1/32 Lockheed Martin F-16A "50 Years 313 SQN"

Pride of the Dutch Air Force, the Orange Lion was the demonstration F-16 flown between 2010 - 2014 during airshows and displays. Sadly, my model wansn't up to standard for display. But as the "Orange Lion" bursted into flames like a phoenix, a new one emerged from the ashes. Say hello to J-366.

J-366 is a Dutch F-16AM based at Twenthe Airport, my old hometown base. She was part of 313 SQN, and to celebrate their 50th aniversary, she received an amazing paint scheme on her tail. I've seen this bird pass by many times while flying glider planes at the same base and decided this would be the best aircraft to have another go at building an F-16 model. Currently she's part of the RNAF flight school in Arizona, USA.

Since I'll be building this model as part of a group build competition, progress updates will be slightly different than normal. The entries will be copies of the build log I keep for the competition. Photos can be found in the usual albums (titled 'J-366 "50 years 313 SQN"').

Kit by Tamiya

The "Orange Lion" project started on 15 September 2015 and was finished on 30 November 2015
The "J-366, 50 years 313 SQN" project started on 01 January 2016 and was finished on 04 May 2016

Photos of this project can be found here:

The Making of "Orange Lion" The Making of "J-366" Photoshoot of "J-366"

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Update 10: Final reveal | May 04

04 May, 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Here is the final reveal of my Tamiya 1/32 F-16AM “J-366”, completed on May 4 2016 after 5 months of building, part of the “I must be an animal” GB.

  • Kit manufacturer: Tamiya
  • Scale: 1/32
  • Type: Lockheed-Martin F-16AM (adjusted F-16CJ Block 50)
  • Extra’s used: Inlet from Tamiya 1/32 Thunderbirds, custom made stand, PWMP Dutch parahousing (part of the MLU upgrade), PWMP LANTIRN pods, AMS resin ANQ-131 pod, Aires exhaust & cockpit upgrade, Eduard PE cockpit upgrade set, ZOTZ decals, MasterModel pitot-tube and dischargers
  • Paints and colours used: LifeColor acrylic paints (FS34087, FS34088, FS36118, FS36231, FS270, FS36375, FS37038, FS37925), Tamiya (X-23, X-25, X-26, X-27), Vallejo (71.005, 71.055), Mr. Metal Color (buffable range), Flory wash (dark dirt, grey), various pigments
  • Other info: Full build and large photos found on my website
  • Build duration: 01 January 2016 - 04 May 2016

This is the second F-16 I’ve build, the first being “The Orange Lion” which wasn’t a major success, so I decided to give it another try in combination with the “I must be an animal” group build. The project is based on J-366, an F-16AM from the Royal Dutch Airforce which was based at my hometown.


Update 9: Finishing details | April 27 – May 04

04 May, 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

As mentioned in my previous post, I still needed to do a few items such as adding aerials and paint the afterburner-effect. I added the static dischargers and painted them black before adding the strobe light on top of the tail. I then masked and painted the exhaust with a slightly darker metallic in an attempt to recreate the areas that move when adjusting the exhaust-opening. The afterburner itself which is incorporated in the stand was painted with Tamiya X-26.

Now it’s time for the final reveal! Go have a look in the completed builds of this GB soon! Many thanks again for following and your comments throughout this project.

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Update 8: The final push | April 2 - April 26

26 Apr. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Time to write my last build update, as the next post will be the final reveal (scheduled later next week). While waiting for the new batch of paint, I used Tamiya clear (X-25 & X-27) to paint various lights on the aircraft. A few days later the paint arrived (LifeColor FS34087, FS37038 & FS37925) and I was able to continue and finish this project.

The tail (FS37925) and canopy (FS37038) were masked and sprayed in preparation for decals. The bombs were sprayed with FS34087 before I hand-painted the frame that holds them onto the aircraft. The upper half of the intake received its slightly darker "camo" paint (same as used on the nose) and the inlet itself was sanded again (still wasn’t happy with how it looked) and repainted.

