AWACS USN Style: 1/48th Kinetic E-2C 2000 Hawkeye
Updated: Dec 31
Kinetic first released their 1/48 E-2C Hawkeye kit in 2009 and as of 2021 I would say it is still the best Hawkeye kit in any scale (if you have the room). The kit has been updated since its release with new parts and reissued. My build is of the later E-2C Hawkeye 2000 version.
Notable Kit Features:
Decently detailed flight deck (not that you are likely to see it post build)
Wings can be built in the extended or folded position (very handy for shelf display)
Wing flaps can be posed up or partially extended (Extended adds colour to the look)
Engine intake ducts with compressor face and engine shaft details
Access panel options for the engine nacelles (standard or reinforced)
Detailed gear wells with weighted wheels
Clear nose dome for painting to provide seamless view of nose landing lights
Choice of smooth or CEC antenna belly fairing
I had built a fair number of USN aircraft by this point and thought it was about time they all had an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft to guide them :) This is a big aircraft in 1/48th scale, so you will have to determine if you have the space, however the folded-wings option allows for a more compact display option.
A very nice colour information booklet, complete with over 60 reference photos was included with the Kinetic 2000 kit. Conversely the build instructions are rather sparse, a bit vague and contain small pictures and print.
Some mold pin ejector marks in the gear wells will need cleaning up (not an easy task due to the detail)
If you fold the wings (No cutting necessary here - the kit was designed with separate wing parts) - Add weight, Add weight, Add weight - about 100+ grams (Test it to be sure you don't end up with a "Tail-Dragger". I filled every forward space I could with BBs to achieve this nose-down attitude
For such a large aircraft, the build is relatively straight-forward with a reasonable parts count
Minor fit challenge where the forward part of the engine nacelles mate to the wings
Critiques of this kit have focused on the panel line detail (could be finer) and the sprue connectors, which are a bit heavy, so careful separating your parts
I had some paint adhesion issues with the water-base paints I used, so maybe clean up your plastic or give it a bit of a fine sand pre-paint
Check your aircraft reference photos for antenna locations and types as there is some variance here
If you really want to get into the weeds on what could be done to improve this already good kit you should take a look at this article by Martin Dytrych
Kit Additions / Modifications:
My only additions to this Hawkeye kit was to block off the cabin door to allow for added weight behind the pit, seatbelts and 3rd party decals. As I wanted a bolder scheme than the Kinetic version provided (VAW-120 Grey Hawks - which was OK but more grey than I cared for) I used the Authentic Decals 48-30 to get the beautiful VAW-117 "Wallbangers" Scheme. Base paint is FS 26440.
The After-Build Report on this kit is that I would recommend it for an experienced modeler. It is a relatively straight-forward build with few challenges if you have the patience to add all the small wing-fold and antenna parts in the end (without breaking them.) If you have the space, this Hawkeye looks very impressive on display as nothing else looks like an AWACS / AEW aircraft.
Completed build #228 - December 2019 using the 1/48th scale Kinetic 48016 kit.
Feel free to ask any questions and I will see how good my memory of the build is - Keep on building what you want, how you want - Cheers