Italeri 1/72 F-16ADF/AM 'Special Colors'

KIT #: 1337
PRICE: $30.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


F-16A/B Block 15 ADF

The F-16 Air Defense Fighter (ADF) was a special variant of the Block 15 optimized for the United States Air National Guard's fighter interception mission. Begun in 1989, 270 airframes were modified. Avionics were upgraded (including the addition of an Identification friend or foe (IFF) interrogator with "bird-slicing" IFF antennas), and a spotlight fitted forward and below the cockpit, for night-time identification. This was the only US version equipped with the AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missile. Beginning in 1994, these aircraft began to be replaced by newer F-16C variants. By 2005, only the North Dakota ANG was flying this variant, with these last examples retired by 2007.

A couple of interesting notes. Two ANG units, the 169 FS Illinois ANG and the 198 FS Puerto Rico ANG, flew the plane in the ground attack mission. Though the ADF version could carry the Sparrow, according to instructor pilots at the 114 FS Oregon ANG, the school for the ADF which your editor visited in 1991, firing just one caused the aircraft to severely yaw due to the aerodynamic effects of the remaining Sparrow. In addition, not all planes received all of the mods so you will find photos of ADF aircraft without the spotlight, or the 'road warrior' IFF antennas, or the bulge for the relocated hydraulic accumulator on the fin base, but never without at least one of these features.

F-16AM/BM Block 15 MLU

In 1989 a two-year study began regarding possible mid-life upgrades for the USAF's and European Partner Air Forces' (EPAF's) F-16A/Bs. The resulting F-16 Mid-Life Update (MLU) package was designed to upgrade the cockpit and avionics to the equivalent of that on the F-16C/D Block 50/52; add the ability to employ radar-guided air-to-air missiles; and to generally enhance the operational performance and improve the reliability, supportability and maintainability of the aircraft. The USAF backed out, but not several European partners. Aircraft receiving this set of updates are designated F-16AM or F-16BM.


This offering from Italeri makes three different folks who make 1/72 ADF versions. The first was Fujimi and those kits were not at all easy to find for some reason. Second was Hasegawa who basically added bits to their venerable F-16A and now we have this kit from Italeri.

The kit itself is nicely molded with the sort of engraved panel lines you would find in current Airfix kits. I had read that some new Italeri kits had inconsistent depth panel lines, but that did not seem the case in this one. The interior is standard stuff for 1/72 with a basic bang seat, a cockpit tub with no console details and instrument panels that are also devoid of detail. No decals are supplied or instruments so this kit is ripe for one of those etched sets that Eduard produces. There is a bump on the right console for the control stick. No crew figures are provided to fill this void.

I can only assume there is but one way to engineer an F-16 kit as this one is designed just like every F-16 I've ever built in this scale. There is an upper fuselage insert for a single or two seat cockpit with the fuselage halves split horizontally. Though none of the markings are for a two seat F-16B, there parts are there to make one. Intake is in three pieces with the main body of it split horizontally and the forward section as a single molding. There is no trunking, which is also typical of kits in this scale.

The wheel wells are molded into other pieces. The nose gear as part of the lower intake and the main gear as part of the lower fuselage. Landing gear is nicely molded and looks the part. The nose gear has a separate nose wheel. Gear doors are well molded and without hinges so are mostly a butt fit. The nose door does have two small tabs. Two different tail sections are provided. One uses the version without the small bulge on it and adds the appropriate tail piece to it depending on if one is doing an AM or ADF version The ADF version gets two scabbed on parts to represent the long tail bulge. If you can find a single piece resin fin, use it as it will be more convincing than what is offered in the kit. Two different burner nozzles are provided; one open and one closed. I have a feeling that the 'open' nozzle is actually for the F-16C/D as that fin is included in the kit. This means you could also build a 'small mouth' F-16C/D using what is in the kit.

There are other bits you can add on like some nose antennas, the 'road warrior' IFF antennas, and a bevy of things for under the wings. The wings and tailplanes are a single piece with the pylons butt joined to the underside of the wing. There are no 'beercan' antennas on the wings, though this may not be appropriate for these planes. None of the pods included on the sprues are to be used with this kit. However, you do have a belly tank, wing tanks ands well as a bunch of cluster bombs, Sidewinders and AMRAAMs along with their appropriate racks. The canopy is a single piece and not designed to be displayed open. I should mention that the spotlight for the ADF version is represented by a decal.

Instructions are nicely done with clearly marked instructions. All color references are in FS 595 and the full color painting guide on the back of the end-opening box touts Italeri's acrylic paint line. The two decal sheets are nicely done, though the separate tail marking sheet is a bit less crisp than the main sheet. There are markings for three special schemes. The box art plane is from the 37 Stormo, 18 Gruppo in 2009. This aircraft is painted gloss black overall. This scheme is featured on at least one Hasegawa boxing. The other two have the schemes just on the fin. One is a Dutch plane from 313 Squadron celebrating 55years and the other is a Belgian aircraft from 1 Squadron celebrating 90 years. The decals should work quite well as most companies have realized that junk decals only irritate buyers.


So there you have it. This is not the first F-16 boxing by Italeri (not counting those ESCI reboxes) as you can tell by what is on the sprues. The kit is nicely done and while lacking in some areas, should make into a nice model. As to whether it is worth $31 retail, I'd have to say no, but that is what the market is getting for similar offerings from the others. At least you get weapons with it.


April 2014

Thanks to me for picking up the preview kit.

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