Using the lit of the paint bottle, I painted the tips of the bombs, missiles and fuel tanks before giving them a gloss varnish. Decals were added, but since the aftermarket bits came without, I used some that matched the real thing that were taken from other kits in my spare stash. With the decals done I gave everything a matt varnish coat.

With the decals sealed in, I took out the Flory dark dirt wash and gave all weapons and good amount of it before taking it off again. Once that was done I followed with various pigments and oils to weather them further.

Time to work on the plane itself again. Although the aftermarket decals came with the walkway lines, I decided to spray them on instead which would make it easier for me to weather them down later on. A lot of masking was required to achieve this and the colour used was FS36375 (same as the belly). I did the same for the refuel markings. Once dry I sanded it all down using various Flory sanders to wear them down. At some places I purposely sanded through the paint underneath to get colour tonal variations across the top surface.

Now came the hard part, weathering all the panels like on the real machine. A quick background story on why I think she's so heavily weathered; Just before the plane got her distinctive tail design, she was flying in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Operating in the desert seems to have a "sandblasting" effect on the paint on these jets. Although having asked Phil in one of his Q&A's what he would suggest on achieving this effect, I turned his principle around and decided to "add" the chipping instead of actually chipping the paint off. Using a sponge I dabbed FS36270 (same as the front section around the cockpit) on all the panel lines. The same was done on the bottom but I used FS36231 for it. All this was then sanded down to blend in with the rest.

Decals were added and I used MicroSol products to give them the "painted on" look.

The finish is slowly coming in sight. But then there's this massive hurdle just in front of it, named the tail decal. It's simply massive in size and no way this would go on easy. I started with the lower bits, which weren't too bad, aside from the fact they're way too big and needed cutting to shape once placed. The top bit was a different story. I tried my luck by putting the first one as a whole. This resulted in tearing and folding as I tried to move it around. Let alone the fact that this one was too small, leaving gaps all around it. The other side was cut up into sections and then added to the model, which was easier but still no perfect result. I then used various paints and pigments to colour the white bits and make them blend in with the actual decal.

The whole model was given a matt varnish, except from the tiger decals which are gloss. Using black pigment I added exhaust fumes and gunpowder residue to the respective openings. While removing the masking tape around the tail, I tore one of the J-366 decals. Instead of repainting this by hand, I decided to leave this as it would blend in nicely with the rest of the weathered look. The varnish was given the night to dry and I applied the dark dirt wash all over the model the following morning. With a damp (and sometimes wet) cloth and cotton bud it was wiped off to achieve the desired effect of weathering.

So, finally all the painting and weathering is done. Time to add the weapons and give you a little preview of the model. I still need to do a few things; Add various aerials, detail the exhaust, and paint the afterburner effect on the stand. But that will all be seen in the final reveal later next week.

Thanks for following and your comments!

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Update 7: Time for some colour | March 22 – April 1

01 Apr. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

I’d like to begin with thanking everyone for your kind comments and tips, you’re really helping me to stay motivated throughout this project. Let’s get going with this update.

Thanks to the service of the Royal Mail, the F-16 has arrived safely at my home in the Shetlands. After I unpacked everything I did a dry fit with the stand (which stays “hidden” until the final reveal) and made sure the model and parts were ready to be prepared for paint.

I started by removing the seam from the cockpit window, as this would create fine dust, which would hinder me during painting. With Phil’s video in the background, I worked my way through various sanders until the seam was gone and a crisp canopy was left.

The next job would be that of prepping the pilot and getting him ready to be fitted inside the plane. He was washed before being sprayed with Vallejo Air 71.005, camo green. I must say I don’t really seem to get on that well with the Vallejo paints, and decided to sell them and swap to LifeColor instead (which are being used later for the jet itself). Once the green was dry, I sprayed his helmet and brush painted his visor. A bit of weathering and tonal variations were added next. I used a metallic pencil to do the seatbelt clasps. The kneeboard and patches were adjusted to scale before printed and glued on with PVA. The pilot was then placed in the cockpit, glued in place and the canopy added.

Time to start the primer stage. I masked the canopy using the masking sheet that’s provided with the kit, although it needed a bit of fine-tuning with flexible tape to get the right contours. The model was given a quick wash with a wipe and some Tamiya thinner before primed. Since I was still waiting on my new airbrush, I decided to use the last bit of Tamiya’s spray can primer. It’s great stuff, but it does paint the rest of your house as well at the same time.

