Leading Edge Models | 3218: CF-18 409 Sqdn.

Reviewed by Randy Bumgardner

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This latest offering from Leading Edge Models continues the tradition of the “Wow!” factor that their last few releases have created – especially for large scale Hornet fans. This release covers CF-18, BuNo. 188761, the flagship for 409 “Nighthawk” TFS flown by Lt. Colonel Todd Balfe, call sign “Nightmare 01”. This airframe has quite a history following it. Initially deployed with 439 TFS at CFB Baden-Sollingen, Germany, this aircraft was broken up during an aborted takeoff on 20 October 1987. Repaired in Germany, the aircraft became the last Canadian CF-18 to return to Canada following the closure of Canadian Forces Europe.

Then, on 19 June 2004 when assigned to 441 TFS, a minor landing accident sent 188761 back to the repair depot. It was a “minor” accident in the sense that 188761 suffered minor damage to its landing gear and its AIM-7 and -9 missiles. After repairs, 188761 returned to service in June 2006 with the then newly re-formed 409 TFS.

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Designed for the Academy F/A-18C, the decals are very nicely done. The decals for the tail art are fantastic. The colors and artwork are very well done. Leading Edge Models designed and printed the decals themselves and they have done a great job. The registration is dead on and the colors are fantastic. The decal seem to be a little on the thick side, however, they should settle down without problem using a little MicroSol/MicroSet.

Because these are short production run sets, there are no guarantees on reprints once the initial run sells out. A caveat from there site reads: “Note that all LEM products are properly printed decals with separate carrier clear for each item although these are produced in small production runs and may not be reprinted.” So, if they have something that strikes your fancy, it may not be available when you go back some time later...


In addition to the great decals, Leading Edge Models goes one better. Canadian Hornets have false canopies painted on the underside of the airframes. So, to save the modeler's sanity, Leading Edge Models has supplied masks for the the false canopy under the forward fuselage. The modeler is provided with a sheet of vinyl masks that they can use to paint this area.

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I highly recommend these decals and masks for anyone with an interest in unique aircraft, especially unique CAF markings.

Reviews samples courtesy of Leading Edge Models, Thank You!

This set and others are available directly from Leading Edge Models.

© Randy Bumgardner 2008

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016