|PRICE:||Between 16 and 20 Euro|
|NOTES:||Plenty of building options|
By now passing its maturity, the F-16 has been an epitome of design evolution, from a light day fighter showing very little pretense, to an all-weather multirole fighter, still combat-worthy and a valid asset even today and surely for some more time.
The USAF (Arizona Air National Guard) 148th TFTS has had the task of training pilots for foreign F-16s for some time; UAEF F-16E/F pilots have been training with them since 2003. The RNLAF has been hiring them since 2010, when the 162nd TFS, Ohio ANG, lost its F-16 role. Very few F-16BM remain in service with the RNLAF, most having been sold to Jordan; J-369, which was delivered by Fokker in 1987 as a Block 15W airframe and is now a Block 20 MLU, still soldiers on.
(Your editor has a photo of this plane from his slide collection when it was new and has included it just to see how much it has changed.)
This is the Revell 1/72nd kit, issued sometime in the 90s. The two place version is a most flexible boxing that can be built as an early Block 1 machine (“short” stabilator), Block 15 (“long” stabilator), Block 20 MLU (“bird slicer” IFF antennae); includes two types of tail extensions (and also the short USAF one), and three kinds of position lights types (not that trivial…). It includes the two seater parts as an addendum to the “standard issue” single seater, so you could even build an F-16A provided you get the appropriate transparent parts. It certainly displays a “Hasegawa-esque” lack of weapons, with only tanks and a couple of (usable) AIM-9L/Ms. It comes with both the simple and the chaff/flare mid pylons, but only with the early 16S210 Sidewinder rails. Not that training machines (actually no machine at home) are seen with much else. The F-16C boxing comes with a wider variety of good armament (and plenty of LAU-129 rails), and it can be actually be better built as an MLU than as a C!
As a “modern” F-16 (in fact one of the last BMs in Dutch service) in full MLU upgrades, this particular machine has all the external structural reinforcements. I used a DACO sheet, made of self-adhesive vinyl. They look daunting but work perfectly.
Decals in the kit are the closest to an operational machine you’ll get from any of the current boxings. Versions include the inevitable 313th RNethAF in a commemoration scheme, but also a Belgian AF from 349 Sqn in operational markings (FB-01, albeit in the short-lived Florennes Wing “FS” markings –you may as well just leave them out), and an USAF machine from. To properly build the Belgian example, you should scratch built the intake lip antennae fairing for the “Carapace” ECM system; the reason for its omission is probably that it was not yet installed when the kit was designed (it comes with the little “winglets” mounting the navigation lights for the Elta “Rapport” system, which was actually never installed in the Belgian machines) The -16C boxing comes with a sprue extension with some weapons (AIM-120s and LAU-129 launchers) that include something that might be exactly this fairing (I do not know if it is included in earlier “operative” MLU boxings, but it may well be the case)
To complete the kit I resorted to an Eduard Zoom set. The cockpit of an AM/BM model is roughly equivalent to a late C, therefore the most approximate thing I could find was the set for the Hasegawa Sufa. I shun from lousy commemorative schemes, so I got a Flevo decal sheet with decals for operational Dutch machines from 313th Sqn. For the stencils I had some DACO decals.
The first step was joining the upper fuselages; then, applying the vinyl reinforcements. I was wary at the novelty but they worked perfectly. Then, I started by hacking the raised detail in the cockpit consoles in preparation for the PE parts. The rear tub has some vertical extensions that interfere with them, but stop the see-over effect at the sides; I blocked the view with styrene. I added some detail to the sidewalls, but it is nearly invisible. Seats are good and the PE parts make them real good. Detail at their sides is better erased for an easier fit, so a resin replacement might not be a good idea. From consoles up, the cockpit was painted Black, as is in the real machine to conform to night vision equipment operation. Instrument panels in the set replace the plastic parts completely; I was wary that they, made for the Hase kit, would not fit Revell’s, but they did so very well.
The airframe built up nicely, with very little filler. I had a slight misalignment between the forward and rear upper fuselage parts, but more careful assembly could forsake this. The intake, the bane of any jet model kit in general and any F-16 in particular, built up well, though the inside shows the joints. In another build, I shall possibly try to obliterate everything in sanded Milliput. To ensure a proper “seat” against the fuselage I lightly sanded the mating surface so it would lay firmly against it, without developing a gap. I detailed a bit the wheel wells and u/c legs and made Tamiya tape “petals” on the inside face of the exhaust. The “bucket-type” exhaust fitted reasonably well. I pre-painted the metal areas with Alclad Aluminum (with a shade of Tamiya Clear Blue to give the characteristic “hot look”) and Burnt Iron. The interior was painted White and profusely weathered.
