Hasegawa 1/48 F-16B Plus Fighting Falcon
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,500 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976. Although no longer being purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers. In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which in turn became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.
The Fighting Falcon's key features include a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft. The F-16 has an internal M61 Vulcan cannon and 11 locations for mounting weapons and other mission equipment. The F-16's official name is "Fighting Falcon", but "Viper" is commonly used by its pilots and crews, due to a perceived resemblance to a viper snake as well as the Colonial Viper starfighter on Battlestar Galactica.
In addition to active duty in the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard units, the aircraft is also used by the USAF aerial demonstration team, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and as an adversary/aggressor aircraft by the United States Navy. The F-16 has also been procured to serve in the air forces of 25 other nations. As of 2015, it is the world's most numerous fixed-wing aircraft in military service. The F-16 has been involved in over 650 hull-loss accidents as of June 2016
First developed in the late 1980s, Hasegawa's F-16 kits have sold by the tens of thousands if not more, thanks to the myriad of Limited Edition boxings and the design of the kits that allows for multiple variants to be done. This has resulted in a few errors such as the differences in upper fuselage panel lines between the A/B and C/D, but most modelers either pay no attention to things like that or don't notice them.
Hasegawa chose to do different upper fuselages for their B and D models rather than just provide a cockpit insert for the two seater. So you basically build up two identical cockpits that include a reasonable seat, separate rudder pedals, controls and instrument panels. No instrument decals for this one so you'll have to break out the small detail brush for these.
In line with some other F-16 kits, this one has separate wings with upper and lower halves. Pylon holes have already been opened for you and they are fairly large so if you don't want to install them using plastic rod to fill them would be recommended. I should mention at this time that you only get Sidewiders an AMRAAMs for weapons. Any bombs will have to come from separate sets.
Hasegawa chose the left and right method of doing the intake with a separate forward section. There are a few fuselage inserts and I should mention that this kit provides the early gun muzzle with but two vents, which is appropriate for the somewhat early planes offered in the decal sheet. Everything else is standard stuff. For options you can have the cockpit canopy open or closed, there is a boarding ladder, and you can model the speed brakes open, but you need to cut away the ones already there and use them. Rarely are these open on the ground so most just leave things as they are. Other bits for under the wing/fuselage are fuel tanks and a travel pod.
All three markings options use the older three greys color scheme and as usual, Hasegawa provides Gunze paint references. The box art plane is the boss bird with the 307th TFW/31st TFW. It has a special marking on the left side that is apparently misspelled. Others are planes from the 17 TFS/163 TFW at Shaw AFB and 13 TFS/432 TFW at Misawa. Unusually, the first two options show only the forward part of the canopy being darkened. I'd check photos if you can find them as that seems a bit odd. Decals are old school Hasegawa which means they require hot water, don't like setting solutions, and have off-white whites. Probably still usable after all these years, but I'd have back-ups just in case.
For some reason, two seat F-16 kits in this scale seem to be somewhat difficult to locate. They sell out quite quickly and command somewhat high prices on the secondary market for the Limited Editions. I like two seaters, though it sometimes takes a bit of looking to find aftermarket decals for thm.
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