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Tamiya F-16CJ Fighting Falcon

Kit:60788 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$52
Exquisite detail; perfect fit; great modern weapons; beautiful decals; parts breakdown suggests many more possible variants
Untinted canopy; shallow intake; no afterburner detail
Injection-molded, 149 parts, decals

When I heard Tamiya was going to issue this kit, I asked myself, "Do we really need another 1/72 scale F-16?" After building Tamiya's new kit, the question is, "Do we really need any other 1/72 scale F-16?"

We may never know why Tamiya's initial release was packaged without underwing pylons, fuel tanks, or a typical weapons load. But Tamiya has made up for that with this second release; the box even states, "with full equipment."

Indeed, this boxing includes: two 370-gallon tanks; a 300-gallon centerline tank; pairs of AIM-9M and AIM-9X Sidewinders; two AIM-120C AMRAAMs; two AGM-88 HARM missiles, along with an AN/ASQ-213 HARM targeting pod (two actually, one for mounting on the left side of the intake, one for the right); an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper XR pod; an AN/ALQ-184 ECM pod; and, of course, all the pylons necessary for the load you choose.

It's clear that the base kit is a modular design and that future issues may give us a two-seater, earlier Falcons such as A and B models, and the Pratt & Whitney F-100-engined versions with the smaller intake.

Gorgeous surface detail (fine and not-too-deeply recessed panel lines), thoughtful assembly sequence, and astounding fit make building this kit a modeling dream. Everything fit perfectly; no filler was needed, and only minimal sanding on the few visible glue seams. Top this off with well-detailed pods and weapons and a nicely sculpted seated pilot figure, and you’ve got the makings of the best F-16 kit in this scale.

Best, yes — but not perfect. I was disappointed that the canopy was not molded with the characteristic tint present on most F-16s. Also, there is no detail inside the afterburner once you get past the nozzle. If you're careful, you can hide the seams as you assemble the intake. But the duct is fairly shallow. The 23-part main landing gear struts and bay assemblies require patience and dexterity.

The decal sheet is a beauty, providing markings for three Falcons and loads of tiny stencils for the airframe and ordnance. Tamiya's instructions are among the best in the business, and they include a separate background story along with a diagram charting the progression of the many production variants.

I spent only 26 hours on the li'l Viper; painting and decaling were about double the assembly time. Small parts and precise fits require a moderately skilled modeler. The next one I build should be easier, and I plan on doing several more. I wonder which version Tamiya will do next?

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2015 FineScale Modeler.


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