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Tamiya F-16 Aggressor, Kicked Up a Notch, Dec 8/22: Some Block 25 vs 32 Differences


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The snow has arrived, so I’m back with another build, but things are going to be quite different this time.  I finally retired this year which would normally mean more time for modeling, but it’s probably going to be the opposite scenario for at least a year or more.  Our house of 20 years needs some major renovations, so we will be moving out by next spring and I have to deal with all the hassles that come with that, before and after that time.  Combined with our travel plans, modeling will be hit and mostly miss, so I expect this build to take a long time.  I’m a bit reluctant to even start this thread as a result, but I need something to get my modeling mojo back in gear, so here goes!

 

 

I have been to the “Aviation Nation” air show at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas about 9 times over the years and I will be going back this year next week.    This air show is one of the better ones in all of North America and if you like fighter jets like I do, it’s a perfect way to get your “kerosene fix” with lots of noise.  You don’t have to worry about which fighter jets will perform, because most of them live there year-round.  You are guaranteed to see the F-22, F-35A, F-15C, F-15E, F-16 (home of the Thunderbirds) and F-18 E/F, because the Navy shows up every year with a Super Hornet, which will be a Growler this year.  Since “Red Flag” is held at Nellis every year, you will also see the Aggressor aircraft, which used to include F-15C/D’s of the 65th Aggressor Squadron which inspired my F-15C build below. 

 

 

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Unfortunately, that squadron was disbanded in 2014 due to budget constraints, leaving just F-16’s with various squadrons and camouflage schemes.  The 65th Aggressor Squadron was reactivated in June this year with F-35A’s, however, so I’m hoping to see and photograph a few of these jets this year instead.  Maybe a future build?

 

 

65th Aggressor Squadron Reactivated with F-35A's

 

 

The last time I was at Nellis was 2019 before the pandemic, and one of the F-16 Aggressors had this really cool digital scheme which is supposed to sort of replicate the Russian SU-57 “Felon”.  Here’s a few pics I took of 84-220, but I’ve also found that this paint scheme can be found on 86-299 as well, so there’s at least two of them:

 

 

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Note that although this is a new paint job, there are still dark maintenance touch-ups at the base of the tail.

 

 

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This camo-pattern would normally be very hard to replicate, but once I discovered that Aeromasks makes a masking and decal set for this very jet in 1/32 scale, I was hooked.  I’m also very fortunate to have accumulated a nice collection of aftermarket kits for this build, starting with the now rare Tamiya Thunderbirds kit, which is just the ticket for this small mouth Block 32 Viper, which is my subject.  I’m very unlikely to use all the pods, but it’s nice to have the following choices:

 

·       Tamiya F-16C Thunderbirds Block 32 Kit (60316)

·       Aires F-16C Cockpit Set (2066)

·       Aires F-16C Wheel Bays (2067)

·       ResKit F-16 (F100-PW) Exhaust Nozzle (RSU32-0018)

·       ResKit F-16 Block 25-32 Wheel Set (RS32-0024)

·       AeroMasks Camo Masks and Decals- Ghost Scheme (AM32-F1643T)

·       Two Bobs F-16C Fighting Fulcrums Decals (32-001)

·       Two Bobs Blue Fox Bandits Decals (32-0510

·       Two Bobs Blizzard Bad Guy Decals (32-063)

·       Cross Delta F-16C Stiffener Plates (CD32001)

·       Aires AN/ALQ-188 Electronic Attack Training Pod (2047)

·       Wolfpack AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Targeting Pod (WP32016)

·       Wolfpack AN/AAQ-28 Litening Targeting Pod (WP32014)

·       Kopecky Scale Models LAU-129 Missile Rails (32016)

 

 

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A closer look at the stash...

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I have a lot of photos I’ve taken over the years of Nellis F-16 Aggressors for reference and I have Jake Melampy’s “The Modern Viper Guide, The F-16 C/D Exposed”, which will be invaluable for all the fine details and variations of this jet.  I also have these great links, which give me further information and a few cool videos for inspiration:

 

 

F16 "Spooky" Paint Scheme

 

F16 Ghost Paint Scheme

 

Second F16 Gets Sukhoi SU-57 Paint Scheme

 

Video:  F-16 Gets New Look Ghost Paint Scheme

 

Video: F-16 Aggressor Ghost Paint First Flight

 

 

There are many builds of this kit and the Block 50 version that you can find on-line and many are spectacular, so I am unlikely to build something that really stands out from the crowd.  What I can do, however, is document in detail how I assembled and painted this model in a step-by-step fashion, with all the challenges and problem solving of aftermarket parts that rarely have good instructions, which is what I really enjoy doing.  With that in mind, let’s start with the Aires landing gear bays.

