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Revell Super Hornet with lessons learned

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hello builders,
already since Revell announced in 2016 the F/A-18E Super Hornet in 1:32 I have been looking forward to its arrival. Then it became 2017, nothing. Then 2018, again nothing. During Euro Scale Model last November in Holland I asked one of the Revell people what was going on, there was apparently some challenges with the molds. Then, after a wait of 3 years, I was one of the first to buy it when it hit the shelves. in the mean time there were already some photo's going around of a model at the Spielwahrenmesse where people noticed some inaccuracies in the shape, which were recently enforced by builders, on top of which there was various fit issues.
Yikes I thought, have I now waited so long to find out I must spend 1.5x the money for the Trumpeter kit (that also has issues)?
Nope, after having dryfitted the parts that gave others the fit issues, I concluded that with their lessons learned I could probably correct them and complete a build, share some my findings and hopefully solutions as I go. And of course I can only thank Mark and vladHVAC to have shared their startling first experiences on the net, I hope to deal with some of the issues they experienced on time.
Looking at the manual, where they indicate that parts need to be cut off for half a mm, I can only conclude that this has not been Revell's finest, but after some dryfitting and testing I am not sure yet if this model is deserving the criticism that it gets. We shall see, shall we?
this is the model at hand:
one of the most eyecatching features that causes discussions is the shape of the spine, just behind the cockpit. Many find it too flat and I would have to agree. Because this is the most radical change I decided to start with correcting this.
Looking at the F-18 C Hornet of Academy, you see indeed a much rounder form. With some plasticard I made the shape of the spine:
if you now put this template onto the spine of the super hornet, then you clearly see the difference. Also the Revell spine tends to become more square going aft. I think that a constant radius would be looking much better and realistic:
With which I do not claim that the spines of Hornets and Super Hornets are the same of course. Now I think that with some sanding the spine can easily improved. Before I do that I have to reinforce it on the inside with some Miliput 2 component filler:
btw see that I also split up the ECS exhaust between the tail to align each part more properly with the outer skin.
Next step is sanding. With a sanding stick I sanded the shape of spine into a constant radius:
After this, I compared both sides. On the left the original spine, on the right the corrected one:
Again half an hour later I made everything symmetrical again. you can see that I sanded right through the plastic. The color difference makes it easy to check for symmetry:
After an hour and a half's adventure the result is seen below. Still not the same as the legacy Hornet but I think much better. The radius is consistent and the top of the spine curved:
next step is to restore the panel lines!
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thanks for the encouragement! Just trying to dry-fit as much as I can to prevent issues later. 
made some progress, mounted the insides of the intakes because I wanted them definitely flat and aligned and seemless. This comes at a price though, the bottom panel of the hull will not be able to be mounted anymore. I will show later that I took a piece off to make everything fit again. Strangely the manual says nothing about the diagonal color separation between the intake's white and the grey at the very beginning of the intake tunnel. luckily there is plenty of photo reference material. not sure yet how I will restore the very fine mesh in this panel...
aligned the intake panels and filled the gap:
then Tamiya primer in airbrush:
here is the lower panel that I separated. Better to repair this seam than in the intake panels:
I was already warned that all parts need clean up. The afterburner ring is not this kit's finest piece. the 2 mounting tabs must be shortened considerably else the engine halves won't fit together:
all parts for the lower hull in primer:
and specifically for DonH: right before priming I checked the camel hump with the canopy. I did not take so much off the spine in that area, I think I will solve this difference in some light sanding in the canopy:
Some panel lines and rivets restored, not done yet:
 I opened also the hexagonal intake ducts and checked if the ECS exhaust panels was properly lined up:
I am coming to the conclusion that I will accept this hump! Seems that the square shape of the hump is not so much a problem right behind the cockpit, but the problem is where it becomes too angular in the panel behind it.
Edited by hpetiers
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Great progress so far and good job on the spine. Did they really separate the air intakes straight through the meshes? This must be some of the strangest engineering I have ever seen on a kit. I am curious to see how the overall proportions will look once you have assembled the model. Are you going to correct the curvature of the canopy frame as well? Keep up the good work! 

