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F-16AM Kit

Kinetic 1/48 F-16AM Fighting Falcon Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2009 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject F-16AM Fighting Falcon Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48002 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Well engineered and lots of options never before seen in a 1/48 scale Viper kit Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.95

 

 

First Look

F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit
F-16AM Kit

For a quick history of the F-16, look here.

For a look at the differences between F-16 blocks, look here.

When I first heard that Kinetic was planning to do the F-16 series in 1/48 scale, my first question was 'why?' since Hasegawa had a great series of kits that pretty much covered the subject. Then Tamiya unleashed their 1/48 scale Vipers, and these were nicer in detail and tooling than Hasegawa's tooling (though the Hasegawa kits are still nice kits!). It would take some "shock and awe" to impress me after Tamiya's kits hit the street. Shock and awe is what Kinetic delivered!

Lucky Model was kind enough to forward samples of this F-16AM and the F-16DJ (look here) releases for review when they first came available in Asia and at first glance, you might not be that impressed with the F-16AM box art. Don't judge this book by its cover! On opening the box, you'll see some serious details and tooling that clearly is designed to take this subject into areas not yet seen in kit form (such as this F-16AM). Without wasting time rehashing the comparison of the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits (you can read all of that here), let's just dive into the box.

The kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented on 19 parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts. The breakdown of the kit is similar to Tamiya but there are some interesting differences here too. Note the first image has interesting attachments to the trailing edge of the ailerons from the sprue tree. Those are static dischargers that Kinetic has provided in the kit. Take care not to knock those off! They're present on the stabilators and rudder as well.

This is the first F-16AM in kit form as I said earlier. Hasegawa has released European versions of the F-16A in the past, though usually without some of the distinguishing parts such as the parabrake housing at the base of the tail used in the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium. Some of those use that housing not for parachutes, but space for additional avionics. At last we have a production kit that captures that essential difference! Tamiya has not rendered the F-16A in kit form (though they did release the 1/48 YF-16A many, many years ago).

The F-16AM differs from the 'standard' F-16A in a number of different areas, but visible external differences include:

  • APX-109 IFF 'bird cutter' antennas (nose and under inlet) and distinctive bulged tail for F-16A ADF
  • APX-113 IFF 'bird cutter' antennas ahead of the windscreen for the F-16AM (also seen on CCIP Block 50/52 USAF aircraft and new-production Block 20, Block 50/52 and Block 60)
  • Landing/taxi lights on the nose gear door (also like the late-block Vipers)
  • EO/Laser pod on the starboard intake pylon (like Block 40/42 and CCIP Block 50/52)
  • New enhanced pylons with chaff/flare dispensers
  • Capability to carry a wider range of US and NATO weapons

The F-16AM Block 15/20 is still powered by the Pratt and Whitney F100 engine as were the unmodified Block 1-15 F-16A/B Vipers. GE engines haven't been adapted to the early blocks, only Blocks 30, 40, 50, and 60. This means that you won't see any need for widemouth intakes or GE nozzles with any of the F-16A/B or F-16AM/BM variants.

The kit cockpit is nicely done, though I can't wait to see some color photo-etch from Eduard for the instrument panel and side consoles. The ACES II ejection seat looks good here as well though you'll want to grab some photo-etched belts and harness attachments from somewhere.

The kit features a full intake duct with some really nice details that go into the main wheel wells.

The IFF antenna panel is an insert that goes onto the nose ahead of the windscreen, just like Tamiya's kit. Like Tamiya, the kit also has the plain panel if you really want to backdate the kit to a standard Block 15.

If you rummage through the parts, you'll also see the dorsal and ventral bird cutter antennas as well as the bulged fairing at the base of the vertical stab for F-16A ADF.

While we're on the subject of the nose, the kit also provides the side panels below the IFF nose panel as separate parts, just like the Tamiya kit. Unlike the Tamiya kit however, this one offers two different port-side panels, the standard with the RHAW blister, and the other with the RHAW blister and spotlight used by the Norwegians and the Danes (and the F-16A ADF).

In a first for 1/48 Vipers, this kit molds the wheel hubs and tires separately. Finally, a set of wheels easy to paint! Two different styles of wheel hubs are provided, so check your references.

In another first, the leading edge flaps are molded separately as are the trailing edge flaps, so you can pose this model in-flight with everything 'hanging out'.

As I mentioned earlier, this kit offers several different sets of parts for the base of the vertical stabilizer so you can accurately replicate the different tail configurations used by the different NATO air forces.

The canopy is as clear as I've ever seen in a kit. It does have the slight mold seam that plagues all F-16 kits, but this one will be easy to clean.

