Hornet Nest !!

In 1993, TUDM made a split order of Mig-29N and F/A-18D role as part of the TUDM modernization program. The Hornet was selected as Maritime Strike Fighter to fulfill strike and interdiction missions complementing the Fulcrums on Air to Air role.

Eight aircraft were ordered, with deliveries commencing in March 1997, a new No 18 Skuadron was formed and station in TUDM Butterworth. The TUDM Hornet is the standard USMC Night attack version, It have unique overall 36118 Gunship Gray paint scheme similar to those on USAF F-15E.

The TUDM Hornets are equipped with the upgraded Hughes APG-73 radar and two General Electric F404-GE-402 enhanced performance engines. Weapon supplied include AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AGM-65 Mavericks, AGM-86 Harpoon as well as GBU-24 Paveway II LGB.

Malaysia is the first nation in Southeast Asia to  receive the F/A-18D, Service of F/A-18Ds in TUDM are entering the 10th years now....and many more years to come.

M45-01 1/48 Revell Monogram F/A-18D

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Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Air Force) received 8 night attack capable F/A-18D Hornets during the course of 1997. The aircraft are tasked with maritime strike and interdiction, and serve with No.18 Sqn. at Butterworth Air Base (an ex-RAAF Mirage III & P-3 Orion base).

This is my model of the TUDM's F/A-18D, built using a 1/48 Revell Monogram F/A-18C which was kit-bashed into a 'D' using mostly parts from the Italeri F/A-18 and a pair of Black Box NACES seats.

Work started off with sawing of part of the R-M kit's spine, and fairing in part of the Italeri kit's twin seat canopy frame/spine assembly with Miliput and Tamiya putty. The front cockpit tub is from the kit, while the rear cockpit tub was also taken from the Italeri kit. Oh yeah, the wheels and a couple of small parts came from Hasegawa.

The rear instrument panel of the TUDM F/A-18D has the same arrangement as that of the USMC Night Attack F/A-18D, and has the corresponding 'stepped' intrument panel coaming. I scratchbuilt the stepped coaming from scrap parts and a lot of Miliput. The 'Night Attack' configuration instrument panel was made from a spare Black Box resin instrument panel chopped up, and its various MFD's, and panels repositioned on a new scratchbuilt panel. The cockpits were sprayed with Gunze Mr.Color No.31 Dark Gray.

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I should note that the Italari Hornet has its canopy frames and associated transparent part molded separately, and it took a bit of work to put it together using super glue, applied bit-by-bit along the joint. The resulting joint was sanded lightly when dry. Needless to say, the transparent part needed to be masked beforehand.

Construction of the kit from then on pretty much follows the instructions, but I decided to leave off the horizontal tailplanes until after painting. The slats and the flaps were glued on at an appropriate 'parked aircraft' angle shortly before general painting of the airframe started.

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I decided to drop the trailing edge flaps just to challenge myself  and proceeded to saw off both. The trailing edge flap slats was made by carefully sawing the parts off the removed flap and sanding it to thin it down.

The slats for the outboard wings were cut from thin plastic card. The resulting 'cut-out' was filled and the airfoil shape of the flaps restored by Miliput blended and sanded to shape. The hinge mechanism were also carefully cut and angled to match.

Other features unique to the TUDM Hornet as well as other Late lot F/A-18C/D aircraft were added as below:

  1. Twin Counter Measures Dispenser fairings under the intake trunks were scratchbuilt using Miliput and plastic card
  2. Raked back UHF/TACAN antenna on spine and under forward fuselage were carved out of plastic card to replace the original ones.
  3. ALQ-165 antenna was removed from front RH nose door, and a replacement made of Miliput was glued to correct location (for a F/A-18D)
  4. GPS dome antenna on the spine was added from Miliput sanded to a hemispherical shape.
  5. Two ALQ-165 related antennas on the spine were also sculpted out of Miliput
  6. Leading edge of centreline pylon was angled slightly with Miliput sanded to shape

Once all these details were completed, it was time to spray the aircraft in its unique and characteristic overall FS36118 Gunship Grey paint scheme. Gunze Mr.Color No.305 was used. Following the base colour were the landing gear wells in flat white, rear fuselage exhaust area in silver and the tailpipes in a silver & black paint mixture.

