Satya's blog - models/f18/

Mar 06 2005 15:15 McDonnel Douglas F/A-18 Hornet
I'm turning what used to be a web page into the F18 blog category. The first 3 entries were probably written about January 2005.

Box picture I saw this kit at the hobby shop, and it was fairly cheap and I have an F14 Tomcat in the same scale, so I thought I'd give it a shot.
The box contains the usual stuff, instruction booklet, parts trees, decal sheet. The detailed instruction booklet includes a short history and specification page as well as an introduction to weathering. Box contents

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:21

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 15:20 The first thing to do...
The kit can be built in various ways: single seat or two seat trainer (I opt for the trainer, for kicks), and the USN or Canadian version. I'm not sure, but I think I'll stick with the USN to match the F14. Or maybe I'll do my own thing -- which includes painting it a uniform light ghost gray just like the Tomcat. Skills? I got none.

The first thing to do in these kits is to build the cockpit. In the F18 model, the cockpit sits on top of the nose gear bay. I painted the seats earth brown instead of the recommended olive drab, and highlighted the controls with anthracite gray metallic (left over from the abortive attempt to paint the NY Central Hudson model) instead of black. The cockpit interior is dark gull gray and "basic plastic gray". Cockpit construction

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:21

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 15:25 Weighting the nose
Weighting the nose In most models of modern aircraft, the nose must be weighted with bits of scrap metal. Otherwise, the model tends to tip over backward because the tail is heavier than the nose. This isn't a problem in real aircraft, though I bet they sit pretty light on the nose gear.

I usually forget this step in most of my models. The B25 (assembled and re-assembled many times) always had this problem, and I eventually stuffed the nose with magnets. I think I had to take the F14's nose apart and do over.
In this case, I inserted several left-over nails in the nose cone. I was going to put 2 large screws in front of the cockpit, but I figured those were still good for something. I remembered I had kept some bicycle brake spacers for precisely such a purpose, so I threw several of those in there. I poured a lot of Testors cement over the lot. After asssembling the nose halves, I added more spacers (I've gone through several brake pads in the first year of owning this bike) in the space in front of the forward control panel.

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:23

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 18:34 Completed nose section
I completed the nose section a few days ago. There's a little paint leakage, but otherwise it's okay. The top and bottom halves are being glued in this picture; hence the rubber band, which keeps pressure on them.

I should note that all these pictures are click-able, and each one takes you to a larger sized version in my album or gallery, which also contains other picture that may not be on this page.
Complete nose section

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 19:00 Horizontal Stabilisers
Here's a shot of the horizontal stabilisers. First you glue them, then you have to hold them in place for 3 hours. Not! You use stacks of coins and a fairly horizontal surface and leave it overnight. Think of it like a car up on blocks.

The horiz stabilisers contain one set of control surfaces -- the elevators. (I'm not an aeronautical engineer, nor do I play one on TV or the internet.)
F18 Hornet up on blocks to dry horiz stabilisers

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:25

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 21:13 Intakes and pod mounts
The air intakes and pod mounts were attached. The inside of the scoops should be insignia white according to the booklet. The booklet doesn't say, but I think the back of the intakes, corresponding to the turbines(?), should be painted dark gray or black. Intakes
Pod mount fairings The "pod mount fairings" are glued to the bottom edge of the body. They can hold missiles (not included in this kit) or Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) and Laser Detection and Tracking (LDT) pods. Whatever.

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:31

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 06 2005 22:09 Ordnance
The kit comes with Sidewinders and HARMs. The Sidewinders are one-piece, but the HARMs come in halves (cut along the long axis) just like the external fuel tanks -- the tanks by the way are a pain to glue correctly. They also have these extra fins that you have to attach (see full-size picture), which helps raise the parts count. I do see how it's easier to mould the halves and the fins separately. The Sidewinders are relatively small and can be molded in one piece.

My file array is a nice way to hold things like this upright.
Under-wing stuff

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:26

Tag: f18hornet model

Mar 07 2005 20:49 Painting and gluing
I'm just not very good at painting. The F14 was a fluke, and not a very good one. All my paint has separated into oil and pigment layers, and eitehr I get thin thinner that just wets and gives a mild version of the base color, or gives me a gob of pigment that either dries in a thick skin with bubbles, or clumps. I can't get the white paint to spread right, it runs. The light ghost gray areas (most of the model) are barely satisfactory, and the black's too matte.

Hmm, actually, the ghost gray will probably be okay after drying. I applied it with lots of strokes, so it streaked but at least it was thin but not too thin. But the streaks go away when it dries -- if it was the right consistency to begin with.

Now glue, that I've got down. I'm a long way from the days of slathering Stikfast on every surface. Just a dab of testors cement is enough. I thought the tube stuff sucked, but for anything bigger than the teeniest parts, it's better than the liquid cement -- you can't get enough of that for spreading around a bit. Besides, the liquid stuff dries too fast to spread on a large area. (Actually, it softens the plastic and then hardens it again when it dries.) The tube goo is nice for spreading around without loss of drying time. It gets tacky soon enough, but not too soon.
Apr 20 2005 08:00 Bits and pieces being painted
Just a bunch of pieces lying around waiting for paint, and ordnance half-way through painting:

Parts awaiting paint and glue Under-wing stuff being painted

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:24

Tag: f18hornet model

Jun 19 2005 16:55 Nose wheel
Last week I finished the undercarriage, a.k.a. landing gear a.k.a. wheels:
F18 nose wheel
The wheel well doors are white inside, so I bought a paint pen and then I bought a black one as well for various other parts. The doors are edged in black, though it's a lot thicker and sloppier than I intended. The whole thing stinks. Compare with Swanny's Models.

Here's a picture of the completed aircraft. It still needs decalling, spraying, and under-wing stores:
F18 almost complete

I put it outside for spraying with Testor's Glosscote. Then I found out that some areas were unpainted. But that only showed up in the photographs, and it looks ugly.
F18 with some unpainted areas F18 outside for spraying

The point is to spray it with Glosscote to get a smooth and glossy finish, to which the decals will adhere well. Also the decal film becomes invisible. After decalling the whole thing should be sprayed with... I'm not sure, Glosscote or Dullcote. Then I'll give it a wash like it says on Swanny's page.

Update: Just fixing typing errors.
Update: fixing URLs because my album stuff has changed.

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:31

Tag: f18hornet model

Jun 26 2005 17:33 Decalling
Updated: Image links; thanks to amblin.

I spent the last week adding decals to the model. Some were very tiny ("no push" on the wings), and some were large enough to break off, like the stripes on the tail. I cut the starboard fin's stripes into thirds to make it easier.

Decal sheet
The decal sheet contains decals for both versions: the US Navy and the Canadian one. Too late, I found that the cockpit interior also has decals to represent the control panels.

Almost completed F18 Hornet Almost completed F18 Hornet
The model is almost complete. I need to spray on a layer of Glosscote and then try weathering it. I've been waiting for a clear day since I do the spraying outside, and yesterday saw a lot of rain. Today I can spray, and it's outside right now.

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:32

Tag: f18hornet model

Jul 04 2005 22:36 The Hornet
On June 25, the decalling was finished:
F-18 Hornet (decalling)

Then I tried to weather it but the paint got smeared. I shouldn't have used enamel, but acrylic (which I tried later) didn't work much better.
F-18 Hornet

So anyway, I left it alone, added the under-wing stores, and called it done. Still needs a coat of Dullcote, though.
F-18 Hornet

But I'd say it's done.

Update: Fixed broken HTML.
Update: URL changes.

Last updated: Jan 22 2006 09:37

Tag: f18hornet model