Skunkworks 1/48 F-16XL

KIT #: 48026
PRICE: $39.99
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Dan Lee
NOTES:  

HISTORY

The F-16XL started life in 1977 as a prototype for proving the feasibility of supersonic transport design concepts in military aircraft (aka the SCAMP - Supersonic Cruise And Maneuverability Prototype - Program.) The F-16 design was stretched out and the wings were changed to a cranked arrow delta wing configuration which combined with the F-16ís natural instability and computer powered flight controls eliminated the issues of the delta wing (drag at low speed and high landing speed.)

With the help of NASA, General Dynamics realized the potential of the F-16 as the added lift and stretched fuselage allowed for a massive jump in payload capacity (a max of 15,000 pounds) and 40% more range compared to the F-16A without much loss to the F-16ís stunning maneuverability. By 1979, the USAF encouraged General Dynamics to further pursue this design and GD did in 1980 by funding and building a pair of in-house prototypes based on the 3rd and 5th F-16 production frames provided by the USAF (one each of the single seat and two seat F-16s.)

In 1981 the F-16XL flew off against the F-15D in the Enhanced Tactical Fighter program to replace the F-111 Aardvark. The USAF liked the 27 hardpoint equipped F-16XL, but it lacked the two engines of the F-15 which improved survivability and the USAF realized that the F-16XL would need more money, manpower and energy to put into production unlike the F-15E as the F-16XL did not have a lot of common parts with the F-16s currently in service. The F-15E won the competition and the F-16XLs were placed into storage in 1984 at Edwards AFB.

Both airframes were pulled out of storage in 1988 as NASA decided to use the F-16XL as a testbed for a series of experiments based on new designs. They flew a variety of different experiments including accidentally flying supercruise when fitted with a F-110 engine till 1999 when they put into storage. In 2007, NASA planned to fly the F-16XL single seater, but stopped it in 2009 when both airframes were put back into storage at Edwards AFB.

Info Summarized from Wikipedia

THE KIT

Skunkworks Models is related to Kinetic models much in the way that HobbyBoss and Trumpeter are so it explains why this is a mostly brand new kit but has many of the Kinetic F-16 weapons sprues.

There are a large number of sprues jammed into the Skunkworks box some 18 or so including two clear sprues with each sprue separately bagged to prevent damage during shipping.

The airframe itself is made up of two very large pieces (one for the top and the other for the bottom) and it looks to my rather uncritical eye that the airframe surface detail is pretty good. However, one thing I donít like is the two piece F-16 nose cone mostly because dealing with the seam destroys the fine rib detail (which was my experience with the Tamiya F-16CJ.) For those who are resinholics like myself you should be aware the F-16XL was based on the F-16A meaning that it has the small mouth intake and the original exhaust nozzle. Any F-16C parts you want to add may require some surgery.

As I mentioned above, the kit contains several sprues of weapons of decent detail. I wonít list them all, but there is enough to arm the plane for a long war and a variety of air to ground and air to air missions if one chooses. I lost track of the number of parts and gave up, but I think there is somewhere around 300 parts in total for this kit. The canopy parts are not tinted and you will have to do your own tinting to emulate the tint on the real life canopy.

The high quality and beautifully done decals are printed by Cartograph and include five sets of markings including two that were actually worn by the F-16XL and three what if markings.

CONCLUSIONS

This is a beautiful kit of a unique airplane. You can build it as it exists with NASA markings or what it wore in the past (the original markings as done by General Dynamics) or as a What If airplane (which is what I intend to do.)

Dan Lee

February 2016

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