Tuesday 27 September 2022

1/48 Hobby Boss F/A-18E Super Hornet VFA-87 Golden Warriors

Depicted as F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 168913 /AJ 303 from VFA-87 "Golden Warriors" embarked on USS George H.W. Bush for Operation Inherent Resolve in 2017.

From the reference photos I collected I  know this actual jet wasn't as weathered as I have modeled but I wanted to do a relatively heavily weathered low viz aircraft so accuracy in that department went out the window. 

I also like to load up my jet builds with stores but this does mean they do tend to take longer than I expected.  This was definitely the case with this build which took close to 5 months.

The Kit

  • 1/48 Hobby Boss F/A-18E Super Hornet - Kit No. 85812


  • Exhausts - Aires
  • GBU-32 (Thermally Protected) - Eduard - Part No. 648396
  • GBU-54 (Thermally Protected) - Eduard - Part No. 648598
  • GBU-38 (Thermally Protected) - Eduard - Part No. 648386

  • Wingtip Rails  -  Flying Leathernecks - Part No. FL48-8052

A number of items were taken from the Meng kit. These were given to me by a mate who didn't want them as he was doing a Blue Angels aircraft. These were:

  • AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) -  I used this because the Hobby Boss one doesn't have clear window and it depicted in the stowed position.  As I was doing the aircraft in flight I wanted the window showing
  • AIM-9X Sidewinders -  The Hobby Boss ones didn't look right and are a fair bit longer than the Meng ones.  The Meng ones have super details (but inferior decals)
  • Pilot and Seat - The Hobby Boss Kit doesn't have a pilot. Fitting the Meng Pilot to the Meng seat was easier than mounting him to the Hobby Boss Seat.


Furball Aero Design Sheet No. 48-066  -  Team Factory: Carrier Air Wing 8 at War - Operation Inherent Resolve.
Exceptions were as follows

  • AIM-9X - Afterburner USAF Weapons Set
  • AIM-120 - Hobby Boss
  • Eduard Weapons -  Eduard
  • AN/ASQ-228  - Meng
  • Ejection Seat - Meng

The Meng decals I used were actually quite disappointing. The small text was just blocks whereas the Hobby Boss decals had legible text even on the small decals.  They also performed very well where I used them. 


The main colours I used are below. 

  • Upper Grey (FS36320)  - I started with SMS Dark Ghost Grey FS36320 but it was lacking the blue hue that this colour should have so I mixed a 50:50 mix of it and Mr Color FS36320 (C307) Semi Gloss Grey.
  • Lower grey (FS35375) -  SMS US Medium Grey (PL120) with a touch of Mr Color FS35375 (C308).
  • Radome - Mr Color Dark Sea Grey (C025)
  • Exhausts - Alclad Pale Burnt Metal (ALC-104) for the lighter shade and a random mix of SMS Light Bronze (PMT10) and Alclad Burnt Iron (ALC-121).
  • Targeting Pod -  Mr Color FS35375 (C308)
  • AIM-9X - Main Color and Mr Color FS35375 (C308), Seeker head Mr Hobby Metal Black H28 with a light dust coat of Tamiya LP 20 Light Gun Metal
  • AIM-120 - Mr Color FS35375 (C308) and SMS Insignia White (PL72)
  • Wingtip Rails - Mr Color FS35375 (C308)
  • GBU-38 and GBU-54 - SMS PL120 US Medium Grey
  • GBU-32 -  Mr Color Olive Drab (C304)
  • Various Vallejo Acrylics for details

Clear Coats

  • Gaianote Gloss (Sealing coat prior to decals)
  • VMS Flat
  • Gunze GX113 Mr Colour Super Clear UV Cut Flat

The Build

I am not going to write a detailed article on the build, just include some detail on things I think others may be interested in.  If you look back through my Facebook feed you can find a lot more detail. 

