I don't think the web needs another introduction or historical review for the F-16, however, the Turkish Air Force's F-16s need a quick mention here.
Probably not as popular in the modeling world as the other well-known users of the ubiquitous Viper,
The Turkish Air Force has been one of the major users and one of only 5 countries to produce the F-16, starting with the Peace Onyx 1 program in 1987 and continuing today in 2011 with the Peace Onyx IV. You can read more about the history of the F-16 in the Turkish Air Force at F-16.net
Despite its long history and large inventory, Turkish F-16s have been almost completely neglected by most kit and decal manufacturers until Caracal Models have announced the release of 2 new decal sets that will cover all Turkish Air Force F-16 squadrons and markings since the mid-90s.
The first thing I need to mention is that this decal set is quite an ambitious project for a single decal sheet. The first release alone covers 22 different subjects from 7 different squadrons, currently deployed in 3 different bases:
· 141st ("Wolves") based at Akinci (4th Main Jet Base - similar to a USAF wing)
· 142nd ("Gazelles") based at Akinci (4th Main Jet Base)
· 143rd again based at Akinci (4th Main Jet Base)
· 151st ("Bronze") based at Merzifon (5th Main Jet Base)
· 152nd ("Raider") based at Merzifon (5th Main Jet Base)
· 161st ("Bat") based at Bandirma (6th Main Jet Base)
· 162nd ("Harpoon") based at Bandirma (6th Main Jet Base)
Note: The recently announced second part of the Turkish Air Force F-16C/D markings will cover the remaining active F-16 squadrons (132nd, 181st, 182nd, 191st and 192nd).
The following aircraft are presented in this release:
· F-16C Block 40, 91-0009, 141st Squadron
· F-16D Block 40, 88-0014, 141st Squadron
· F-16C Block 40, 88-0031, 142nd Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· F-16D Block 40, 89-0042, 142nd Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· F-16C Block 50, 94-0088, 142nd Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· F-16D Block 50 , 07-1015, 142nd Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· F-16C Block 30, 87-0009, 143rd Squadron
· F-16D Block 30, 87-0002, 143rd Squadron
· F-16C Block 50, 93-0658, 151st Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 10.F-16D Block 50, 93-0693, 151st Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 11.F-16C Block 50, 93-0663, 151st Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· 12.F-16D Block 50, 93-0692, 151st Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· 13.F-16C Block 50, 93-0671, 152nd Squadron
· 14.F-16D Block 50, 94-1559, 152nd Squadron
· 15.F-16C Block 40, 90-0014, 161st Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 16.F-16D Block 40, 90-0023, 161st Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 17.F-16C Block 40, 90-0016, 161st Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· 18.F-16D Block 40, 90-0022, 161st Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· 19.F-16C Block 40, 90-0007, 162nd Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 20.F-16D Block 40, 89-0044, 162nd Squadron (old squadron insignia)
· 21.F-16C Block 40, 90-0006, 162nd Squadron (new squadron insignia)
· 22.F-16D Block 40, 89-0043, 162nd Squadron (new squadron insignia)
As for the authenticity of these markings and colors; although I am not a subject expert and my archive on Turkish F-16s would be considered thin, I would call everyone referenced in the resources section along with the designer himself, as subject experts on Turkish F-16s with an infinitely larger collection of photos and documents. So I would be really surprised if any problems are discovered with these markings in the future.
The decal set contains the following shipped together in a single Ziploc bag:
· The main decal sheet: This sheet has the individual squadron insignia (one copy for each squadron listed above), Turkish Air Force roundels and flags for 2 aircraft, tail codes for all 22 subjects and squadron tail markings.
· Stencil sheet: There are 2 of these stencil sheets in the bag and this covers the different styles and colors for stencils used by the Turkish Air Force F-16s since the 90s and maybe earlier. These 2 sheets will definitely be enough for 2 aircraft and it seems like you will be left with a lot of extras.
· Instructions: There is a small booklet that covers all the options with colors side-views and notes on decal placement and modelers' notes. The instructions are both in English and Turkish.
· Painting Instructions: This is a larger fold-out sheet that shows the painting schemes along with stencil color and placement information.
· Modelers’ Notes: This is another instruction sheet in English that gives more information about the Turkish Air Force F-16s with recommendations for kits and modifications. There will apparently be another more detailed version in Turkish you can download online from the company site.
All the decals are printed by Cartograf in Italy and color saturation, sharpness and register are as good as you'd expect from Cartograf. Even the scans I made of the decals at 600 dpi showed excellent saturation and separation. I have not used the decals yet but Cartograf is a known quantity in the market so I don’t expect any issues there.
At this point, I need to mention my only issue with the set; as I mentioned, this set already covers 22 individual aircraft and 7 different squadrons and with a little bit of creativity and the correct resources can be used to build any other aircraft in these squadrons. However, as there are currently no other aftermarket resources for either the Turkish Air Force stencils or national insignia (finding accurate Turkish flags for the tails are next to impossible), you are a little bit stuck if you want to build more than 2 of the Turkish F-16s using this set alone. It would really be useful if either more of the stencils and the national insignia were available with the main set or those could be sold as separate sets. It would just be a crime to have to buy the whole set just for the stencils.
This is a really well-researched, designed and executed decal set that covers one of the most neglected users of the F-16 C and D models for the modeling community and I will highly recommend it as a great alternative to the usual F-16 decal subjects.
Note from the reviewer: Although I have tried to write this review as objectively as possible for the general modeler, I can't express how excited I am, as a Turkish modeler, that we finally have a decal sheet that covers the Turkish F-16s. This was a decal set a lot of people in the Turkish modeling community have been waiting for a very long time and I can safely say it really did meet all those years’ worth of high expectations.
The decal set was courtesy of my wallet and all the images have been taken by me.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE