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AMT 1/12 General Dynamics F-16 Cockpit Kit First Look

By Ray Mehlberger

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer AMT
Subject General Dynamics F-16 Cockpit Scale 1/12
Kit Number 8693 Primary Media Styrene
Pros One neat, large cockpit model Cons No parts tree drawings & trees not alphabetized will make for extra effort to identify parts
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The F-16 cockpit, while conventional in general layout, incorporates several design innovations not found in previous fighter aircraft. The F-16 features a short control stick mounted on the right side of the cockpit, as opposed to a long column on the floor between the pilot's knees. Instead of moving the entire column, the side stick responds to pressure or force the pilot places on the stick. This allows faster, more precise aircraft response to the pilot's commands. The side stick has miniature transducers buried in the handle, preset at about 32 pounds of pressure for response.

The controls the pilot exerts on the side stick are transferred to a computer which then controls the plane's flaps, vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizers through an electronically controlled hydraulic system. This whole system is called "fly by wire" for short. Because of the high "G" forces exerted on the pilot in the very maneuverable F-16, this "fly by wire" feature enables the pilot to sustain higher "G" loadings and keep the plane in control than would a conventional center-mounted movable control stick.

The pilot's foot pedals are also "fly by wire" with minimal movement and built-in transducers. The seat is tilted back about 30 degrees to improve tolerance of "G" load forces on the pilot, reducing the blood "pooling" in the lower extremities during high "G" turns and loops and minimizing "blackouts".

Everything necessary to fly the plane, track enemy aircraft and missiles, navigate and locate targets for the plane's weapons systems and check on the plane's operation, as well as communications with other planes and it's airbase, is easily visible and reachable by the pilot. It is a marvel of current high technology in aircraft development.

This kit is an ex-Esci mold. Esci in Italy was bought out by Ertl in 1987. Ertl is located in Dyersville, Iowa USA, which is 52 miles NE of my home. I purchased this kit in the early 90’s at the factory discount store there. It has a copyright date on the box of 1990. The kit was later also sold under the Italeri label. However, I noticed on a few web sites that show the kit made up that the Italeri boxing of it did not include the pilot’s helmet perhaps, as it is not in evidence on the photos of the completed Italeri model at these 2 different sites I found.

The kit comes in large tray and lid type box. The box are has a color photo of the cockpit made up. It calls it a FORCE ONE kit, whatever the heck that means?? One side panel has a listing of features of the kit. That it includes:

  • Completely detailed control panels
  • Removable ejection seat
  • Complete decals for instruments and labels
  • Positionable pilot’s flight helmet
  • Display base
  • Over 110 parts
  • Paint and cement not included

Next to this is four color photos of various areas of the finished model.

The other side panel has small color repeat of the box art photo, next to the history of the F-16 cockpit, the 1990 copyright date and Ertl’s Canada & Iowa address. The kit is said to have been made in Italy and the box printed in the USA.

Inside the box are 3 large light gray trees of parts, one black base plate part, a tree of smoke tinted clear parts, all in a large sealed cello bag. There is a small sealed cello bag with a length of black vinyl tubing in it. Next is the decal sheet and a sheet of self-adhering cloth seat belts. There is a gold metal nameplate sticker and a form to subscribe to Ertl’s BLUEPRINTER newsletter. The instructions complete the contents. These contents fully fill the large box, with no voids.

The instructions consist of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 6 pages in 7 ½” x 17 ½” page format. This is folded 3 times along it’s length to fit the box.

Page one begins with the history of the cockpit, followed by a black silhouette illustration of the side profile of the cockpit and a black and white illustration of the instrument panel. Below these is important general BEFORE YOU BEGIN instructions and BUILDING TIPS FOR THE ADVANCED MODELER. Also included are phone numbers to use to contact Ertl with any problems concerning the kit.

Pages two through 6 have 29 assembly step drawings. However, none of these are numbered strangely. Included in amongst these steps are illustrations of the side consoles with all the instruments, knobs and switches labeled and named and their colors called out. Also included is an illustration of the dashboard, again with all the labels and names of things and their colors. Colors are also called out in every step next to the parts and FS (Federal Standard) numbers are used too.

There are no parts tree illustrations provided. The trees have the part numbers next to the parts on them, but are not alphabetized. This means constant referral, back and forth, to the step drawings to identify parts needed by their shape and then checking if the part you think it is has the same part number next to it as the step drawing. More extra work.

I started some assembly of the seat in my kit so far.

The first large light gray parts tree holds: the cockpit floor with side consoles attached, dashboard, oxygen hoses, instrument housings, left and right instrument panel shrouds etc. (13 parts)

The second large light gray parts tree holds: pilot’s helmet parts, seat parts, instrument panel cover etc. (12 parts)

The third large light gray parts tree holds: dials and switches and knobs, some instrument consoles etc. (80 parts)

The small smoke tinted clear parts tree holds 5 parts.

The single black base place completes the plastic parts in the kit.

The decal sheet and sheet of cloth self-adhering seat belts completes the kits parts contents.

The kit is now out of production under the AMT/Ertl label. I did find it under the Italeri label on the internet at two locations. has it in the Italeri box for $31.09 as kit no. ita2990. The same kit is also listed at RC for $30.00. But as already mentioned above, the box art does not show the pilot’s helmet that is in my kit.

This will make into one highly detailed large desk top display.

Highly recommended.