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Building an Accurate
F/A-18E Super Hornet

by Joe Hegedus


F/A-18E Super Hornet


Italeri's 1/48 scale F/A-18E is available online from Squadron.com




This article supplies a step-by-step set of suggestions for improving the accuracy of Italeri's 1/48 scale F/A-18E kit. Captioned photos are also provided to assist.

There are also some notes at the end of the article about my completed 1/72 scale Italeri Super Hornet.



Improving Italeri's 1/48 Scale F/A-18E


Here are my suggestions for making the Italeri 1/48 scale F/A-18E Super Hornet more accurate:

  1. Fill the speedbrake between the fins. It should not be there at all.

  2. Toe the wing pylons out 4 degrees (ie make them point outboard from the fuselage).

  3. Cant the outer wing pylons about 3 degrees or so outboard in addition to the toe-out.



  1. Fill the gaps around the flap-like LEX vents just inboard of the leading edge flaps and build these in the up or closed position. They don't move anymore on the real jets



  1. The spoilers are normally closed on the ground, these are on the upper surfaces of the LEX and will need some filling.

  2. If you are doing a VFA-115 bird, add the IFF antenna box on the forward fuselage between the windscreen and gun port; it should be easy to make from sheet as it is just a rectangular box with vertical sides and rear face, with the forward edge sloping aft. This is also appropriate for SOME VFA-122 airplanes, but not all. I think only post-LRIP-1 jets have them but don't know offhand which BuNo began LRIP-2.

  3. Shim under the edge of the windscreen with 10 Thou sheet so that the leading edge matches the nose. Both kits I'm working on needed this done, the windscreen sat too low.



  1. Discard Italeri's attempts at GBU whatevers, they're terrible. The Harpoons and HARMS are passable. Harpoons only go on the midboard stations, and can only have empty pylons or tanks inboard. I'm not sure what can go outboard with them as I don't have my copy of the SLIM handy but you'll be safe if you just put the Harpoons on between empty pylons. No MK-82 conical fin bombs, only MK-82/BSU-86 fins are authorized. These look similar to a Snakeeye but the petal design is slightly different. BSU-86 fins are always gray. No AIM-7 on the intake stations, only AIM-120 go there. If you want to use a FLIR, ignore the one in the kit as it's completely inappropriate for an F/A-18E/F. Rob a TFLIR from another kit and use the adapter in the Superbug kit to put it on the left intake. It's a perfectly legal and representative fit for a current F/A-18E/F.

  1. The kit fuel tank is wrong. You'll need to at least lengthen it by about 3/8" to represent a 480 gallon FPU-11 instead of the 330 gallon FPU-8. The 330 gallon tank is not authorized for the E/F. If you were really ambitious you could also increase the diameter by a scale inch or two but I'm not worrying about the minor difference.



  1. Don't put exposed sway braces on the pylons, they are covered by smoooth fairings on the real thing. While I'm on the subject of pylons, the inboard and midboard pylons need to have their aft ends extended by 1/4", with the rear of the extension being vertical to the line that the original pylon is vertical, then angled forward to the original pylon uppermost rear surface. This should taper to a point when viewed from below. The centerline pylon needs to have the leading and trailing edges swept, leading edge sweeps aft, trailing forward.

  2. Expect to use some filler on the kit. The fit isn't too bad overall, but it is not a "shake and bake" kit. There's some work involved but not an unreasonable amount IMO.



  1. Get hold of the Black Box FA-18E cockpit, the one in the kit is EXTREMELY basic (decals for panel and consoles) although the seat isn't TOO bad with some added detail. I used the kit seat with a Monogram pilot figure for one of the ones I'm working on but still used a resin set for the rest of the 'pit. I used the BB FA-18D forward cockpit, since the E cockpit set hadn't been released yet.


Italeri's 1/72 Scale F/A-18E


My 1/72 scale F/A-18E is finished as the Spin/High AOA test airplane after it was done with the spin program. It was then used as a weapon separation test bird, hence the black and white targets all over.

Decals were custom made and printed on an Epson 600 on Supercal Inkjet Decal Paper. Finish is Krylon gloss white and Model Master International Orange, with Light Ghost Gray for the radome and black for the anti-glare.



The bombs are FS35109 bodies with a varying drybrush of Testors rust, then the target decals were applied to the bombs. The wingtip and tail cameras were made from plastic stock, painted and installed. The wingtip mounts were made from a pair of old Sidewinder missiles and some plastic strip.


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by Joe Hegedus
Page Created 29 March 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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