McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet Blue Angels in Formation 1/72 Scale Mahogany Model
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The F/A-18 Hornet is a modern all-weather carrier-capable strike fighter jet, designed to attack both ground and aerial targets. It was designed in 1970 for service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. It has been the aerial demonstration aircraft for the Blue Angels since 1986.
The F/A-18's primary missions are fighter escort, fleet air defense, suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), interdiction, close air support and reconnaissance. Its versatility and reliability have been proven it to be a valuable carrier asset, though it has been criticized due to its lack of range and payload compared to its contemporaries.
The F-18, initially known as McDonnell Douglas Model 267, was drastically modified from the YF-17 while retaining the same basic configuration. For carrier operations, the airframe, undercarriage, and arrestor hook were strengthened, folding wings and catapult attachments were added, and the landing gear widened.
With redesign of the stores stations and improvements in avionics and multifunction displays, it became possible to combine the A-18A and F-18A into one aircraft. Starting in 1980, the aircraft began being referred to as the F/A-18A, and the designation was officially announced on 1 April 1984. Therefore, F-18 was designated as F/A-18.
The Blue Angels first flew three aircraft in formation, then four and currently operate six aircraft per show. The Opposing Solos usually perform maneuvers just under the speed of sound which showcase the capabilities of their individual F/A-18 or F-18 Hornets through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls and very tight turns. Some of the maneuvers include both solo F-18s performing at once, such as opposing passes (toward each other in what appears to be a collision course, narrowly missing one another) and mirror formations (back-to-back, belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted).
On November 8, 1986 the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the sleek McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet, the first multi-role fighter/attack aircraft now serving on the nation's front lines of defense since the F-4 Phantom.
On December 2, 2004, an accident occurred when pilot Lt. Ted Steelman suffered minor injuries after ejecting from his Blue Angels F-18 approximately one mile off Perdido Key due to mechanical problems and loss of power.
The F-18 Hornets has been exported to several nations worldwide.