Built Date: July 2, 2017
A full build article of this model is in the May 2018, Issue 271, of Tamiya Modelling Magazine (TMMI).
Kinetics, a model company from Hong Kong, issued an improved 1:48 model of the F-18 A/B/C during early 2017. During my travel in March 2017, I went back to Hong Kong and met with Kinetics/Luckymodel’s proprietor, Raymond Chung.
Raymond gave me an insight into how he developed his on-line sale of models and how Kinetics became to being. It is very interesting how a non-modeller grew a model business and is now the largest and most successful on-line model distributor in Asia. Raymond, thank you for taking time to meet with me!
His development of this new F-18 kit was brewing for several years. The kit grew from the inspiration from Rick Chin before he passed away. Kinetics practised its craft for the last few years until they were ready to produce it. Upon review of the CF-188 A/B/C kit, I can’t help but be excited to build it.
Improvement over Hasegawa
- Kinetics made the entire lower fuselage as a single piece using slide moulding technology. When compared to Hasegawa’s three piece assembly, this is an improvement as it eliminated joints for the modeller to address.
- Kinetics made the front landing gear bulk head as one piece and it eliminated an unsightly seam to fix. Another feature is Kinetics provided the option for an open refueling probe bay!
- The upper nose deck is moulded with the upper fuselage. Unlike the Hasegawa’s wings there is no moulding flaw to fix on the Kinetics’ wing.
- A weapons set is provided in the Kinetics kit. Weapons is never included in a Hasegawa kit and has to be purchased separately.
- The option for a folded wing is provided in the Kinetics’ kit. The hinges and a complete separate outer wing panels are provided for the modeller to pose the model in a folded wing configuration.
- A complete air-intake ducts are provided in the new Kinetics kit. Typical of any intake duct assembly we have a seam line to contend with which is normally rather difficult to sand and hide.
I start the build by working on the cockpit first. I find the kit seat not too appealing as it has a seam running down the middle of the headrest. It is much easier to replace the kit seats with a nice set of SUJ-17 seats from Black Box.
The cockpit in this kit is very nice! You really do not need to replace this with a resin cockpit. The bulkhead panels in this kit is certainly more detailed and better looking than the Hasegawa kit. A nice feature in this kit are instrument panel decals. It’s cheating, I know, but who cares… The decals fit over the kit panel very nicely when set with Mr. Mark Softer and it sure help in finishing the cockpit that much faster. I really like to show the CRTs live with images on it even though I know an aircraft resting on the ground would not have the CRTs live.
I painted the cockpit with Gunze H317. All black colour surfaces such as the ejection seat frame and side consoles were painted with Tamiya XF-24 Dark Grey. Seat belts were painted in Vallejo 857 Golden Olive, and cushions in Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth.
Another nice feature in this kit is the full length air intake trunks. I painted the inside surfaces of the intakes with gloss white before I glue the halves together. Then I applied Tamiya putty to the seams. I rolled up a small sheet of wet sandpaper and used this roll to sand the putty smooth and blend it to rest of the intake surfaces. After the surfaces are sanded smooth I respray the intakes where I did the sanding. This worked out very well. The air intake lips has an excellent fit to the intake trunks. I suggest to not follow the kit’s instruction for installing the intakes and the trunks. Instead, paint the intake lips with the lower fuselage colour first and glue them together as a one piece assembly. Then, slip (I mean force fit) this assembly into the lower fuselage after the main landing gear bays are secured. When done properly, intake/trunk looks just like the real thing and they look seamless.
After attaching the kit’s main landing gear wells the air intake trunks goes in directly above them. The kit is designed such that the braces on the landing gear wells provide support for the intake trunks. Hence, if one is to replace the kit gear wells with a resin set then one must make sure the resin pieces are thin enough such that they would not get in the way of the proper sitting of the intake trunks.
The fit up of the intake lip and the fuselage do not exactly match up. I find that it works best if I just glue the bottom segment of these pieces first and when the joints are dried and secured then I proceed to glue the remaining segment and force holding them in place to dry. Despite my best effort, the joints still require some major sanding to smooth out the joint.
The same joint issues encountered in the Hasegawa F-18 are also apparent here in the Kinetics kit. I took a sanding stick and sand smooth the joints and back filled with Tamiya putty. Afterwards, I rescribed the panel lines back in place.
