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.
While waiting for the gloss coat to cure, I decided to tackle the exhaust. After a base of black and painting the inside white, the outside is painted with Vallejo Model Color Pale Burnt Metal.
I then masked off the exhaust petals with both 1mm masking tape and liquid mask. Yes each individual petal. The edge was masked off with vinyl masking tape.
Using Vallejo Metal Color Jet Exhaust, 20 minutes of masking and 20 seconds of painting later…
The small square shaped edges were then handpainted with the same color. After a gloss coat and a wash this should look nice enough.
I wanted to model the F-16 with the WW tailcode so the only option I have is the kit decal. These are quite thick but went on OK. It took a while for them to react to Mark Softer though. The tail marking also seem to be slightly oversized.
For a modern aircraft, the F-16 has relatively few stencils and I went ahead and added about 95% of them.
The top of the tailfin needed to be painted to match the fin flash.
So I handpainted Game Color Fiery Red and Model Color Deep Yellow over a base of white.
I decided to attach the intake lights at this point and once everything has cured and given a quick wipe down, I sprayed another coat of gloss to seal everything in. By this point, it had dawned on to me that the Mecha Color Medium Grey I used looks to be darker that what FS36270 should be. Unfortunately it’s too late to go back to fix it now.
The fuel tanks and weapons were also decaled and I think the stencils definitely add some ‘pop’ to the missiles and pods.
I went with using Raw Umber oil paint for the panel line wash.
The effect is subtle. I think next time I’ll need it to be closer to a black color.
I dotted white oil paint on the light gray color to try to lighten it a bit.
Once dried, I blended it with a damp paint brush.
I noticed in pictures that the area in front of the exhaust on the bottom tends to be dirtier than usual so I added some patchy filtering using raw umber here.
The landing gear are then attached. For 1/72 I think the details look great. Certainly more detailed than Hasegawa.
I then attached the rail, the ALQ-184 and the Sniper pod. The rail requires some shimming although I think it’s because I messed up the plate below it during construction.
I then attached all the pylons under the wings.
Working from inside to outside I attached the fuel tank, AGM-88 and AIM-9 using Gator Glue on the port wing. I worked slowly giving each store to cure a bit before attaching the next one.
With the same sequence, I attached the fuel tank, CBU-105 and AIM-9 for the starboard wing. I attached the wingtip AIM-120s only after all the other stores have been given some time to set.
I then removed the masking tape over the canopy. I notice that besides the belts, the details I added on the seat can’t really be seen. Hah!
I then attached the pitot tube and the nose antenna last. These were handpainted once in place. I also added a drop of Future onto the intake navigation lights to give them a shine.
It took a while with final assembly but I’m done!
After fixing the few gaps, it’s time to put some color on this kit!
First, the stealth coat with Tamiya XF-1 Flat Black.
Then a marble coating with Tamiya XF-12 IJN Gray.
The instruction sheet made a mistake in calling out 3 gray tones for the camouflage. By 2010, this jet only has 2 gray tones: FS36118 and FS36270. I went with Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey for FS36118. The nose is actually uncolored and change color naturally so any shade of medium gray would have worked and be ‘accurate’. I went with Model Air Aggressor Grey.
I then masked off the nose and the darker gray for the lighter gray color. It’s usually SOP to paint the lighter colors first then go progressively darker. I did it the other way around this time as it will be easier.
For FS36270, I went with Vallejo Mecha Color Medium Grey which after researching matches the FS color.
The bottom is one solid shade of medium gray.
Using the XF-12 as a marble coat gives off a subtler effect than using a pure white color. I also cut the colors with Vallejo Glaze Medium that reduced their opacity.
The weapons were given a base coat of XF-1 Flat Black. I decided to paint the bands instead of relying on decals so I sprayed XF-2 Flat White for them.
I handpainted the bands with Game Color Bloody Red, Model Color Deep Yellow and German Cam Med Brown then masked these off with 0.7mm masking tape and 0.4mm tape for the red band on the AGM-88’s rear section.
The CBU-105s were painted Model Air USA Olive Drab (FS34079) for the body and Mecha Color Medium Grey for the tails. The AIM-120 and AIM-9Xs were painted Mig AMMO Light Compass Ghost Grey (FS36375). Other details lile the fins and seeker heads were handpainted. While it looks white in photos, the AGM-88 is actually a very light shade of FS36622. I thought my bottle of AK Camouflage Grey was too ‘gray’ so I replaced it with Model Air Insignia White instead.
The stores, rails, pylons and ALQ-184 were all the same color as the bottom of the F-16: FS36270 ie. Vallejo Mecha Color Medium Grey. The Sniper pod however is Mig AMMO Medium Gunship Grey (FS36118). Not pictured is the Model Air Insignia White I handpainted the HTS pod’s tip with.
With a deep breath, primary painting is done. Time to finish this thing!
Disappointingly, Tamiya left some visible ejector pin marks on the gear doors which need to be addressed.
Tamiya calls for some blue and silver colored parts inside the gearbay. Not sure how accurate this is.
