ESCI 1/72 F-16B Falcon






Five aircraft


Scott Van Aken




Though this is just a personal preference, I find that the two-seaters of most modern aircraft just look better than the single-seat siblings. This is especially true for the F-16. One thing is that the twin-seaters tend to have a longer service life. While the F-16A has been long gone out of USAF service, the twins are still being used at training commands and test units.


This particular kit is molded in dark green for some reason. Typical of ESCI kits of the time, the panel lines are all engraved and very well done. There is a pretty full cockpit with seats, sticks and instrument panels. As usual the instruments themselves are given as decals. This is strictly a twin-seat version unlike a few other boxings of this kit. The canopy is a single piece so cannot be displayed open. There are few options, those mostly being the choice of adding the under wing and under fuselage fuel tanks. No weapons are provided for the wing tip pylons, which is a bit unusual as most B models have at least training rounds on them. The B models were not always given the updated tail planes and this one is no exception having the block 5 or 10 versions.

Since the wings are a single piece, the holes for the various pylons are already built in. I know there is no other way to do this due to the thinness of the wings, but for those of us who don't want to use the pylons, it means we have to fill some rather large holes.

The instructions are superb as was typical with ESCI. Paints are given both a general name and an FS 595 reference name where applicable. As was the norm with an ESCI kit you are given a number of decal options. The first one is an experimental 'lizard' scheme given to a handful of B models at Hill AFB during a test to see if that would be appropriate  for those planes whose units have a primary ground attack mission. It was not continued but does make for a very interesting looking Viper. Also included on the sheet are planes from the four major NATO countries who went together to build the plane in Europe; that being Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway. The Norwegian plane has the brake parachute housing that was required for landing on slick, icy runways. Of course, since this kit was issued, there have been a large number of aftermarket sheets that include the B model F-16 so you have a plethora of possible markings choices. A nice touch is that there are full wing walk decals given with the sheet.



I've built this kit a couple of times a decade or so back and can recall it to be pretty trouble free. There really are only so many ways to mold an F-16 and this one is very much like several others in both scales. Though lacking in the finesse of the newer kits, it still makes into a very respectable model. ESCI was bought by AMT/ERTL so you can probably find the same kit in one of those boxes.

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.

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