1/72 Revell F-16AM

by Jens H. Brandal


  Norway Constitution Day 2004   


Last year, I needed to finish something quick for a local model competition, and my eyes fell on Revell's new tool F-16A MLU that I had set aside as a "therapy project".  It was started on the 5th of May (a Bank Holiday here in the UK) and the deadline was 17th of May - Norwegian Contitution Day.  It's a gorgeous little kit that I intended to build straight from the box, but as the kit does not accurately reflect a Norwegian Mid-Life Update configuration, I had to make some modifications.  One structural modification that Revell did not include are the strengthening plates on top of the wings - maybe
this was done so that they can later issue a regular F-16 without modifying the tools?  These plates were easily made from 0.13mm plastic sheet.  The GPS antenna on the spine just behind the canopy was made from a piece of white decal film and the help of a punch and die set.

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One structural modification not part of the Mid-Life Update programme is the reinforcement just behind the canopy and in front of the roundel.  This was made with 0.25 mm plastic strip tapered at both ends.  Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s have a searchlight on the nose, below the left hand Radar Warning Receiver, and this was made using a drill, silver paint and covering the dimple with 5-minute epoxy.  The exhaust nozzle is far better than any other kit in this scale, and I decided to add a little more detail by adding strips of 0.13 mm plastic to represent the inner petals. The kit has a number of options, and in fact a later issue I ordered to replace the exhaust nozzle after I spilled superglue on it (the result of adding the previously mentioned 
petals), had the small stabilizers and the original F-16A instrument panel!  For an F-16AM, you should use the new launchers capable of firing both AIM-9s and AIM-120s, and I decided to arm my Viper lightly, hoping to complement it later with better AMRAAMS.  The Sidewinders are gorgeous, and I decided to make one into an Accelerated Monitor Assembly (AMA) which is regularly carried on station no. 9, and let a drill round (blue band) occupy station no. 1. The centerline fueltank - which I placed too far forward - was virtually standard equipment a few years ago, but with the change in emphasis on peacekeeping operations, the aircraft now seem to spend more time carrying the 370 gallon underwing tanks (referred to as "Dollies" - after a certain female
country and western singer), laser guided bombs on stations 3 and 7, Sidewinders on 2 and 8 and finally AMRAAMS on 1 and 9.  The kit includes only one type of mainwheel - the earlier one, but aircraft are given new brakes and wheels on an "as needed" basis, and is not wrong for an MLU aircraft. RNoAF F-16s are painted overall grey - FS36270
with the pylons in FS36375 Light Compass Grey.  I used Polly S here for the first time, and being more of a believer in enamels, found these very impressive.  The radome and forward RWRs were painted a slightly darker version of the base coat.  The panel featuring the new GPS antenna was painted a lighter shade of grey, and a part of the fin
leading edge extension was painted LifeColor FS36270 which is a tad darker. The model represents a plane from no. 331 Sqn based at BodÝ Air Base.  The squadron markings came from an old Modeldecal sheet which has markings of all European F-16 squadrons at the time.  The roundels came from Flying Colours Aerodecals, and depict the new, correct type of roundels 400 mm in diameter.  The callnumber on the tailfin was made on a photocopier, but these are now available from Vingtor Decals

The walkways on the F-16AM and BM are black (previously they were dark grey), and to make these, I copied the grey walkways from the kit on a photocopier set on "dark" -
it worked wonders.  The rest of the stencils are from the kit, and this decal sheet does deserve the "Super Decal" yellow triangle on the box. 
Beautiful artwork, great printing and not bad with respect to silvering.  I really liked the sections on the nozzle where the "turkey feathers" are overlapping - that alone saved a lot of masking and painting.  For setting solution, I used Tamiya acrylic thinner on the PollyS gloss coat, then applied the decal followed by more acrylic thinner.  This dissolved the PollyS and glued the decal to the paint without any silvering at all.
Being based so far north, these aircraft avoid a lot of the pollution of central Europe, making their aircraft look cleaner than for example Dutch or Belgian F-16s.  Still, a clean aircraft is less interesting than a weathered one, so panels that attract dirt and are prone to leaks were highlighted by drawing with a pencil and a bit of selective washing with black paint. 
Even on fairly clean aircraft, streaks are seen from the hinges of the leading edge flaps, and this was simulated with wiping off the wash with a finger in the direction of the airflow.  The bottom of the centerline tank also gets very grubby, and was treated to a heavy wash of dirty black thinners. 
The gun muzzle was painted copper to simulate the copper based grease used to protect the paint, and a little soot from firing a few rounds of 20 mm was added with pastel chalk.  The model was parked on it's own 1:72nd scale section of BodÝ tarmac 2 hours and 41 minutes after the passing of the Constitution day, but with enough time to get a little sleep before the IPMS Hornchurch competition.  It did not place, but I was pleased to have a completed model anyway.  It has now been donated to the Aircraft
Museum at Gardermoen for a future display of all aircraft types that has flown in the Royal Norwegian Air Force.


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Photos and text © by Jens H. Brandal