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Academy 1/32 scale F-16CG/CJ

Kit: No. 12101
Scale: 1/32
Manufacturer: Academy, from Model Rectifier Corp., 732-225-2100,
Price: $109
Comments: Injection-molded, 441 parts, decals
Pros: Well-molded, choice of intakes and engine exhausts, good ordnance, clear and tinted canopies, comprehensive decal sheet
Cons: Some minor fit problems, both intakes too deep, shape of instrument panel coaming inaccurate, pebbly surface, raised detail on fuel tanks oversized, no provision for holding canopy open
Following closely on the heels of Tamiya's $167 1/32 scale Viper, Academy's kit is aimed at modelers on a budget. This kit is an interesting alternative. Academy provides the choice of Pratt & Whitney F101 or General Electric F110 engine exhaust nozzles as well as the accompanying standard and "wide-mouth" intakes. Unlike Tamiya, Academy has not included the rest of the engine. If you are not interested in loads of internal detail, this won't be a concern.

The overall external detail is fine, but not quite as sharp as Tamiya's. Some of the dark gray plastic parts have a slightly pebbly surface. The comprehensive choice of weapons includes: JDAM and GBU-12 Paveway II bombs, along with AGM-88 HARM, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and AIM-9L and AIM-9X Sidewinders. To guide your model to the target, an AN/AAQ-13 navigation pod and an AN/ AAQ-14 targeting pod are also included alongside a big ALQ-184 ECM pod and AN/ASQ-213 HARM guidance pod. A sitting pilot, standing pilot, and groundcrew figures are provided, too.

Markings for five different squadrons and stencils for the aircraft and weapons are beautifully printed on the decal sheets. The instructions comprise 26 pages of clearly illustrated assembly, painting, and decaling diagrams.

The completed cockpit looks realistic, except for the thin, flat, molded-in harness on the seat. Installing the cockpit and the complete intake trunk into the fuselage went smoothly. The landing gear is well-detailed and went in without a problem. The gear bays and the M61 cannon and bay have nice detail, too. No vinyl tires are in this kit; the standard plastic wheels and tires look good, but you may want to file flat spots on them to make them sit properly.

Installing the radar mount was tricky. The gimbles do not have enough clearance between them (part Nos. E33 and E34) to insert the antenna mount (E24) without sanding down the bushings. You can choose from two head-up displays (HUDs) units. The instrument panel coaming is oddly shaped.

F-16 canopies are either clear or tinted, and Academy gives you both - a nice touch. The canopy fits fine in the closed position, but it has no provision to be posed opened.

There's a bit too much slop in the fit of the pylons to the wings. You'll have to shave the rear edge of the cannon cover (D68) if you want to close it.
The external ordnance is well-molded and the parts fit together fine. I didn't like the prominent raised detail on the drop tanks, though.

I painted the model with Testor Model Master enamels, then overcoated with Future floor polish in preparation for decaling. The decals were super.

The finished model scales well to published dimensions. I used Squadron/ Signal's Walk Around F-16 by Lou Drendel for my main reference.

I like Academy's F-16 enough to consider filling out my 1/32 scale collection with more, right alongside the Tamiya version. While it doesn't have the fit and finish of Tamiya's kit, this one has the advantages of intake/exhaust options and a lower price tag.

- Larry Schramm


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