1/72 Hasegawa F-16A Netz, IDF/AF

Operation Opera, 7 June 1981

Gallery Article by Craig Sargent on July 27 2012



Operation Opera, also known as Operation Babylon. was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on 7 June 1981, that destroyed a nuclear reactor under construction 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq.

In 1976, Iraq purchased an "Osiris"-class nuclear reactor from France. While Iraq and France maintained that the reactor, named Osirak by the French, was intended for peaceful scientific research, the Israelis viewed the reactor with suspicion, and said that it was designed to make nuclear weapons. On 7 June 1981, a flight of Israeli Air Force F-16A fighter aircraft, with an escort of F-15As, bombed and heavily damaged the Osirak reactor. The F-16s flew with a pair of Mk84 2000lb bombs, 2 AIM-9L Sidewinders and 3 drop tanks.

The Osirak facility remained in its damaged state until the 1991 Gulf War, when it was completely destroyed by air strikes by the United States Air Force.

Ilan Ramon was the youngest pilot to participate in Operation Opera, flying an F-16A Netz of the Knights of the North squadron. He later became the first Israeli astronaut. 

Col Ramon was the space shuttle payload specialist of STS-107, the fatal mission of Columbia, in which he and six other crew members were killed in the re-entry accident. He became the only foreign recipient of the United States Congressional Space Medal of Honor.


Click on images below to see larger images

I decided to build a model of Ilan Ramon's jet as it appeared when it took off for the flight to Osirak. The best starting place for the build was the Hasegawa kit (the Revell kit is very good too, but the Hasegawa kit still retains the edge for me in terms of fit and shape). To modify a Hasegawa F-16A Plus back to the Netz configuration there were a number of changes required to the kit:

  • Remove the twin IFF blade antennae under the nose (just behind the radome)

  • Remove the plates behind the intake lights

  • Remove the blade antenna between the rear fuselage dorsal strakes

  • Remove the spine illumination light fairing from the front of the tail fin

  • Replace the late block enlarged tailplanes with the smaller tailplanes

  • Add new blade antenna under intake in front of the nose gear well

  • Add a radar warning antenna just in front of new blade antenna

I also chose to add some extra detailing to the kit. A leftover CMK resin main gear well was installed, along with a Quickboost resin ejection seat, PP Aeroparts etched HUD frame and Hobby Decal aluminium pitot tube and angle of attack cones. I also opened up the gun muzzle opening and filled the holes for the underwing Sidewinder rail pylons.

The Mk84s came a Hasegawa weapons set, as did the AIM-9Ls, although I replaced the fins with some photo-etched ones from PP Aeroparts.

The model was painted with Gunze Sangyo acrylics masked with rolled blutac to get a tight feathered edge. Decals came from Isradecal. To finish I added static wicks from some copper wire and painted them.


  • IsraDecal Publications - F-16A/B Netz . The First Jet Squadron . 1979 - 1986

  • IsraDecal Publications - F-16A/B Netz . The Knights of the North Squadron . 1980 - 1987

  • IsraDecal Publications - General Dynamics F-16A/B Netz

Craig Sargent


Photos and text by Craig Sargent