Since Gunze Mr.Color No.305 dries with a Semi-gloss finish, and I had to rush the model done in time for this write up, I decided not to spray a gloss coat.

After that, it was a matter of just putting together the various sub-assemblies and the model was complete. Paper glue was used to attach all clear plastic parts such as the HUD, windscreen and tail lights.

Weathering was limited to just a wash with dilute India ink in certain areas, and patches of FS36118 sprayed on the matt clear coat to highlight a few worn access panels.

I used the new F-4DableModels McAir TUDM F/A-18D Hornet decal sheet for this model. Incidentally, I'm also the guy behind this decal sheet which will be featured and reviewed separately.

Unfortunately, there were some areas where silvering appeared, probably due to air bubbles and me rushing to finish the model. Once the decals were dry and all adhesive stains cleaned up, I tried spraying a coat of Gunze Mr. Color Clear Gloss in an attempt to cure the silvering, but no dice. The final coat was a semi-gloss coat (Gunze Clear Gloss and Flat base mix) to give the model an appropriate matt finish.

All-in-all the finished TUDM Hornet was a reasonable looking model, but never again will I try this. A lot of time could have been saved by starting with the Hasegawa kit, especially as far as where the dropped flaps were concerned. But I wanted to keep the cost to a minimum and at the same time develop modelling skills without risking an expensive kit.

M45-02 1/72 Hasegawa F/A-18D By Thomas Ng

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The kit I used is the 1/72 Hasegawa F/A-18D. Upon open the box, I found the same old Hase Hornet kit that I have 10 years ago for my first  box of aircraft model, But with new tree for the necessary C/D parts.

I build this model out of the box, I added the necessary bits that mention in the F-4DableModels decal instruction, I sketch build the twin chaff dispenser with plastic card and round it of with putty, I also added the GPS antenna on the spine.

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The seats supply in the kit look unreal, since I do not have the resin seat to go with, I stuck 2 pilot figures in to hide the ugliness of the seat.

The model was painted using Gunze Acrylics, The decal is from F-4DableModels, they are easy to use. This is the first time I use after market decal, and I like it a lot.

 

M45-03  1/48 Scale Italeri F/A-18D (converted) by Jason Cheah

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This is the 1/48 Italeri F/A-18 kit, which builds out of the box as an A or B model. This kit has been long overshadowed by the Hasegawa & Monogram kits, but it is relatively cheap, and you get to build a twin tub. Anyways, I decided to build one to gauge the work involved in bringing it up to D standard.

I won't say much 'bout the kit - my biggest gripe is the cockpit, general kit layout and some inaccurate panel lines. The moldings also show sign of serious aging - very vague panel lines on the rear fuselage areas, which needed rescribing.

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I built it as per the instructions, except for some mods to the cockpit, vertical tails and a couple of C & D related details. I had a spare rear instrument panel from the same kit in my spares box, so I sliced it into pieces, and glued the individual pieces onto the front instrument panel, to give a better impression of the cockpit details. The rear instrument panel hood in the kit, was pointed, so I sawed off the top, and added plastic strip to create the appearance of the stepped hood used on the later D's.

I scratched built the swept back antennaes on the spine & under the fwd. fuselage and the GPS dome and added the additional blister to the vertical tails. The latter was done by cutting a slot of the same length in the tail, and then inserting appropriately shaped plastic strip, which was then faired in with putty. The ALQ-165 related antenna blisters were taken from the spares box, and are from Hasegawa.

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The kit was painted with Humbrol No.125 (FS 36118) and coated with Future before applying the decals. This kit was built as a TUDM F/A-18D, using the F-4DableModels decal sheet. The decals were sealed by another coat of Future, followed by a final semi-gloss coat of Future (added Tamiya flat base). Certainly not the 'preferred' F/A-18D under any stretch of the imagination, but here it is for your enjoyment.