With the primer drying, I moved to the exhaust and painted this with a mix of “stainless steel” and “dark iron” buffable paints. I used a micro cloth (normally used to clean sunglasses) to buff it up. With the new look a bit too shiny, I went over it with the dark dirt wash, which toned it all down a bit and made it look more like the real thing. The inside was done with the wash as well, but wasn’t removed once dry. It gives that nice burned effect to it.

Now that the primer was dry, I began the pre-shading process using Vallejo dark grey, lacking anything better. The paint went on horrible and gave me loads of overspray.

Finally I was time to start with the actual colours for the jet. I’ve printed out a few photos of the real aircraft and marked the colours and various other bits with a marker pen for easy reference.

The nose was painted first as this would be the easiest part to mask. The same colour (FS36231) was used for the LANTIRN and belly pod. I will be using LifeColor paints for the rest of the project. The lower half was painted with FS36375 in a thin layer to get the pre-shading to come through. This will later help me with the tonal variations and heavy weathering of this aircraft. The top would be sprayed with 2 colours, the front with FS36270 and the darker rear section with FS36118, again in thin layers. The tail was painted as well, but will receive a white coat before decals go on. I sanded and polished it to achieve the smoothest surface as possible.

And that’s where we are now. All the relevant bits have been painted, although the weapons still need to be done (waiting on a few colours to arrive). More on that on the next update! Thanks for watching and your comments!

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Update 6: Ready for paint | February 19 - March 21

21 Mar. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

As I’m writing this update, the model is travelling through the UK to hopefully arrive later this week in preparation for painting.

The lower section of the tail, a resin part from PWMP, had already been added to the aircraft but I still needed to work on the top half. Out came the Tamiya saw and I cut the part as per instructions. Basically you cut it at the bottom of the vertical fin. I then added another resin bit on the top in order to match the AM tail. I won’t glue it on yet, as I need to check with the decals to make sure everything fits correctly.

Another job to match the F-16AM consisted of filling various inlets and vents that aren’t located on older types. There were a few on the bottom of the fuselage and 1 or 2 on the top. The items were marked, masked, and then filled with putty before sanding.

I received the LANTIRN from PWMP and the ANQ-131 from AMS Resin which will be mounted on the belly of the aircraft. The mountings were glued in place and the gaps filled with putty. While working with the putty, I also filled a few gaps and seams that were too big.

Next up was the nosecone. In an attempt to strengthen the bond a bit, I added small styrene tabs on the inside and glued it in place. I cut off the probes which will be replaced with brass versions once painted. The same goes for the pitot tube.

The pilot received some more work and I added the head and arms. In order to make the arms fit, I had to cut them at the elbow and slightly alter the angle before gluing them back together. I placed the pilot in the seat and glued the arms in place with CA. The gaps were filled with a bit of putty and Tamiya glue.

With work completed on the pilot, I started with assembling the pylons that are attached to the wingtips. The plastic part is fixed to the wing with 2 metal pins, with the clear part (which includes the nav lights) sandwiched in between. I haven’t glued the parts to the wing yet, as I’m unsure of how to mask the lights before painting. I did however made sure the fit is good and won’t require any filling later on.

Once all of the above was done, it was time to pack it all up and put in a big box, ready for shipping.

As soon as the box arrives here, I’ll start the paint process. In the meantime there’s a lot of work happening on my King Tiger project, which can be found in my signature. Hopefully the next update will be a bit sooner than this one.

Thanks for watching!

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Update 5: Assembly has begun | February 01 – February 18

18 Feb. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

I’ve spent the last week at my secondary modelling station and managed to get quite a few things done on the F-16.

Most of the work went into getting the new Dutch parachute tail to fit properly. The first resin part I received was completely wrapped, probably taken out the mould too early. I was send a second one which was a lot better, but unfortunately the front part had broken off during transport. I managed to glue it back on with some CA. This part was also slightly warped, but after a lot of sanding and bending I managed to get it pretty much straight again. Once that was done I had to align it with the fuselage and glued it in place with CA. I then filled the enormous gap around it with green putty before sanding it smooth using the FM sanding sticks.