If this were a Hasegawa kit, the story would end here since Hasegawa doesn't provide much in the way of external stores in their kits. Tamiya's F-16 provided an impressive array in their kit, but stand by for some more 'shock and awe.'

External stores:

  • 2 x 370 gallon tanks for stations 4/6
  • 1 x 300 gallon centerline tank
  • 1 x AAQ-13 LANTIRN
  • 1 x AAQ-14 LANTIRN
  • 1 x AAQ-28 Litening (yes!!)
  • 1 x AAQ-33 Sniper XR (a first!!)
  • 1 x ALQ-131 (yes!!)
  • 4 x AIM-9M Sidewinder
  • 4 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
  • 4 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
  • 4 x AIM-120C AMRAAM
  • 2 x AGM-65 Maverick
  • 2 x AGM-119A Penguin
  • 4 x Mk.82 (slicks)
  • 4 x GBU-12 Paveway II
  • 2 x GBU-24 Paveway III
  • 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
  • 4 x GBU-38 JDAM
  • 4 x CBU-87

This is the nicest array of external stores that I can recall being included in one kit. You have enough external stores to bomb up this F-16, an A-10, and still have left-overs!

Before I forget, there is the F100 engine nozzle. Remember all of the aftermarket nozzles that have been released because the details inside the nozzle are either too soft or non-existent? I don't know what Kinetic is using for molding technology, but this is the nicest detailing I've seen down a 1/48 scale F100 nozzle to date. Nice work!

If there is one glitch in this kit, the molding technology that they are using leaves mold tabs where the ejector pins push the sprues out of the molds. Not recessed pin marks, but raised tabs. This is actually a good thing as it is easier to trim and smooth out a raised pin tab than it is to fill a sinkhole.

One other note, if you do use this kit to backdate to a standard F-16A Block 15, you will need to replace the landing lights on the nosegear (found on F-16AM as well as Block 40/42/50/52/60 Vipers) with 'conventional' landing lights on the main gear as originally designed for the early F-16s from Block 1 through Block 32. To backdate to the Block 1-10 Vipers, you'll need the smaller horizontal stabilators that have been released in the past by aftermarket companies.

Markings are provided for four NATO Vipers:

  • F-16AM, 678, 334 Sqn, Royal Norwegian AF
  • F-16AM, FA-73, 23 Sqn, Belgian AF (now #145 of the Jordanian AF)
  • F-16AM, J-063, 322 Sqn, Royal Netherlands AF
  • F-16AM, E-198, 727 Sqn, Royal Danish AF

The kit provides two sheets of decals including a nice set of stencils for the airframe, and one large sheet with the stencils and markings for the wide variety of weapons in this box.

Musings

When Tamiya released the F-16CJ Block 50 and F-16C Block 25/32, you had all of the parts to do the Block 52 and Block 30 by mixing and matching the corresponding parts out of each kit. Block 40/42 could be done but you were on your own for the cockpit and LANTIRN pods.

Swapping parts between the Kinetic F-16AM and F-16DG/DJ Block 40/50, you have many more possibilities:

  • F-16A Block 15 (US and European variants)
  • F-16A ADF
  • F-16AM Block 15 (MLU)
  • F-16A Block 20
  • F-16B Block 15 (US and European variants)
  • F-16BM Block 15 (MLU)
  • F-16B Block 20
  • F-16C Block 25/30/32
  • F-16C Block 40/42
  • F-16C Block 40/42 CCIP
  • F-16C Block 50/52
  • F-16C Block 50/52 CCIP (including some export variants)
  • F-16D Block 25/30/32
  • F-16D Block 40/42
  • F-16D Block 40/42 CCIP
  • F-16D Block 50/52
  • F-16D Block 50/52 CCIP (including some export variants)

Not bad by swapping parts, but you can expect Kinetic to release more variants in the future. In the interim, we finally have a variety of options that were not available previously without having to acquire costly resin conversions.

As I said up-front, I initially feared that this release would be yet another F-16 kit, and I am pleased to be wrong! What's nicer still, this kit is about half the price of the Tamiya kit and about $15 USD cheaper than Hasegawa's Vipers (based on the MSRP prices of the latest releases). If the kit builds as nice as it looks, this series is going to be a big hit. Even if it doesn't, there are options in this box that you'd spend lots of money in resin to have in order to create variants previously unavailable in a production kit. I think Kinetic has done a great job with this one!

The arrival of the Stevens International sample of this kit signals the availability of the Kinetic 1/48 F-16AM and F-16DJ at a hobby shop near you.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model and Stevens International for these review samples!

References:

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