Hasegawa 1/48 F-16C
Not really too much to say about the F-16 Fighting Falcon thathasn't been repeated before in innumerable books, magazines and other media.Suffice it to say that it is the most successful Western aircraft since the F-4Phantom II with well over 3,500 units produced in the US and other factoriesworld-wide.
With the completion of the F-16A, an improved version, the F-16Cwas brought into service around 1985. One can tell the difference between thenow mostly out of service (in the US) F-16A and the C model by the elongatedforward section of the fin with the small antenna on it. There are otherdifferences depending on block or construction number, but I'll leave that tothe real F-16 fanatics.
Hasegawa's kit of the F-16 has been around for a number of years and despiteit's near 20 year age, is still a very good model. Most of the kit has engravedpanel lines, and the general fit of the kit is quite good. Aninteresting anomaly is that the panel lines on the external fuel tanks andtravel pod are of the raised variety. This does not in any way detract from thekit itself, it is just interesting.
Typical of Hasegawa 1/48 kits,there are lots of weapons racks but only a pair of Sidewinders and AIM-120missiles. If you need bombs, you'll have to spring for the weapons set. Onething I'm not fond of is that Hasegawa has opened the holes for the racks. It ispossible that some of us would like a lightly armed Falcon without the huge wingmounted fuel tanks, and to do that we'll have to fill in these holes.
One thing that sets this kit apart is the killer decal sheet. This isn'tcalled the MISAWA JAPAN version for nothing. With the enclosed sheet one coulddo any aircraft assigned to the 432 TFW in 1988, the year of the boxing of thiskit.
As you can see from the sheet, in addition to the Misawa units, you get aspecial scheme from the 512th TFS at Ramstein, Germany.
This will be my third 1/48 Falcon from Hasegawa; the first being an A and thesecond being a Belgian version. One big difference is that I will be using anaftermarket interior set with this kit. After reading all the hoopla about BlackBox, I picked up their F-16C set, #48005. I surely hope it is worth the $16.00 Ihad to fork out for it. This set will effectively double the price I paid forthe kit!
For me, construction starts with gluingtogether subassemblies. This means fuel tanks and travel pods. I also carefully read the Black Box instructions. Not sure if I'mtoo keen on hacking away the glare shield, but it says I gotta do it.
As you can see from the image, the BlackBox interior set is quite complete. I noticed that there is not a small uprightbit on the left front corner of the seat. Not sure if this means thepart was broken off or not as there wasn't anything floating around in thepackage that looked like this. It also appears that one gets two different HUDs.Anyway, I committed myself to using this set so cut out the glare shield from thekit and thinned down the sides and front quite a bit with a sanding stick. Aftertacking on the sides to the cockpit and assuring that they fit, I did severaltest fits to the kit. More material than I thought had to be taken away before Igot a good fit.
Then the resin anti-glare shield was cutfrom its block and test fitted tothe cockpit opening. Make sure when you cut this item, that you cut it from thetop as there is supposed to be a bit of an overhang. Cutting it from the bottomis only asking for trouble. When freed from the block, the front was sanded atthe same angle as the front of the kit cockpit. Constant test fitting ensured agood fit. It was then superglued into place. The instructions would have you addthe instrument panel and HUD first, but I threw caution to the wind and did itthis way instead.
Meanwhile, back at the interior, the rudder pedals were glued in place andthen it was painted overall FS 36375 as per the kit instructions (there are nopainting instructions at all in the Black Box set. A rather large omission, ifyou ask me). Then the instruments were painted flat black and then drybrushed.There are some teeny bits like the control stick, arm rest and throttle that areadded to various consoles. These are painted black and then the side panels wereglued in place. A few other bits were picked out in yellow and red to break upthe monotony of black and grey.
Once that was accomplished the instrument panel was glued into place followedby the interior. Fit is quite good and it does look better than the kit version.The HUD will be installed as one of the last items.
Then the wings, tail, and exhaust sections were assembled. There was asmall bit of filler needed for these parts, but not really that much. While thatwas drying, I prepared to glue together the fuselage halves. There is a bit moreresin on the bottom of the interior than one would like. Removal of the oldinterior tabs and much sanding on the bottom of the resin tub finally enabled meto glue the top and bottom fuselage together. The fuselage was rather badlywarped so I glued it in stages starting at the front.
After gluing the fuselage, the joins were cleaned up and the wings attached. Next,the exhaust section was glued in place. This piece doesn't exactly fit like aglove. It was difficult to line things up and I had to use clamps to deform thefuselage a bit for the best fit. There is a small insert next to the intake thatwas installed at this time. The fit was less than stellar and so some filler wasused to take care of the gaps.