M45-07  1/72 Hasegawa F/A-18D - Mohd Amzari  “MusangPulut”

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Kit : 1/72 Hasegawa F/A-18D Hornet
Paint : Nippon Paint 'Dark Grey' industrial spray can
Decal: F4Dables 1/72 TUDM Hornet
Weapons: Hasegawa 1/72 US Missiles set(set 4)
Lesson Learned:
a) Spray your gloss coat properly
b) Eye shadows in not just for girls

This is Hasegawa 1/72 F/A-18D Hornet. I build it strictly OOB except adding some weapons from Hasegawa 1/72 US Missiles set and F4Dables TUDM's Hornet decals sheet. The kit was quite easy to build & I only encounter a few gaps during building process (easily be solved with help of some putty, acetone & Mr Surfacer treatment).

 

The stock ejection seat was very crude & unrealistic. Since I opted an OOB way & SJU-17 in 1/72 was hard to find in LHS, I had to stick with it & added a seatbelts made from masking tape to boost up its pity look.

 

TUDM's bug was covered with wrap-around gunship grey colour.Since my old & cheap compressor give up on me last month, I have to use industrial spray can to paint this bug. I use Nippon Paint Dark Grey for this project. Surprisingly, the color was quite match with FS31118 Gunship Grey.

Weathering was a must for TUDM's bug since TUDM use it almost everyday for training & patrolling sorties (think about reliability of US jets!). For this project, I try to experiment with the eye shadows as a weathering medium. The result was good & I'm completely satisfied with the result.

After weathering session, I sprayed two coat of Gunze Gloss coat for decal application. F4Dables?s decals adhered perfectly without any decal solution. However, silvering do occurred on some spots. Perhaps it was my own mistake not to evenly spray the gloss coat on the kit.

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While waiting for the gloss coat dried, I prepare & brush painted all the small items such as landing gears, landing gear doors,small antennas,pylon etc. Then, all small items was attached to the kit & I sprayed the Gunze Flat coat for the final coat.

Heard that during Ambalat border crisis last year, a pair of Hornets was stationed at Kuching AB for 'some kind of training purpose'. The Hornet was sighted armed with live Harpoon! Live Harpoon for training purpose? Phewwww!!!

To add the excitement, on the same time, TNI-AU dispatched 4 F-16A to be stationed at Kalimantan also for 'training purpose & normal patrolling'. Fortunately, nothing major was happened (except our navy scratch their boat with TNI-AL's boat) & everyone live happily ever after.. :-}

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So, I decided to portray the Hornet during that Ambalat crisis, heavily weathered (they thundered thru all kind of tropical weather from Butterworth to Kuching) & come with complete live weaponry. I choose to add 1x AIM-7M, 2x AGM-84A, 2x AGM-65 & 2x AIM-9S Sidewinder to the bug. All items from 1980s Hasegawa 1/72 US Missiles set.

I completely satisfied with this kit & definitely build more if I got the chance. Adios!

M45-08 1/48 F/A-18D By Jason Cheah

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The first TUDM F/A-18D I kit-bashed from the Revell-Monogram F/A-18C was featured in ARC's line up for 31st August 2003, as part of the 2003 'Merdeka Parade'. Shortly after that, a local hobby shop asked me to buildone more for their display, using the remains of 3 Monogram A-18A kits foundin their store room. I obliged, and decided to kit bash it using the then new Italeri F-18F as a source for the cockpit and the canopy.

This model has since been presented to a member of 18 Squadron's ground crew.

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I don't think the 'D'& 'F' use the same canopy, but it is pretty close, and the hinges of the F canopy frame need to be removed and replaced. The F-18F kit cost the same as the old Italeri F/A-18A/B over here, and so was a natural choice.

Used just the 'F' spine fairing, canopy, canopy frame, canopy bow frame, cockpits, ejection seats and the rear instrument panel coaming from the F-18F kit. All other parts needed to bring the A-18A kit to 'D' standard were scratch built from sprue, rod, card, strip and putty, etc. No dropped flaps this time, though.

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I painted this kit in FS36118 using Humbrol enamels and Gunze Mr.Color lacquer paints, followed by a coat of Future thinned with Isopropyl Alcohol. Decals were then applied. I used the TUDM McAIr F/A-18D Hornet decals from F-4DableModels. Finally, I coated the model with Xtracolour flat varnish.

Weathering was then introduced in the form of patches and streaks using various shades of FS36118, and some soot & grease stains (to simulate leaks) using diluted black paint.

Photos & Text by Jason Cheah / Thomas Ng / Mohd Amzari "Musang Pulut"

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