Tamiya 1/48 F-16CJ (Block 50)

KIT #: 61098
PRICE: $34.30 (shipping included) ($66.00 SRP)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2007 tooling


Though initially designed as a lightweight, point defense fighter, the F-16 steadily grew in capabilities to where it is more of a medium attack aircraft with air to air capabilities instead of a straight-forward air intercept plane.

The F-16A/B as well as Block 25 and Block 30/32 F-16C/D variants have been pretty much withdrawn from USAF service. The early F-16Cs are being worked up as drones for expenditure as aerial targets. This leaves the Block 40/42 and Block 50/52 as the main Falcons in the USAF. These will be replaced by the F-35, despite all of the issues of ballooning expenses and poorly functioning systems that have plagued the F-35 over the last decade or so.

This kit is an F-16C/D Block 50, so here is some info on those versions.

The first Block 50/52 F-16 was delivered in late 1991; the aircraft are equipped with improved GPS/INS, and the aircraft can carry a further batch of advanced missiles: the AGM-88 HARM missile, JDAM, JSOW and WCMD. Block 50 aircraft are powered by the F110-GE-129 while the Block 52 jets use the F100-PW-229.

Block 50/52plus

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.


Though not a huge F-16 fan, I do like the aircraft and over the decades have built quite a few. Two years back, I built the then brand new 1/72 F-16CJ released by Tamiya and aside from the lack of weapons and pylons, really liked the kit. A month or so back, I built the Block 30/32 kit in 1/48 and found it to be a very nice, though a bit fiddly to build kit. Having found some really good deals from overseas on this particular kit, I decided to go ahead and add it to the collection.

If you have read the articles regarding the later Block 30 ANG kit, you'll find that it is based on this kit so all the sprues in that one are identical and include block 30 specific sprues. For those interested, the main difference is that the Block 50 has the 'big mouth' inlet for the GE engine while the 52 is the regular 'small mouth' intake for the P&W engine. Note also that the block 50 and later planes had the 'heavy' landing gear with wider wheels/tires requiring bulged gear doors. The landing light was also moved to the nose gear door.

As usual with Tamiya, you get a lot of detail, but thanks to the way the kit is designed to do multiple variants, it is also what one would call fiddly. The way the kit is built, you have to prepaint a lot of exterior areas before assembling and installing things like the intake and the gear wells. This latter area caused me fits when I built the ANG boxing as apparently prepainting caused the bits to be too thick and getting a good fit was difficult. Yet painting it after installation is even more difficult as the well with the landing gear has to be installed before gluing the fuselage halves together. One cannot install the gear later as it is attached to a bulkhead.

You get a full weapons suite as well as two different canopy sprues, one which is tinted slightly yellow. You also get HARM missiles as befits the wild weasel mission along with targeting pods. 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 15-20 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 all the things under wings including targeting pods, HARMs, and fuel tanks. Tamiya has included a separate and large painting and markings guide.


A slam build this will not be, but the end result is a superb reproduction of the F-16CJ. There are aftermarket bits for those who want them as well as other decal sheet options.



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