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hey Starfighter,

btw love your work! and yes the split goes right through the mesh. Not sure how to restore this yet, might make a decal and print it since not showing will really be a miss. and yes I will also gently sand the canopy frame too, the canopy itself will not need any sanding with what I can see now.


From what I can see of all the work they put into the wheel wells, I think Revell should be applauded for trying such accurate and complex inner structure. However all these parts, including all of them contacting the outer skin parts and the intake trunks at the same time, results in quite a few cases of what they I think call in mechanical engineering: being a statically over-determined construction. Everywhere where a part is slightly off it will put pressure on the rest of the construction. So this requires tidy work, lots of flat and square sanding of where there needs to be glued on surfaces with seam lines, and dry fitting. I built Revells AN-225 just recently and once all glue surfaces are cleaned up it fits like a glove. But if you don't, the tolerances are tight enough to cause immediate fit problems. I hope that fit issues I read about before can be prevented with the same strategy, we will see.


Yes Mark, as you are one step ahead of me, I can already conclude that this bottom panel that I removed will not fit just like that in between the intakes. I am planning to wiggle it in between after applying some warm air with a hair dryer. I keep you posted on how stupid of an idea that was!

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Last week I managed to do some things again.
I checked some of the outer panels without the wheel bays built up. It turns out that everything fits quite well without any of the internal parts causing conflicts (of course after having taken 0.5 mm off of the tops of the bulkheads as well as the ECS internals on top of the engine).
So for those who want to build this model with the wheels up, you might as well leave all the wheel bay parts out. 
After the base coat I spayed the intakes and the  parts of the wheel bays white, followed by a Flory Models grime wash.
Because I had been warned already about the bulkhead sticking out from the nose wheel bay, possibly conflicting with the canopy, I tried to dry fit the parts. As it turns out, if you sand all parts square and true, and shave just a bit off the diagonal sides of the bulkhead, everything fits again. 
the same goed for the air intakes: I fitted everything up front and sanded the glue surfaces square and I was pretty much okay.
After some alu on the first fan blades and some gunmetal on the exhaust, I was ready to assemble the lot together.
The part with the last fan blades needed some sanding of the outer surfaces, otherwise they would not with into their slots. other than that, the intake tunnel came together without gaps.
The hole pattern in the intakes have been completely filled and sanded, I am thinking about making a decal to replicate this. The  whole pattern was in the wrong orientation anyway. The grey separation has been taped off here, I needed some photo's to figure it out since Revell does not give any guidance here. 
intake tunnel right before close up:
engines dry brushed with alu:
and with some clamps and glue the intake tunnel is assembled, without gaps!
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hi mark, indeed it seems that this kit has the 1 mm issue over the whole length of the body, and not just the engine compartment. I will show photo's later but they confirm your statement.


after having built up the intake duct it is time to mount the bottom plate. in order to fit it, the inner structure needs to be cut through, otherwise the hinges of the wheel doors on the wheel bay will foul!
the front plate of the bottom needs to go in between the intake plates. the picture below shows why this is so difficult to align afterwards:
by aligning the intake walls to the rest of the structure first, I managed to solve this fit issue.
after the mounting of the wheel bays the assembly looks like this. by sliding the bottom plate from the aircraft's back to front I managed to maneuver the plate in between the hinges. 
notice how the intake insides do not connect to the bottom plate yet. it requires some stress and glue to align them:
between the wheel wells all fits well:
now everything must be glued. the clamps look more dramatic than it is, just a little force needed to be applied.
glue everything from the back to the front:
an hour later and everything is fixed, now the intakes can be clamped and glued against the bottom plate:


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For all the hard work that this kit is ( and you are doing a fantastic job of it) i think the depth of thegearbay is excellent and it looks to potentially have the best most accurate gearbay of any hornet kit, to the point where i want to build it just to work on the gearbay as you have,,... brilliant stuff

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