 

 

I have read on-line that the Aires gear bays are anything from a “drop-in” fit to very difficult and not worth the effort.  Aires is well known for great detail, but the larger resin parts are often a bit too small due to resin shrinkage.  I am happy to report that the gear bays fit, but they are far from “drop-in” and they require modification in order to be of any use for the kit metal landing gear.

 

Here's a pic of what you get out of the box, along with a small page of terrible instructions.  Other than letting you know which resin blocks to cut off, the instructions are next to useless.

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Here is a pic of what the parts should look like with the resin blocks cut off, although I didn’t use the cross brace on the lower left, because I found the kit part (C 27) to be better with a few modifications.

 

 

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One thing I always do with resin parts before I try to install them, is see what the kit parts look like instead, to give me an idea of fit and orientation.  Here is kit part B 24, along with side parts P 18 and F 16, dry fit into the lower fuselage.  Here I note the position of the side sills which is slightly recessed from the top edge, which must also be cut off since the resin gear bay has them already.  I’m not a big fan of the white plastic of this Thunderbirds kit, which makes it hard to see detail and even harder to photograph without much in the way of contrast.

 

 

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Another angle

 

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The sills were carefully cut off and sanded smooth.

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The top view, which shows that B 24 fits over 4 screwed anchors that the resin doesn’t have, but it gives you and idea of where the gear bay should be, since it forms the bottom part of the rear intake.

 

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Here are the kit parts and the metal landing gear, which I have flipped over so that you can see the pins on the top of the struts that go into holes of part F 16, with a screw that secures the middle.  Easy to do with nothing in the way at the front.

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With everything installed on the resin part, however, including the central spine, there is no way to get the metal gear to fit as is, other than maybe bending the metal struts which could break and likely remain crooked.  A very bad design, especially without instructions.  What the heck was Aires thinking?!

IcbmWJ.jpg

 

The fix was to cut off the pins at the top of the struts, and also the resin side braces, in order to install the gear in a rotating fashion as shown in subsequent pics.  I’m happy to report that even without the pins or a screw in the middle, the gear is quite solid, even without glue.  The little side braces will be restored once the gear is installed permanently.

q5Lb92.jpg

 

Dry fit into lower fuselage, showing that the notch of the landing gear must be slightly exposed if I want to install the gear at the end of the build, which I obviously do.  If you follow the kit instructions, the landing gear must be painted and installed early, which is always a pain.

Mr24U3.jpg

 

With that problem mostly solved, here are the main kit parts for the nose gear, showing that the gear must also be installed early if you follow kit instructions.  The front of the gear has a small tab that fits under a cross brace, creating a forward tilt that is fairly strong.

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Since the floor of the resin replacement must be flush to the intake, the detail on the kit parts must be removed.

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With lots and lots of sanding on the top and tweaking the resin and kit parts underneath, you can get a pretty good fit.

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While the nose gear can now be installed at the end of the build, it won’t tilt forward like it should, because of a cross bar that’s in the way of the front tab.  Again, what was Aires thinking?

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The fix here is to cut a notch in the cross bar and add a small styrene block for reinforcement.  The triangular cross bars are also in the way, so I cut a two notches in the bottom of the gear leg where they won’t show later when glued into place.

IvPUAr.jpg

 

All better now and with some CA glue, this gear assembly should be quite strong when installed at the end of the build.

 

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With all the precise locations where the main landing gear bay should be installed, I decided to install it permanently into the lower fuselage with CA glue from behind.  That way I can clean up any glue marks or even move it if required, and painting it won’t be impeded.  As a matter of fact, it will be even easier to paint, because I’ll have something unpainted to hold onto.

keufwO.jpg

 

Installation of the main gear is as before, by inserting the top of one strut, then rotating the central portion of the gear into the slot behind the main spine.  The front of the spine was cut back slightly to allow better access and the top of the metal insert was filed down a bit to allow clearance for a subsequent cross brace.

 

 

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Mostly there, with the gear now straight, but tilting forward a bit as the central portion rests against the back end of the fuselage.

 

 

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By pushing the gear down and rearward, it clicks into the recess at the back, which hides some of it..  It’s now strong enough to leave as is without glue, but I’ll likely use a drop or two to be sure when I install the landing gear at the end of the build.  Meanwhile, if you sand down the top of the resin spine, you can use the kit part C 27 that covers it, rather than the resin replacement that’s a bit thinner, but I found to be a bit too short.

