The F-16 Fighting Falcon was the direct product of experience gained from the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 70s. There, the lack of maneuverability of US aircraft as well as their reliance on somewhat unreliable missiles instead of guns, had cost the Air Force many more pilots and aircraft than they had expected. With its fly-by-wire controls, agility, high-visibility bubble canopy, and versatile mix of armaments, the F-16 has racked up an impressive record in air-to-air combat. Tamiya offers a large (1.5-ft. long) 1/32-scale plastic model of one F-16 variant that is the perfect addition to any hobbyists display case.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 1/32-scale F-16 plastic model kit
- Masking tape
- Emery board
- Plastic model primer (grey)
- Plastic model paint
- Plastic model glue
- Clothespins (spring-type)
- Decal solution (available at hobby shops)
Cover your working surface with spare newspaper and tape it down at the edges with some masking tape. Place the box on the middle of the work surface and open it. Remove the clear bags containing the plastic trees to which the parts are attached and set them aside. Remove the manual, and read through it carefully to familiarise yourself with the assembly process.
Slit open the bags and remove the trees (known as "sprues") to which the parts are attached. Each piece will have a small number moulded into the sprue, next to where it is attached, which the manual uses to identify it in the assembly steps. Wash the sprues by submerging them in a solution of one drop dish detergent in water and allow them to dry before continuing. This will remove a lubricant used in the manufacturing process that can interfere with the adhesion of paint and glue.
Prime the parts using several thin coats of spray primer in a well ventilated area. Once the final coat of primer is dry, paint the parts in the colours indicated by the manual while they are still attached to the sprues. Allow this paint to dry before continuing.
Begin assembling the model, following the steps indicated in the manual. Remove parts as needed by slicing through the stub of plastic connecting them to the sprue with your hobby knife and then filing down the remaining bit with an emery board. Touch up the paint of each sub-assembly when it is finished before putting them all together. The cockpit will go together in one "bucket" assembly that fits between the halves of the fuselage, as do the landing-gear wells, while the wings are made up of an upper and lower half joined by several plastic locating pins. Use clothespins to keep the wing halves together while they dry and use rubber bands to hold the fuselage together.
Apply the included decals to give the model its markings once the assembly step is complete. Decals include wing roundels, warning markings, and the pilot's name under the edge of the cockpit. Cut each decal out of the sheet as you need them, leaving a little room around its edge. Soak them for a few seconds in warm water and then slide them off their paper backing onto the surface of the model. Apply a small amount of decal solution to get them to stick to any panel lines or surface irregularities of the model, making for a clean and realistic look.
Tips and warnings
- Since the model is so large, you will need a large container in which to wash the sprues. A good choice is a flat metal baking pan that is large enough to accommodate a whole sprue of parts.
- Use the emery board to remove the paint in places where the part will be glued, as the layer of paint will prevent the parts from adhering well.
- Use glue very sparingly, as any drips or squelches can mar the surface of the parts.
- Don't use clothespins with a very stiff, strong spring as the force they exert could damage the wing assembly.
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