Brand: Academy 1688
Markings: TwoBobs ‘F-16 NSAWC Vipers’ 48-069
The Lockheed Martin (originally General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter. It currently serves in at least 25 nations, with over 4,400 aircraft built. 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-16A is the first production version of the aircraft produced in 1979. The Block 15 OCU (Operational Capability Upgrade) is an updated Block 15 with a more reliable engine and provision for more weapons.
This build depicts TOPGUN 51, an F-16A Block 15 OCU flown by the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC: pronounced NAW-DIK). She carries the markings during the period when NAWDC was designated as the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC: pronounced EN-SOCK) in 2002. NAWDC traces its lineage to Navy Fighter Weapons School (“TOPGUN”), which was established to teach fighter and strike tactics and techniques in 1969. NAWDC is currently the primary authority on training and tactics development for the US Navy. NAWDC flies 14 F-16A and B variants that were originally intended for Pakistan before they were embargoed for adversary training and are painted in various exotic schemes.
Originally released in 1990, this kit looks like the Hasegawa kit in parts but totally different in other aspects. Noteworthy things for me:
- Panel lines are recessed and are sharp in some areas but disappear into nothing in other areas
- All the pylon and centerline holes are already open
- 370 gallon tanks for the wings are included but not the 300 gallon centerline tank (though the centerline holes are opened)
- Many weapons including 4 so-so looking AIM-9L Sidewinders, 6 AGM-65 Mavericks (labeled as AGM-45 Maverick) with triple launchers, 2 Mk.83 iron bombs (marked unused) and 2 30mm GEPOD gun pods
- The upper fuselage comes molded with the wings. There are cutouts where the bottom half of the wings (which come as 1 part with the lower fuselage) will slot into.
- The canopy is clear with no opening option
- Landing gear down option only
- Pilot included that looks to be exactly the same as the one Hasegawa offers in their F-16 kits
- Decals only for the cockpit instruments
- The longer F-16C tailfin base is included but labeled as unused
- Wingtip missile rails are separate
- Decal option for a colorful Block 25 F-16A from 512 TFS Dragons, 86 TFW
So, the C parts are included but all marked unused even though the box clearly says F-16A/C and no centerline tank even though the boxart shows it. Very odd omissions. All in all, it’s not a bad kit with a decent price compared to the equivalent Hasegawa kit.
To be honest, I was expecting a decent build but this one turned out to be one of those ‘requires basic modelinig skills’ builds with all sorts of fit issues. Once I started to address them I also ended up adding details and fixing all aspects of the kit from nose to tail. I also did extensive dry-fitting and modified most of the parts to get better fits. I also replaced the ejection seat with a resin aftermarket one from Legend Productions. The inert kit AIM-9 was modified to look closer to the real thing and the ACMI pod is from the Tamiya F-16 kit.
A very long 5-part build log is listed below.
Colors & Markings
As part of my Aggressor aircraft collection, I’ll be using TwoBob’s NSAWC Vipers sheet (48-069) for the markings of TOPGUN 51, a 3-tone brown F-16A. The color call outs came from the TwoBob’s sheet. I had two of the darker browns but had to mix the lightest shade. The colors look different under different lighting conditions but I think they’re fine.
Painting as usual began with a base of black for the ‘stealth’ look. Over this I did a marble coat with white. I usually freehand this marble coat but I tested out using an Artool Freehand Airbrush Templates this time. It saved some time but I think requires a bit of finetuning to get more feathered edges. I then sprayed from lightest to darkest brown using blutack and plenty of masking tape for the demarcation lines. I followed the camouflage pattern from the TwoBobs’ instructions but as usual, some guesstimate is needed to get them to match up properly. The decals themselves are very well done as usual with TwoBobs, some require stacking multiple decals together.
As the markings depict TOPGUN 51 at the beginning of her service, I went with a simple panel wash and only light weathering around the exhaust area. To be fair, since the underlying marble coat still subtly shows through, I don’t really had to go crazy with weathering. I added a dummy AIM-9 missile and an ACMI pod from the Tamiya F-16 kit on the wingtips. These were painted in blue and red respectively which added some splashes of color to the all brown finish.
And of course, as per usual, a last minute disaster struck. While attaching the stores a drop of cement somehow landed on the leading edge of the starboard wing. So some last minute repair work was involved: sand, buff, prime, marble, paint and wash. Ah well, my streak remains alive.
So I’m done with this one. This has turned into my ‘one shitty kit of the year’ build :). The efforts weren’t wasted though as I like how it turned out.
Number 10 of 2020