ChristopherLeeMiller

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F/A-18 "Blue Angels 2017"

Started: 12/15/2021Updated: 12/22/2021
BrandKinetic
Scale1/48
Kit NumberK48073
Year Released2017
ScalematesLink
CompletedDec 20, 2019
Build Time

Cockpit

Construction begins as usual in the cockpit on this model and right off the bat I had to choose between the different numbers of the show aircraft as there are a few different types of F/A-18 used by the blue angels. I chose #1, the commander and his F/A-18 °C single-seater. The ejection seat is made up of two halves, with a spine attached to the back, and the seat cushion itself. A couple of detailed parts are added to that as well. The seat then got painted flat black with some dry brushing to bring out highlights. The cushion painted a khaki color I was then able to move on.

The cockpit tub then comes into play, and with a couple of instrument panels/gauges added I was able to paint the entire thing a ghost grey. Making it easier for them to mold, the tub was made for a twin-seater but they included a cover for the back seat well to cover it up.

The instructions provide some detail for how and where to paint some of the consoles but I turned to the internet to get an idea of how it's actually painted and set to work. I applied a dab of white on many of the control knobs to add some detail overall. After all the painting was complete I applied a wash to make the rest of the details pop and called the cockpit done.

Cockpit Complete

Engines

So while the model doesn't actually include the jet engines they do model the intake trunks to the first stage compressor and then the afterburner ring to the exhaust nozzles, which is more than enough for a person viewing to see. The intake trunks are molded in two halves and the compressor blade is added to the back of it. Similar is done for the exhaust. After painting again I applied a dark wash to make the detail pop. I opted to leave the nozzles off till the end of the build to make masking easier but before that, they got painted and I used burnt iron in addition to the normal metal color to give signs of heat.

At this point the instructions have you install the main landing gear bays and paint them up, along with a few other parts before turning back to the intake trunks. I installed the bays but skipped the rest of it so that I could install the front lip of the intake trunks as the intake trunks themselves didn't have any solid locating points to ensure a good fit, this allowed me to seat them home much better.

First stage compressor blades & afterburner ringsIntake DuctsExhaust Nozzles

Gear Bays

With the intakes out of the way, I was able to turn back to the gear bays, giving them a white base coat and followed up by highlighting some of the various plumbing lines and giving it a wash. Interestingly enough the front gear bay gets some PE! I was then able to stuff the bays with foam for painting later.

Fuselage Construction

After assembling and painting the intake, exhaust and cockpit I was able to insert those details into the lower fuselage half before mating the top half to it. Careful gluing almost eliminated open seams but some sanding was required around the horizontal stabilizers to make the surface flush. Putty was also needed around the intake as there is a sufficient gap present. I was also then able to turn to the front nose section of the aircraft where some holes that aren't applicable to the C variant are closed up. I goofed up though and forgot to open a few holes needed for instrumentation but being that this was for my niece she won't notice the missing details anyways.

From there I turned my attention back to the cockpit painting up the cowling over the instrument panel and assembled the HUD and attached the glass for it. After gluing it down inside it was time to seal this one up a final time.

The canopy needed the seam line running down the center removed and using the well known by now techniques I set loose with a sanding stick, progressing from 400 grit all the way to 7000 before using a nail buffer to finish it off. After that, there was just a hint of the sanding work and a quick dip in pledge future took care of that. After letting it dry for 24 hours I was able to then mask the canopy off and glue it down to move onto painting.

Fuselage Glued UpIntake GapNose FillingMore Putty WorkBody Filling

Paint

Prior to painting a little bit of prep work was needed including smaller detail parts I wanted to leave off till I was ready to paint to avoid breaking them off, this included things like the angle of attack sensors, pitot tubes, and stiffeners for the tail fins. With them added I returned to the spray booth to apply primer, in this case, Mr. Surface 1500 in grey. I then applied Mr. Color 328 blue which is a pretty good representation of the final color of the plane. It took a few coats to get good coverage without the grey underneath showing through.

Decals

Decaling this big bird was more than I had initially guessed it would be, I mean its just big yellow stripes and words, right? That's where I went wrong. In the painting stage, I added a few lumps and bumps beforehand as I didn't think they would interfere with the decals and boy was I wrong. All those bumps fell in line with the decals on the top and it took a lot of work with stronger decal setters to get them to settle down well, and even then they ended up a bit lumpy. Same for the tail fins.

After applying the decals to the underside of the wings I had the brilliant idea of masking off the wingtips rather than use the decals and just paint it, and in the process ruined part of the decals to which I had to order new decals to patch it up. With all the decals in place, I was able to turn towards the final touches, of course after a final gloss coat!

Vertical FinSide Painting & DecalsBottom Paint & Decals

Landing Gear and Gear Doors

With the painting and decals out of the way, I was able to turn towards the final assembly which includes things like landing gear and the gear doors. I started with the landing gear itself, comprised of the main strut, and a few detail bits that get added for actuators. To aid in painting them I opted to assemble and let them dry before painting to avoid glue goofs later. Kinetic failed miserably here in my opinion. The parts fit of the details were very vague leaving a lot to question how they were to fit, but the locating nubs for the gear into the body itself were weak in addition. I honestly won't be surprised to see this one fail real quick. Going to have to go big with glue when attaching later.

The landing gear ended up going on very well and once glued sat in place with great accuracy, the gear doors though as with most models have very vague mounting which turned into an hour-long session of frustration trying to fit 6 doors and their actuators. Once they set up and stayed through this phase of the build was done.

Final Details

Turning towards the end of the build I was able to fit final details up to the model such as navigational lights and then finally attaching the vertical stabilizers and the tail surfaces. Using a little CA set this into place and I was able to call this one complete.

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