The u/c legs have a complex geometry and none-too-positive attachment
points, but going with care and after some cursing they stayed in place and the
model’s stance be made reasonable square. Doors were another source of headaches
and cursing, but in the end they could be persuaded to stay put.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The standard NATO F-16 scheme is the early one in FS 36375/36270/36118 (USAF machines have dropped the 36375; most present day European F-16s are painted in the US, where sometimes the wrong scheme is applied –there is at least one RNoAF –“299”- recorded in the American scheme). I used Xtracrylixs over a heavy preshading; a postshading in a lighter shade followed, and a last pastel powder dusting after the final matt coat.
Tinting the canopy was a chore, using Tamiya Smoke (enamel) airbrushed on the inside. The transparent part was not very clear, and the treatment made it even more opaque. Some clearness was restored by energetically polishing it with Tamiya compound. My example came with two canopies; at first I thought a faulty packaging, but then I realized that only one HUD screen is included in the clear sprue, and you need two! (including a single-seat canopy sprue would have dealt with the missing HUD problem and added to the inherent versatility of the packaging- at the cost of the spare canopy)
The model was given a general Xtracrylixs gloss in preparation for the decals.
Well, for all the collection of “boutique” decals I had, the results were rather pedestrian. No sooner had I put the first walkway lines from the DACO sheet that I realized they were rather stiff and prone to silvering; which is a pity, for they reproduce the elusive Grey colour quite well. I reinforced the gloss finish by a handbrushed coat and hope for the best. It didn’t come; most of the decals started showing alarming levels of silvering. Therefore I resorted to an old Superscale sheet for the nose stencils (it worked perfectly), and to the Revell decal sheet for those in the rest of the airframe (they also developed some silvering). Flevo roundels looked thick, but they stuck to the surface; the code numbers were considerably thinner and gave no trouble. The print is good, but the 313th Tiger squadron badge is far too large. The worst result was that of the DACO air refueling receptacle decal, large and with lots of carrier; it goes on a lot of panel lines and the protruding GPS antennae; I resorted to dirtying it with a Silver pencil (great effect on the flap receptacle cover, but not so great anywhere else) and some grime streaking from a MiG Grime juice. After I resorted to last-ditch measures (painting over silvered areas in background colours) it looked barely acceptable. Omitting the GPS antennae would have helped. It must be said that before completely finishing the model I received the DACO decal setting solution, which certainly worked fine with the proprietary decals.
As a modeler mainly of WW2 subjects, I am immensely attracted at the variety, complexity and sophistication of external loads in “modern” aircraft. However, real machines are seldom seen carrying any significant weapon load; even when in operations, nowadays, they carry a relatively light load (I guess that attacking Soviet armoured columns in the Central Front would have been a different business altogether). With trainers things get more even complicated, as they are almost never seen with anything but tanks and training pods. I try to get a balance between an interesting and realistic load. Otherwise, I would be restricted to travelling pods and dummy missiles!
I took one of the AIM-9Ms and built it as a captive acquisition round, painting it Blue. With the second, I mimicked an AMA (acronym for the rather obscure denomination of “Acceleration Monitoring Assembly”) pod, commonly seen on European F-16s. It turns the radar signature of the aircraft, which is quite small for a non-stealth machine, into something of easier interpretation by civilian radar operators (I understand that the latest IFF equipment renders this redundant). Having a solid metal (“baseball”) head, it usefully doubles as counterweight. I also hung an ACMI pod taken from a Hasegawa set (from where I also took two LAU-129 launchers for the wingtips). I painted both in 36375 as the latest fashion. I guessed that European pilots would take the chance, when training in America, of carrying (and eventually dropping) live (or at least live-sized) ammo, if only to see how their kites can be thrown around while carrying them. I selected two GBU-38 GPS guided 500 lb bombs, taken from a Kinetic F-16D (in turn, part of a Skunk Models weapons set) The awkward Gold ring in the nose seeker was inscribed with a felt tip marker temporarily commandeered from my SO art supplies.
This is a nice kit, easy to build, accurate and with plenty of potential. Relatively cheap, it invites you to build several in a row. The lack of decals depicting operative machines in present-day boxings (especially stencils and walkways) is astonishing, but can be circumvented with some ingenuity and money. The same can be said about the varied weapons and pods that could be used. Highly recommended.
“Uncovering the F-16”, Daco Productions
“F-16 In Action”, Squadron Signal Publications
JBaugher internet site.
24 October 2016
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