ATO Operations from Aviano, Italy Operation “Echo” attack on Kosovo ,
March to June 1999
CAF Squadron No. 441, CFB Cold Lake, Alberta
The Model Kit
Built Date: May 24, 2009
Prior to the new Kinetics F-18A/B/C kit in 1:48, the Hasegawa F-18A kit was the best 1:48 F-18 model kit in the market. Although It did has some issues with poor fit up on some of the fuselage joints, overall it is a very nice kit.
My model is a replication of a Canadian Air Force Hornet loaded up with live loads. To do that, I would be making an aircraft that served with NATO in Yugoslavia between March to June 1999; an aircraft of the “Balkan Rats”. The CAF crews were called the Balkan Rats because of their ingenuity to trade and buy spare weapons and parts from their rich USAF counterparts to make up for their short fall. Most of the CAF personnel deployed on Operation Echo belong to 3 Wing in Bagotville, Quebec and 4 Wing in Cold Lake, Alberta. This model is No. 18833 of Squadron 441 from Cold Lake.
I used the kit tub as the basis for the cockpit. To provide better details in the cockpit, I used a Black Box instrument panel and seat.
I wanted my F-18 to show a little more details so I am using an avionics bay from Aries. To prepare the kit’s fuselage to fit the resin avionic bay, I used the paper template provided in the Aries instruction sheet and cut out an opening in the kit fuselage. Then, I used a No. 10 X-Acto blade to thin down the fuselage wall where the resin avionic bay would go. It took a lot of effort to install this resin part.
The fit up of the fuselage halves are very tricky and most joints do not fit up well. I had to pay attention to butting up the joints properly in order to minimize the amount of putty. I pushed and pressed as needed all along the joints to try to get a decent fit up. Despite my attention, I still ended up with many bad joints that needed shaving with the X-Actio blade, followed by major sanding, putty, and rescribing. The worst was the rear fuselage joints.
The intake lip to fuselage joint on the Hasegawa F-18s, both 1:72 and 1:48 scale versions, have a very poor fit up. The intake lip’s contour does not match up with the attachment points on the fuselage. In the past, I would sand and putty the damn thing after I glue it on. This time, I thought I would get smart and try to shape the intake piece to match the mating contour before I glue it on.
According to the “experts”, the most correct paint to use for the CF-18 are the colours from Model Master enamel : Model Master Medium Gray FS-35237 for the upper surfaces and Light Ghost Gray FS36375 for the undersides. The Model Master enamel paint after thinning is fantastic for use with the airbrush. However, for this model, I opted to use the Gunze paints instead.
I painting the model using the post shading techniques I have talked about in my Beaufighter article. I try to match the dirty blotchy paint I have seen in my reference books. The top surfaces of the plane was painted with Gunze H337 Grayish Blue FS35237 and the bottom surfaces was painted with Gunze H308 FS36375.
Next comes decaling and weathering. The Balkan Rat’s aircraft markings came from the Leading Edge Model’s decal sheet #48.24. I bought this decal sheet 3 years ago and it showed its age by cracking on me. I had decals broke into many little pieces when I released it from the backing sheet. To minimize the cracking, I sprayed the decals with a coat of Future to try to hold them together. At the end of the day, I was able to used the decals, and as usual, they set in nicely with Mr. Mark Softer decal setting solution.
The false canopy decal on the leading edge sheet was rather thick and I felt that using it would surely cover up some of the details on the model. I used the decals to make a mask from tape and spray painted the false canopy.
The model was weathered using a mix of Model Master Flat Black, Leather, and touch of White paint. The mix was heavily thinned with Testor thinner. The CBU-12 bombs and Side Winder missiles came from the new Kinetics F-16 kit. The best weapons set in the market are found in the Kinetics kits.