Released in October, 2011, this Hasegawa kit is a superb model and is a “must have” for any Blue Angels aficionado, or any Hornet fan. The parts supplied in the kit allow one to build either the B or the D model of the Hornet, both in Blue Angels markings. I was at the air show at Randolph AFB in November, 2011, at which #7 replaced a non-serviceable Super Hornet, and was very pleased to see that it was #7 that Hasegawa was featuring in this fine kit.
The parts are molded in a blue color that is a very close approximation of the FS15050 of the Blue Angels. A small fret of photo etch is included, as well as cast metal landing gear. There are approximately 225 parts in this kit, some 40 of which are not used for the Blue Angels B or D model of the Super Hornet. These parts are obviously for a different variant, probably the E.
The decals include markings for the above mentioned B and D models (there is a slight difference between the two, such as the crew names, BU Number, and the “Fly Navy 100 Years” marking that appears on the B. The decals are of superior quality and snug down on the surface nicely. Of great importance, especially for Blue Angels markings, is that the registry of the decals is perfect. The edges of the yellow accent strips are spot on with no degradation of the yellow color along the edges. A major concern would be whether the yellow decal allowed any of the Blue Angels blue to bleed through, and the answer is no, there is no bleed-through.
A great service has been done for the builder. The U.S. Navy markings that appear on the undersurfaces of the wings extend across some bulges and must also fit over a couple of aerodynamic shapes. The decals have been printed in such a way as to fit around, but not over, these bulges, thus lessening the difficulty in application of these particular markings. One of the accompanying images, the U.S. portion of the U.S. Navy decal for the underside of the starboard wing has been shaded with a permanent marker to show the area of the decal that has neither color nor carrier film. Another pair of images shows that same U.S. Navy decal cut into smaller pieces. While the decals are of high quality, I always find it easier to apply small sections of a large decal, especially if it can be sliced in such a manner as to avoid cutting through anything but a clear portion of the decal. These U.S. Navy markings lend themselves nicely to that practice.
In most cases, the parts do not require any clean-up other than the removal of the nub left behind when the attachment point to the fret is severed. On the K parts tree, part # K6 (left side ejection seat) has some flash, but it was easily removed and should not be considered a problem. The details molded into that part are sharp and crisp and problem-free. The gear struts need to be checked for a small step along the mold release line. I cleaned up the small amount of step with a No.11 blade.
One has several options that need to be considered prior to assembly. The first of those decisions is to build the model as either the B or D model. The B is the correct choice if one wishes to use the decals celebrating the centennial of naval aviation.
The hinges that hold the flaps in place are position-sensitive. If you wish the flaps to be extended, then use parts K36, K38, and K40 (two each) as shown in the step labeled Assembly B on page 5. If you wish the flaps to be retracted, then use parts K37, K39, and K41 (two each) as shown in the step labeled Assembly A on that same page. Note that K36, K39, and K40 have the correct bend already molded into them to hold the flap in the proper extended angle. The hinges for the extended position flaps are not interchangeable with the parts for the retracted position flaps.
A third option allows one to assemble and attach the access ladder to the port side of the fuselage. I did not select this option but it was not because of any defect and deficiency in the ladder parts. The ladder parts are as clean and finely molding as the rest of the model.
The nose wheel assembly is a model all to itself, featuring 11 parts and two optional positions for the finished subassembly. These pieces are small and delicate and caution must be exercised when removing them from their carrier sprues. A nice feature of this particular kit is that the gear are actually cast metal parts, thus being very sturdy. The detail is outstanding and the fit of all of the parts related to the landing gear is excellent.
Be aware that, depending on the position of the catapult launching bar, there are some parts that must be used and that are not interchangeable. The information regarding the nose wheel is contained in Step 7 on page 5 of the instruction booklet.
The decal sheet is quite extensive and includes markings for both the B and the D models. Be aware that on the web various comments state that, “In September 2011, the Blue Angels started using a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel and biofuel, which is far more environmentally friendly than earlier fuel mixtures.” From sources I’ve seen, that statement applies only to the Blue Angels show at Pax River in September, 2011. The decal sheet does not include the “Navy Energy” logo that appears on the aircraft at that time.
I am an average modeler and found that this kit caused me to elevate my game. With patience and care I was able to finish the project and am very happy with the results. This kit is an awesome model, with considerable detail in the cockpit, wheel wells, and on the airframe itself. The PE parts are not difficult to handle and the metal landing gear are as tough as nails, but patience is required to complete this project successfully.
The model is an exciting build and as the project progresses there is a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm that is simply not experienced with kits of lesser quality.
This model is highly recommended!
Thanks to the fine folks at Hobbico-Hasegawa-USA and IPMS for the opportunity to review this very fine model.