The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet Beyond served with the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps for more than three decades, and it has also been operated by a number of U. S. allies such as Canada, Spain, Australia, Kuwait, and Switzerland. The Royal Malaysian Air Force (Tentera Udara Di Raja Malaysia, or TUDM) took delivery of eight F/A-18Ds in 1997. These two-seat Legacy Hornets have proven to be key elements of Malaysian airpower.
In this release by F-4Dable Models, the scale modeler gets three different versions of TUDM F/A-18D M45-01 as it appeared in 2005/6, 2013, and 2017. The latter scheme features the TUDM’s 20th Anniversary Hornet paint scheme.
The first two schemes feature M45-01 in variations of low-visibility overall semi-gloss Gunship Grey. The 2013-era scheme contains mission markings from Operation DAULAT, and between the two markings options, feature some interesting (and also subtle) variations in their national insignia roundels and airframe stencils.
The third scheme is far more colorful, with M45-01 in an overall semi-gloss USAF Air Mobility Command Gray (FS 26173) with a black tail, red trim, and a red speed brake. Other special anniversary markings include a very cool emblem on the nose featuring the Malaysian roundel worked into the 20th anniversary logo. There’s also “The Mighty Hornets” logo on the overall black external fuel tanks and expanded mission tally markings.
These decals are an excellent combination of very well executed design work and outstanding printing by Cartograf. It doesn’t get any better than this. Printing is very clear, colors are solid, and carrier film is exceptionally thin and restrained. The decal sheet contains a complete set of airframe stencils, and for the 20th Anniversary scheme, there are versions of the decals optimized for the Academy 1:48 scale F/A-18D kit. Note that there is an Errata decal sheet insert with reprinted markings for the Anniversary scheme (basically, all the reds). The original sheet looks to have printed them a little dark, and this insert has the correct, lighter color.
The markings guide features great aircraft profiles and stencil placement guides. There’s also a lot of information about these three particular schemes, and it reflects the depth of research behind these decals. Detailed notes on the airframe configurations are supplied and guide the builder on how to modify the big Academy Hornet kit to accurately represent M45-01. The instructions also note what aftermarket sets you can use to achieve that proper configuration.
Overall, F-4Dable Models has done does a great job with this decal set and it will allow scale modelers to build a three different incarnations of the TUDM’s 45-01 F/A-18D. The high standard of research also shines through on the accuracy of these decals. This sheet is also available from them in 1:72 and 1:48 scales.
Many thanks to F-4Dable Models and Jason Cheah for the review sample. You can find them on the web at https://www.facebook.com/f4dablemodels/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/f4dablemodels/. And if you’re ever in the neighborhood, they also have a brick-and-mortar hobby shop, too, in Jaya One, on Jalan Universiti, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.