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1/32 F-16C 'Flogger' - In flight and lit up


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Well here we go again, this time I'm indulging in a Tamiya kit. Much as I like the challenge of upgrading the delights of Revell's offerings, sometimes you just want something a little less demanding. Such as the Tamiya F-16C which judging by all the accounts I've read, is a superb kit. Squirrelled away in my stash is the Thunderbirds offering which allows an earlier Blk32 aircraft which differs from the mainstream Blk50 kit by having the P&W engine, normal (small) shock inlet, lightweight gear with the original wheels and flat MLG doors. However, as it is the Thunderbirds kit it also does not come with weapons and some of the pylon details which I will need for my chosen subject.




I've always liked aggressor schemes (who doesn't!), in fact anything that gets away from monotone (grey) colour schemes and there is no doubting that the 64AGRS based out of Nellis has some of the most interesting schemes around. I'm pretty much a fan of all the schemes but for this one I've plumbed for the 'Flogger' scheme as pictured on the lead aircraft below. Crucially, the Thunderbirds kit comes with early sidewinder rails which is right for the era I'm looking at i.e. pre-AMRAAM.




Now I don't want to make it too easy so this will be an in-flight display and I will be adding lights to this one as well but most of the kit will be out of the box. Except for the engine exhaust which comes courtesy of ResKit (love their stuff). Oh and some ResKit winders, will probably need an ALQ-188 and ACMI pod as well. Maybe some cockpit enhancements from Quinta and might treat myself to some goodies from Kopecky who does loads of goodies for the F-16. Yeah, pretty much out of the box.


Right, so where do we start.


With the intake of course. That's the thing with adding lights, you can't build it in the order Tamiya would like you to. Because you need to add things like wires and batteries you also need to plan the layout of how you will connect it altogether noting that once you close a section up, that's it - no more access. The F-16 has some nav lights on each side of the intake. These can be added by drilling out a small hole and adding a very small LED. To avoid light overspill (a real problem with bright LEDs) a silver foil backing is used. The outside will be first painted black to kill light overspill. Luckily the actual intake has a small enough gap for the wires to go past and feed back into the fuselage.




Another tight spot for lighting is the tail where the F-16 has a large anti-col beacon at the top and a smaller light at the base. Again, a small white LED was used with silver foil to limit overspill. The clear part sits on top of the LED and the wires run down the back of the rudder. I had to do this as this was a second hand kit and the tail had already been glued together.




In addition, the started kit had also had the base of the fin cut off in anticipation of reworking to an F-16A by the previous owner. I therefore needed to reinstate the original base using a thick piece of card as a strut to provide some strength. In addition to the wire, a thin fibre optic wire was run from the LED light down the base of the rudder and out of the base of the tail.




Interestingly, I'm pretty sure Tamiya had plans to add their own lighting kit to this model. The wing tip photo below shows a groove carved into the inside of the wing which leads to the point where the wing nav lights are and the design of that clear part is definitely with lighting in mind. I know because I was going to do the same to fit the lighting I had in mind. Thank you Tamiya for making that part of the kit construction slightly easier!




Well its a start. I should point out that progress is inversely proportional to the many demands of family and life in general so please be patient. We will get there in the end. 


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As an aggressor, these F-16s were not usually loaded with the range of weaponry often seen on F-16 models. This version is going to be from a time before AMRAAM so the earlier wing pylons are required. Although they are included in this version of the Tamiya kit, Kopecky has done some very nice resin renditions which clearly I had to have. The Tamiya kit doesn't however have any weapons so ResKit to the rescue for some Aim-9Ms, which again are superb. Strictly speaking these should be training rounds with the rollerons on the rear fins removed. However, I much prefer the look of a fully capable missile so artistic licence will prevail. I will however add training decals as live weapons would be a no-no on a air combat training exercise! As the Kopecky rails are so nice I have added magnets to them and the Aim-9s so they can be attached and removed easily. Not sure what I'm going to do about the ACMI pod as not seen any of these on the aftermarket sites. That and baggage pods are sorely missing from resin heaven.