  • Main Sub Assemblies: -  I did have some issues joining the main sub-assemblies. I think this was a result of me getting something misaligned when assembling those sub-assemblies.  I ended up up deviating from the instructions a bit and assembling the bottom before joining the top. I added extra tab's and bracing from card.  Don't add the side pieces at the rear sides if you go down this path as fitting the upper piece is impossible with both fitted, you can fit it with one side piece fitted as shown in the image below.

  • Lower Wing Assembly: -  The other issue which I didn't photograph but has been well documented in other builds is that you can end up with gap between the lower wing and front of aft lower fuselage.  This is easily resolved. Check out The Model Guy's video here (5.02 mins) to see where I mean.
  • Undercarriage Doors: - These fit fairly well in the up position. I didn't have to add any material to fill gaps but I did have to add material to the internal edges so there is something for them to securely attach to.

  •  Top Panel: - Oddly this was far to tall at the rear so needed sanding to fit.

  • Aires Exhausts: - These are to big in diameter for the kit.  

Sadly this typical of Aries, fantastic decal, woeful fit.  I generally only choose Aries when I have no other choice these days. 

In this case the detail of the Aries parts are so superior to the kit parts I had to come up with a way to make them fit.  After much thought  I placed a spacer of approximately 2mm between the upper and lower fuselage halves in the area between the two exhausts.  This increased the diameter of the fuselage openings so the better matched the Aires parts.  

  • Weapons: -  The Eduard bombs in particular took a fair bit of time.  They are really nicely detailed however the thermal coating, whilst probably to scale are a little fine and hard to see. The decals didn't settle into the detail no matter what I tried so I had to try and hide this with some weathering. The PE parts on the GBU-32's were also a pain (I hate PE as a rule) but I do think they good when done.

    Bar the GBU-32's and fuselage AIM-120,  all the other weapons are attached with magnets. The GBU-32's and fuselage AIM-120 are pinned.  To get the fuselage AIM-120 to fit I had to rotate it slightly and re-drill the holes.  The clamps were thinned down significantly so the missile would sit close enough to the aircraft.


The Flying Leatherneck Wingtip LAU-127/A/B rails are beautifully 3D printed, and while marked as for Hasegawa / Meng kits they were also simple to fit to the Hobby Boss kit. No clean up was required.  I chose them as the kits ones had a different profile for the vertical bits were different.

  • The Base: - This is simply a piece of A6 8mm thick acrylic sheet with a 8mm rod inserted into a hole.  A mate milled a square section on the end of the rod to mate the box section I added to the model (you can see that in the image of the lower fuselage above.  He also drilled a 8mm hole in the sheet using a special drill (a normal drill can chip the sheet).  The rod was bent slightly bent by heating it with a hot air gun.


Most of the weathering was done with various shades of greys and browns using a number of splatter masks as part of the painting process. Some post shading of panel lines was also undertaken using highly thinned paints of various colours.

Washes, streaks and other stains were done with various oil paints from AK interactive and Abteilung and also mixes of Mr Weathering Colors. 

On the panels under the nose I feel I may have undone some of the nicer effects I'd got with the airbrush with the application of the oils.  The panels look a bit to uniform now but I'd got to the point where I just wanted it done.


Initially I was going to build the Meng F.A-18E kit however I sold all those and ended up with this one.    Surprisingly the underside detail towards the rear of he aircraft was a little soft and needed some re-scribing.  On the top and sides however the detail is far sharper and perhaps superior to the Meng kit.  

The Hobby Boss intakes have a sharper edge than the Meng kit and Hobby Boss includes the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System  sensors (?) in the cockpit which I don't think Meng include.  It has a ton of weapons but as noted above I only used the drop tanks and AIM-120's.  

There are few fit issues but nothing that can't be easily dealt with.  

The few decals I used performed really well and have superior printing to the Meng kit. By that I me the small text on the Hobby Boss kit is legible whereas Meng just use blocks. 

Is is better than the Meng kit?  I can't say at this stage but I have a Meng F/A-18F and E/A-18G in the stash so eventually I'll find out. The 

Overall the kit is pretty sound and if I didn't have the Meng F/A-18F I'd be happy to build the Hobby Boss one. There doesn't seem to be much in

The Photos

Some Close Ups


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