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Completed : Revell 1/72 Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcon ‘Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu)’


Kit Info
Brand: Revell 04612
Scale: 1/72
Media: Styrene
Markings: Kit and Zotz Decals 72-016 ‘Vivacious Vipers #2’

The Subject
The Lockheed Martin (originally General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter. With over 4,400 aircraft built, it currently serves in 25 nations. Commonly known as the ‘Viper’, it features innovations including a frameless, bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while under high g-forces, and reclined seat to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot. It is also the first fighter to be built to sustain 9-g turns.

The F-16AM/BM is the designation for the mid-life upgraded F-16A/Bs of the European Partner Air Forces. The F-16AM/BMs were upgraded to the equivalent of the Block 50/52 F-16C/Ds with ability to employ radar guided air-to-air missiles, upgraded cockpits, avionics and general maintability of the aircraft. Development began in 1991 with upgrades beginning in 1997. A total of 325 F-16A/B would be upgraded under this program. Upgrades have continued since 1997 with M7 being the latest upgrade.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu) in Dutch, founded in 1953, is the military aviation branch of the Netherlands Armed Forces. The RNLAF was one of four initial European NATO customers for the F-16 and purchased a total of 213 F-16A/B aircraft. The Netherlands were one of the four European Participating Air Forces, and one of five countries to build the F-16 locally. Force reductions and the introduction of the F-35 Lightning II saw the fleet currently reduced to 36 F-16s, all of them upgraded to MLU standard with surplus aircraft being been sold to Jordan and Chile.

This subject of this build is J-063 (86-0063), an F-16AM Block 15 MLU from the RNLAF 322 Squadron in 1999 during Operation Allied Force, NATO’s bombing campaign against Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. On 24 March 1999, Major Peter Tankink, flying J-063, scored the first post-WWII aerial victory for the RNAF, shooting down a Yugoslav Mig-29 with an AIM-120A AMRAAM. A silhouette of a Fulcrum was subsequently painted just below the canopy rail to mark the kill.

Sources:
Cybermodeler – F-16 Fighting Falcon Variants
F-16.net – F-16s Mission and Kill markings in Operation Allied Force
J-063 shootdown – Royal Netherlands Air Force
Wikipedia – General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

The Kit
First released in 2000, this kit represented at that time, the only option to model one of the F-16s deployed by the European Part Air Forces. Inside the usual Revell blue side closing box are:

  • option between molded on or decals for the instrument and side panels
  • a nice-looking seat with molded on belts and option for a pilot
  • canopy is of the clear variety and be posed opened or closed
  • parts breakdown that will easily accommodate the twin-seater F-16
  • parts to address Dutch or Belgian F-16 configurations. Mixing and matching the
  • parts based on reference photos will likely enable configurations for the other European F-16s and even the initial Block 15 F-16
  • stores include 2x AIM-9L Sidewinders, 2x AIM-120 AMRAAMs, 2x 330 gallon wing tanks, 1x centerline tank
  • a very nice addition is 2x PIDS pylons which is not provided by other manufacturers
  • both AIM-120 and AIM-9 specific wingtip pylons are provided
  • marking options for 7x F-16s: 4x Belgian Air Force and 3x Royal Netherlands Air Force (including J-063, the Kosovo War Mig killer)

All in all the details are good with fine panel lines and with all the static dischargers molded on. At the time of its release, it was quite a big improvement over the previous best offering from Hasegawa. However, with some caveats, it has been overtaken by Tamiya’s offering.

The Build
This kit is another Shelf Queen that has been around unfinished for close to a decade. I’ve always wanted to finish this kit in the form of J-063 and a few months back I found it again after clearing up my messy storage room. I also lucked upon a photograph of the exact F-16 after its kill which helped greatly to push me to finish it.

Based on research, J-063 was armed in the following way during the engagement:

  • 4x AIM-120
  • 2x tanks
  • 1x centerline ALQ-131
  • 1x PIDS pylon

There’s conflicting info on whether J-063 carried one or both PIDS pylons but I was told they were in short supply during this time period so I think it made sense that she’d only carry one. The AIM-120s and ALQ-131 were from Hasegawa weapon sets.

Overall, the kit was accurate for the most part. Some problems I faced with the build include:

  • the nav lights on each side of the intake for J-063 wasn’t the reinforced type that came with the kit. I had to carefully trim off the base for both of them. I realized too late that the lights should still sitting on plates though so I really only needed to trim them to the correct shape instead of removing totally
  • as J-063 only carried 4x AIM-120s, the middle pylon on each wing were empty and there’s no detail on their bottoms. I added random plastic bits to busy them up.
  • They really should be slots but I didn’t feel like tackling the work
    the canopy had yellowed through the years but luckily it needs to be tinted into a smoke color
  • the gun port was a separate part and needed careful fairing in to fit flush
  • the molded on static dischargers are fragile but really add to the details and I managed to (only) break 2 of them throughout the build. I consider that a major win.

As an F-16 kit, I would slot this kit between Tamiya and Hasegawa’s offering: the fit is fiddlier than both but the detail is much better than the latter. But if you really only want an AM variant, this would be easier to find than the very limited one Hasegawa released years ago.

Colors & Markings
During this time, the Dutch F-16s were still painted in the three-tone gray color scheme and based on the reference photo, the aircraft looked quite well worn so I started with some brown in the marble coating to add some discoloration to the main colors which would be sprayed diluted. I also decided to paint the walkways although the marking over the refueling door will remain as a decal. I also added a discolored panel on the leading edge of the tailfin which again, was based on the photograph reference.

I had the decals for J-063 from both the kit and Zotz decals and checking them against the reference photo, a combination of the two got me the most accurate markings. Since the kit decals were thick, pretty old and never stored properly I gloss coated the whole kit properly first to minimize any potential silvering. I also used a lot of Mark Setter and Mark Softer on them. At least none of them shattered like what old Hasegawa decals would do. However, some of them still silvered quite badly.

Finishing
To further reduce the chance of the panel wash damaging the old decals, I used Flory Models Dark Dirt Wash which is a water-based clay wash instead of my usual diluted oil paint. I also used the same sludge to weather the bottom of the F-16 which can get very dirty.

Once I carefully painted the details like the landing lights and static dischargers it was time to attach the landing gear. The main landing gear fit was VERY fiddly. If I ever tackle another Revell F-16 kit I’d consider attaching them before painting or at least, figure out an easier way to fit them during final assembly. The instructions was also somewhat vague about how the parts came together. To be fair, the Hasegawa kit also suffers from the same thing but that kit’s landing gear is made up of less parts.

The last part on was the nose probe. Even though I made a hash of some of the details and attaching the landing gear I really like the result. It looks more polished and detailed than the Hasegawa F-16 although the fit is more finicky.

Build Log
> Construction & Finishing


Number 7 of 2022

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