Revell 1/72 F-16AM

Model, Text and Photos by Mike O'Hare

 

Introduction

Revell's new 1/72 F-16 has rapidly become my favourite kit, ever. Great detail, perfect fit, tons of options, and a host of useful spare parts, it's just a blast to build. Revell Germany initially released it as an F-16AM. This was followed a year later by the "F-16C Block 50" release, which added an extra sprue of weapons, as well as the MCID intake, to the F-16AM kit. Oddly, they also included the early, Block 1 - 5 short-chord stabs, which had been gated off in the F-16AM release. The F-16C is definitely the release to get though - and was re-re-released by Revell Monogram last year. The box-side write-up on Revell Monogram's release states that there's 90 parts in the kit. This is misleading: there's 150 parts in it, but only 90 of those are used in building the basic kit, while the rest are various weapon, pylon, antenna, control surface, tail and intake options. Straight from the box (and with a bit of splicing with kit parts), you can easily build any long-tailed A model F-15, and any F-16C. It's got enough pylons for three complete aircraft, missiles enough for two, HARMs and GBUs, centreline drop tank or jamming pod, big and small mouth intake and both GE and PW exhausts. Two styles of main landing gear wheels. Two styles of main landing gear door actuators. Both early and late style gun gas vents, as well as both styles of APU exhausts in front of the MLG bay. Three main instrument panel options. Two parabrake styles. Three intake light configurations… With the exception of a few user-specific antenna configurations, this kit really does have it all!

On to the Build

Building is really pretty straightforward. The fuselage break may worry some, but with a bit of care, it does all fit like a glove. I've got four of the kits under my belt, and have found the best way to tackle the join is to start at the centre, working outwards, and to use CA. Starting at the centre of the seam, you'll be able to line everything up so the joint's square and flush, then lock it in place with a drop of CA. Don't use too much glue, and don't be too concerned about the sides of the join - once the middle of the join has been tackled, you can move on to them. The forward fuselage piece does have a tendency to spread ever so slightly, so there may be a need to prod everything into alignment. With a bit of care, though, you'll end up with a flawless join. The other nice thing about CA, apart from not having to worry about the parts shifting as they cure, is that if you muck it up, you can take it apart with a bit of de-bonder, remove all traces of the glue, and start over again.

The only other slightly difficult area is the intake. Both the big mouth and small mouth intake options share a common ramp/nose gear well piece, which is then surrounded by the intake sides and an intake lip, but it doesn't fit either option particularly well. The simplest fix is to mix some Milliput, roll out two small sausages and squeeze them into place along the sides of the intake. Smooth things out with a moistened Q-tip and let it set. No matter which intake configuration you opt for, it's best to add it to the lower fuselage before joining the upper and lower fuselage halves - this will allow the maximum amount of flex in the parts to ensure a smooth, putty-free join.

Some care will be needed when inserting the main landing gear bay. It's easy to mount off-centre if you're not careful, though it does have a definite, positive location. Nothing to be particularly concerned about, but the builder should be aware that it could be a problem if one rushes. The bay itself is very nicely detailed - it's probably the best landing gear bay, OOB, in a mainstream 1/72 kit.

The cockpit is very nicely detailed, and the detail on the throttle and joystick has to be seen to be believed. There is a slight gap between the side instrument panels and the fuselage sides, though, however this does make it easier to scratchbuild detailed sidewalls. The seat is quite good OOB, though like any ejection seat, it could be improved with a resin replacement.

The cockpit is very nicely detailed, and the detail on the throttle and joystick has to be seen to be believed. There is a slight gap between the side instrument panels and the fuselage sides, though, however this does make it easier to scratchbuild detailed sidewalls. The seat is quite good OOB, though like any ejection seat, it could be improved with a resin replacement.

All the interior bits done, the fuselage halves should pretty much just click together. If care is taken test fitting the parts, there shouldn't be any need for putty here. The engine assembly can be tacked on, again a very good fit, as is the tail. The Block 50 kit comes with two different parabrake options for the A tail (unfortunately, no non-parabraked A tail), as well as a "normal" C-tail. While it's difficult adapting the C parts to build a short A tail, it's pretty easy to add the parabrake pieces to model an F-16C with the extended tail base. Just cut the back end of the C tail pieces off along the obvious diagonal panel line and the bottom of the rudder, tack on the parabrake pieces (you'll need about an .020" spacer between the two halves, as the C tail base is wider). Then it's simply a matter of evening the two parts out with putty or sheet styrene, squaring off the parabrake pieces. It's about a ten minute job, at most, applicable to F-16C's from Greece, Turkey and Israel, among others

Paint, Decals and Final Touches

With the fuselage together, it's time for paint. In this case, it's the standard Hill Grey scheme applied with Model Master enamels, then gloss coated for the decals with Metalizer Sealer. The decals in the Revell Germany boxings (designed by Danny Coremans of DACO) are nicer than those in the Revell Monogram release, however there's more than enough aftermarket sheets out there for F-16's that it's certainly not a worry. The decals on this model are out of the F-16AM release of the kit, with the numbers re-arranged for a more unique model. They went on beautifully and were among the best kit decals I've used. There was slight silvering on the AMRAAMs, though this is only because I neglected to gloss coat them (oops!). Once the decals were on and set, the model was sprayed with Humbrol Matte coat to deaden the sheen.

Weathering was kept to a minimum, as the model represents a recently re-painted MLU jet. Some subtle panel line work along the spine was done with pastels, to simulate the weathering most characteristic of F-16s, but that's about it. The ordnance added was mostly box stock - the AMRAAMs, GBUs, drop tanks and ALQ-131 pod were all out of the kit (the GBUs and jammer pod are in the B.50 release). The inert Sidewinder was built using the seeker head from a kit item, attached to a length of styrene rod, to simulate a round missing the rear wings - this was easier than trying to remove the wings from the kit items. The ACMI pod is from Hasegawa's Weapons Set V, while the LANTIRN pod is from their Weapons Set VII. All of the ordnance was scuffed up and weathered with pastels to simulate wear, since training rounds are seldom pristine. Finally, the kit's moulded in static dischargers were all lopped off and replaced with toothbrush bristles, ideal because of their thinness and flexibility. They add a nice touch of realistic subtlety that the kit's slightly bulky versions lack. And with that, the model is finished.

Conclusion

As I've mentioned, it really is a wonderful kit, and the more one builds it, the more one wants to build. It's just challenging enough to be rewarding and interesting, but by and large falls together. The detail is superb, and the parts just exude finesse. The fact that there are literally dozens of interesting subjects one could build with it - various camouflage schemes, anniversary and display markings, nose art, tail art, as well as different users and ordnance load outs - only makes it difficult to choose which one to do first. Luckily, as it's a great value, the list won't have to be narrowed down TOO much.

 

Editors Note: I'm not 100% sure that this is the same kit as Mike built, but it should be:


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I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.