McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F/A-18C Hornet “Ragin’ Bulls”
Pilot & Markings
“Brick” Nelson and “Killer” Kilkenny — VFA-37, USS Enterprise, Desert Fox, 1999
Scale & Kit
1/32 Academy Model Kit
The “Three Seven” was established as an A-7 Corsair II attack squadron in July of 1966. Today, this Navy strike fighter squadron, known as the VFA-37 “Ragin’ Bulls” use the powerful F-18 Hornet for training and missions.
In 1999, the Bulls participated in operation “Desert Fox” and flew successful missions without any friendly losses. Later, the Bulls joined other squadrons to spearhead combat missions during operation “Iraqi Freedom”, participating in the “Shock and Awe” campaign in southern Iraq before shifting focus to assisting U.S. forces in northern Iraq. Intended to replace the A-7 Corsair, the F-4 Phantom, and the powerful F-14 Tomcat, the F/A-18 Hornet was created to perform as a multi role fighter. Serving as fighter escort, reconnaissance, close air support, forward air control, enemy air defence suppressant and utilized for day and night strike missions, the Hornet has proven to be one of the most versatile of all combat airplanes.
I used Academy’s 1/32 scale model airplane kit to produce this wonderful looking jet. This special project, consisting of about 150 hours of meticulous labour, was undeniably my favourite jet project. I hope you enjoy photos as much as I’ve enjoyed building the Hornet. Many thanks go to Meteor Productions for producing this amazing cockpit set for Academy’s scale model airplane. Click here to jump to the photo set.
BUILDING THE 1/32 F/A-18C HORNET
Cockpit: I started off with the Cutting Edge 1/32 super detailed resin cockpit set. The ejection seat was airbrushed Flat Black. The colour used on the cushion is Olive Drab while a Medium Grey, very similar to the fuselage, was used on the seatbelts. The colour scheme for this scale model airplane is very accurate, as preliminary research included reference photos for correct seatbelt colour. For the dashboard, I attached radar screen images on the back of the clear parts for a realistic appearance. The electronic bay was painted as per the interior colour, Dark Gull Grey. The electronic boxes were painted to match photo references I used for this compartment and a net was carefully cut out for the opening of the bay area.
Fuselage, Wings and Wheel Bays
Upon completing the model, I painted the entire scale model airplane Flat Black and permitted a substantial amount of drying time. Then, using low pressure on the compressor, I painted the Navy Tactical scheme; Dark Ghost Grey on the upper surface and Light Ghost Grey on the under surface. The tails were also painted Flat Black then applied a coat of Light Ghost Grey. This was done to achieve the faded look between panel lines. The wheel bays and landing gear received the same attention. They were initially painted Flat Black, then, with low pressure on my compressor, I applied Flat White. This made the raised areas and corners of the gears and bays look dirty.
Rivets and Panel Lines
Sometimes, when applying Future, you tend to lose engraved details. So for this scale model airplane, I decided to try something new [see dictionary under ‘insane’] and it turned out to be extremely effective. Once the paint scheme was completely dry, I used a modeling knife and started running it down all the panel lines. The greys were accurately scraped off, revealing the underlying black. Without having to apply a wash, I achieved the appearance of dirty panel lines. I used the same method to create the rivets, but instead of a modeling knife, I used a pin vice. This took a very long time, going after every single rivet, from the fuselage, upper and under surfaces of the wings to both sides of the tails. This method allowed for as much Future as needed for the decals, without losing any detail.
Armament and Extras
Assembling the armament of the scale model airplane can sometimes be a hassle. I installed two GBU-24 Paveway III missiles in Olive Drab, one AGM-88 Harm missile in Flat White, one AGM-84D Harpoon missile in Flat White and two Live AIM–9L Sidewinders with all the proper markings. To finish, the “Remove Before Flight” tags were installed on all the appropriate sections; inside the cockpit, fuel tank, missiles, etc.