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KIT REVIEW


Revell F-16 MLU "100th Anniversary 1st Squadron Florennes" -- 1:72 Scale



The Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon is one of the living legends of modern airpower. Originally conceived as a pure lightweight fighter, the F-16 has evolved into one of the most potent fourth generation multirole aircraft.  They are also the most numerous Western fighter, many of which are flown by the air forces of U.S. allies.  Here, we take a look at Revell’s 1:72 scale F-16A MLU kit that comes with decals for a poignant Belgian Air Force anniversary scheme was unveiled in 2017.  

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Drawing upon the lessons of the Vietnam War, Lightweight Fighter Program of the early 1970s sought to develop a highly maneuverable day fighter for the USAF that would outperform Soviet aircraft such as the MiG-19 and MiG-21.  This effort led to the F-16 (and by a rather indirect route, the F/A-18 for the Navy).  Almost immediately after it went into production, the multirole potential of the F-16 started to be developed and it became a famous not just for its dogfighting capacity but as air-to-ground platform as well, gaining the ability to take on nearly any kind of surface target, from bridges to SAM sites, in any weather and at any time.  In combat, the F-16 has shown outstanding versatility, first in various Middle Eastern conflicts in the Israeli AF and later with the USAF and allied nations in Operations DESERT STORM, ALLIED FORCE, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and beyond.  Some 4,600 F-16s have been produced, and with the production line now shifted from Texas to South Carolina (in the effort to make room for expanded F-35 assembly), the F-16 had been in production for nearly 40 years. 

Belgium has long been a prominent European operator of the F-16.  Their relationship with the Fighting Falcon began in 1973 with the search began to find a replacement for the venerable Lockheed F-104G Starfighter.  The initial contract for 116 aircraft was signed in May 1977.  The Belgian and Danish F-16As and Bs were produced together and under license at the SABCA factory in Gosselies, Belgium.  A second order for the acquisition of another 44 F-16As and Bs occurred between 1987 and 1991.  The Belgian F-16 fleet has been continuously updated and modernized.  The MLU (Mid-Life Upgrade) program brought the these F-16A/Bs up to the latest Block 50 avionics standards and an extended airframe life.  Some 90 Belgian AF F-16s were upgraded from Block 15 to MLU standards.  A total fleet of about 54 still remain in service and will be retired as the F-35 begins to fill the squadrons of the Belgian Air Force in over the coming years.

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Revell’s 1:72 scale F-16 MLU kit comes on four injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 105 parts (77 for the airplane; the remainder for underwing stores).  Eight clear parts are present on one clear sprue.  The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over 51 steps. Markings are provided for one aircraft:

Strengths:  This kit is based on Revell of Germany’s 2000 tooling which has seen multiple boxings since.  It is a well-fitting, simple, and affordable F-16 kit.  The kit is accurate in shapes and sizes and the panel lines look quite nice as well.  The cockpit is okay for an injection molded kit in this scale (but see below) and the ACES II seat is not half bad, even with the molded-on seatbelts.  The gear wells are basic, but still generally accurate for what’s there (structural members and gear door actuators).  The landing gear are nicely done, and the interior of the gear well doors are nicely represented (but their raised relief detail maybe ever so slightly out of scale and a little too raised for 1:72 scale).  The exterior turkey feathers of the afterburner nozzle are also nicely done.  The external stores include two underwing drop tanks, one centerline drop tank, two AIM-9Ls, and two AIM-120s.       

Belgian and MLU details also appear to be accurately represented.  These include the “bird slicer” antennas on the nose, non-bulged main gear doors, and the CARAPACE passive RWR gear under the intake and fitted to the interior of the extended parabrake tail housing.

And these markings… the 100th Anniversary of the BAF’s 1st Squadron – the Stingers.  There have been a lot of great special schemes seen on Belgian F-16s over the years, but this one is quite striking.  The topside ribbon motif is almost three-dimensional.  The tail art depicts the squadron symbol: the Scottish Thistle, which was given to the squadron during World War I.  The squadron motto was painted on the black drop tanks: Nemo me impune lacessit (No one can attack me unpunished) and also came from the Scots in 1917.  The thistle artwork on the vertical stabilizer is exquisitely designed by Syhart Decals.  Cartograf did the printing and it is eye-watering.  Really beautiful work!  Further, I can see no technical errors in printing.   

Weaknesses:  As with a number of 1:72 scale Revell kits, the panel lines are very nicely recessed but there’s no rivet or fastener detail, of which there’s a ton of on the F-16, from the wings, fuel cell access panels, and so forth.  The instrument panel is afflicted with soft and indistinct detail, and to really make the MLU cockpit look good, you’ll need to use the kit-supplied instrument panel decals.  The aircraft’s battery in the main gear well appears to be misshapen (it’s too narrow, tall, and long).  There are no separate control surfaces or speed brakes.  There’s also flash in random places that will require just a little cleanup and look out for ejection pin markings in unpleasant places (e.g., gear well door interiors).

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While the Tamiya and Academy kits of the F-16 are the top-rated Fighting Falcon 1:72 scale kits, this older Revell tooling still holds it own as a good kit that nails all the fundamentals.  It does a great job of commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Belgian Air Force’s 1st squadron and the venerable service of the F-16 in Western Europe.

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at https://www.revell.de/en/home/.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


   

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

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