Kinetic 1/72 F-16D Block 52+
The Greek military had a requirement for a deep-strike aircraft because of an agreement that Greece had with Cyprus under which the Greek armed forces would protect Cyprus in case of attack. In 1999, Greece announced that it would acquire the Block 50/52+ in preference to the F-15H, a "Hellenized" version of the F-15E Strike Eagle. On March 10, 2000, the Greek government signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for 34 single seat and 16 two-seat F-16 Block 50/52+ aircraft. An option for ten additional examples (6 Cs and 4 Ds) was firmed up in September 2001. They were handed over to the Greek Air Force as part of the Peace Xenia III FMS program in October of 2002
The Block 52+ aircraft are AMRAAM-capable. They also have the Northrop Grumman APG-68(V)9 radar with a new extended-range search mode which replaces the existing air-to-air search mode and provides an increase in detection range, an improved data modem, a digital terrain system, a Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System, a horizontal situation display, an APX-113 IFF, a laser ring embedded GPS/INSD system, and the Raytheon Advanced Self Protetection Integrated Suite II. The radar can also perform high-resolution ground mapping, giving the aircraft a full all-weather capability, and it is served by color flat-panel multifunction displays in the cockpit, fully compatible with night vision imaging systems. They also have full provisions for an APSIS internal electronic countermeasures suite
The conformal fuel tanks provide a total of 366 Imp Gall of additional fuel. The tanks do not affect maneuverability to any significant extent, although they do lower the maximum speed by about 5 percent. (Data from JBaugher’s website)
Kinetic’s 1/72 F-16s followed their much criticized 1/48 kit. Though much simpler kits, they share most of the woes of its big brother. The surface is rough, details and small pieces are oversized or indistinct, and panel lines are virtually the same as in the 1/48 kit (imagine!) There are big ejection marks in the undersurface of the wings, made integral to the upper fuselage. Static dischargers are unacceptably thick. Nose profile, however, looks correct and there is no hint of the droop that haunted the early 1/48 kit. There is a good weapons selection, coming from the “NATO Weapons” set. Decals are included for any Greek or Polish F-16D (not that there are many). The under-intake ECM antenna typical of Polish machines is included. I seriously considered kitbashing it with a Revell B, but finally decided to bite the bullet and try to build it.
As usual, an Eduard Zoom PE set was included. It fit like a glove and really adds to the cockpit appearance.
The first step was polishing the whole external main surfaces with wet’n’dry and Tamiya polish. Then some coats of primer and further buffing. After a week or so of this process, the surfaces had changed a lot for the better.
Assembly was not easy but not inordinately difficult. The kit is well designed, but the injection technology used was a step behind the design tolerances (much like Eastern Europe kits of old) Main undercarriage is one piece, and should be inserted before closing the wheel bay. I choose to separate the two legs and follow a more orthodox sequence (the amount of sanding required would have compromised the u/c integrity) but it was then a chore to fit and align. The intake is complex but well designed, but then the fit of the pieces is indistinct, so that a lot of dry fitting and care is needed. The fearful looking exhaust “tube” matches reasonably well the rear fuselage; I detailed the exhaust itself with Tamiya tape petals. Pylons leave a wide gap to the wing’s surface. The long spine requires a lot of puttying and sanding along the center line, but it fits well the fuselage. The CFTs look like well fitting, but they are not: gluing one end makes the other pop up. Self-inflicted damaged included the pitot tube, which broke off in the final stages of painting, and the canopy (easily the best single piece in the entire kit) which I ruined when clumsily attempting to tint it. Luckily, I had a Revell B which had come with two canopies; it fitted perfectly (therefore I think an aftermarket like Rob Taurus’ would also) Dihedral symmetry (not to speak of a completely correct angle of incidence of the wing) was not perfect and I resorted to some u/c leg bending and even to sanding differentially flat the wheels to get anywhere near it. Leave off ASPIS antenna on the left side of the tail extension if building a Greek machine.
External load was numerous and varied; those cylindrical objects are never easy to assembly, but the general assembly took so long that I had enough time to perfect them; so that they are unusually well finished for a build of mine.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
At last I had a kind of a blob of putty and primer; I knew that only a killer painting scheme would save the day. The Greek “Fantasma” (“Ghost”) scheme, said to have been taken after a USAF Aggressor scheme, certainly provides it, but in this scale is daunting. I choose to mask the surfaces in layers using Blue-Tack; then flaws were corrected with Tamiya tape masking. The schematic in the instructions is very vague; I had a better one (that in Icarus decals) at hand; however, I cannot say I matched the scheme to perfection. I used Xtracolour paints over Grey primer with a dark preshade, painting unevenly to approach the dirty look of these machines. Pylons and tanks were painted FS36375. General weathering was achieved with Tamiya Smoke liberally sprayed in mottles and streaks over the upper surfaces, and some MiG Grime streaks and spills. The weathered effect was attained to a degree.
I used the kit’s decals, which performed flawlessly, though they took a long time to detach from the backing paper. The serial number looks appropriately dark on the sheet, but when applied over the FS36251 almost disappeared. I gave up applying every single stencil.
The kit comes with both the AN/ALQ-13/14 combo used by the Greeks and the Sniper XL used by the Poles (a multi-piece affair); however it only comes with the IRIS-T used by the former (the latter uses the AIM-9X) Modern jets are seldom seen with full armament; nevertheless, I chose to fit the GBU-24 LGBs and the big tanks provided. The undersurface pylon I left alone (the usual tank carried there is not included; I guess it is made redundant with the CFTs and big underwing tanks) Instructions show an AN/ALQ-28 LITENING, but, exception made of the decals, it is nowhere to be seen.
The model looks the part and it is reasonably accurate. It was a pig to build but nothing out of the ordinary. If you approach it with a high level of expectations it might be you will end up frustrated; it would be difficult to extract a masterpiece out of it. But with patience and some hard work an acceptable result can certainly be attained.
23 June 2016
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