Kinetic 1/48 F-16XL-2 Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2019||Manufacturer||Kinetic|
|Kit Number||48086||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit and decals||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$42.99|
General Dynamics began a research program in 1977 called SCAMP (Supersonic Cruise and Maneuver Prototype) which looked at how aerodynamic research for supersonic transports could be adapted to military aircraft. The Air Force provided the third and fifth F-16A production airframes for use in this research. The huge double delta wing plus a 40 inch fuselage stretch provided impressive performance improvements for the aircraft. It had one problem however, the F-16XL had a similar delta-wing planform as the F-106 and the Space Shuttle. When you pull high angles of attack, that delta wing turns into a huge speed brake. In a dogfight, the first time an F-16XL pulled hard to lead a target, it would bleed off airspeed quickly. Not a good time to be out of airspeed and ideas.
In 1981, the Air Force issued a requirement for a replacement for the F-111 using existing airframes under the Enhanced Tactical Fighter (ETF) banner. General Dynamics entered the F-16XL against McDonnell Douglas' modified F-15D. While the F-16XL demonstrated excellent capabilities, the Air Force selected the F-15 as the newly minted F-15E Strike Eagle as a lower risk as it only needed some new avionics, a redesigned crew station, and additional weapons stations whereas the F-16XL would have major airframe work required to put the new wing into production. The Air Force also cited the safety of two engines with the F-15E in a high-threat area... The two F-16XL demonstrators were returned to the Air Force and in turn, were turned over to NASA for flight test research.
Four years ago, Kinetic released the single-seat F-16XL kit in 1/48 scale under their Skunkmodels brand. I am happy to report that they've now released the two-seat version, also in 1/48 scale, under the standard Kinetic banner. The single-seat kit was nicely done and included a wealth of extra parts, I've been waiting on the two-seat version because, during my time in flight test, this airframe was our second choice for the next Wild Weasel. The first choice had two tails (F-15D/E), second was this aircraft, third was the Tornado, and somewhere down the list was the F-16C. We couldn't have the F-15D as there weren't enough airframes avalable to mod into the Weasel, and they weren't about to divert the newly minted F-15Es for the job. Congress wouldn't have approved the Panavia Tornado, the F-4s were getting old, and we already had the F-16C as the 'manned pylon' to fly along with the F-4G to carry more 'bullets' (AGM-88 HARMs).
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 12 parts trees plus two trees of clear parts. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Integral wings on fuselage halves make assembly/alignment easy
- Nicely detailed cockpits and ACES II ejection seats
- Positionable canopy
- Updated radome with lightning protection
- Nice NSI intake with Pratt F100 engine face at the end of the duct
- Nice F100 afterburner section
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable leading edge flaps
- Positionable trailing edge surfaces
- Positionable landing gear
You'll remember that the F-16XL airframes were based upon F-16 Block 1 airframes so the demonstrator was powered by the Pratt and Whitney F100 using the narrow-mouth (NSI) intake. General Dynamics had not yet started on the F-16C series so they had not developed the capabilities for GE F110 power at that time. This kit has a very nice selection of armament included, some of which were produced for other versions of the F-16. These include:
- 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-120B AMRAAM
- 2 x AGM-65 Maverick
- 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 2 x CBU-87 cluster bombs (labeled GBU-87 in the instructions)
- 2 x GBU-12 Paveway
- 1 x AAQ-113/AAQ-114 LANTIRN pods
Not mentioned in the instructions but worth noting:
- 2 x AIM-9X Sidewinder
- 2 x AIM-120C AMRAAM
- 2 x GBU-24 Paveway
- 12 x Mk.82 Snakeyes
Not included but were carried during flight test/evaluation:
- Mk.82 slicks (14)
The kit includes one sheet of decals which provide two options:
- F-16XL, 750747, Prototype scheme
- F-16XL, Heater/Ferris scheme
The decals provide a nice set of airframe and weapons stencils for each of the subjects.
Which brings me to my only complaint about this kit - the color profiles. For whatever reason, all of the color call-outs in the assembly instructions and color profiles use Ammo by Mig paints exclusively which aren't readily available in many areas. There is a master paint chart at the beginning of the instructions which list applicable Humbrol, Tamiya, GSI, and Vallejo colors in addition to Ammo by Mig.
Aside from the paint charts, this is a very nice kit and I already have the extra parts on hand to build my Wild Weasel. Thank you Kinetic for doing this two-seat F-16XL!
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!