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Kinetic 1/48 scale F-16DG/DJ Block 40/50 Viper

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Kinetic 1/48 scale F-16DG/DJ Block 40/50 Viper
Kit: No. 05
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Kinetic Model Kits,, available from Stevens International, 856-435-1555
Price: $39.99
Comments: Injection-molded, 484 parts, decals Pros: Engraved detail; plenteous ordnance; separately molded leading-edge flaps, posable speed brakes
Cons: Fit issues, mislabeled parts, rough plastic, misshapen nose, broken parts in the box, lots of ejector-pin marks
Issue published: July 2009

Tightly packed with Kinetic's F-16DG/DJ Block 40/50 Viper is a slew of explosive goodies: GBU-38s, CBU-87s, and AGM-88 HARMs are just a few items in what seems like an endless store of weaponry.

Molded in tan styrene plastic, the kit's recessed detail looks soft but consistent throughout. Thick ejector-pin marks riddle the molds; removing these will add hours to your build time. Static wicks are molded into the wing and tail surfaces. They are a bit out of scale, and many in my box were broken. I repaired these with stretched sprue at the end.

Directions include a smart parts breakdown that makes it easy to find parts. Also included is a great guide to help you paint and decal all of those lovely bombs and missiles. The last page includes an external weapons-store breakdown to guide placement of the ordnance and pods.

I was glad Kinetic molded the leading-edge wing slats separate from the wings; you can pose the flaps in their correct 2-degree upward position, as is the case with real Vipers when parked. (Both Tamiya and Hasegawa molded those flaps into the wings, which leaves no option of posing them without kit modification.) I did notice that the slope of the nose radome was a bit exaggerated, but most people won't see it.

However, building this Viper will test most people's patience. The shapes of the upper fuselage halves do not match; filler will be needed to fix this. Make sure to sand it flush, but be careful of rivet detail. I also ran into fit issues with the air intake. Parts H1 and H2 would not join, leaving a 1/8" gap that I filled with styrene shims and sanded flush.

The speed brakes can be posed either open or closed. Also, the flaps and horizontal stabilizers can be posed raised or lowered. There are a few mislabeled parts in the instructions: Parts H5 should be parts I5, and parts H16 and H18 should be parts I16 and I18, respectively.

I painted my model with decanted Tamiya lacquer spray paints (AS-10, AS-26, AS-27, and AS-28). The decals are crisply printed; they settled in with a coat of Solvaset and heat from a hair dryer. There was very little silvering, and the decals settled into the rivet detail easily enough.

I preshaded the panel lines before I painted the model, then used a mix of washes and pastels to dirty up the plane a bit.

At this point you will need to decide what ordnance you want to give your Viper a lethal bite. I planned to add the GBU-38s, but I was disappointed to see that the correct bomb rack (BRU-57) was not included in the kit. I used two CBU-87s and a GBU-31 for the bomb load, and four AIM-120s for air-to-air threats. I also added two 370-gallon drop tanks on the wings. I wanted to make my Viper look as modern as possible, so I added the Sniper XR pod to the starboard side of the air intake. To have an accurate bomb load, check references for correct pod-bomb combinations and placement.

My F-16 took about 60 hours, much longer than I had anticipated. Because of the fit issues, mislabeled parts, and ejector-pin marks, this kit will challenge even the most experienced modelers.

However difficult, completing this Viper will make a good companion for the Tamiya and Hasegawa F-16s on your display shelf.

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