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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Black Knights SAM Killer: 1/48th Monogram F/A-18A

Updated: Sep 20, 2021

Here is another decades old kit from Monogram. Released back in 1983 this was Monogram's first military production version of the F/A-18 (the previous release being the pre-production airframe). Old school with raised panel lines it can still be used to get you an inexpensive Hornet.

(Note: Not to be confused with the old 1/48th Revell kit which is poor at best.)

Notable Kit Features:

  • Good raised cockpit detail (A Monogram signature feature)

  • Decent accuracy of shape

  • Raised panel lines

  • Detailed landing gear

  • Selection of ordinance and designator pods provided

Build Inspiration:

I always liked the U.S. Marines Black Knights emblem so sooner or later a build was going to feature this squadron. As part of Operation El Dorado Canyon F/A-18s from VMFA-314 launched from the aircraft carrier Coral Sea (as well as other squadrons from USS America). Armed with HARM missiles (the first combat use of this weapon) struck radar / anti-aircraft sites as well as military barracks in and around Benghazi in eastern Libya. With the release of Microscale's 48-313 decals, featuring these F/A-18 aircraft, I had my build project.

Heads-Up Report:

  • Raised panel lines (raised rivets appear overdone)

  • Less than perfect overall fit

  • Nose fit issue - which fixing will remove detail as much sanding is necessary

  • Upper lower wing fit issues (break out the files and sanding sticks again)

  • Wing pylon shape issue (minor and easy to correct ...or ignore)

  • Intake fit issues (more sanding necessary here to smooth things out)

  • Slime light raised panels on the inside of the tail (Not present on F/A-18?)

  • So-so canopy (too thick for one)

  • Flaps and slats molded in the retracted position

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Microscale No. 48-313 "F-18A Libyan Raiders USN/USMC" (featuring VFA-131, VFA-132, VMFA-314, VMFA-323 aircraft)

  • Added seatbelts made from painted masking tape

End Result:

The paint scheme for this Hornet consisted of the standard USN FS 36375 / 36495 / 35237 with the nose tip in radome tan. I was pretty happy with the results at the time, although there are areas I wish had turned out better (that would be left for the goal of the next build). I was glad to have a VMFA-314 aircraft, with the Black Knights emblem down the spine, and another combat veteran to display on the shelf.

The After-Build Report: Despite my criticisms, this Monogram model still has a place in the 1/48th scale Hornet community. I always consider value for money and certainly there are better F-18 kits, however if you want to build an inexpensive Hornet or lots of Hornets, you can get a good end result with some extra work here. All gained at a fraction of the price of its competitors. (I have more recently built both the 1/48th Hasegawa and the Kinetic kits and appreciate the quality and features such as dropped slats & flaps contained in both these superior kits... which weren't around back when I bought this one.)

Completed build #80 - May 2005 using the 1/48th scale Monogram "A-18" #5807 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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