Tamiya 1/72 F-16CJ (Block 50)

KIT #: 60786
PRICE: 1900 yen SRP (1520 yen at HLJ)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


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The F-16A/B as well as Block 25 and Block 30/32 F-16C/D variants have been pretty much withdrawn from USAF service.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


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 lane 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.


The first thing I did was to start looking for subassemblies and inserts. I did check the instructions to make sure I didn't do anything stupid and good thing as my first shot was the tail assembly. All five parts need to be glued as shown in the instructions. You cannot put the fin in after getting the base done because there are tabs on the base of the fin to be closed over by the base bits and the long main tab on the fin will help ensure that the base of the base is not too skinny. Sounds convoluted, but when you get your kit you'll see what I mean. I also glued in the upper after fuselage insert and attached the cockpit section to the rear fuselage bit. The gun insert was also installed. Fit on these is quite good, but the gap is larger than the engraved detail. I also glued together the radome, cursing Tamiya for molding on the sensor tips which will probably get broken off.

At this time, I painted all the cockpit bits with dark gull grey and all the gear bits with white. Then the outside of the cockpit was painted black. I built up the interior, painting the instrument parts black and dry-brushing them to bring out the detail. The throttle and control stick are very nicely done and fit without any issues. I also built up the main parts of the main gear well. When dry, these items were glued in with the interior attaching to the lower fuselage section. As expected, the attachment points are quite positive. The upper and lower fuselage sections were then glued together. A note on filler. I did have to use some. One was on the forward fuselage where Tamiya instructs one to fill in a vented door. Another was the underside of the very rear speed brake where there is a seam that is not on the prototype and just in front of the horizontal stab attachment point where the fit is a bit dodgy.

Next was the intake assembly. This is seven parts. The two piece inner trunking goes together well and is trapped by the outer intake sections. Do not forget the intake brace. There are two inserts on the intake that have to be installed as well. The underside by the nose gear door required filler. This was then glued to the fuselage and fit very well. The three nose inserts also fit quite well.

I then moved to the wheel wells. This is another rather complex area as there are separate gear door strut assemblies, the main gear legs themselves and two retraction struts per side. There is also a centerline bulkhead running fore and aft as well as a transverse bulkhead. What this means to the modeler is that one has to pre-paint the underside of the fuselage before attaching any of the gear bits or masking will be nearly impossible. When those were installed, I then attached the section just in front of the gear well in addition to the fuselage section that would normally hold the centerline rack. I found the forward section to not be the best fit. There was a step between it and the intake that required several applications of filler.

In terms of painting, this kit was proving itself to be much like a car in that major airframe bits had to be painted prior to assembly. For these colors, I used Testors Model Master enamels. I prepainted the fin assembly with FS 26270 Neutral Grey along with the horizontal sections of the rear fuselage and the outside of the ventral fins. The underside was, of course, painted in FS 36375 as were the gear doors and the inside of the ventral fins. The upper surfaces get FS 36118. For this shade, I had used Aeromaster Acrylics, which were 'pre-lightened'. However, it just did not look dark enough so I repainted it with the same shade in Testors. There is quite a difference as you can see in the image with the Testors enamel on the right side. Of course, all of these colors will require finishing touch-ups as areas will need to be masked where overspray is inevitable. The clear bits were masked and though the rear section was glued in place, the main canopy itself was simply tacked on using clear paint. I then painted on the upper surface FS 36118.

Touching up consumed quite a bit of time as whenever some parts, like the exhaust section, were added, the area around it had to be repainted. Speaking of which, this had the end painted in Alclad II Aluminum then masked and glue in place. The tail pipe, which has not visible compressor in the bottom of it, was next. That was painted Jet Exhaust prior to installation. Also painted before gluing was the burn petals. The outside was painted Dark Aluminum, then masked and the interior painted white. Apparently modern jets have a ceramic coating on the inside. I first noticed this on a VMFA-225 F-18D back in the early 1990s. This was then glued in place as were the ventral fins (after repainting as I painted the two colors on the wrong sides!).

Next the fin assembly was glued on as was the nose gear assembly. I also painted the wheels during this time.

I then gave the airframe a coat of gloss clear in preparation for the decals. As I did not have any Block 50 F-16 decals in the stash, the kit decals were used. Thought they are a tad thick, they went on with no issues and Solvaset worked well on them. There are a lot of stencils, but not as many as, say, an F-15 so for me, decaling only took four or five days. With the decals in place, I attached the tailplanes and the radome. I should have added some weight as without the stores, the plane is borderline tail heavy and will sit back if you push down on the fin. I then gave it a coat of semi-matte clear.

The radome was drilled out for the pitot, the lower sensor and side lights were also installed. I then popped off the canopy and glued on the interior bits, which included the kit seat. I had thought of using an aftermarket one, but decided to build this one OOB. The missiles were attached as was the canopy after the masking was removed and that was it.

Now that the angst is over about the lack of stores, I have to say that this is very much a typical Tamiya kit. Engineering is very good and the parts all fit where they should. This one took me longer than the usual jet kit of this size for some reason. Probably due to having to paint bits, let them dry, and then attach them, whereas normally I fully build the airframe then paint it. This is also what I'd call a 'tweezer kit'. There are a lot of rather small bits or areas where there isn't room for fingers that require one to be deft with tweezers during construction. I have to give the kit an A for fit and a B- for completeness. Like the majority of plastic kits, it would benefit from a decent resin seat. I would hope that Tamiya takes the hint and includes stores with the next release, which I'm sure they will. It is kit that, with reservations regarding the lack of stores, I can easily recommend to you.



May 2014

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review kit. You can get yours at this link.

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