The following introduction is taken from the Information available inside the model:
In 1997, the F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft entered service with the US Navy. The aircraft was developed to replace the cancelled A-12 stealth attack aircraft and the old F-14s. The Super Hornet is an evolutionary redesign of the Hornet. It features the more powerful F414 engines, the caret air intakes, larger fuel storage capacity and the new AN/APG-79 radar. With these improvements, its overall size has increased by 30% and its maximum take-off weight has increased by 6 tons. The numerous new designs greatly improve this aircraft’s capabilities. It looks like a brand-new fighter aircraft instead of a variant of an old aircraft. The US Navy gives the F/A-18E/F a new nickname, the Super Hornet.
The Super Hornet has two variants, the F/A-18E single seat and the F/A-18F tandem-seat variants. The F/A-18F can take on advanced training tasks to help train new pilots quickly. This variant also has the same combat capabilities as the F/A-18E. After the merger with the Boeing Company and McDonnell Douglas, the Super Hornet is still under continual improvement. The US Navy is about to be equipped with the more capable F/A-18E?F BLOCK III aircraft. In the new era, the Super Hornet will form the core of the US Navy’s air power together with the F/35. In 1972, no one would have imagined that this aircraft which lost in the US Air Force’s fighter program would become the main aircraft of the US Navy for nearly 50years.
This offering from Meng arrives in a card tray, with a card lid depicting the art work for the model. Inside you are presented with a large number of individually packed sprues, an instruction booklet and information cards. With all the fuss over plastic packaging, I find myself wondering if we should be using card envelopes, rather than individual plastic bags. With that said, the packaging has done its job, and the model has arrived in the condition you would expect it to. An examination of the contents, does not reveal any obvious moulding issues of concern, so at this point all is good. A critique is the very light paper used in the instruction booklet, which I found made it difficult to turn the pages.
The cockpit of the model is provided in the form of a tub, to which other parts are added. Decals are provided for the side, instrument and main panels displays, although obviously photo etch or even resin may be your cup of tea. The ejector seat is a little bit concerning, as while it has a reasonable level of detail, no harness replication is in place. But Meng do supply, a very nice pilot figure to obscure this omission. A look around the sprues, reveals additional arms. Which may indicate that a two seated version will be released in the future, but in this release provides the option of a slightly different arm position. I do appreciate that Meng has provided the various warning decals for placement on the seat. For those not wishing to use the pilot figure, I am sure a harness set is/will be available, or again possibly a resin seat. Regardless of whether you intend to build the pilots office, as provided in the box, or with the addition of after market options, I feel that Meng has done a very good job.
The under carriage and wheel bays of the model, are some of the best detailed I have seen in 1/48th scale. As most kits in this scale provided very little in the way of detail, where as Meng has gone so far as to add wiring loom detail, inside the wheel bays. Which if picked out carefully by the modeller, will result in a pleasing look on the finished model. The complex rear wheel suspension arms, have been provided as single moulding for the most part, and this is something I am very appreciative of. As multi-parts options often broke on finished kits. What Meng has done here is add parts to the complicated strut, which is the way it is due to the high impact of landing on carrier decks. Being a carrier launched aircraft, the front strut is a more complex area in terms of parts count. With Meng having taken into account, an aircraft that could be displayed parked upon a deck, or in the trap ready for launch. The cabling for the front wheel, as regards brake lines is the only aspect I can’t obviously pick up. Finally here the wheel bays doors, have been very nicely detailed on both faces, rather than just the exterior face.
The engines of the model have a good length of ducting, from the intakes to the face of the compressor. The compressor face detail is fairly simple, but performs it’s role suitably. The exhausts of the model show the exhaust vents closed, rather than open. A reasonable length of ducting to the rear face of the engine, and exhibits both minimal and good use of photo etch detailing. The closed exhaust vents are of a reasonable detail for injection moulded plastic. However, there are of course, far more detailed options for the likes of an open exhaust available in resin. However I cannot critique anything that Meng has supplied here.
The body of the model, has been tackled in an interesting method, with the area by the cockpit split in half in the way of a left and right side. But the rear area of the cockpit mounts into the upper top half of the fuselage, and this approach has I feel made any clean up that is required an easier proposition. The wings have separate leading and trailing edges, and so can be angled as required, with alternate actuators being provided for this purpose. With this being a carrier based aircraft, the wing tips of the model, have been provided separately with option of assembling them folded or deployed. The only thing I am not convinced of, is the level of detail on the folded wings when folded. The vertical tail surfaces, have the flight controls provided separately and due to it suggesting that no glue is added, I believe that it is intended that they will move. Between the tail fins, there are two options for square vents to be placed, this covers an early and late feature of the F/A-18E. I do like, that the lights of the vertical tail have been provided in clear plastic. The horizontal tail fins, are fitted via pins into poly caps, which will make them workable, but also leaves them open to being broken.
Meng has provided five finishing options for this model, which is something I greatly appriciate. These options are:
Aircraft piloted by Captain James McCall, the Commanding Officer of Carrier Airwing 8, VFA-31 “Felix the Cat”, U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, 2017
Aircraft piloted by LCDR Carlisle Lustenberger, VFA-31, “Felix the Cat”, U.S.S. George H.W.Bush,2009
Aircraft piloted by LCDR Carlisle Lustenberger, VFA-31, “Felix the Cat”, U.S.S. George H.W.Bush,2009 Alternate
Aircraft Piloted by LCDR A J Prescott, VFA-87 “Golden Warriors”, U.S.S. George H.W. Bush, 2017
Pilot Unknown United States Navy Strike fighter Tactics instructor programme, 2019
The pylon and stores provided for this release, are provided as follows:
Four external fuel tanks
two GBU-24 bombs
two GBU-16 bombs
two AIM-9x sidewinder missiles
two AIM -9msidewinder missiles
three AIM-120c missiles
A nice approach from Meng as regards the bombs and drop tanks, is that pins are locked in to the pylons, and poly caps are inserted into the drop tanks and bombs, and so the ordinance can be changed should the modeller get fed up with the set up they have. I will also add at this point, that Meng has done a very good job of covering the painting of the ordnance and all the placards for the bombs and missiles in the form of decals, and provided the canopy to by open or closed. The crew ladder can also be depicted deployed or retracted. Meng have supplied masks, for both the wheels and the glazed areas.
This release by Meng, of a 1/48th scale F/A-18E is possibly the best available in this scale, at this time. During the review, I have pointed out some areas where the modeller may want to go down the after market route, but built straight from the box, you should get a very pleasing model, that will be visually appealing. I am not aware of any inaccuracies in the kit, but that is just my observation.