by: Russ Amott [ ]
IntroductionThe F-16I Sufa (storm) is a variant of the F-16 manufactured specifically for Israel and is based on the Block 50-52 series of the F-16, powered by the Pratt and Whitney F100-PW-229, providing a thrust to weight ration of 8:1. The combat radius is classified, but believed to be 2100 km. This flight radius is made possible with the addition of conformal fuel tanks (CFT) placed on the upper fuselage sides above the wings, and increasing the fuel capacity by 50%. With a 52,000 pound takeoff weight, it is the heaviest variant in service.
The aircraft features all of the most current electronics and computerized systems, many unique to Israel. The initial order of aircraft totaled 102 F-16I. The aircraft is capable of deploying current US, NATO and IDF weapons including AIM-120, Python, Rafael AGM Spice and Popeye, IMI Deliliah and various other guided and "dumb" bombs, and is equipped with the LANTRIN and Litening navigation and targeting systems. The performance of the aircraft was summed up by one pilot who stated that flying the new F-16I Sufa was comparable to stepping up to a luxury car after driving an economy model, and adding that extreme low level flight was virtually effortless. The Sufa is a critical component of the Israeli Air Force, and is currently assigned to four squadrons.
The KitKinetic have released a 1/72 scale version of the F-16I, which is the subject of this review. The kit arrived in a large, end opening box. I was surprised as a box this size is normally top opening. The contents were packaged in a single bag, which resulted in several parts being knocked off the sprue, but damage was minimal. In addition to the parts listed in the instruction booklet, there were three weapons sprues not mentioned.
Sprue A, dorsal spine, various body panels.
Sprue B,X2, 600 gal fuel tanks, horizontal tail and launching rails.
Sprue C, upper and lower fuselage halves, conformal fuel tanks, cockpit and wheel wells.
Sprue D, landing gear, intake and afterburner, cockpit details.
Sprue E, clear parts.
The three additional sprues are marked B, C, D and E, and consist of the Rafael AGM Spice (2), Rafael AGM 142 Popeye (2), Python 4, IMI Delilah, AAQ13, and AN AXQ14.
Molding of the parts was soft, with large sprue attachment points, some flash visible, heavy mold seams and injection towers present on the inside of the fuselage. Panel lines are engraved but wide. The clear parts are thick but crystal clear. I was reminded of kits I built many years ago when I first started modeling.
The decals, from Cartograff, were clear, perfectly in register, and include markings for all ordinance. There are two separate instruction sheets showing placement of the decals on the aircraft for both general stencils and unit specific markings for four aircraft, numbers 425 and 451 of the Bat squadron, and 408 and 422 from the Eagle squadron. There is also an additional page showing placement of decals on the ordinance. I had read previously in another post that the decal callout for this kit actually showed the 1/48 kit and that the decals were not numbered accordingly. As near as I could tell from examination of the decal sheet and instruction sheet, everything lined up, so this was not a problem.
Decals, InstructionsThe decal guide also serves as a painting guide, with the aircraft shown in the tri-color camo scheme of brown, sand and green.
The instructions are in a small booklet, with all assembly shown in 15 steps. Line drawings are used, which, while very detailed, can be a little confusing. I noted while looking through that some parts were not indicated. Paint is called out in some steps by number, with a guide on the front of the booklet showing colors for GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby color and GSI Mr. Color brands, as well as the FS numbers for the colors. I note that the painting guide is somewhat sporadic, in that many interior assembly details have no paint color called out for them, so references will be needed.
On to the build I will state here that I have seen many kits that were prettier in the box and built poorly. The build of this kit was generally pleasant. The plastic was soft and brittle, but did separate easily from the sprue. I had heard that there were problems with Kinetic kits not taking glue or paint well, and tested this kit by not cleaning the sprues before assembly. In general, the plastic took the Tamiya extra thin cement with no trouble, although I did note that it "absorbed" the cement quickly.
Steps 1-3 deal with basic assembly of the cockpit. Color called out is flat back and gray. There is some detail present which I highlighted with various colored pencils, and clear green was used on computer screens, but much of it didn't show well. There are aftermarket kits that can be purchased to spruce this up if you want. Then the cockpit is placed in the upper fuselage half. I lined up the alignment tabs in the center to set the cockpit properly. The rear wheel well is assembled and placed in the lower half and the two halves are joined. For the most part the fuselage halves lined up neatly, but under the wings were was a gap that will require attention.
Step four assembles the intake and step five adds this to the lower fuselage, with the front landing gear. When adding this part, I had to modify parts A3 and A16 to fit snugly against the wheel well by completing the recessed edge on the inner surface. The parts are small and it took some dry fitting to figure out exactly where the instructions wanted things placed.
Step 6 is in four parts, assembling the rear landing gear. Again, placement of parts like B-14 took some time resolving as the drawings were not very clear. The main part, C5, broke when removed from the sprue but was repaired when added to the body. It should be placed before C17 as it fits against the rear of the wheel well. Parts D26 and D27 (right and left struts for the landing bay doors) are shown but not indicated by part number.
In step 7, the landing bay doors, parts C6 and C12, are also shown installed but not called out in the instructions.
A note on the landing gear. Being block 50/52, and in particular, being the heaviest F-16 produced, this kit should have the heavy landing gear, with bulged doors and fuselage to handle the increased size of the equipment. It is absent. The landing gear is the light gear used in the previous aircraft types.
The rest of step 7 handles attachment of various underside sensors, exhaust/afterburner and horizontal tail surfaces.
Step 8 is assembly of the dorsal spine, rudder and a sensor module on the spine, which fit with large gaps that again will require some filling with card stock. There are also the sensor bulges on the nose section and the pitot tube, which I placed and then promptly knocked off and lost.
Step 9 adds the ejection seats, which are very basic and soft on detail, monitor for the weapons handler and sight for the pilot. The cockpit canopy is placed, with options for raised or lowered. If lowered, there is a sizable gap in the center as the part is curved on the bottom. I looked at sanding it down, but was afraid of loosing detail. The inner frame and the strut to raise the canopy are shown in the raised option instruction, but not indicated in the lowered version, although they are in place in the drawing. I gave it my best guess. Step 9 concludes with the addition of the conformal fuel tanks. I placed the left hand side first as there was a small cut out that fit over the gun opening, and then lined up the right hand side tank with that.
Steps 10-14 cover construction of the LANTRIN and Litening pods and placement of the launching rails on the lower wing surfaces.
This completed the build of the aircraft. I was afraid it would be a tail sitter and there was nothing mentioned about placing weight in the nose, but with the addition of the fuel tanks and canopy, it sits firmly on the ground.
I assembled the LANTRIN and Lightening pods and placed then along the intake where indicated, and assembled the 600 gal fuel tanks and other ordinance to show how it looks, but have not placed it until after painting, which will be done after filling the gaps in the kit.
SummaryAs mentioned above, the kit detail is on the soft side, and it has the wrong landing gear, but does include ordinance. The cockpit is very basic but if needed, aftermarket options are available. The decals are excellent. If built with care, this will turn into a very nice looking model. I rate the kit at 78%, for both the landing gear issue and the soft detail, but again, the kit is quite buildable and will turn out nicely with care, and the ordinance is a bonus.
I searched around on the internet to price match, and found that it can be had, shipping included, for as low as $30.00, possibly less.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
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