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F-16A ADF Conversion

Cutting Edge 1/32 F-16A ADF Conversion First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2005 Manufacturer Cutting Edge
Subject F-16A ADF Conversion Scale 1/32
Kit Number CEC32168 Primary Media Resin
Pros Simple conversion for F-16A ADF Cons No instructions
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) OOP

First Look

The Air Defense Command provided (as the name implied) air defense of North America. Up until the late 1970s/early 1980s, this mission was covered by a combination of the F-101 Voodoo and F-106 Delta Dart (with a handful of F-102 Delta Daggers hanging on in the Air National Guard). Then-commander General 'Chappie' James decided to use the F-15A Eagle as the next generation interceptor to replace many of the older aircraft.

F-16A ADF Conversion F-16A ADF Conversion F-16A ADF Conversion

It didn't take too long to realize that there weren't going to be enough Eagles to fulfill the mission, so the next prospect was a modified F-16A. The airframe available for the mission was the Block 15 airframe with the larger horizontal stabilizers.

In order to fulfill the intercept mission, the F-16 would require additional equipment over the standard Tactical Air Command versions of the Viper. This included an HF radio, an advanced IFF system, and a spotlight for night identification. Unlike the F-15, the F-16 had virtually no room in the airframe for any of these additions. The HF antenna was installed in the tail, but this required the relocation of the rudder hydraulic actuators creating the horizontal bumps in the base of the tail. The four-bladed IFF antennas were mounted to a base plate and laminated to the nose, just ahead of the windscreen, and underneath the intake, just ahead of the nosegear. These are still nick-named the 'bird cutters'. The ID light was installed in the nose, below the upper IFF array (see photo).

Cutting Edge has developed a nice conversion for any 1/32 scale kit. The title says ADF tail, but the set also includes the IFF antenna arrays. The conversion is cast in gray resin and includes the base of the tail, vertical stabilizer, separate rudder, and a clear resin part for the strobe light on the top of the tail.

The only part not represented to complete the conversion is the spotlight, but an MV lens from the model railroading department of your local hobby establishment should fit the requirement nicely.

This conversion will work nicely with the F-16A from Hasegawa (as long as it is the A+ with the larger horizontal stabs) or as part of your backdate of either the Tamiya or Academy F-16s (more parts required besides the tail).

The only down side to this conversion is the lack of instructions. While many folks who would use this conversion would also have some knowledge of the aircraft, it would have been useful to have a diagram or two showing the placement of the antenna bases and the orientation of the antennas, plus a locator for that spotlight.

My sincere thanks to Meteor Productions for this review sample!

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