Written by 4:33 pm On the Bench

WIP: Revell 1/72 F-16AM Viper – Construction & Finishing

This is another Shelf Queen that’s back on the assembly line. I found this kit while re-arranging the mess that was my storage. As you can see, I was quite a bit into the build already before abandoning it many years ago. Anyway let’s see how this Revell kit compares to the Tamiya and Hasegawa offerings that I’ve done.

First is dealing with the cockpit. Except for the seat, the cockpit in an F-16AM is all black. The instrument panel details are good with raised details which I picked out randomly with white paint. The stock ejection seat is quite nice with seatbelts molded on. With careful painting and a simple wash really makes the whole cockpit pop.

I’ll be modeling J-063, the Royal Netherlands F-16AM that’s credited with one aerial victory during Operation: Allied Force, NATO’s bombing campaign of the former Yogoslavia in the Kosovo War. The photo below was of J-063 a few months later at an airshow which showed that it hadn’t receive the full F-16AM complement of upgrades yet. Also note the discolored panel on the base of the vertical tail.

The intake lights on the kit came with a T-shaped reinforcement plate so the lights look like they were sitting on two levels of plates. I however made a mistake and trimmed off both plates and leaving only the lights. A big mistake on my part as I should have only trimmed off the T-shaped one. I could have fixed it but I only caught the mistake after I had finished the kit. I’ll just have to live with it.

The kit includes a pair of PIDS pylons besides the standard ones. Based on some research on my friend’s part, the F-16s at this time period carried only one PIDS pylon due to the limited number of them on hand. During the shootdown, the PIDS and standard pylon were empty. There were no details on the bottom of the pylons so I added my own with plastic plate. These details aren’t accurate at all though.

The kit is so old that the clear parts had yellowed. Thankfully though, both canopies needed to be tinted which would hide the yellowness. I tinted using multiple passes of thinned Tamiya X-19 Smoke.

The general fit of the kit was decent with the biggest issue being the gun port being an insert and it sits proud which took some care and time to fair smooth. Otherwise it’s the usual spots that needed attention: intake, upper to lower nose halves, stabilizers and the exhaust which comes with part of the fuselage.

To get a stronger fit, I now attach all the pylons at this point in time of the build. It makes it a bit harder to paint but I think it’s a worthwhile compromise. Note the cardboard pieces taped around various parts to reduce the chance of breaking off the molded-on static dischargers.

It’s then time for painting. The base coat is black with a light marble coat of white and brown. The brown will add some discoloration to the final finish.

I first began with the walkways which based on some research and bugging friends, are FS36270. After painting the pattern out with Tamiya Medium Sea Gray 2, I masked the walkways off with 0.4mm masking tape. I then proceeded to paint the rest of the color scheme.

Revell calls for the 3-tone gray color scheme so I went with:

  • Nose – Model Air Aggressor Gray
  • FS36375 for the bottom – AK 3rd Generation Pale Grey
  • FS36270 for the sides – Tamiya Medium Sea Gray 2
  • FS36118 for the top – Tamiya IJN Grey (Sasebo Arsenal)

I also fixed the walkway line that runs across the fuselage after re-checking my reference picture and added a discolored panel on the leading edge of the base of the tailfin which I did by lightening a bit of Tamiya Medium Sea Gray 2.

Due to overspray, I also re-painted the gear wells white.

Because I might be using the decades old kit decals, I decided to properly gloss the kit first. Normally I would use AK Interactive Intermediate Gauzy but I have found that it tends to darken colors so I tried Mr Hobby Aqueous Gloss instead which wasn’t as straightforward to use but didn’t change the tones of the color scheme.

I had markings for J-063 from both the kit and Zotz Decals Vivacious Vipers 2. The quality for the latter is better but from comparing with the reference photo, except for the tail logo, the kit decals were more accurate. However, the kit decals were thicker and worse, decades old. They required some healthy doses of Mark Fitter and Mark Softer to snuggle down to the surface but did thankfully work.

While waiting for the decals to cure, I also prepped the other parts of the kit.

Once cured, I mist coated Mr Hobby Aqueous Satin and gave it a panel wash using Flory Dark Dirt Wash.

The details of the kit really pops after the wash. It’s definitely closer to the Tamiya than the Hasegawa offering.

Time to take the canopy and exhausts masks off!

I have finally managed to pull off the look of the black sealant around the canopy!

Note that I had added a bluish heat discoloration ring around the base of the exhaust. Unfortunately, like the older Hasegawa kit, the inside of the exhaust can has no details.

Next was installing the landing gear. I had some trouble as the instructions weren’t very clear about how some parts were supposed to fit. They were also intricate which didn’t help with the parts covered with paint. It’s something to look at addressing if I ever build another Revell offering (the Hasegawa F-16 also suffers from this somewhat). Note the injection pin mark on the main door. Urgh.

I then handpainted the various details like the lights and static dischargers before the stores were carefully attached using sprue glue. The ALQ-131 pod came from the Hasegawa Weapons Set.

Last on was the nose probe and I can call this done. Not my neatest build but I like how the finish turned out.

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