F-16 CJ Fighting Falcon
Kit No. 60315. 1:32nd scale
Tamiya have certainly gone to town on this one, the F-16 is only a small airplane but the kit is big in several ways. It’s big on details, It’s big on fit of parts and It’s big on accuracy.
I have never had a kit where two parts when put together look as though they were one without any further attention. There is a feel of excellent engineering about the moulds that these parts came out of in my opinion.OK so what do you get in the box? Well a whole bunch of plastic parts plus Photo etched parts for seat belt buckles, radar scanner, chaff and flare dispensers and a natty plate with the title engraved to place in front of your model. There is a large metal nose weight to keep things on an even keel (I’ll have to stop thinking ships) and of course metal undercarriage legs to take the weight of this big bird.
Clear parts can make or break a kit, here we are on the plus side not only are they perfectly clear and sparkling but you get two canopy sets one clear and one smoked so you can have the smoked hood and the clear rear part as on the real thing, add to this soft rubber tires, steel rods for static dischargers and pitot tube, screws and tools and you have a complete package. Decals for two block 50 aircraft are supplied on a double sheet and there is the usual instruction booklet with 32 pages of construction sequences and histories. One unusual feature in this kit is that you can remove the tail fin and stow the model back in its own box.
My construction notes
Because there are so many sprue frames I wrap a short length of 1 inch masking tape around the edge of each frame and write its letter on there which makes it so much easier to locate from the pile.
Steps 1 & 2, go sparing with the cement on the sliding parts of the trolley and make sure you get the parts the correct way round.
Step 3, part J14 is a trailer hitch and it fits on the rear axle centre line slot, it’s not too clear on the instructions.
Step 6, make sure you get part J20 around the right way or the support stays won’t reach the engine locations.
Step 11, watch the locations on the inside of the petal ring they are handed and locate the ring to the engine. Part H7 is only used when the engine is on the trolley not when installed. I used various shades of Alclad II to colour the engine, I used no undercoat but it was sprayed on in dusted coats with no ill effects.
Step 13, I left part F13 off until final assembly as I also did with the Battery box from step 24, makes it easier to paint the main gear bay. <>
Step 16, don’t forget parts J22 as I did they are very difficult to fit later.
Step 17, make sure all is done before adding the screws; these are self tappers and will strip the plastic if undone too many times.
Step 18, I had trouble locating part F56 on the sprue frame but found it eventually next to F16.
Note here frame N is on the end of frame F so separate them before you cut off any parts, it’s easy to think they are all one frame "F".
Step 21, when you add the intake trunking to parts D5/D11 don’t cement the inner locations just glue the lower outer skin joins and wheel bay rim, reason, when fitting this unit to the fuselage you may need some flexibility for the sides to match up, add the intake lip and leave to harden ready to clean up the join before adding to the fuselage.
Step 23 you can add the wheels to the legs but leave the tyres off until final assembly, they fit on easily.
Step 27, I won’t tell you how to paint your cockpit as we each have our own style that we are happy with but just note that the rails for the seat fit in from below and DO NOT cement it at all it has to move later during construction.
Step 29, Tamiya supply seat straps on a cut out sheet and while they look a bit fragile they do actually work well but you may want to choose your own material for the straps, such as foil from a wine bottle etc. etc. The seat by the way is a little gem you won’t need a resin replacement.
Step 32, if you intend to cement the nose cone closed then you won’t need part F32 but if you wish to show off the fine radar set then you will.
Step 34, remember to drill that hole in the top fuselage half.
Step 35, when you fit the top to the bottom fuselage half make sure that the gun bay walls you fitted in step 32 just click into their correct locations, if there are no gaps you have got it right, if there are check it out.The joins at the rear of the fuselage needed no filler but a little sanding was required to clean up the area. I found the tolerances on this kit so fine that if the part isn’t exactly located then gaps may appear so be warned.
Step 39, when you have made up Pylon parts E21/22 there are some nice steadies, part V16, to mount in
the centre later. Here is one place to make a little improvement, the adjustment screws are not depicted but all that is needed is four holes drilled in the pylon fairing level with the steadies and a short length of plastic rod inserted to make it look as the real one does, see photos in the Daco book on the F-16.
Step 44, Just add the plastic parts E23 now and leave the steel rods MS3 until the very last thing, they will stick in your fingers and catch your clothing if added before all the assembly is finished, believe me. The same goes for the rudder and tail planes.
Step 45, deals with the moveable surfaces, the flaps are moveable but the slats must be fixed in up or down position, while my stbd one fitted perfectly the port one was a little difficult but I’m not sure why.
Step 50, the parts here are handed so take care with your assembly.
Step 51, the tailplanes are movable but one of my pivots broke off after a couple of times removing them so I replaced both sides with aluminium tubing of the same diameter.
Step 52, the canopy has a moulding line down the centre, to remove this I used a new scalpel blade to gently trim the line down to the surface level then sanded the area with a worn out strip of 1200 grit wet & dry paper. Once the canopy was free of any trace of line I polished it out with “Final Touch” canopy polish and brought it back to it’s original condition, this only took a few minutes.
The remainder of the construction is straightforward with no problems.
Painting and decaling.I used the canopy masks that are supplied and they worked well enough, the canopy was then placed not cemented in position, the Radar was not fitted yet and the Tail fin plus tailplanes were left off, the gear legs were masked off with cooking foil and the engine was left on it’s trolley.
Twobobs decals were chosen for the model and this machine is painted in the two greys only scheme, I have used Humbrol Hu 126 for the undersides and forward fuselage and Hu125 for the top surfaces, For the radome I added a little black to the 126 colour just to give a slightly darker shade. A couple of lightly dusted coats of Klear (future) were sprayed on as a base for decaling,
I liked the markings on the Twobobs sheet but unfortunately they are for a Block 40 machine and I know there are some differences in the cockpit particularly the HUD unit but I couldn’t find any resin alternatives, a little artistic license here if you like.
Bob’s decals are well printed and registration problems are removed by having two part decals, in some cases, which are so much easier, The decals are extremely thin and small items have a tendency to roll up if you are not too careful, I had to replace a couple of items from the spares folder. There is one tiny error on the decal instructions sheet, the two walkway decals on the fuselage behind the small Ariel should be one panel line further forward just in front of the tiny light. This is not shown on the top view only on the side views, the Tamiya instructions are correct by the way.
A good coat of Johnsons Klear sealed everything in and then I added my flatting coat, a mix of 4 parts Klear to1 part Tamiya Flat Base.
I did most of the painting and decaling at this stage of construction, it is a lot easier to handle this way.
The final assembly added all those little details that we left off and the weaponry was added, fuel tanks pop on with the Poly caps and you have a choice of missiles and a pair of JDAMS, I chose not to use the HARM missiles so I also left off the HARM targeting pod.
The results you can see here, I enjoyed the build and I think you will like it too. It is expensive but in this case it is worth it in my opinion.
Daco publications, Lockheed/Martin F-16A/B/C/D.
The Royal Air Force, On Falcon Wings by Lindsay Peacock.
Ian Allan publications F-16 Fighting Falcon by Peter Foster.
Squadron Signal 5501 F-16 Walkaround.
Ted Taylor March 2005