The photoedge HUD from the kit is too tall to fit inside the windscreen. The instruction is vague on how this photoedge is to fit on the instrument hood. After several frustrating attempts, I scraped the recessed box wide enough to fit the photoedge HUD to fit inside it. Still, the HUD is too tall and won’t allow the windshield to close. I resorted to cutting the top bar on the HUD and that finally worked. By cutting the top bar, I only had four tiny points to attach the top HUD glass panel to.
The next trouble I encounter is the front edges of the windscreen would not sit flush with the mating surfaces on the nose. The front edge of the windscreen is too thick and the resulting misfit is prominent and unacceptable. To fix this problem, I used an X-Acto blade and shaved the front edges thinner to reduce the thickness and rough sanded the front and the sides to more closely match the nose at these joint locations. Despite this, the gaps at these joints are still very noticeable. I spent several hours repeatedly fill the gaps with Tamiya putty and sand flush the joints. The main tips here is: Do not install the windshield after painting the model. You must install the windshield and prep the joint before painting.
After further detailed inspection of all the joints and reworked them, I am finally ready for painting of the model. The model is prepared with a light coat of Mig primer. This primer is sprayed directly from the bottle without thinning and it goes on thin and smooth with excellent coverage. A primer coat is the best way to prepare the surfaces for painting and it will show up any scratches and joint faults.
I painted the model with Model Master enamel: Model Master Medium Gray FS-35237 for the upper surfaces and Light Ghost Gray FS36375 for the undersides.
I will replicate aircraft No. 188932 as I was able to find a couple of good reference photo of this aircraft.
On this model, I go all out to simulate the mottling and dirty look of the more recent CF-18s in service. To achieve that look, I used the post-shading technique in which I used darker shades of the base colour applied over specific panel lines and panels. Lighter shades of the base colour are applied strategically on the wings in small patches as per reference photo of this aircraft.
When I first open the box, I was excited by the finely engraved panel lines of the model. This fine feature, however, becomes a challenge when I started applying the wash as the wash would get wiped off completely during the cleaning process. My solution was to use a dapping technique: A cleaning pencil made from a finely rolled up paper towel was dipped lightly into the enamel thinner and the excess wash was cleaned up by carefully dapping along each side of the panel lines. This technique was also used to produce the dirty stains on the fuselage panels and fuel tanks to simulate dirt and grime accumulated by aircraft technicians working and handling around the plane. It worked out very well, in my opinion.
The kit’s decals are made by Cartograph and they are excellent. However, the large aircraft serial numbers on the top and underside of the wings are incorrect: The size of the numbers are too small and the colours (top numbers should be light grey and the bottom wing numbers should be medium grey) of the texts are wrong and the kit only provided the numbers in dark grey. A small supplemental decal sheet for the numbers was found in kit but they are still wrong and cannot be used for a CF-18. Good thing I still have some left-over decals from Leading Edge and I was able to find some numbers to use on the wings.
I opted to display the model with the canopy open. It is nice to have a mounting lug provided with the canopy frame and this helped to secure the large canopy in the open position. If I were to pose the canopy closed then I would had to sand the canopy front edges in order to the canopy edges sit flat with the cockpit sil.
The model is finished with a flat coat of Model Master Acryl flat. To relieve the dead flat finish, I lightly mist a coat of Future floor wax over the model. This produced an egg-shell finish that I was aiming to achieve a realistic scale finish.
Having built three Hasegawa F-18 kits and now this new Kinetics kits, I find that this kit excelled in some aspects but has drawback as well.
It’s drawback are:
- Poor fitting windshield and over sized HUD,
- Light engraving of the frames inside the main landing gear wheel well,
- Shallow engraving of panel lines which makes panel line wash difficult. Note that Hasegawa also has light panel lines in some area of their kit as well, however, the Kinetic kits has shallower panel lines of the two kits.
- Incorrect wing’s serial number decals for a CF-188.
This kit excelled over the Hasegawa kit by having:
- Low price point – at almost half the price of a Hasegawa F-18 kits, one can have a comparable F-18 kit with more features.
- Additional features such as folding wings, correct CF-18 landing gear, one piece intake trunk, and refuelling probe,
- Better details in some area such as the hinges on the rudder fins and fuel tanks,
- Weapons set included as well as the inclusion of the Sniper XR targeting pod to go with the LGB.
I choose not to comment on scale accuracy of the kits as I am not an expert on the dimensions of an F-18. However, as a modeller, I find both kits seemingly accurate when compared to photos of the real aircraft, and that is good enough for me.
I would recommend to others to buy this kit but with caution on having to deal with a fitting issue on the windshield.