Tamiya 1/48 F-16CJ block 50
Aeromaster 48-072 used (long out of production)
The F-16 Fighting Falcon aka
Viper was originally designed to be a simple cheap light weight fighter that was
to compliment the F-15 Eagle.
The General Dynamics engineers and
USAF pilots (among them the controversial John Boyd) helped design an airframe
that proved to be something a lot more than just a mere compliment to the F-15.
The Block 50 series F-16CJ was
borne out of the need to replace the aging F-4G Wild Weasels that had served in
the USAF for 20 years.
Unlike the previous Wild Weasels,
the F-16CJ was the first single seat Wild Weasel with computers doing much of
the work of the “Wizzo” aka GIB.
There are some Block 50 Two Seater
DJ Wild Weasels, but the CJ is the most common.
being a single seater,
F-16CJ Wild Weasels work in pairs or flights unlike previous ones (F-100F,
F-105G and F-4G) which tended to work alone or with a flight of regular fighter
bombers. (Actually, these guys have pretty much always worked in teams with
a regular fighter being the hunter part of the team to suppress ground fire and
the weasel being the killer to take out the site's radar. Standard F-4G ops had
these planes worked in concert either with a standard F-4E or an F-16C once the
F-4Es were withdrawn from service. Ed)
The CJ is armed with HARM
and/or Shrike Anti Radiation Missiles (role to take out enemy radar by homing in
on the signal) as well as equipped with Sidewinder and AMRAAMs for self defense.
all the attack missions, the most difficult is probably the Wild Weasel aka SEAD
aka Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.
It is politely termed as a cat and
mouse game (with the Weasel and EAD (enemy air defense) alternating between
being the cat and the mouse.
the Weasel’s job is to force the EAD to attempt to light up their radars onto
them (especially fire control radars.)
Once the Weasel gets a lock on an
EAD radar transmitter’s location (and hopefully before they can shoot at the
Weasel) it will fire an ARM to attempt to destroy the radar.
Sometimes one isn’t going to get a
damaging the radar or causing it to
shut down is good enough for a mission kill.
In many cases though, the enemy
gets the first shot and makes the Wild Weasel’s job more of a challenge.
Definitely not a task for the faint
The unofficial motto of
the Wild Weasel (according to Wikipedia) is YGBSM--You Gotta Be $#%@ing Me.
The Tamiya F-16CJ is one of
the best 1/48 scale kits out there.
The kit’s parts are typical Tamiya
quality with almost no flash except mold marks--most notably on the centerline
of the canopy which is unavoidable due to the complexity of the canopy--and the
parts detail is amazing for 1/48 scale with well defined panel lines that look
okay for the scale.
Along with the plastic, Tamiya also
supplies several poly caps, flat pin rivets, phillips screws and a tiny phillips
provides two different canopies.
One the standard model clear canopy
and the other is scale tinted for those who want a color accurate F-16 canopy.
F-16CJ certainly looks like an F-16 which is fine with me.
I’ll leave the details analysis to
others who are in the know.
I didn’t exactly follow the
instructions as I opted to do things in a different order than what Tamiya
I will only focus on the areas that
I found a bit vexing to build or when I compare it to the popular Hasegawa kit.
with most aircraft kits, I started with the cockpit.
Tamiya has done a very good job
with this cockpit and the detail is good enough that I think most modelers will
dispense with adding a resin cockpit.
The bang seat is as well detailed
to the resin ACES seats I have (and much better than the ones that come with the
Hasegawa Vipers), but if you feel the need for detail then I do recommend
getting PE harnesses as the harness decals provided by Tamiya are so so.
used Dark Gull Grey as the basis of the cockpit interior color.
Tamiya does provide decals for the
instrument panels, but I prefer to brush and toothpick paint the details.
I used Citadel Black, Silver and
Red for the instrument details and Tamiya Clear Green for the Multi Function
Displays (note: you can barely see the MFDs due to the layout of the F-16 MLU
HOTAS controls were easy to paint.
Tamiya says that you shouldn’t glue
the port side throttle.
