Review: 1/48 Kinetic F/A-18C Hornet


Welcome to the second entry in the Contributor-Funded Kit Review series! This time out, the subject is Kinetic’s new-tool 1/48 F/A-18C Hornet.

Curious about contributor-funded thing, or want to see past reviews? HIT THE REVIEWS PAGE FOR MORE.

Round Two Go

While there was some early contention in the Round Two voting, with the Hasegawa 1/32 A6M5c Zero and 1/48 Bronco P-40 putting in strong showings, Kinetic’s legacy Hornet soon drew away from the pack, indicating a high degree of interest.

I have to confess – this one interested me as well. I have a fondness for the legacy Hornet, and a new-tool challenger in 1/48 is worth sitting up and taking notice.

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Going into this review, I had two big questions beyond the usual detail/fit/etc:

1 – Is it good enough to overcome the old Hasegawa kits?

2 – Does it live up to the hyped expectations Kinetic has set for it?

If you want to get straight to the answers, hop on down to the final video. I’ve kept it under three minutes for those with short attention spans.

Otherwise, this review proceeds mostly on video. But I’ve added a bit of setup along the way below.


A look at what Kinetic gives us to work with, and some initial thoughts. Overall, the plastic looks quite good, with the exception of the provided stores, which seem like they were ported over from other, older kits.

The instructions look good at first glance, but they aren’t. Treat them as an unreliable source and they’re easy enough to overcome, however.

The decals – they are a thing of beauty. Designed by Fightertown, printed by Cartograf, and showing a lot of effort in creative ways to minimize carrier film.

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The only thing I’d say against them is that all of the schemes are quite recent – the oldest is the Finnish option, which dates from 2006. Everything else is 2009 or newer. Considering that the F/A-18C has been flying for nearly 30 years, it seems an odd choice to limit the options to only the last decade, completely skipping Operation Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and other actions. Fortunately, there are aftermarket decals galore for the -C model in 1/48 scale.

Part 1 – The Cockpit

It’s a cockpit. It’s a good cockpit at that, and with the way it fits so well into the fuselage, I’d be really hesitant to opt for a resin cockpit unless it was specifically designed as a drop-fit.

I would, however, recommend a resin ejection seat, and seeing what aftermarket companies decide to do about the not-great rear deck.

Part 2 – The Internals

The main gear bay is an amazing example of going beyond drop-fit to press-fit. It’s a bit janky getting it into the fuselage, but once you do, it locates almost magnetically.

I wish I could say the same about the intakes. They’re very definitely, uh, “inspired” by the 1/32 Academy Hornets, which is better than cribbing the 1/48 Hasegawa I guess, but leads to a dicey fit between the intake faces and the intake trunks.

I would wait – and hope – that someone comes along and does a set of seamless intakes for this kit. They would be rather welcome.

As for the intake faces – fortunately there’s no need to worry overmuch about alignment on the outside – as pics of the real thing show there is no panel line of any kind anywhere near them.

Part 3 – The Nose

Another tricky subassembly is the nose.

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It’s a dicey bit of engineering – as the fit demonstrates. There may be a better way, though, which is discussed in the video.

Part 4 – Wings and Fuselage

The stuff dreams are made of. Kinetic really nails this aspect of the build.

Part 5 – Control Surfaces

Up or down, Kinetic handles these nicely. Just be sure, if you’re folding the wings, to fold them at the proper angles. I’d even go so far as to suggest adding the control surfaces FIRST to help mitigate any interference.

Part 6 – Landing Gear


Part 7 – Pylons

From ugh back to great. The pylons build up easily and fit nicely. Hard to go wrong here.

Part 8 – Tails & Canopy

The fit of the windscreen leaves things to be desired – but this relates back to the nose.

Part 9 – Ordnance

The ordnance, as mentioned higher up, is a mixed bag. The Sidewinders are worth keeping, but if you can swing it, go resin for the other explodey things.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. John G says:

    Well done sir – thanks for the videos and comments – to be honest I really want to build that Swiss version. I guess I’m fetishizing the neutrals on that one. My only question was in regards to the landing gear – I watched the video and I’m guessing that if you were building this “for real”, the gear doors and gear assemblies will be difficult at best to install after painting if you’re trying to minimize glue spots, etc?

    1. Doogs says:

      Yes, very much so. I’d honestly recommend mostly painting the gear, then installing, finishing and masking before paint. Doesn’t help with the gear doors, though…

  2. ted upcott says:

    Thank you for this review. Do you make videos for a living? I’m amazed at the quality if this was just self taught between model builds. I’m looking forward to the next round.

    1. Doogs says:

      Hey Ted – I don’t make videos for a living, at least not in the shoot/edit capacity, but I am an associate creative director by day, and in that role I have certainly been involved in various video productions over the years. I’ve also been into photography for a long time, and the combination of the two mean that I know just enough to be dangerous! I do my editing in Adobe Premiere Pro, and it has just enough in common with my other Adobe loves – Lightroom and Photoshop – that I can blunder around and generally get decent results.

  3. great and very helpful review. I have only one question regarding the decals. as I saw on the photos there are no numbers attached to the decals so is the issue of correctly placing decals adequately addressed in the instruction?

  4. Thank you for such great review. A stupid question. Which 1/48 scale model builds better for you: Kinetic F/A-18C or Tamiya F-14A? And which is better in your opinion?

    1. Doogs says:

      Tamiya’s F-14 hands down. Especially in areas like the landing gear.

  5. Ok, I’m working my way through your review this morning. I have made it to the intake installation. What is the glue you referenced to really lockdown the intake trunks? Bondick? The stuff that you have to cure with the UV light? I have to get another cup of coffee then back to the review. Thanks!

  6. FInally finished watching the build review! You did a great job and provide valuable insight that will be of use when I tackle my own kit. As the other person mentioned above, I have an urge to do a Swiss Hornet with the kit. I especially like the integrated short video segments.

  7. Gary Murray says:

    I’m a little late here to the party. In regards to the landing gear doors, can this model be built with them closed?

  8. Marcel du Long says:

    Hey Doug very nice review thnx!
    Just started a Kinetic 1/48 F18A build and I’m very thrilled about this kit.
    So I’m planning building a C version but I’m missed the typical “bump” antennas behind the cockpit.
    Are they not in this C version kit?
    Strange since this detail is typical for a C version and these antennas are also displayed on their box art.
    All the best from Holland,

    1. Doogs says:

      The bumps are included and are parts E19 and E20 (you can see them in step 19 here:

      They’re listed as optional in the instructions and I’m assuming I opted for the other way.

  9. Marcel du Long says:

    Thnx Doog!


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