Tamiya 1/48 F-16 Fighting Falcon*






Two aircraft


Steve Eggers


Not a bad kit, no option for an open cockpit and the decals are wrong for the red, white and blue tail number.



General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of most significant fighters of the latter part of the 20th century. It was originally developed from a concept for an experimental lightweight fighter and has evolved into an all-weather fighter and precision attack aircraft. The F-16 has been manufactured on as many as five separate production lines, making it the largest fighter program in the Western world. Over 4000 F-16s have been built, with production still continuing.

 The prototype YF-16 (72-1567) was rolled out at Fort Worth on December 13, 1973 and was air freighted by C-5A to Edwards AFB on January 8, 1974. Its first flight was an unintended short hop around the pattern on January 21, 1974. YF-16 number two (72-1568) was flown for the first time on March 9, 1974.

 The manufacture of the first production F-16 began at General Dynamics Fort Worth plant in August of 1975.


Tamiya’s offering of the F-16 depicts one of the two YF-16 prototypes.  The kit is molded in white and has raised panel lines and the distinctive prototype two-piece nose gear and two optional fuel tanks.  There was no flash or warpage on any of the parts.


The first step is the construction of the cockpit.  The cockpit is very minimal with just the basics, an ejection seat, cockpit “tub”, forward instrument panel and control stick. Instrument and side console details are provided by decals.  The ejection seat is pretty basic and represents the early ejection seat and not an ACES II seat.

   I painted the cockpit “tub” and instrument panel overall light ghost gray and did the cockpit walls on the inside of the fuselage an overall gunship gray.  At the risk f being flamed by all the F-16 purists, I decided to pull and ACES II seat out of a 1/48 Italeri F-22 Raptor (since I put a better seat in that kit, I had a spare).

   Prior to mating the two fuselage halves, the nose landing gear wheel well is installed, as well as, the intake ramp, the top of the intake and aft portion of the main landing gear wheel well.  Take care to align these properly to ensure a correct fit when mating the fuselage halves. When these are put into place I glued the cockpit in and I then mated the two fuselage halves.  Unlike other F-16 kits I have seen, this kit fuselage is a right and left half, instead of top and bottom.  Although the fit is good, I prefer the other method.

 The wings are 2 sections, the bottom is an inset that fits just aft of the leading edge and the ailerons.  The kit includes two external fuel tanks.  I decided not to put these on, although if one did want this option, two holes on each bottom wing half needs to be drilled out.  The fit is exceptional and little work is required here.  After the fuselage and the wings were dry, I attached the wings to the fuselage and the fit here is near perfect. There is no drooping of the wings and little work required.  The only work required is at the joint where the wing is just a tad to high next to the fuselage.  Next are the canards and the speed brakes. The fit here is good with minimal sanding required.

 Next is the construction of the landing gear; care needs to be taken here to ensure that the aircraft sits level, mine did not.  To remedy this, I removed the left and the right alignment tabs on the main landing gear struts.

 The final steps of construction are attaching the gear doors, the intake, horizontal stabs, engine nozzle, nose radome, pitot tube, nose landing gear and vertical stab. There is no fit problem; just light sanding is required.


I decided to paint this aircraft in the short lived two-tone combat gray paint scheme that was on, YF-16 prototype number two, 01-568, during the weapons trails in 1976.  Tamiya’s instruction sheet gives you mixing instructions for this particular aircraft.   After late nights searching on the internet and looking through lots of books, I finally found 2 small pictures of the aircraft in this scheme.  The best match I found is Model Master Light and Dark Ghost Gray.   

I mixed the paint at a 2:1 ratio shot the entire aircraft light ghost gray.  For the camouflage pattern, I took an unbuilt F-16 kit and traced the airplane on regular printer paper, I then drew my camouflage pattern on the paper and cut it out, thus making a stencil.  I used 3M Blue Paper Masking Tape, since it has low adhesion and won’t take up the light ghost gray paint.  I taped from the underside of the fuselage and laid the stencil on top of the aircraft and sprayed the dark ghost gray.  I did the same for the bottom of the aircraft.

 The kit decal sheet is a fairly nice sheet. It is broken into three sections: Demonstration paint, Combat gray and common markings to both aircraft.  I never gloss my aircraft prior to decaling. I use a setting solution called CHAMP Decal-Set. This solution will actually make the decal conform to a flat surface. Be careful using it though, do not use it at full strength, because it might take your paint off!! I usually mix it half and half.  Using a little bit of decal set, the decals adhere well to the model.

 After all the decals were applied, I used Willow Charcoal and shaped various areas of the model.  I did this around moving surfaces, wheel wells, and the gun area. This was my first attempt at shading, and I think it turned our quite well. The very last step was the exhaust nozzle. I painted it Model Master Gunmetal buffing metalizer. I love this stuff. Spray it, 15 minutes later, buff it!


This kit, probably one of the oldest F-16 kits, is a good build and would make a nice addition to any model collection.  Even though, it is not up to the same level as the Hasagawa F-16s and the Academy F-16 A/C. I recommend this kit to someone wanting an early Falcon.

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