Then it was on to sanding down as much of the mismatch on the tail section aspossible. Upon completion of that, the little gaps there and in thewing/fuselage join were puttied and later sanded smooth. Meanwhile, the intakewas assembled and sanded smooth. Then the intake was painted FS 36320using an old tin of Humbrol paint that I found in the back of a drawer.Once that was dry, the forward part was masked off and the rest of it paintedwhite. The nose and main wheel wells were painted white at this time as well.
Next, the tail was glued in place. With the longer spine section, it coversup some of the panels on the top of the fuselage. One of the problems one runsinto when trying to adapt an F-16A to become an F-16C as I would be willing tobet those panels have been slightly redesigned for the C model. At this time,the weighted nose and freshly painted intake were glued in place. Also attendedto were a few intakes and vents that go on the fuselage. The few gaps that werepresent during these steps were filled and sanded smooth. Then it was time to goto the paint shop!!!
PAINT & DECALS
F-16s are a sea of greys. In fact, there are four major greycolors that are on an F-16. From lightest to darkest they are: Fs 36375, 36320,36270, and 36118. I used Testors Model Master paints for all but the 36118, forwhich Aeromaster was used, mainly as the Testors color is, to me, way too dark.As is usual with me, I painted all the major areas, and then went back and forthwith these colors, masking as needed, until all the colors were on.
Painting of the canopy was an especially difficult task for meas when I put the canopy on prior to painting, it wouldn't fit. The glare shieldon the Black Box set sits too high and won't allow the canopy to be closed allthe way, leaving about a 1/4 inch gap in the front. I followed the instructionsand don't think I messed anything up in doing so. Whatever the case may be, itmakes no difference to the final product. After all, why spend all those bucksand have a closed canopy? However, it does make painting and masking moredifficult.
During this stage, the gear doors, stabilizers and ventral finswere painted on the sprue to make things easy. Also painted on the sprue werethe various bomb and missile racks as well as the undercarriage and actuatingstruts. Needless to say, it took quite a while to get all the painting done to adecent level (like over a week). Then the fins and stabs were glued in placeusing superglue.
Once the major painting was done, the landing gear was assembledso that the kit could stand on its own wheels. Any of the struts that needed ithad the oleos covered with Bare Metal Foil prior to gluing in place. During this time, the forgotten brace in the intake was added. Then the entirekit was given a nice coat or two of Future acrylic gloss clear in preparationfor adding the first decals.
For this kit, I decided to use Superscale #48-447 for ANG F-16s.Since one of the units on the sheet (113 TFS/181 TFG) is just a few hours away,I thought it might be nice to use their older markings from about 10 years agowhen then first got their F-16Cs. Another reason for using it is that the numberof stencils on this bird is considerably less than on a new F-16C. No wing walkor compressor warning bands are needed as often when one of these planes isrepainted, those types of things just are not replaced. They reacted beautifullyto the usual application of Champ setting solution.
YET MORE CONSTRUCTION
While all this decal puttingon was going on, other bits and pieces were assembled. Things like the fueltanks and various bomb racks were glued to their respective pylons and thenrepainted. During this operation, I trashed one of the kit supplied Sidewinders(like, I stepped on it), and had to go shopping for a weapons set. It alsoseemed like something was needed on the bomb rack. Having Hasegawa's weapons set'A', I looked for something to hang there. Mk 82/83/84 bombs didn't seem to fitthe bill and the Mk117s were not even the right time period. I settled on theSUU-30 cluster bombs after making sure they were still in the inventory. Thesewere painted olive drab with the usual yellow ring on the front.
All the racks and pylons werepainted the same color as the underside of the aircraft as were the missiles.The weapons set Sidewinders are MUCH more detailed than those that come with thekit. The head of the AMRAAMs were painted white while the Sidewinders had thefin stabilizers painted steel and the missile head black.
While not the 1 week wonder kit that I had thought it would be,nonetheless, it was a really fun build. It also reminded me why I don't buildthat many modern jets. Things under wings. It seems like a lot of myconstruction time was spent in building up fuel tanks and weapons. Olderaircraft just don't seem to have that much 'stuff' hanging off the wings and ifthey do it usually isn't so large.
Anyway, it is really a very fine kit and since it has beenaround for so long, the purchase price is quite reasonable for what comes in thekit. As for the Black Box interior, the jury is still out on that. The detailingis very good and the interior set is as complete as one could want. I am stilltroubled by the fact that the glare panel sticks up too high. I'm sure Ifollowed the instructions to the letter.
The end result is a very nice looking kit that is sure toplease.
Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet!! If any of youmanufacturers or shop owners want to send products for review and building,please contact me.
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