Brand: Tamiya 60788
The Lockheed Martin (originally General Dynamics) F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter. It currently serves in no less than 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-16CM is the USAF’s designation for its fleet of Block 40/42 F-16CG/DG and 50/52 F-16CJ/DJs that have gone through the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP). The program seeks o standardize all the avionics and hardware configuration to simplify training and maintenance. With CCIP, the CM (DM for the two-seaters) can now carry the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod, employ GPS-guided weapons, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), employ the AIM-9X Sidewinder and radar upgrades.
The build depicts 92-3884, an F-16CM Block 50P in 35th FW Wing Commander color markings from the 13th Fighter Squadron ‘Panthers’ in 2010. The squadron is part of the 35th Fighter Wing, 5th Air Force, flying out of Misawa Air Base, Japan. The 13th FS F-16s carry the ‘WW’ tailcode, which refers to the ‘Wild Weasel’ Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) mission the squadron specializes in. With the transition from the F-16CJ/DJ to the F-16CM/DM, there is now the additional Destruction of Enemy Air Defences (DEAD) capability. 92-884 wears the more colorful markings of the 5th Air Force commander.
In 2014, Tamiya release an all-new tooling of the F-16CJ. Curiously though, it came without the ’things under the wings’, not even the ubiquitous fuel tanks and pylons. Then in 2015, they released the same exact kit but with ‘full weapons’. This is a popular kit of a popular subject and there are tons of previews already online so I’ll just add some observations:
- It’s a proper Tamiya kit so as expected, details and molding are very nice
- With parts swapping, you can build a pre or post CCIP Block 50 F-16C
- Kit is missing the JHCMS sensor inside the canopy but that’s a very minor detail
- A nicely molded pilot is included but it lacks the JHCMS helmet
- The canopy is clear instead of tinted which is accurate to the modern F-16s
- Like its 1/48 brother, there are 2 panels on the rear fuselage that are molded separately. I still have no idea why this was done
- Weapons include: 2x AIM-120 AMRAAM, 2x AGM-88 HARM, 2x AIM-9X Sidewinder, 2x AIM-9L Sidewinder, 2x HTS pod (left and right mounted versions), ALQ-184 ECM pod, Sniper Targeting pod (in clear plastic)
- 3 fuel tanks are included (2x wing and 1x centerline)
- Various minor ejector pin marks on the landing gear doors and missiles
- Markings are included for 3 F-16s and all the stores. The color call outs are wrong though as at least 2 of the F-16s depicted have switched to the simpler 2-tone gray camouflage
- Option for an open canopy
- The intake is detailed for 1/72 but overly engineered because of it with quite a few seamlines to deal with
- A very nicely done information sheet about the F-16 is included
Whlle the breakdown of parts indicate that other F-16 versions would be forthcoming, Tamiya hasn’t done so as of this writing (2019). In any case, this is a superb kit.
It’s a Tamiya kit. Nuff said.
Out of the box, there are parts to replicate the SEAD/DEAD capable F-16CM although it lacks the smart bombs to be ‘accurate’. I added a BRU-57 dual resin bomb rack from Reskit for this.
Construction was painless for the most part. Some problem areas for me:
- The intake assembly is over-engineered and required a bit of planning to get right. In the end though, I didn’t manage to do a flawless job with it. But so long as you don’t stare into the intake, it’s fine.
- While it makes for a stronger fit, I don’t like assembling the landing gear from the beginning. It’s just asking for trouble really.
- Compared to the rest of the kit, the ejection seat is simplified but I think it’s because Tamiya really wants me to stick the pilot on it.
- There’s a hole on the starboard fuselage that needed to be opened so I can stick a small vent into it. It’s small and quite a handful to attach properly though because I also needed to putty over some panel lines around the area.
These aren’t major issues with this build. In fact, I’d take this kinds of problems any day (looking at my Hasegawa F-14 kit grimly).
Colors & Markings
As mentioned above, the color call outs are wrong. The 2 CCIP F-16s (with the ‘bird slicers’ in front of the canopy) should be in 2-tone gray instead of 3-tones. Tamiya still only lists their own colors on the instructions but the F-16 doesn’t require any special colors so it’s quite straightforward to find the colors from other brands.
I went for a more subtle marbling coat using gray instead of white and I think it suits a 1/72 subject better. The results still look quite patchy though so it’s something to look at in later builds.
For the panel wash I went back to using diluted raw umber oil paint as I didn’t want to deal with Mig AMMO Panel Wash’s smell. After cleaning the panel wash, I think I prefer the deeper brown of my bottle of Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Wash. Let’s see how I can replicate that same shade with odorless oil paint. I did some random dot filtering using white oil paints to add more variations to the finish. I also used the white oil paint to try to lighten the lighter gray tone on the nose.
Once cured and given a flat coat, it was time to add the things under the wings. First the landing gear (which was detailed but finicky), then the sensor pods, then the pylons and lastly the wing stores. Each was given some time to cure before the next one was attached either with cement of Gator Glue.
Last on as usual were the antennas (only 1 thankfully) and the pitot tube.
So this build has been slow but it’s just due to the many parts of this kit. It fits great and I really like the details especially compared to the much older Hasegawa F-16. If only all the kits in the stash are like this one.