I strongly suggest you do as I
nearly lost it when it came loose several times during various stages of
Looking at the ‘pit, I don’t really
see the need for a resin cockpit unless you really want one as the kit cockpit
level of detail is on par with the quality seen in their P-47 and F-4U kits.
set aside the cockpit parts and started on the fuselage.
Tamiya did things a bit different
with their Vipers is that they broke up the top fuselage into sections unlike
I suspect they did this to lessen
the chance of the warpage (something I encountered with the Hase 1/48 Viper that
It is a good idea, but it does
leave a seam that needed to be fixed.
I do suggest that you sand the
mounting lug to remove flash or you might find that the parts do not fit as snug
as they should.
I used a bit of Tamiya’s White
Surface Primer (equivalent of Mr Surfacer) to diminish the seam even though it
is along a panel line because I ended up with a bit of a step between the two
A bit of wet sanding with
increasingly finer grades of sandpaper made it shallower so that it does not
top fuselage was set aside for the intake.
This is one reason why I like
building prop planes as dealing with intake seams is just a pain.
broke up the intake into two sections.
One section is the wide mouth
intake opening and the seams which require small nimble fingers.
I used a liberal amount of Tamiya
White surface primer to fill the seam and then spent a good hour sanding it.
It might not be as smooth as it
could be in some of the back portions, but I do not care.
second section of the intake is the aft wheel well.
Fortunately, this portion of the
intake is not that narrow and is much easier to sand/fill.
The interior of the intake and
wheel well were sprayed with two or three thin coats of Flat White and set
The engine face was painted using
Talon Dark Aluminum and when it was dry, the part was glued in place
get perfect alignment on the tail, Tamiya uses small screws (provides a small
screwdriver), mounting brackets and flat head rivets.
Looking back, it would have saved
me a lot of masking if I had waited to attach the tail after painting as it is a
different color than the fuselage.
Use a little bit of force to get
the tail in place and then I added some glue.
did an excellent job (for the most part) of keeping seams on panel lines or in
places where it would be easy to sand.
I assembled the main fuselage parts
but kept off various small parts like the underside fins and intake lip to
reduce the amount of masking and painting head aches.
I opted to keep the flaps up as
many of the photos I had of the Viper at rest, the flaps were up.
of the areas you should watch out for as the nose.
Tamiya provides different panels
for the older and newer versions of the CJ and they will need some filler--I
selected the newer version with the “bird shredder” antenna.
The nose cone is a two piece part
with a lot of fine raised surface detail right at the seam.
I could not replicate that post
sanding and I used a knife to make a “engraved” line
but it stands out and looks pretty
Best to ignore the missing detail
or use stretched sprue to recreate it.
Also test fit the join between the
nose cone and forward fuselage just to make sure that you will not have any
I left the nose cone off until
after painting as it was a different color.
tailplanes are attached using poly caps, but I recommend you glue them in place
as the tailplane mounting pegs are very weak (I broke both so I speak from
fumble fingered experience.)
The fore and aft landing
gear had to have mold lines removed, painted and most of the parts were left off
until after painting the fuselage.
also worked on the weapons and pylons.
This is where the Tamiya Viper
really shines in comparison to the Hasegawa Vipers as the detail is very very
The Fuel tanks ECM pods, pylons and
HARM missiles all have seams that require sanding.
The fuel tanks in particular are a
bit tricky as there is some raised details that you have to watch out for (but
they do provide aft end caps for the fuel tanks so you don’t have a seam to deal
Unfortunately, the HARM missiles
have seams in the rear exhaust, but it is up to modeler to deal with it (I did
Tamiya does a pretty good job with the missile, fuel tank and pod attachments.
They use the flat pin rivets and
poly caps to act as attachment points and tanks are notched to keep them in
The missiles are also notched to
keep them on the rail and not slightly offset the rails (as which has happened
to me when dealing with ordinance.)
canopy needed to be sanded with various grades of sandpaper and then polished
with fine micromesh sanding pads till the scratches disappeared.
I did a rare good job polishing the
caonpy and didn’t need to dip the canopy in future.
Painting a Viper can be a pain
especially if you fully assemble the model.
