|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/72 F-16A plus Fighting Falcon|
|KIT #:||00231 (B 1)|
|PRICE:||$7.60 from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
When I was quite a bit younger, I can remember the fly-off between the Northop YF-17 and the GD YF-16 for the lightweight fighter competition. To me, both of them were not pretty aircraft, though the YF-16 was a tad better looking. The fly-off showed that both aircraft met specifications, but as usual, there was some politics involved and the USAF wanted a single engine aircraft so the YF-17 lost out and was eventually developed into the F-18.
Initial production aircraft were rather quick to come off the assembly line. The pre-production YF-16s were all 75-xxxx serial planes while the first F-16A was 78-0001. It quickly entered USAF service, in many cases supplanting the larger F-4 Phantom II, which allowed Guard and Reserve units to transition out of older aircraft into the now spare F-4s. Within five years, the F-16 was a common sight at bases throughout the world and was also eagerly bought by friendly forces, including many NATO countries, where license production got underway.
Eventually, the F-16A reached the end of its useful life and though many block 15 aircraft were converted to ADF variants, even those were out of the inventory by around 2000 or so. Now, it is different variants of the F-16C that are carrying on until they, too, will need to be replaced. It will be quite interesting to see what that aircraft will be like. For one thing, they won't be building over 2,500 copies of it!
When this kit first came out in 1985 or so, it was the best 1/72 F-16 of any kind on the market. It surpassed the Italeri and ESCI kits in terms of details and the weapons load it provided. Both of those other kits were earlier block 5 and block 10 aircraft with the smaller stabilizer while the Hasegawa kit has the larger one provided with the block 15 aircraft.
It is very much like any modern Hasegawa 1/72 kit in that it provides nicely engraved panel lines, one piece wings with the pylon mounting holes already drilled in them, a one piece fin/rudder with lower section in two halves, well detailed landing gear and gear bays, and a boarding ladder. It also includes a pilot figure. Looking at the parts, they are in quite good condition even after all these years. I found the expected ejector pin marks on the inside of gear doors and on the missile bodies. The intake is in three sections and can be a bit fiddly to assemble cleanly as it incorporates the nose gear well. No nose weight is really needed, but you can put some in there if it makes you feel better.
Canopy is a two part affair in quite clear plastic. I know that these are generally tinted and you can do so with some Tamiya 'Smoke' or something similar if you wish. The 'things under wings' includes a centerline tank, two large wing tanks, a pair of cluster bombs and two different types of Sidewinder. Those wishing to not carry everything can fill in whatever holes they wish.
Instructions are pretty standard Hasegawa fare and have changed little in 20 years. Markings are for three aircraft. First is the box art plane from the 50th TFW which was based at Hahn, Germany in 1983. The other US option is from the 8th TFW at Kusan, Korea about the same time. The third is from 311 Squadron, Dutch Air Force, at Volkel. Decals are standard Hasegawa fare and are a bit thick. Lots of data markings and they are the original orange ones that were fitted to the planes when they were built. There are a goodly number of aftermarket sheets even for early F-16s so finding some alternates will not be difficult.
Other than perhaps the Fujimi kit, which I have not built, this is still the best 1/72 F-16A on the market. Not only that, but the standard boxing is quite inexpensive, allowing a Falcon fan to have quite a number of them for very little money.
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