1/48 RSAF F-16A BLK 15 Viper
Converted from Hasegawa F-16 Thunderbird

by Jer Wei on Aug 9 2003

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Background

This is my Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Blk 15 F-16A viper using the 1/48
 Hasegawa Thunderbird kit. This kit was bought a long time ago when kits were costing  S$15 to S$20. It is a regular viper kit with the Thunderbird decals. Due to my experience at that time in modelling, I decided to put it into the to-do list.

Much about the Hasegawa viper has been written already and it certainly has a long list  of "offspring". I guess you can consider this kit to be the mother of all the Hasegawa  viper kits as its the second in the series. When I compare it side by side with a recent  CJ kit that I have, you can appreciate the subtle wear the mold is starting to show. But  that is evident only when you have them side by side, other then that the wear is not
 really discernible.

 When a group of the regular modelling "kakis" wanted to do a group build for Singapore's National Day, this kit came to mind. The bird I am depicting is number 880 from 140 Squadron, which is the first viper that Singapore bought under the Peace  Carvin program. Incidentally, this bird was involved in a mid-air collision with her sister  ship 883 while doing some ACM over South China Sea. Word has it they were doing more then ACM but that's another story The official stance is they were on a routine training mission. 880 was banged up pretty bad while 883 became home to some fishes at the bottom of the South China Sea.

From some sources, 880 flew back with a horizontal stab with surface damage and the starboard wing, I think, was bent ala the F-18 wing fold holding by a few metal pieces.  Thats fly-by-wire for you ! Anyway, it went through major repairs and is now still flying.  Read about our biggest little Air Force here at my friend Mike's web site.  The Unofficial Singapore Air Force Homepage
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3900/


My depiction is what I think 880 was configured for that flight. 1 x training sidewinder on  the starboard wing tip and an ACMI pod on the port wing tip. 

Cockpit

Not much mod in the pit as I think the kit ones are OK. Some may argue that the panels are wrong or whatever, but it looks like a viper pit to me, so that's it.  Just some regular painting, dry brushing and washing to bring out the details.

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Construction

Fit wise there is not much to say as it is still the best viper money can buy and currently is still the best in 1/48. The only point to look out for is mating of the wings to the  fuselage to get it even and straight. One wonders why did they ever have done the  wings and fuselage in two parts but I guess that was the technology available back then.

To do a RSAF F-16A viper with the kit, some modification has to be done to the brake housing. Like some of the viper operators, RSAF vipers have the brake housing  and since the kit is basically an F-16A bird, I scratch build and added the housing.  Could have used the kit for the Norwegian variant but no point getting another kit just for  the housing. Besides, the housing is not hard to do, just some square stryene and
 plastic sheet. I shaped the air scoop on the housing with a square rod.

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Another mod I did was to replace the horizontal stab's pivot with wire by drilling out the original plastic inserts. On the fuselage I added a piece of square stryene with the hole drilled to fit the wire on the stab. Its stronger and looks better this way. I also added static discharge on the wing and stabilizer as per Kaan's Tools n Tip on ARC.

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The pitot tube on the radome was in danger of getting snapped off, so I replaced it with sewing needle and blended the base with some putty.

 

 

 

The ACMI pod was robbed from a sidewider from the spares box. The fins are removed and a section of sewing needle was super glued to a small hole drilled into the front tip.

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Masking and painting

The exhaust was painted with Mr colour silver on the outside. The ring near the fuselage was sprayed with clear blue to simulate the blue tint evident from my ref  photos. I think I have over done it and ended on the heavy side but it turned out ok after
 some drybrushing to tone it down.  The inside was painted off white and airbrushed with dark grey streaks to get the typical exhaust stain found on the viper.  Some drybrushing was done to complete the tail job.

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Next was to mask the canopy. Nothing fancy here. Just regular masking with thin  graphic tapes along the edges and filling in the rest of the area with masking liquid. An  more efficient method I think then cutting strips of Tamiya tape as the thin graphic tape  is more flexible in getting the curves. But that is personal preference.  Use whatever  method you're comfortable with.

The colours are airbrushed free hand. Some masking was used to prevent over spray in some area. This is the first time I am using the airbrush version of vallejo paint for airbrushing. I have tried the brush painting version and it works well.
The only gripe I have is the weak biting power. To overcome that, use a primer like Mr Surfacer or rub the whole model down with 1000 grit sandpaper to give the paint something to bite.

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Another thing about vallejo paints is that I think they are not really 100% FS even  though they have equivalent of some of the colours. So check the colours and not rely entirely on their colour chart. I find their FS36270 too "grey" and FS36118 needs to be tone down a notch with some FS35375 to lighten it a bit.

After the colours went on, a coat of Mr clear was air brushed in preparation for decals. 
The decals were kindly donated by my fellow modellers Wang and Mike from their spares box.

Decals

Not much trouble in the stencil decals. It was thin and went on well generally with some  micro set. Some bubbles and silvering in some of the more stubborn ones were treated  with micro sol. The sqn decal were a separate story. The sqn decals were printed on Alps printer. Generally the decals went on ok. The only small problem is when I sprayed the final matt coat after decalling. One of the lion head decal developed silvering that appear like hair line cracks. After a few moment of panic and some tea later, I tried puncturing the affected area and applied some micro sol. It reduce the effect of the hair line cracks considerably. Now its almost unnoticeable unless you stand close enough. 

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Conclusion

The model is not finished yet. Although the RSAF keeps her bird in pristine condition,  there is bound to be some grimp and dirt somewhere, so I intend to do some light weathering around the plane before sealing the final matt coat. To meet the date line for the group build, this is as far as any modelling work will go.

Thanks to all the modelling kakis who has helped in any way on this project like the decals, nuggets of information and suggestions etc. People like Wang, Mike, Desmond, Sebastian ,Gareth, Kwek and others that I did not include here. ^_^

Jer Wei

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Photos and text by Jer Wei