Mostly this is due to the four grey
scheme and the fact that many of the small parts are a different grey than the
sections they attach to.
Even then I had to do a lot of
model was first preshaded in flat black to highlight various panel lines and
Next I used the four shades of
Gunze Acrylic grey (FS36320, FS36270, FS36118 and FS36375) each sprayed in very
light coats so as to allow the preshading to work, but I varied the amount of
paint on the panel lines so it would look blotchy along the panel lines.
I followed the standard USAF scheme
and painted the various bits (including the canopy) and Flat White for the
HARMs, landing gear and afterburner
Unfortunately, I ran out of FS36375
aka Light Ghost Grey as I got to the weapons/tanks and went to the Hobby shop.
They did not have the Gunze
equivalent (it was the begining of the great Gunze bugout) so I found myself
using the Polly Scale equivalent which is not equivalent to the Gunze
If anyone even bothers to ask why I
have two shades of light ghost grey then my cover story is that the USAF changed
trickiest part of the painting was the intake lip, tip of the tail (yellow),
exterior of the burner can (Talon dark and Tamiya Silver Titanium) and the white
AMRAAM nose cones.
Mostly due to ensuring that the
masking prevents color bleed thru.
Once everything was dry,
I attached all the airframe components (minus the canopy, nose cone and small
antenna) before spraying on the gloss coat.
I opened up the box, I took one look at the decal sheet and decided not to do
any of the various Wing Kings Tamiya had on it.
If I have a general (but not always
followed) preference it is that I prefer using non-Wing King markings.
Fortunately, I had an Aeromaster
F-16 sheet which had a F-16CJ flown by one Captain Michelle Meyer of the 35th FW
(based in Misawa Japan) in the older configuration (ie: no AIM9Xs and no bird
shredder antenna in the nose.)
It was close enough for me so I
used it with the upgraded Viper CJ.
In terms of accuracy, the markings
aren’t even close, but it was my choice.
Unfortunately, I ruined
one of the Aeromaster WW decals and had to use the stylized 35th FW Wing King WW
decals from the Tamiya sheet further sliding this model into the realm of
decals for this kit are much better than the ones for their earlier kits.
They aren’t as thick as the ones in
their earlier kits and the stencils are very good (a pain due to the number of
stensils) and don’t require lots of Solvaset to snuggle into detail.
MicroSol and MicroSet worked fine.
dry, I washed the model with a damp rag to remove as much of the decal solutions
before applying water color wash (a mix of flat black, burnt sienna and raw
umber with a drop of dish soap.)
It kept the wash thin so as to make
the Viper a little used but not beaten up like the paint job of a USN fighter.
I carefully removed the excess wash
with wetted Q-Tips before I sealed it all with a couple of thin coats of Gunze
A 3g fishing weight was glued
(with CA glue) in the nose to make sure the Viper stayed nose down.
The instructions don’t mention a
nose weight, but I noticed that the Viper was balanced such that a slight knock
could make it a tailsitter when loaded for bear so I figured better safe than
multitude of antenna were added which was a bit annoying, but par for a modern
The various landing lights were
hand painted (a separate part) and glued in along with the various missile
Intake lip, wheels, missiles, fuel
tanks, ECM pod, rails and finally the nose cone with pitot tube were added.
Tamiya provides you the
option of open canopy vs closed based on which canopy frame you select (I chose
the open canopy option.)
Tamiya did an excellent job with
the layout and engineering of the Wild Weasel Viper.
I wouldn’t say that you should get
rid of your Hasegawa F-16 kits because they are still good, but they definitely
are not in the class of this Viper especially in terms of the assembly and
The only way Hasegawa’s Vipers beat
Tamiya’s F-16 kit is on price alone but the price advantage is negated by the
fact that you need to buy Hasegawa’s weapons sets which aren’t up to date
(missing the AIM9X and (well detailed) AMRAAM missiles) and a possible
replacement resin cockpit or very least a resin bang seat.
by no means should be considered an easy shake and bake kit in part to its
It does requires some planning and
effort to produce a decent model.
Kit courtesy of my
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