 

 

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Part C 27 fits fairly well and those gaps will close when I use glue.

 

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The other gear bay placement consideration from the top, is how well the front lip will fit the back of the air intake.  It’s hard to see in this pic, but the resin sits fairly flush and after painting it white, the join should be almost invisible when viewed from the front.

 

 

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The top of the intake, part B 31, doesn’t fit the resin as well on the sides, but with a little bit of interior sanding I should be able to get it close, although I don’t plan on making this join seamless as I will on the front intake parts.  To see this detail you’ll need a flashlight and a magnifying glass, so it just isn’t worth the hassle.  The front fan face, P 24, will be glued to the rear after painting.

 

 

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The engine compartment comprised of parts C 15, 20 and 21, slide over the middle intake, while part C 34 that holds the kit gear bay parts in place, is no longer needed- and it doesn’t fit the thick resin part anyway.

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So there you have it!  The Aires landing gear kit does fit the Tamiya kit fairly well, but it requires a number of important tweaks in order to do so, that I hope I’ve explained fairly clearly above.  If you have any questions, please fire away.

 

Next step will be to make the front intake parts seamless, paint them, then glue them to the lower fuselage.  After that I’ll clean up and paint the landing gear and associated parts, then paint and detail the gear bays.  When I will get all that done is a mystery since I will be gone most of November, but this start of a new project has got me excited and back in the modeling saddle once again!

 

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Edited by chuck540z3
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Oh, boy! Your documentation and precise approach are such a welcome addition to the forum. Hope you can make here more often. High five retiring. Me too! Took a year to settle all my scores on the domestic front but now I can usually model the day away if I care to. 

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Hi Chuck, nice start!

I finished one of these in the T-Bird markings last year and even without aftermarket parts the landing gears are a pain if mounted out of sequence. But who wants to mount them early on? I also made it more complicated by adding lights and sound.

I like the thorough explanations and pics, and I will be following no matter how long it takes.

Cheers,

Mark

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5 hours ago, chuck540z3 said:

  I finally retired this year which would normally mean more time for modeling, but it’s probably going to be the opposite scenario for at least a year or more. 

Yep that's often the case. If something needs to be done, you might as well do it now. No more putting everything off 'til the week end.

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I've been your fan for several years now. I'm always happy to see your work and often save it for reference. A few months ago I started working on my Falcon. So I will watch. It's going to be interesting, gosh. Here's what I'm working with. Progress is small as of today, I plan to open the discussion when I can show the finished parts.

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Edited by Memphis
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Oh - This is going to be good. Welcome to the F-16 Club Chuck ^_^ Very much looking forward to following this build.

 

I was actually thinking about doing "Ghost" next but now I have to do something else :D - This also means that Pete will not have to worry anymore..I think :rolleyes:

 

/Niels

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Thank you everyone.  I hope you are as patient as I will be slow!

 

1 hour ago, Zola25 said:

Oh - This is going to be good. Welcome to the F-16 Club Chuck ^_^ Very much looking forward to following this build.

 

I was actually thinking about doing "Ghost" next but now I have to do something else :D - This also means that Pete will not have to worry anymore..I think :rolleyes:

 

/Niels

 

Hi Niels and thank you for stopping by.  Your "Venom Viper" is one of the best F-16's out there and is very inspirational.  Just awesome!

 

Question:  How did you get the metal landing gear to fit the Aires main gear bay and did you do it near the end of the build?  I'm always curious as to how others solved this problem, since maybe I missed something.

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Edited by chuck540z3
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29 minutes ago, chuck540z3 said:

Thank you everyone.  I hope you are as patient as I will be slow!

 

 

Hi Niels and thank you for stopping by.  Your "Venom Viper" is one of the best F-16's out there and is very inspirational.  Just awesome!

 

Question:  How did you get the metal landing gear to fit the Aires main gear bay and did you do it near the end of the build?  I'm always curious as to how others solved this problem, since maybe I missed something.

 

Cheers,

Chuck

Thanks Chuck

 

The first time I built that combo I attached the landing gear as one of the last things but I had honestly overlooked that it could no go in - I had to cut my way through and it was a big mess. When I made the "Venom Viper" I installed the gear before installing the wheelbay. It is not optimal to have them hanging there for the entire build but I wrapped them in plastic and they survived ok. It is a shame that Aires did not consider this issue. In the future I would do the same as the Venom build

 

/Niels

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  • chuck540z3 changed the title to Tamiya F-16 Aggressor, Kicked Up a Notch, Dec 8/22: Some Block 25 vs 32 Differences

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