Towards the end of the week I merged the upper and lower fuselage together. Because of the new cockpit, the front was difficult to fit properly and required a lot of bending, sanding, and force to go in place. I filled certain features that aren’t on the Dutch bird (such as extra flare dispensers) with green putty. Other large gaps were filled with putty as well, while smaller gaps were filled using Tamiya extra thin.

The wings were added and glued in place. Once dry I sanded it all smooth and fitted the ailerons to the back. When I tried to fit the front flaps, it turned out there was a gap of almost 1 mm between the flap and the fuselage. To fill this gap I added a 0.5 mm styrene sheet to the end of both parts and sanded it to the correct shape. Looks a lot better now and the gap is reduced to the correct size.

With the cockpit now in place, I’ve taped the spare canopy in place with Tamiya masking tape to prevent damage and dust getting in. This will later be replaced with the smoked canopy with which the Dutch F-16’s are fitted. I might leave it on for painting, not sure yet. Any tips are welcome.

I’ve done a few other small bits and pieces, which will show themselves in future updates. This includes cutting the tail and preparing a few other resin parts. Below is a photo of J-366 under construction next to the Orange Lion, which is waiting to be fitted to a wall mounted stand.

That’s it for now. I won’t be working on the model until early next month, so until then I’ll be posting updates on the King Tiger build (see link below). Thanks for watching and your comments!

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Update 4: The office is ready | January 26 – January 31

31 Jan. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

I’ve finally managed to fit the cockpit in the upper half of the fuselage. It wasn’t easy and as far as I’m aware the resin assembly is too wide to fit properly. I ended up sanding the sides in order to get it high enough without stretching the plastic. Once that was done I used Tamiya tape to hold it in place before gluing it with CA. I then removed the tape and started filling the gaps with grey putty. It needed a few layers and lots of sanding in between to make a nice flush transit between the plastic and resin bits. I covered the central part of the pit before spraying the front and back with Vallejo black grey. After drying for about 30 min. I followed with the grey Flory wash to blend it all in.

That’s it for this mini update. I’ve packed the parts and will continue work in a week time when back at my workstation. In the meantime I’ll be working on the King Tiger project.

Thanks for watching and your comments!

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Update 3: A bit of colour | January 20 – January 25

25 Jan. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

I noticed I missed a bit in my previous update and thought I’d mention it here. I’ve had a good think about the static dischargers that are fitted to the F-16. I’ve bought the upgrade items from Model Masters, but didn’t’ really like how they attach them to the kit. After staring at photos for probably much longer than is considered healthy, I concluded that they are too small to fit directly. So instead I’ve added the original plastic bits to the wings, which will then house the new dischargers. They might be slightly oversized but I can sand them down if need be. The brass parts themselves will be fitted after painting to prevent me from snapping them off during construction.

As I mentioned in my previous update, I was waiting to get a hold of the parts lying around at my girlfriends place to finish the cockpit. Turns out that most of the gaps will be hidden from sight once the canopy is closed. Since the model will be displayed in flight, I guess that solves most of my fit issues. However, it will require a lot of repair work behind the seat where it should sit flush with the fuselage. Once I dry fitted the parts using masking tape to hold it in place, I added all the small pieces to the seat and cockpit. To be honest, I left off a few items since they’ll be hidden from sight and I think they’ll come in handy during a later project, so I put them in the spare box. The seatbelts will be fitted once the pilot is ready to go in as well. In order for me to get the pilot inside his office, I’ll have to chop off his feet. Guess he’ll become the first fighter pilot with his feet missing…

After putting the cockpit together, I shipped it all back to my place in preparation for painting. Determined to use acrylic paints for this build, I gave the Vallejo stuff another try after receiving some useful tips from you guys (thanks!). Found out that it works best for me at about 12-15 psi with 80% paint to ease the flow. First I sprayed every part with Mr. Surfacer 1200 as a primer. I then followed with Vallejo 71.055 “black grey” as a base coat. I was planning on using black, but after hearing Phil over and over again about not using pure black, I thought this would be a better option. The Dutch cockpit is painted mainly black to reduce glare for NVG use. Hence that my cockpit looks so dark. Once the black was done (no masking here, all free hand with very little overspray) I took a cocktail stick and started highlighting all the switches and buttons on the instrument panels. This was done using enamel paints, as I don’t have any acrylics besides the Vallejo Air range (which was too thin for the job). After letting this dry for a few hours, I used a small brush to add the Flory grey wash in all the panel lines to add a bit more depth to it all.