And what would an aggressor be without a jamming pod, in this case the ALQ-188. Aires and Wolfpack both do a 1/32 version but the Wolfpack version seems too small to me so I went with the Aires one. The transmission horns will be added later as they look like a carpet monster appetiser. As before I added magnets so it could be replaced with the centreline drop tank for variety. Of note, the Tamiya Thunderbirds kit does not have any of the Bomb Release Units for their pylons. As I was creating the possibility of a naked Pylon I needed a replacement BRU. Step up, Leatherneck pylons for the F/A-18 which have spare BRUs (which look similar enough). Again very nicely done and with a spot of pylon side wall thinning slotted in easily. I should add that Kopecky now do an F-16 centreline pylon which surpasses my efforts.




I've also made up the kit's fuel tanks, which are OK and will be removeable via Tamiya's rubber plug method. Again, Kopecky have now done some replacement fuel tanks which look far better - tempting! 




Might get onto the cockpit eventually.

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Got slightly side-tracked on the intake which is not an insignificant feature of the F-16 so one you need to get right. To Tamiya's credit the fit of both halves of each half (if that makes sense!) is pretty good and just needs a little bit of filler to smooth out any visible join once glued together. A blast of white primer helps blend it all together before I dirty it up slightly using off-white colours and a very light sand coloured pigment. Not sure if I'll glue them together before I insert in the fuselage to ensure a tight join or whether you even can. Test fitting so far would indicate that Tamiya have done their job well.




Another prominent part is the engine exhaust. As mentioned previously I'm replacing the OK kit part with the very nice Reskit version. The exhaust comes in 4 main parts and includes photo etch for the burner rings. The detail is lovely but will need some careful weathering to match the staining you often see - especially on the inside of the exhaust.




The innermost part did have some very nice engine detail but because I'm using the exhaust as the entry point for the supporting acrylic rod I need to do some rather drastic surgery and drill out the middle section, which is a shame because it's nicely done and I'm sure would look lovely if anyone had wanted to look at the back end of this model.




I did add some of the PE but once the rod goes in most of this will be unseen. The real trick is securing the engine in the fuselage so that nothing breaks when the weight of the model is sitting on it.


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Finally get around to the cockpit which is not bad straight out of the box. However, I want to try out some of the 3D cockpit decals so I've gone for a set from Quinta which look very nice indeed and well beyond my cockpit painting skills. It does mean you have to file off all the nice detail that Tamiya put into the kit so there's no going back once you start! I'm also using the kit seat as it'll have a pilot on it. After a black base I used MRP paint but a slightly lighter grey than the usual USAF cockpit colour FS36231 as I'm trying out the shadow technique which is to spray from a constant angle (like from a single light source), which on a dark base, creates a varied tone set of shadows and light spots. 




You can then add detail to your own taste. The only snag I have with the Quinta set is adding lighting as the decals are too think to backlight. I think I'll just go with a flood lit effect.


In case I don't get round to any other updates soon, Merry Xmas everyone! :D

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  • 1 month later...

Well that's Xmas and the New year well and truly out of the way - hope you all had a good one - time for an update!

Started assembling some of the bigger structures around the fuselage area which in typical modern Tamiya style, are a drop fit.

First major painted assembly attached is the rear intake portion which was necessary to start planning on where all the wiring will go.

The engine face was painted then buffed up with some metallic paste. The intake portion was weathered slightly to an off-white colour but you wont see too much back there unless you're looking hard!



The eagle eyed among you will realise that the undercarriage bay has two extra holes in the wall. As this is a gear up project the holes were drilled to allow wiring to pass through.


The Reskit exhaust has also gained some attention. The outside petals are in steel with the characteristic darker edges where they overlap when the nozzle is closed.

I still need to add some details such as where the No Push stickers go and some further discolouration.

The internal walls of the exhaust have received different pastel shades to mimic the soot pattern. the part on the right goes inside the part on the left and there is some further inside detail on the engine end of the petals which will probably never get seen but I know its there!




I've also joined the top fuselage parts together so I can start assessing how all the extra lighting bits I'm adding can be laid out.

Having over-sprayed to check for flaws, the fit is thankfully near perfect so only a little work from me to correct any issues.



The line on the tail is there to help me align the fin assembly as the model's original owner was going to put a new tail on so removed a lot of the original tabs used for ensuring a perfect fit. I've had to create a centering tab in the fin and new slot in the fuselage to help align them, not helped by having the fin lighting to content with!


Hopefully next time I will have a cockpit update and maybe some light action.


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