Academy 1/32 F-16I Sufa Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||May 2010||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Kit Number||12105||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Lots of options, easy construction, great detailing||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$169.95|
For a quick history of the F-16, look here.
For a look at the differences between F-16 blocks, look here.
The F-16I is the Israeli Air Force's advanced tactical aircraft building upon their extensive combat experience in the earlier F-16 variants. One of the most notable differences between the F-16I and earlier Vipers is the inclusion of the second cockpit. While F-16B and F-16D trainers have nearly identical combat capabilities as their single-seat counterparts, these two-seaters are used primarily for training. The F-16I, like the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-4 Phantom II before it, makes use of that crucial second set of eyes to aid the pilot with situational awareness as well as to operate the on-board mission systems leaving the pilot free to fly the aircraft.
The F-16I is an advanced version of the F-16 Block 52 which incorporates the dorsal spine for additional avionics, conformal fuel tanks for increased range, the Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229 for greater power, and the ability to deliver a wide range of US and Israeli-made weapons.
Here is the very first two-seat Viper kit produced in 1/32 scale! When Academy announced this variant a while back, we were seeing lots of F-16I and other advanced Viper variants coming out in 1/48th scale. Academy was also first with the F-16CG/CJ kit several years ago that had a variety of parts in the box to render the Block 40/42/50/52 single-seat variants. Tamiya did release their own 1/32 late-block Vipers, but none with the options that Academy provided in that box.
In the time since that F-16CG/CJ kit was released, there had been a number of issues identified with various details on the airframe, most notably in the cockpit. If you look at the sprue shots to the right, you'll see that most of the sprues are new-tool and Academy has addressed a number of the glitches in their previous kit, plus added some new twists to raise the bar further.
The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on 13 parts trees, plus two sets of clear parts, one molded in clear, the other with a really nice gold tint for the radar cross-section reduction canopy. The set also includes a small fret of photo-etched details and a set of turned aluminum parts for the pitot tube and the angle of attack sensors.
As I mentioned above, this is the very first production kit of any two-seat Viper in 1/32 scale. A few aftermarket companies have released conversion sets, but here is the two-seater that is molded from the outset to be a two-seater. This kit has numerous options in here that will allow you to render the F-16D Block 40/42, F-16D Block 50/52, F-16D Block 50/52 Plus (international versions), as well as this F-16I Sufa. Let's take look:
Features in this box:
- Nice all-glass cockpits fore and aft
- Re-tooled instrument panel covers
- Choice of clear or tinted canopies
- Positionable canopy
- Choice of narrow or widemouth inlets (the Sufa uses the narrow mouth)
- Choice of Pratt or GE afterburner sections (again, the Sufa uses the Pratt)
- Full-length inlet with engine face
- Nicely detailed wheel wells
- Choice of standard F-16C/D tail base or dorsal spine (Sufa uses the dorsal)
- Choice of standard rear tail fairing or parapack housing
- Late block landing/taxi lights on nose gear door
- Bulged main gear doors and heavy duty main gear (so no backdating to a Block 25/30/32 without raiding the Hasegawa kit)
- Positionable speed brakes
- Positionable trailing edge flaps
- Positionable radome to reveal detailed radar
- Turned aluminum pitot tube and AOA sensors
- Sufa-specific lateral nose antennas (stock antennas also in the box)
- Advanced IFF antennas
- RHAW/EW antenna fairings on the inlet sides and under the inlet (standard nav light fairings also in the box)
- Optional boarding ladder
- Optional crew figures
Academy has provided lots of details in this box that will allow you to render virtually any late-block two-seat Viper. While several of the 1/48 scale kits have done similar things with their releases, none of them have gone to the next step - Israeli weapons! In this box, we have a wide variety of US and Israeli externals to choose from:
- 2 x GBU-31(V)3 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-31(V)1 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-38 JDAM
- 2 x GBU-12 Paveway II LGB
- 2 x AGM-130
- 2 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
- 2 x Python-4
- 1 x 300 gallon centerline tank
- 2 x 370 gallon wing tanks
- 2 x 600 gallon wing tanks
- 1 x AAQ-13 LANTIRN navigation pod
- 1 x LITENING targeting pod
The weapons above are those called out by the instructions, but if you look at the sprue shots, you'll see a few other weapons that could be used on other variants to include:
- 2 x AIM-9M
- 2 x AIM-9X
- 2 x AGM-88 HARM
- 1 x ALQ-184
- HTS pod
- LANTIRN targeting pod
- and more!
Markings are provided for four aircraft:
- F-16I, 422, 253 Sqn 'Negev'
- F-16I, 494, 119 Sqn 'Bat'
- F-16I, 878, 201 Sqn 'The One'
- F-16I, 857, 107 Sqn 'Knights of the Orange Tail'
The decals are provided on two sheets with one providing all of the distinctive markings including additional spare numbers so you can render other F-16Is from these four squadrons, and a second sheet with a comprehensive airframe and weapons stencils collection.
Academy has really done a nice job with this kit. It has lots of options for the intended F-16I Sufa, but also more options should you want a Greek, Singapore, or other advanced Block 50/52+, and still have options for USAF Block 40/42/50/52 airframes pre or post CCIP. Not bad!
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!