Later this week I’ll fit the cockpit to the fuselage and fill all the gaps with putty. Once that’s done I’ll upload another update to this build. After reading many of the other builds, I came to the conclusion that I would have to post regular (and shorter) updates to keep you guys interested.

Anyway, thanks for following and all your comments!

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Update 2: A real mega update | January 02 - January 19

19 Jan. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

First things first, photos of the sprues and aftermarket parts as promised in my previous post: *

An overview of the things I’ve been working on during this period:
- Cockpit
- Engine inlet
- Weapons
- Lower fuselage

I started off with the original Tamiya cockpit, which I planned to upgrade with Eduard PE. I was eager to start and cut a lot of the parts in order to fit the PE bits as instructed. Well, at least that’s what I thought I was doing. Turns out I cut the wrong part of something and made it completely useless for the kit. I figured I would be able to save it by scratch building something later on, but I soon realised I’d lost the throttle lever, too. Great…. So, what to do now? Continue with this version and try to build things from scratch in order to save it, or spend 18 bucks on the Aires cockpit? After a quick discussion with the missus, I visited Ebay and ordered myself a set. I wouldn’t be able to do anything on the kit until it arrived, as the rest of the kit was waiting for me at my girlfriend’s place in the Midlands. Oh well, guess the King Tiger could do with some attention instead. Photos of the original Tamiya cockpit: *

The new Aires cockpit arrived on Thursday and I was back in business. I thought this would be a quick fix but boy was I wrong. Perhaps I should have read a bit more on the internet since it doesn’t fit at all! More of an aftermarket downgrade than upgrade if you ask me. Yes, the details are great, but getting it to sit nicely inside the F-16 is a real mess. I’ve been cutting, grinding, and sanding for hours to get it to fit, sort of. Gaps everywhere and unsure whether it would work, I put it aside and decided I would have a look with the cockpit window fitted. But that part was still at the other location, so this would have to wait. *

While waiting for the Aires cockpit, I received a package from the States, which contained parts of the Thunderbird “NSI” inlet. Since I had nothing to do, I got it out of the box and began working it (stupidly enough completely forgetting to take a photo of it, I really need to put up a sticky note somewhere to remind myself!). The reason I got the Thunderbird inlet is because it’s still the old, smaller version, which is also fitted to the Dutch F-16’s. I put the parts together and filled the seams with green putty before sanding it all smooth. I then primed it with Mr. Surfacer 1200 followed by Vallejo 71.001 “White”. Having worked with enamels until now, I seem to have some serious problems with acrylics. Not sure if it’s me or rubbish paints, but after two attempts and sanding it all down again (taking over 2 hours), I ended up spraying the parts with my trusty old enamel paints and airbrush (taking only 5 minutes). And then I spend another hour trying to clean my 2nd (acrylic) airbrush, since some of this s*** Vallejo paint dried inside the nozzle!!! (Any tips welcome, I sprayed a rough 60/40 mix at about 18 psi, but it flooded the parts straight away). *

The rear section of the inlet is done as well. I glued the halves together, filled the seams with putty and sanded it all smooth again (which takes way too long in my opinion, especially because you won’t see it anymore once it’s positioned on the stand). I then added the front half of the engine to the back of it in order to seal the gap for anyone who does try to look inside. At least there’ll be a fan to look at. This was then painted white as well, with the same problems as before since I did both parts at the same time. *

The weapons took a lot of time to put together and fit nicely without any seams and became the main focus of the time spend at my girlfriend. Glued the part together, filled the gaps with green putty and sanded it all smooth once dry. They look a lot better now and almost ready for primer and paint. *

