1/72 Hasegawa F-16C Fighting Falcon

Gallery Article by Eric BADE on Aug 13 2010

 

When Astra Decals released their series of Aviano F-16 decal sheets, packed with quality decals and information, I immediately thought I might use them. I originally fell in love with the sea horse design that adorns the fin of some of the aircraft.  With time, I changed my mind and my final choice settled on a flagship aircraft sporting a map of Italy on its fin : maybe a tribute to my many Italian friends.

I had built a few 1/72nd scale F-16s previously, the last of them being an F-16A MLU of the BAF based on the Revell model which was presented here on ARC.

http://www.arcair.com/Fea1/401-500/Fea453_F-16_Bade/00.shtm

My feeling generally is that the Revell F-16 is the best Viper in 1/72nd scale, the Hasegawa kit being a close second.  Revell best release is their F-16C boxing as it offer several option : unfortunately it was available during a very short time span, and seems to be discontinued now.

Hasegawa also released two very interesting boxings in the form of F-16CG Block 40 and F-16CJ Block 50 and these kits are packed with parts : weapons (!), but also small and big mouth air intake, PW or GE engines, F-16A or C fin, small and big wheels, bulged and flat main gear doors.  In other words one of these boxes would allow you to build any USAF version of the F-16 to F-16A block 15 to F-16C block 52.

As a sum up of what's above I would use Revell anytime I would build and F-16A/B, Hasegawa whenever I would build an F-16C/D (that's until Revell re-releases their F-16C boxing!!)

The problem with the Hasegawa kits it that the moulds were originally released decades ago now. Base is still accurate in shapes, recessed panel lines still are very sharp, but over the years, the F-16 skin has received some vents, auxiliary intakes, ECM suits that are not on the Hasegawa model.  A good part of this project was adding the bits that need to be added on the Hasegawa model to build a good representation of an F-16C block 40, the version that is used by the wing at Aviano. 

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Building starts with the cockpit.  Hasegawa 1/72nd F-16 cockpits are a bit empty and flat, decals being provided for all instruments panels and consoles.  I like to detail my cockpit either with resin or photo etched parts.  This time I used the excellently molded Aires resin cockpit.  Details are sharp and accurate but unfortunately, the Aires cockpit tub is a pain to install.  Heavy cutting, sanding, filing, thinning was done wherever I could, some parts being thinned to silk paper thickness.  The end result really is worth the job, but Aires should really try to ease their dedicated parts installation.  Their molding and details are perfect but fit still should be improved.  FS36231 dark gull grey is the main cockpit color, black being used on instruments panels and consoles.

Once the cockpit is glued in position, construction of main fuselage is quite straightforward.  I just followed instructions.  One other point of attention on small Hasegawa Vipers is the adjustment of the jet intake.  Beware the Block 40 subtype uses the wider jet intake.  Be careful to check parts and their position before gluing to main fuselage : a few minutes of adjustment will save you filling and sanding time.

I also prepared jet exhaust at this stage.  Hasegawa parts are quite nice in this area; they were further detailed with etched parts.

Once main airframe parts are glued together, I prepared surfaces for painting.  A few areas needed putty and sanding.  All surfaces where later polished with micromesh down to 4000 grain.  That is also when I checked photos to find out what is missing on the Hasegawa Vipers.  I used plastic card and plastic rod to build all the little air exchangers around the airframe.  I also rebuilt the “beer cans” sensors on the wing leading edge.  Hasegawa provides them but I was not convinced : Hasegawa beer cans are cemented beneath leading edge whereas the real thing seems to go through the leading edge.  Last surface additions are the reinforcing plates that were added on block 40 Vipers.  I used small Orion vinyl plates which are very good and easy to use.  I had to check reinforcement plates configuration for this aircraft.  From photographs I found it seems the aircraft had the full strengthening suite.

Painting is airbrushed Gunze acrylic colors.  I determined that this aircraft was painted in the 2 color camouflage ie grey FS36270 and FS36118.  I painted main camouflage first then I started weathering.  No pre-shading.

Weathering was built over main camouflage.  I kept it subtle as USAF machines tend to be cleaner than USN aircraft and this aircraft is the boss mount.  I did some paneling with lighter shades of grey.  Panel lines were enhanced with a dark brown wash, a few prominent lines receiving a black wash instead.  Canopy was tinted with a mix of smoke and yellow translucent paint.

Due to the jet intake being a bit shallow on Hasegawa Vipers I decided to build a FOD cover.  I built it with tape and white glue.  It was painted purple, one of the Wing Squadron color.

Decals are very sharp, well designed and easy to use.  Much to my surprise they needed a bit more attention than the Microscale decals (ie most US aftermarket decal companies) I am more used to to avoid silvering.  True, I do not gloss varnish my models before decals application as I find that spoils my weathering effects but that is normally OK with some other decals.  Nothing difficult actually, just a little more care with decal application and a little extra use of decal softeners.

After I decided to depict this aircraft I found out that this aircraft is very special as it downed three Serb Galeb fighters in the hand Capt Robert Wright, Feb, 28th 1994.

I added a light weapon load to complete model.

Eric BADE

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Photos and text © by Eric BADE