Orion Models 1/32 F-16A/B/C/D Fuselage Reinforcement Plates First Look
|Date of Review||December 2005||Manufacturer||Orion Models|
|Subject||F-16A/B/C/D Fuselage Reinforcement Plates||Scale||1/32|
|Pros||Adds fuselage details to backdate the Tamiya kit||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
When the F-16 first entered service, engineers worked very hard to preserve the aircraft's clean aerodynamics as the least disruption could result in a loss of aircraft control. With a fly-by-wire control system managing an unstable airframe, the software needed to correctly identify and respond to highly dynamic changes to airflow during routine as well as in high maneuverability flight.
In time, the Viper became more adaptable to changes in configuration and today we see Block 30s with Sniper or Litening pods, Block 40s with only one of two LANTIRN pods, and Block 50s with the HTS pod, all carried asymmetrically.
As the F-16 airframe accumulated flight time and duress under combat conditions, the aircraft required external reinforcement "scab" plates added to the airframe. These plates are subtle details, but can be very noticeable under the right conditions as this photo clearly reveals.
When Tamiya released their beautiful Block 50 (GE-powered) kit, the kit airframe does not have these scab plates in place as the Block 50s are lower time and likely have these improvements inside the airframe. If you're backdating that kit to an early-life Block 40 such as those in Operation Desert Storm, then you won't need these plates either. But if you're doing a Block 40 aircraft as seen recently, this is just the set to add that "correct" look to the model.
With the release of the Tamiya Block 32 Viper, you have the means to replicate the Block 25 or Block 32 machines (Pratt-powered), and if you change the vertical stab using a tail from the Hasegawa kit or an aftermarket tail, you can easily backdate the kit to a Block 15 F-16A, F-16AM or even F-16A ADF. In all of these cases, the scab plates used on these versions were mainly the pair located between the vertical stabilizer and air refueling receiver.
As these scab plates are vinyl, installation is merely peel and place. You will want to make sure the plastic is clean of any oils or residue to get the best adhesion on the surface and you definitely want these on the raw plastic BEFORE painting. If you are adding these after the fact, you still can avoid peel-off later by applying a coat or two of Future over the installed plates, then re-flatten the area to blend into the rest of the aircraft's hue.
This is a nicely done enhancement for the Academy kit! My sincere thanks to Orion Models for this review sample!