, something else might popup.
I’m planning to enter this kit to the 7th Jakarta Miniature Model & Expo held by Peter & Partner, a local model shop so right now I’m debating if I should add a simple base for it. Something along the lines of this. First though, I better make sure I finish this before 6 December (last day of registration).
The RGM-79SC GM Sniper Custom was developed for the ace pilots of the Federation. Performance and capability was upgraded from the standard GM to the levels of the RX-78-2 Gundam operating out of the White Base during the One Year War.
Generator output was increased for the added load the long-range beam sniper rifle produced. The beam saber was repositioned to the forearm for close combat. Additional racks were added for optional weapons and to increase the mobility, the GM Sniper Custom was upgraded with a mass of additional thrusters and verniers. Less than 50 Sniper Customs were built. Each was specifically tailored for its pilot so no two were configured the same way.
Akohobby is back again with one of their excellent plastic injection conversions. This time around, they have decided to tackle another GM variant, this time the RGM-79SC GM Sniper Custom. Like their previous Powered GM conversion, you will need a base kit to apply this kit on. The GM Sniper Custom requires Bandai’s RX-78-2 Gundam ver. One Year War (OYW) as a base.
Inside the plain brown box are 2 sprues of dark grey injection plastic and a simple A5-sized instruction sheet. The whole set is made up of 44 parts and converts the following portions of the Gundam OYW:
The Gundam OYW is actually filled with panel details which the Akohobby replicates on their product. So once installed, they won’t look out of place compared to the original parts.
One minor complaint is the lack of clear parts for the head visor. Akohobby molds this as a solid piece like the other parts. The shape itself though, seems to be quite similar to the MG GM kit but I’m not sure if it’s possible to use the part from that kit to replace this one. But it also means you’ll throw away one kit just for the clear part.
The instruction sheet is simple enough with large diagrams showing where each part goes. The sheet also indicates the parts that are included in the base kit by shading them in dark grey. Parts in white are from the conversion kit itself. Nicely done on the part of Akohobby.
Fit seems to be OK as the kit is engineered to be snap fit like the base kit. I must add though that I had some fitting problems with my previous Powered GM build. However, a fellow modeler didn’t which meant either 1) my construction sucks or 2) my Powered GM kit was part of a 2nd or later production batch, which deteriorated the mold somehow. Anyway, I’m sure this GM Sniper Custom set is part of the 1st batch of production run so hopefully, there won’t be any fitting problems.
Using the Gundam OYW as a base means the completed GM Sniper Custom should be just as poseable which should make for an exciting build. Plus, it’s ver affordable! What more can you ask for?
The RX-77-3 Guncannn Heavyarms is a heavily modified RX-77-2 Guncannon developed as an outgrowth of the RGC-80 GM Cannon design. The Guncannon Heavyarms is designed as a stand-alone combat unit, unlike the GM Cannon.
Basically a retooled Guncannon, the Heavyarms featured better armor, improved 240mm cannons and a grenade rack. By UC 0085, this successful variant would see limited mass production.
B-Club is a subsidiary of Bandai which produces resin kits of generally more obscure subjects from the Gundam universe. Being resin, the products are also considerably more expensive than the injection offerings from Bandai.
It’s also not everyday that they actually reissue old kits since resin tends to do lots of nasty things to the molds. So I was pleasantly surprised they announced the re-issuing of the conversion kit for the Guncannon Heavyarms. Now this subject doesnt get more obscure. For one thing it’s from the Gundam MSV series, which was originally a subline of the original series. When the Heavyarms did get animated it was in some throwaway scenes in Gundam Zeta. The recast for this set has also been long out of production.
Me being a fanatic of the Federation Mass Production Mobile Suits, well… I just had to get it! And so I did, from Hobbylink Japan. This was to be, only my third ever original resin kit. Anyhow, on with the preview!
The kit came in a box about half the size of a small HGUC model kit box but it’s packed the brim with parts. The resin parts themselves came in a sprue-like tree made also of resin. This is the standard B-Club practice. The resin is a dark greyish color which is quite different from what I see in recasts. The molding is very crisp which made me wonder if they actually produced new molds for this one.
The boxart shows the completed kit. Instructions are black and white without actually showing how the completed kit looks like. It’s also all in Japanese but it’s easy enough to figure out from the larger than average-sized drawings.
