Academy 1/72 F-16C Air National Guard Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||February 2011||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Subject||F-16C Air National Guard||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||12425||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$39.00|
For a quick history of the F-16C, look here.
For a look at the differences between F-16 blocks, look here.
Academy released the first version of this 1/72 F-16 tooling nearly two years ago and have since mixed and matched some parts trees to render an interesting mix of Viper variants. In this release, Academy has combined the parts to render the Block 42 or Block 52 F-16C. I'll explain that in more detail later. This is my first look at this 1/72 scale kit and I must say that they've really done a nice job with the parts and details.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus one tree of tinted clear parts for the canopy and rear window. Given the subject, it would have been nice to have a set of clear transparencies as well, but more on this shortly as well.
There are lots of options in this box even though some of them are not identified in the instructions.
So what do we have here? Let's break this down point by point.
Cockpit: In this scale, it is difficult to sharply mold the subtle details on the glass instrument panel and side consoles, though Academy gives this a try. The ACES II ejection seat is nicely done and even warning placards are provided for the seat in the decal set. The cockpit provides side stick and rudder pedals. Your choice of Block 40/42 holographic HUD or Block 50/52 (and everyone else) standard HUD are provided. Unfortunately these should be clear and they're gold tinted.
Intake: This release has the NSI (narrow-mouth) intake used by all Pratt-powered Vipers (and initially for the Block 30 GE-powered Vipers). Correspondingly the exhaust nozzle is also Pratt & Whitney F100. Neither the MCID (wide-mouth) nor the GE nozzle are in this release so Block 40 and Block 50 are not options.
Wheel wells: Even in 1/72 scale, Academy provides separately molded reservoirs and details that make for a nice main wheel wells. The rectangular landing/taxi lights are provided for the nose gear door and the main gear doors are bulged, so that means that this release can't be backdated before the Block 42 without some spares out of another kit.
Tail: The standard C/D tail is provided but no 'spare/unused' A/B tail in included in this box.
Nose: As with previous releases, the panel ahead of the canopy can be fitted with a blank insert or the panel with the advanced IFF 'bird cutter' antenna array to render a CCIP Block 52. The blank panel is correct for the Block 42 or a pre-CCIP Block 52.
Canopy: As mentioned previously, the canopy included in this kit is gold tinted, which is correct for the Block 40/42/50/52 in their early days of operation. While many Block 40/42s retain the gold-tinted canopy, the Block 50/52s switched back to the clear canopy as delivered with the early F-16As as these are compatible with night vision goggles. I wish Academy had included clear parts for the Block 52 canopy, HUDs and navigation lights and left the tinted parts for those who want to model a Block 42 that hasn't been refitted with the clear canopy.
Pylons: The kit provides the early and late versions of the wingtip missile rails. To model a contemporary Viper, you want the larger missile rails as called out by the instructions so you can mount a Lima/Mike, X-Ray, or AMRAAM on the wingtip rails.
Stores: The pods, weapons and external stores called out by the instructions for this variant include:
- 2 x 370 gallon wing tanks
- 1 x 300 gallon centerline tank
- 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
- 2 x AGM-88 HARM (w/LAU-118)
- 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
- AAQ-28 Litening
- AAQ-33 Sniper XR
That's not a bad selection but there's more in the box, some of which are needed for this kit but not mentioned in the instructions:
- First, the kit includes an HTS pod which would be fitted on the Block 52 if it was carrying the HARMs. Most Block 50/52s carry the HTS pod anyway
- In addition to the Litening and Sniper pods, the kit also provides the pair of LANTIRN pods which are used on the Block 40/42
- An ALQ-188 ECM pod which would be used on the centerline of either variant as an option
Also included in the kit but not used for the Block 42/52 options:
- F-16A ADF antenna array (dorsal only)
- Parabrake housing for the base of the tail (for some international Vipers)
This release has two markings options:
- F-16C-42F-CF, 89-2098, 112 FS/180 FW/OH ANG
- F-16C-52Q-CF, 93-0549, 157 FS/169 FW/SC ANG
Note that the decal instructions indicate that the first aircraft is a Block 40F but the tail number is definitely Block 42F. As you can see in the images, these Cartograf decals are nicely printed and in perfect register.
This is a nice looking model and it is clearly laid out to render a number of variants in service around the world. With all of the options in the box, you'll have some spares left over, but you won't be lacking detail with what's provided by Academy.
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!