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F-16C Kit

Tamiya 1/48 F-16C (Block 32/52) Thunderbirds Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2008 Manufacturer Tamiya
Subject F-16C (Block 32/52) Thunderbirds Scale 1/48
Kit Number 61102 Primary Media Styrene, Metal
Pros All the parts to render the Block 25, 32, and 52 Pratt-powered Vipers Cons Seamline on the canopies
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $66.00

First Look

F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit
F-16C Kit

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

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

Here is Tamiya's third installment in its F-16 series - the Block 32/52. The first was the F-16CJ Block 50 Thunderbirds (reviewed here) while the second was the F-16C Block 25/32 (reviewed here). Between those first two kits, you could render just about any version of the F-16C out of the box, save for the Block 40/42 variants. We spent some time in the Block 25/32 review explaining how you could mix and match parts from the Block 50 and Block 25/32 kits to render more versions. Tamiya has stepped up with this release which provides parts for the early and late block Pratt-powered F-16Cs. Let's take a look:

Like the previous releases, this kit is set up to be modular so they can swap parts to render other blocks in the future. It is molded in white styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus three trees of clear parts. Of course the main reason for these parts being molded in white is to make it 'easier' to render one of the USAF Thunderbirds' F-16C Vipers. I don't know about you, but white paint on white styrene is a bit of a challenge for me and I will have to apply gray primer so I can deal with any seams before applying the gloss white finish.

Like the previous releases, this kit provides your choice of standard nose and APX-113 'bird cutter' antenna nose. Where the first kit provided the GE-powered Block 50 versions (early and CCIP), the second provided the Pratt-powered Block 25/32 airframes.

This kit provides the first Block 52 in the Tamiya series to be released by combining the Block 25/32 kits with the unique parts out of the Block 50 kit to render the 52. These include

  • Bulged main gear doors
  • Wider main wheels
  • Landing lights on nose gear door

What's more, the kit retains the Block 25/32 parts, so now you can do an early or late Pratt-powered F-16C. You'll still need an aftermarket Block 40/42 cockpit and Lantirn pods if you want to do the night attack Viper, but I suspect Tamiya has that option coming. I also suspect that Tamiya may switch a few parts around so we have the GE-powered Block 30/50 in one box as well. These options will save you from buying two kits to swap parts if you're only going to build one Viper, but many folks will want two or more of these Tamiya kits to enjoy the variant possibilities plus the wide range of aftermarket Viper decals available.

Decals are provided for any one of the 2007 season Thunderbirds including the names of the pilots and crew chiefs. These markings are quite comprehensive, so other than some details on the airframe, all you'll have to do is apply a nice smooth white finish to the model and the rest of the work will be completed with Tamiya's nice decal sheets.

If you're building a Thunderbird, all of those nice external store options will be available for your spares box or other applicable contemporary 1/48 scale projects. And if you're wondering why this kit provides the parts for a Block 52 and only Thunderbirds markings, Tamiya indicates that the team will transition out of their Block 32s at the end of this season and begin demonstrations in the Block 52 starting with the 2009 season. Nice job Tamiya!

These Tamiya kits are still the best F-16 kits in 1/48 scale and would be the best in any scale were it not for their big (1/32) brothers.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!

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