Tamiya 1/72 F-16CJ (Block 50)
|PRICE:||1900 yen SRP (1520 yen at HLJ)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
This variant, which is also known as the Block 50/52+ has solely been developed for foreign sales with no USAF units flying the type. Its main differences are the addition of support for conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), a dorsal spine compartment, the APG-68(V9) radar, an On-Board Oxygen Generation (OBOGS) system and a JHMCS helmet.
The CFTs are mounted above the wing, on both sides of the fuselage and are easily removable. They provide an additional 440 US gallons or approximately 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of additional fuel, allowing increased range or time on station and frees up hardpoints for weapons instead of underwing fuel tanks. All two-seat "Plus" aircraft have the enlarged avionics dorsal spine compartment which is located behind the cockpit and extends to the tail. It adds 30 cu ft (850 L) to the airframe for more avionics with only small increases in weight and drag.
Poland took delivery of its first F-16C Block 52+ aircraft on 15 September 2006. The "Poland Peace Sky program" includes 36 F-16Cs and 12 F-16Ds. All 48 aircraft were delivered in 2008. The Hellenic Air Force took delivery of its first F-16C Block 52+ aircraft on 22 May 2008. The total Greek order is for 20 F-16Cs and 10 F-16Ds. The remaining 26 aircraft should be delivered by March 2010. The Israeli F-16I and its Singapore equivalent variant are based on the block 52+ aircraft. In March 2010 it was announced that the Egyptian Air Force would purchase 20 Block 52 aircraft (16 F-16Cs and 4 F-16Ds), the first of which arrived for testing in April 2012
As several of you know, Tamiya has developed a superb F-16 in 1/48 and it was only a matter of time before this kit was released in 1/72 scale. Now the kit is out and has been snapped up by buyers everywhere it has been offered for sale. I am assuming that Tamiya will be offering other variations on this kit, as it only makes sense to do so.
It is no surprise to find the parts superbly molded with the sharp, finely engraved detail that we have come to expect from Tamiya. It is also no surprise to find that the kit has been designed in such a way that there are a lot of inserts so that other versions can be done with the basic airframe. The builder will also need to open some holes along the way, fill a few, and remove some bits as well.
As it is customary to start describing the cockpit, I"ll begin there. You have a nicely done tub with raised console detail and a separate throttle and control stick. Into this (at a much later time during construction), will fit a nicely shaped bang seat as well as an instrument panel and anti-glare shield. No decals are provided for instruments.
The forward upper fuselage is separate so that a two seat version can be boxed at a later date. There is an insert just ahead of the canopy for either a blanking plate or the 'road warrior' IFF antennas. There are also inserts on the side of the nose near the radome for antennas and one near the rear lower fuselage. Wings are a single piece that have no holes drilled for pylons, which is not surprising as, amazingly, this kit has none. No bombs, no drop tanks, no centerline rack. In other words, you can only build a clean aircraft with missiles on the wing tips. Not very prototypical and something that has many modelers disappointed. While on the subject of the wings, these do have the small 'beer can' antennas.
The exhaust is several pieces that fit into the aft of the airframe. I'd wait to put the burner can in until after it has been painted. Main landing gear are well done with separate brake housings on the inside of the wheel. The nose gear has a separate wheel/tire. The intake is a rather complex looking construct. There is a two piece intake that fits inside a two piece outer housing. This housing has another piece that fits atop it at the very front. There are also two inserts for vents along the side of the outer housing. Again, it sounds very complex, but I'll bet that it fits very well. The tail section is made up of a separate fin and the fin base is four pieces; two on either side.
The canopy is designed to be posed open or closed. One needs to drill out the tip of the radome for the pitot. For weapons, one either has AIM-120s or Sidewiders.
Instructions are well drawn with only Tamiya paints listed so there is some mixing required for some of the colors.
Markings are for three planes, all shown in the three greys scheme. I would have thought that the more recent ones would have been repainted in the more simple two greys scheme that all the ANG F-16s have been using for the past 15 years. One is the box art plane from the the 5th AF at Misawa in 2010. Next is the 52FW boss bird from Spangdahlem in 2011 and the third is a 79FS Tiger Meet plane from 2001. The decals are nicely done and provide all the stencils needed. In fact, there are stencils for the non-included targeting pods, HARMs, and fuel tanks. Tamiya has included a separate and large painting and markings guide.
This is a very nice F-16 model and I am sure that Viper fans have already planned on picking up one and pronouncing it the most accurate F-16C kit on the market. What I find amazing is the lack of 'things under wings'. Except for aggressors and flight display airplanes, tanks and racks are pretty much standard stuff. Makes me wonder if Tamiya may be going to pull a 'Hasegawa' and offer these things separately. Regardless, if you want an unencumbered F-16CJ, then this one should be on your list.
Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review kit. You can get yours at this link.
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