Kangnam Style

I know I’m not the first to make this joke and I won’t be the last. It is not my intention to turn this into a blog about aircraft modelling, but I wanted to record an update on my F/A-18 model situation. I thought about it long and hard. I considered. I dithered. In the end I took the cheap plunge and bought the Kangnam F/A-18 kit from Sprue Brothers Models via Amazon.

On the cutting mat: the bits of the Kangnam F/A-18 I actually wanted to complete my 15-year old Testors model (on the right). In the box: the bits I don’t want.

To correct any impressions which have been circulating – the kit isn’t Chinese. It comes from South Korea – hence the very awful joke in the title of this article. It has acquired something a reputation on the web for being a terrible kit. There are no serious reviews, in fact just one that I found saying it’s the worst kit the reviewer has ever seen and stay away. I dunno, I made some fairly awful ones when I was growing up. There was a 1:48 scale Spitfire which had a total of about a dozen parts. In the late 80s I made a Japanese 1:48 scale P-51 that I ended up throwing away (after I’d finished painting it!) because the forward fuselage where it met the canopy looked too stunted, and the canopy itself looked way too big. This at least looks something like an F-18 and has more detail than my infamous 1960s Spitfire.

Sadly, the instructions and painting guides are pretty confusing, especially as one painting option is for a two-seat TF-18 (as it was then) which this thing very definitely isn’t. The decals supplied are pretty cringe-worthy and are going in the spares box once I’ve taken a closer look at the warning tabs and triangles.

All this having been said. If you’re a parent, shopping for a young modeler, and don’t want to flash out the huge sums of money that go with the mainstream F/A-18 kits ($75 easily), then this might be the way to go. Compared with some of the tat I put together in my younger years it has a little bit going for it.

In my case – with a half-finished F/A-18 sitting on the shelf – I would have easily spent over $50 on an aftermarket ejection seat, underwing pylons, weapons, and wheel well interiors (and I only wanted the undercarriage doors). An aftermarket resin seat alone is $7.99 As it is, I ended up spending about $10 on the Kangnam model and got all the bits I was looking for. The single reviewer had doubts about dimensional accuracy – says the external fuel tanks are too small – but I have nothing against which to compare. If you are reading this article and you have a mainstream manufacturer 1:48 Legacy F/A-18 (not the Super Hornet) in your collection, do me a favor. Measure the length of your external fuel tanks and let me know. 🙂 I am still very interested in modeling a Desert Storm F/A-18C in either USMC or USN livery depending on the availability of aftermarket decals. Some seem to have gone out of print in recent years.

A couple of things have arisen from this foray into modern modelling whihc I might blog about. One is the NACES ejection seat. Naval Aircrew Common Ejection Seat (?) I forget. But it’s an interesting attempt at standardization by the United States Navy getting one type of ejection seat in a number of aircraft. I will read about it.

The other topic is the story of the Hornet and Super Hornet. I kept reading about “Legacy” Hornets and then discovered that the E and F models of the F/A-18 are about 25% bigger than the A, C, and D models. There must be quite the story in there.

Meanwhile I’ve been deploying some of my newly purchased Milliput (thought I’d never see it again when I came here) on the Kangnam ejection seat to give it a more hefty look like the NACES version.