I’ve been adding a lot of parts to the lower half of the fuselage. Items such as the rear ring to which the exhaust will be mounted, the mounting for the tail hook, and a few other bits and pieces. I also screwed in parts of the inlet and engine bay. *

The wings and flaps have been marked with red pen because a few items will have to be removed to convert the C model to an F-16AM (including the radar extension on the leading edge, and the “blobs” on the top of the wings). *

Besides the above I’ve been filling some gaps on the bottom half and fitted the doors in the closed position as well. *

That’s it for now, more to follow soon as I’ll be painting the cockpit and hopefully make it fit nicely in the aircraft. Stay tuned and thank you for following my build! More photos can be found on my website (in bigger size, too).

P.S. Photos mentioned in the above update (marked with a *) can be found in the photo album.

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Update 1: Let's get started | January 01

01 Jan. 2016 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Since my previous F-16 model wasn’t such a success as I hoped, I decided to redo the kit but in a different paint scheme. Because I’ve never done a group build before, I thought it’d be nice to combine the two. I’ll be building the 1/32 Tamiya F-16, highly adjusted to match the Dutch F-16AM (Block 15 MLU update). The model will be depicted as J-366 of the 313 SQN in The Netherlands (based in my hometown) with their 50-year celebration paint scheme. Let’s get started!

First things first, here’s a list of the items I will be using for this build:
- 1/32 Tamiya F-16CJ Block 50 kit
- 1/32 Tamiya F-16 Thunderbirds kit (inlet parts only)
- PWMP Dutch parahousing
- PWMP Dutch MLU upgrade
- PWMP LANTIRN upgrade
- Eduard PE cockpit upgrade set
- Master Model pitot-tube and dischargers
- Zotz decals for “50 years 313 SQN”
- Combination of enamel & acrylic paints, including Vallejo, LifeColor, and others.

It might seem weird but a lot of my parts are already cut from the sprues and no longer in the original box (I’ve got approval from Phil to participate in this group build ;) ). The reason for this is because I’m building this model at my girlfriend’s place, which meant that I had to cut the parts to fit them in a box for easy / cheaper shipping. So sadly there’s no original box anymore and most parts are in a plastic bag to avoid losing them. I’ve taken photos of them as best as I could, including the sprues that still exist.

Photos of sprues and aftermarket parts will follow with my next update as I’m writing this from my place and all the parts are already at my girlfriend’s.

I cut the cockpit parts and left them at my place for assembly and painting (all the painting will be done at my place since that’s where I’ve got my airbrushes and paints). The parts that will make up the cockpit, including the Eduard upgrade set, can be seen in this photo.

The decals by Zotz are also still at my place, so I took a separate photo of them.

It seems my CDO (OCD in alphabetical order) has gotten the better of me and I made a schedule, as I won’t have much time to build this model due to work and building the kit at 2 different locations.

The finished model will be placed on a special stand, designed by my dad for the original F-16 build I did. Therefore I’ll be building the new model displayed in flight as well, with a full weapon load including Sidewinders, GBU’s and AMRAAMS. The photos below are from him making the stand.

That’s it for now; I’ll try to do an update every 2 weeks (unless a lot has happened and requires an extra update).

Thanks for following!

P.S. Photos mentioned in the above update (marked with a *) can be found in the photo album.

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Ashes to Ashes

30 Nov. 2015 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

Sadly the Orange Lion will never roar. Due to the massive problems I've had with trying first paint the lion and then add it as a decal, I've decided to cancel this project. Despite being almost finished, I'm very unhappy with the result and do not feel it is good enough to be displayed alongside my other models.

I've added photos of the build so you can see for yourself. I haven't added any photos of the bottom, as it's even worse that the top halve.

Since my dad already made an amazing stand for this kit, I will be starting a new one, yet in a different paint scheme. As you can see from the image on the left, it will be J-366, painted in the 50 year celebration scheme of the 313 SQN, which was based in my hometown.

Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes. And so will the F-16.

