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USN TPS Hornet
Close-Up and Personal

by David W. Aungst


161249 basking in the late afternoon sun. While most of my pictures were taken in the morning while it was overcast, I did save one film for the afternoon and was rewarded with some really nice photo opportunities.


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Before I was married, I traveled far and wide to attend air shows. In June of 1989, I was at the NAS Pax River air show. This was the first time I was seeing one of the bright white and orange two-seat F-18s of the US Navy Test Pilot School (USNTPS). I knew that one day I would like to build a model of this aircraft, so I took a bunch of pictures of it.

USNTPS gets mostly low-block airframes that are too different from the rest of the Hornet fleet to be suitable as standard unit aircraft, similar to the aircraft that get assigned to the Blue Angels. The machine I saw on this ocasion was no exception to the rule, being only the fourth two-seat F-18 to get built. It was BuNo 161249, one of the final aircraft delivered in the original production development blocks.

Considering the lineage of the airframe, a keen F-18 guru will notice various anomalies on the airframe that are not part of the production standard.


Close-Up and Personal


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


01 - Front Right Overview
02 - Right Nose Area
While overall white, the aircraft is not pristine clean. Note the visible panel lines in this image and in many of the other images.
03 - Right Side Overview
04 - Right Rear Quarter
What is wrong with this picture? I am unsure if it is a detail of early Hornets or what, but note that the flaps are up, and they stayed up all day. I assume there is some form of control lock available for the Hornet, I just do not ever remember seeing one in use. For the record, I only noticed this while scanning my slides. I did not notice when I was taking the pictures.
05 - Right Tail Side
Note the alignment of the orange striping on the trailing edge of the wings and the vertical tail. They meet together.
06 - Left Rear Overview
07 - Left Tail Side
Note the touch-up above the BuNo for the aircraft designation. Not too long before I took these pictures, the aircraft was a "TF-18", and not a "F/A-18B".
08 - Left Tail Side
I think the streamer hanging from the inboard flap hinge might belong to a flap control lock, but I can not make out anything that looks like a lock on the hinge, itself.
09 - Test Pilot School Writing and Logo
Note the gray color of the blade antennae on the spine.
10 - Mid-Fuselage Close-Up
11 - Left Nose Area
12 - Left Main Landing Gear
Note the edges of the landing gear doors are not red. Note the intake warning stripes are red. Note the DANGER arrow for the intake is black.
13 - Centerline Fuel Tank
Note this is the original oval tank cross-section, not the round cross-section tanks that became standard on the Hornet.
14 - Intake Splitter Details
15 - Left Nose Area
16 - Nose Landing Gear
17 - Cockpit Area
Note the pilotís name is only present on the left side.
18 - Left Nose Detail
Note the black RESCUE arrow.
19 - Left Nose Cone
The tip seems darker than Radome Tan (F.S.33613). If I had to guess, I would say it was closer to L.Gull Gray (F.S.36440).



Text & Images Copyright © 2004 by David W. Aungst unless otherwise noted
Page Created 20 June, 2004
Last Updated 19 June, 2004

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