The main undercarriage is designed to be installed from the beginning. While troublesome, the upside is a stronger fit.
The wings fit without problems. Tamiya also added leading edge tabs so it’s easier to keep them straight.
The exhaust nozzle is connected to a housing where some prepainting was required. This was masked off then attached to the kit.
The stabilizers are interchangeable on the F-16 and are identical. Even though it s simple pin and hole connection, Tamiya somehow engineered the pin to ‘click’ in place. While still requiring cement, at least they don’t flop around like on the Hasegawa kit.
There are some panel lines and vents that need filling on the kit. I’m quite sure these are present for the older F-16 blocks.
There is a very fine mold line running down the center of the canopy. I couldn’t unsee it so I went ahead to remove it.
I carefully scraped it off and then used progressively finer sandpaper to get rid of the mold line.
Once cleaned up it was dipped into a vat of Future to shine everything back up.
The nose and tailfin were then cemented into place.
I attached the intake rail for the Sniper pod and the HTS pod at this point figuring that they will be much harder to attach once everything is painted. I also masked off the nose gear bay.
For the main gear bay, I first masked off the walls then backfilled with some wet tissue. These will expand and fit (somewhat) snugly into the spaces in the bay once they dry. The main landing gear were masked off with a ‘Washi tape’ that I bought to try out. These seem to be less tacky than Tamiya masking tape. But I’ll have to test them out more.
Gap fixing is next and then I can start painting.
Next on the factory floor is this Tamiya kit which looks to be as shake and bake as it will ever get. This is the 2nd release where Tamiya added the pylons, underwing stores, armaments and targeting pods.
Checking the parts, I realized that by adding 1 component, I can model the F-16CM, an upgraded version of the venerable F-16CJ. Before that though, as usual, I have to assemble the cockpit first, which is quite nicely done. The kit comes with decals for the belts but I decided to make my own with 0.7mm masking tape.
Once painted, the seat doesn’t look bad at all.
But me being me, I decided to add some details using stretched sprue, plastic plates and rod. The green tank on the side of the seat is particularly prominent in pictures.
Looks better now IMO.
Then the seat was given a wash with Citadel Nuln Oil Gloss to give it some depth.
Once cured, I did some simple highlighting with a silver pencil. The cockpit looks sufficiently busy once painted, washed and weathered.
I’m not quite sure how visible it will be under the closed canopy though. Hah!
Like its 1/48 brother, Tamiya designed the intake trunking as 2 part top and bottom halves. The difference though is this one is not full length. The problem with designing it this way is of course the seamlines on the inside of both sides of the trunking.
I did the best I could to remove the seamlines till about 1/3 into the intake.
The whole intake is made up of 4 parts: the trunking, 2 side halves and a section up top.
These need to be prepainted but come together without much problems.
Again like its 1/48 brother, this kit also oddly leaves a small section on the back of the fuselage blank for an insert. I still can’t figure out why.
The fit is good but still, why have it an insert in the first place?
I’m modeling a CCIP (Common Configuration Implementation Program) upgraded Block 50 F-16CJ which the USAF would unofficially redesignate as the F-16CM. The most prominent part of this upgrade are the AIFF ‘bird slicers’ in front of the canopy and a 2nd mounting point for a targeting pod on the intake. These are all included in the kit.
The CCIP update also added the ability to carry the BRU-57 smart bomb rack. With this bomb rack, the F-16CM can consequently carry the CBU-105 WCMD (Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser), the precision guided version of the CBU-97 cluster bomb and precision guided bombs like the GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). However, the Tamiya kit doesn’t include these racks and munitions so I bought a resin aftermarket set of BRU-57s from Reskit.
Details are very nice and the casting is very sharp. It even includes very tiny parts made from photo-etch. Since these are so intricate and small I decided to keep my sanity and just go with installing the sway braces to the rack.
I decided to arm my CM with a pair of CBU-105 cluster bombs. The cluster bomb I have comes from a boxing of the Hasegawa F-15E Strike Eagle. These look to be CBU-100 Rockeyes and requires modifications to look like the CBU-105.
So I cut off the nose and sanded the remaining tip into a rounded bevel. I then added a small length of rounded rod on the tip. Based on the dimensions, my result is about 1mm shorter and 0.5mm narrower scale-wise than a true CBU-105. Close enough for me.
The resin BRU-57 rack is to be butt-jointed onto the kit pylon so I added a tab on the rack so it can slot into the hole inside the pylon. The fit will be more secure this way.
Not too shabby for an evening’s work. I’ll need to clean up the CBU-105s as pictures show that their bodies are quite smooth all round but I’m done tinkering with this.
Along with the AGM-88 HARM, the F-16 will have 2x AIM-120 AMRAAMs, 2x AIM-9X Sidewinders, 2x drop tanks, a centerline mounted ALQ-184 ECM pod, an AN/ASQ-21 HARM targeting system pod on the right intake mount and an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod on the left intake mount. Definitely a heavily armed Viper.
Who knew a ‘shake and bake’ kit will require a multi-page build log? 😀