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The little lion cub

10 Oct. 2015 | Sumburgh, UK | By Niek Nijsen

It seems like I’m building a lot of models at the same time, with work being done on the King Tiger, the BK-117 currently on hold and now another project. But I’m waiting on parts for the Tiger and still not feeling like working on the BK, so what to do in the mean time? Well, you start a new project indeed. I choose to begin on the F-16 because I’ve heard and read a lot about the ease of this kit fitting together and how quickly it can be build. So I wanted to give it a try and to be honest with you, most of it was together after a few hours work on a single night…! I’ll be displaying this model in flight, so a few changes will have to be made to the kit and sadly a lot of the detailed features won’t be visible.

This kit is by far the best fitting one I’ve build to date. I’ve heard a lot about the Tamiya kits and how well they go together, but I’m really surprised by it. A little flash that needed removing and some sanding here and there, but other than that it was a straight forward “cut, fit, glue, and job done” process. This being my first Tamiya kit, I’ve never seen anything being put together with screws. They’re all over this model, but extremely well placed and add a lot of strength to the plane. And it keeps parts together while the glue is drying to fill the minimal gaps. Very interesting to put together, especially when I realised that most parts can be removed after construction because of a smart system of pins and rubber tubes inside the model. Now I must say that not adding any scratch-build items to this kit does make things easier, but I’ll make up for that later on when getting to the actual paint job and decaling of the model. After all, it’s going to be the Orange Lion of which are limited decals available, but certainly not in this scale.

The only item that I replaced with some aftermarket stuff is the exhaust. Although the original from the kit is actually quite good looking, it came to my attention that anyone building this kit used the new resin exhaust. I may be doing something wrong, but it doesn’t seem to fit inside the original kit engine at all, which is removable from the plane once build. So for it to fit in my model, I had to cut the front bit of and glue it inside before adding the exhaust from the back, basically removing the middle section of the engine completely. Good thing it’ll be displayed in a flying position.

Although there’s a resin kit available for the cockpit as well, the cockpit that comes with the kit is very detailed and a great representation of the real thing. It even comes with an ejectable seat! It goes together very easy and it didn’t take long before it was ready for paint. Having recently bought the new Vallejo acrylic paint collection, I felt I should give this a try. It’s the first time I'm using acrylics and I must say I struggled a lot with the initial setup of the airbrush and thinning the paint. Luckily I managed to get it sorted and sprayed the cockpit using my new airbrush. The rest of the model will be painted in enamels since it’ll be gloss work (also a first for me), which gets better results than with acrylics. And I’m a lot more comfortable using enamels to be honest.

The only parts that needed some significant work to fit properly were the gear housing and covers. As the kit is designed to be standing on it’s wheels with all the covers opened up, it turned out not to fit very well when closed. So I started by removing the gear itself and a lot of the interior parts that are located in the wheel bays. I then added a few plastic strips on the inside for strength and glued the covers in place. Next I sanded the covers down to match the surrounding parts before filling the gaps and sanding it all over again. So far making the gear covers fit properly took the same amount of time as putting the rest of the kit together. I’ve also reshaped the side winders (rockets) to match the smoke winders on the real aircraft.

The kit also comes with a pilot figure. You’ll need to add the head and arms to correctly position it inside the cockpit and line up his hands with the controls, but other than that a very simple job. Because my throttle lever has been positioned fairly far forward, I had to cut the left arm and adjust it slightly to get the correct angle. Once aligned and glued together, I painted the figure using enamels and a clay wash to add some depth and colour change to it. The helmet was painted in gloss orange, the same that will be used on the outside.

As mentioned before, the paint scheme and decals will be the most challenging part of this build. It’s the first time I’m using gloss paints and it’s also the fist time I’ll be making my own decals. I’ve purchased a 1/72 kit of the Orange Lion and also some decals in 1/48th scale as a template. I’ve scanned these and am currently working on them in Photoshop to match my scale. Once finished, I’ll print them on label paper to use as masking tape. The decals will also be enlarged to scale (if possible) or completely redone by myself before being printed on decal sheets.

That’s it for my progress on the F-16. A lot has been done and great progress has been made. But the most challenging bit is still to come, where I’ll be making my own decals and painting my first ever gloss model. Wait and see what happens! As always, photos to be found in the gallery link at the top of the page. Until next time!