An interesting addition is a set of polycaps so the kit can be fully poseable. I’m not really sure if the polycaps can hold the kit in any pose since the completed kit is almost ALL resin which should make it quite heavy.
One minor quibble is the lack of any markings. B-Club doesn’t even include a set of stickers. I don’t use stickers on my gunpla but still, this is an expensive item, surely they could have made an effort to include some sort of markings.
Oh, did I mention it needs an HGUC Guncannon to use as a base for this conversion? The sheer amount of parts in this set does make me wonder how much of the injection kit will be used though. The instruction sheet doesn’t give any indication on that front.
Now lately, the trend has been that sometimes (but not all the time) B-Club would release a resin kit, then Bandai would release the same thing in injection kit form. At maybe 25% of the price of the resin kit. This kit, however, should be safe. But of course, never say never.
I’m very glad I have this in my collection. Sure it’s a very obscure subject, but I think it’s a very nice design evolution of the Guncannon.
I say. This project has been ongoing (mostly off) for almost 3 years! Who would have thunk. Time sure flies. Anyhow, before I get bitched to death by my friends who know about this project, I decided I really have to finish this one. So anyhow, I still don’t have a proper workdesk, but I lugged my compressor to the porch and started spraying on the steps. And here’s what I got so far after an hour.
There’s still some mistakes here and there but I thought, what the heck. I have to finish this quickly or it’ll forever in my Projects list.
I must say it’s quite fun to finally be able to airbrush again. I was very rusty though. Just look at the left wing which was where I started. The preshade’s very roughly done. Normally my preshades are quite roughly done, but this one is really quite bad heh. By the time I got to the right wing though, I was starting to get the hang of controlling my double action airbrush again. Hopefully tomorrow the weather will hold. Then can slap on the camouflage colors!
Painting commences. The camouflage I am going to do is the ‘Flogger’ scheme, which tries to replicate the MiG-23/27 Flogger color scheme as flown by ex-Eastern-Bloc Air Forces. Markings will be from TwoBobs’ 48-001 ‘Fighting Fulcrum’ sheet. The sheet includes a camouflage guide which I use to trace the camo pattern onto the kit with a soft pencil.
Strangely though, some of the camouflage do not match up when put onto the kit so I did some guesstimation and compromised some here and there to get the final guides done.
The weather turned out to be good. It was dry and sunny out. So on with the lightest color first. And that would be light brown. I decided to use Buff straight from the bottle. After about an hour or so of spraying, the rain clouds started gathering, which in turn turned up the humidity, which in turn cauased water to seep into my airbrush, which in turn caused it to spray water onto my kit instead of paint. Damn. Had to stop after only magaing to finishing up the bottom. Oh well.
After I was done, I compared the resulting color I got with a reference picture I got from Airliners.net. The Buff turned out to be too yellowish. Gotta figure out a way to fix it in the next session.
While I know that colors of the real aircraft differs in each photo, I think mine differs way too much to be excused heh.
Painting continues. Today I originally planned to repaint the light brown. But then after the sun, I noticed that… hey… the color’s not that bad! Sure it lacks a bit of the reddish tone that the reference pic had, but at least it doesn’t look too yellow under the sun. So I decided to leave it as is since after my planned oil wash, the light brown will tone down considerably.
So on to the second color: dark brown. This is also straight from the bottle Vallejo Model Color ‘Red Brown’. While it turned out to be lighter than what I wanted, again the planned oil wash will tone down the shade.
The demarcation lines are all done freehand. Badly I might add. I really need to remaster my airbrush. As it is, the lines are really soft. More suitable for 1/35 scale. Reference photos show relatively tight demarkation lines. Not solid, just a bit soft. Grrr… looks like I will have to take out my stash of bluetack and do the demarkation lines that way.
Anyway, hopefully I can add the final camouflage color tomorrow.
Well it rained the next day so I had to defer the 3rd color till this weekend. And this one was quickly finished up.
I must say the green is now much easier to put on than the two previous colors. I’ll chalk it up to being more used to airbrushing again I guess.
Based on the reference photo, my demarcation lines are too soft. To be honest, I don’t have that much confidence I can make them sharper by freehand. So after I have allowed some time for the paint to cure (mostly likely a week heh), I’ll take out my bluetack and proceed to do guides so I can respray the lines.