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Kinetic's and Tamiya's 1/48 scale
F-16I Sufa and F-16C

by Douglas Esson

Lockheed Martin Israeli F-16I Sufa

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D e s c r i p t i o n


Lucky Model is now offering colour photo-etched frets from Eduard for Kinetic's 1/48 scale two-seater F-16 kits on their website. The colour photo-etch may be purchased for only 99c in conjunction with one of the Kinetic kits.


Here are my newest additions.

There seems to have been plenty of discussion/review lately for anyone interested in F-16s.

I’d never built a jet before (at least not one that wasn’t designed by Dr.Ing Willy Messerchmitt so it was with some curiosity that I picked up the new Tamiya F16 box at my local hobby store. The box art looked good, the reviews had been stellar and I’m a hopeless Tamiya-sycophant so I decided to give it a go. My first impression upon opening the box was of moderate disappointment – the parts looked thinnly-detailed, pale and incipient – not the dark grey FW-190 fuselage-halves I usually like to see but I couldn’t have been more wrong…

The major components went together faultlessly and the cockpit & wheel well detail was good enough for me not bother much with aftermarket parts (with the exception of a resin seat and the “Aires” radar – not sure why Tamiya hasn’t started adding a few resin pieces to their otherwise stellar kits?).

The upper fuselage halves were joined using the least amount of cyanoacrylate possible so as to avoid spills or runs and Tamiya extra-thin cemet was run into joins between the ramining parts.

The entire kit needed almost no sanding or filling – testament to it’s design and manufacture. I really believe that unless you’re a master-modeler (which most of us aren't), the quality of your finished product is ultimately dependent on what you get in the box and in my opinion Tamiya (& Eduard) are streets ahead of the rest.
The newer Tamiya kits (including their F16) feature simply stunning surface detail but it’s so fine that this presents a potential problem in that aggressive or heavy-handed sanding (I certainly couldn't re-scrib that level of intricate panel-detailing) or airbrushing will wreck the finish ( … ask me about my Zero…). Just a light-touch is all that’s needed - barely enough paint to cover things. I generally pre-shade with black and run a dilute mix of thinners and charcoal enamel along the panel lines after painting & decaling is complete.

I airbrushed the major components separately before super-gluing them together and gloss-coating the entire model in preparation for decals. I usually apply 2-3 fine gloss coats with 24hrs between them to achieve a super-smooth finish and avoid decal “silvering”.

For me, the most ideal way of wiping off excess color/thinners is using the dry, flat & absorbent edge of a “Weck-cell Surgical Spear” (? anyone else out there an ophthalmic surgeon).

I mixed & matched my own scheme and decal finish. Rivet-counters need not apply – I just can’t get bent out of shape over tiny, specific details, particularly if they interfere with the overall finish & color I’m trying to achieve.

I used some powdered charcoal pastels to work up staining around the gun-port, jet exhaust etc and misted several dark coats across the wheels and struts to avoid the glaring white look (correct as it is) which I think wrecks kits any smaller than 1/35.

A final flat-coat and just before completion I found a set of Eduard “remove before flight” tags in 1/48 so added a few for effect – well worth it in my opinion.



… that takes me from Viper to Sufa …

I was so pleased with the Tamiya F16-experience that I decided to add a D-variant and went out looking for the new Kinetic kit to see how it compared. At the same time, I picked up a Black-Box resin cockpit and a couple of “Isracal” sets. Another jet? Before you know it I’ll be building tanks in 1/48 scale!

The Kinetic kit was very different – the plastic seemed softer and more easily damaged during construction and the ejector plugs were somewhat unusual. Never the less the parts built up very nicely. It’s very tricky indeed to avoid breaking the fine trailing edge-wicks on the wings during handling and the resin cockpit only just fitted in after dremelling the opposing sides to almost transparent thickness – beware!

The saddle-tanks and dorsal spine (the things which really appealed to me about this aircraft) were well-molded but I chose to remove 3 of the 4 locator-pins from each one and open only a single hole in the upper fuselage on each side – just sufficient to anchor things gently in place using a touch of cyanoacrylate. Once in place I bored several large holes through the fuselage from the inside and filled the resultant seems from the inside out. This helped me avoid excess glue-use, filer-usage and panel-loss in order to get a flush finish.

Kinetic provides a huge range of options in this kit, including all sorts of ordinance, a small etched fret and a metal pitot-tube - overall an excellent package.

I free-handed the IAF color-scheme using various mixtures of the 3 basic colors (faded per several of the pictures I found) and I again chose random decals (as opposed to depicting a specific aircraft). The scorpion-emblem cried out to be added to the tail!

Similar weathering and I had a decent pair of F16s.

Doubtless some will be annoyed by my random approach to coloring and decaling but I’m pleased with the results. I think the Tamiya kit is superior in terms of detail and quality but the Kinetic F16 is also very well designed and comes with a huge array of potential build-options, including those well-fitting saddle-tanks.

I had finally cleared the F16-debris off my desk this weekend when my hobby store decided to put a 1/48 Dragon “mistel” and the new (complimentary) Eduard FW-190 within reach on the same shelf. Now why would they go and do a thing like that J.


  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
  • F-16s by Dougas Esson: Image
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Model, Images and Text Copyright 2009 by Douglas Esson
Page Created 10 September, 2009
Last Updated 10 September, 2009

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