This has been a long time coming and that fault lies with me. First, like a lot of modelers, I couldn't leave well enough alone and decided to add Aires 1/32nd scale wheel well to the kit and also the Wolfpack 1/32nd scale F-16I Exterior Set (Part 32031) which includes two corrected pylons and the front fairings. I elected to use the wheel well set as the kit part has lots of ejector pin marks and the Aires set has even more detail. I placed the part in and had to do a little spacing with strip but it fit well and looks great. The exterior set is much less necessary but does have some slight shape corrections to the pylons. I also elected to add intake and exhaust covers to the kit. There is nothing wrong with the intake trunk (it is fully complete) or the exhaust- I just liked the way it looked.
The build after that is pretty straight forward. Make sure to open the holes in the nose and also the wings for the weapons pylons. As an aside, this kit gives you LOTS of things for under the fuselage and wings. More on that later. Wing attachment is straight forward- the static wicks are separate and I left those off until the end of the build. The signature "hump" on the back of the plane is multiple parts but fits very well. There are lots of extra intakes and bumps to be added. I mark these off in black marker and if there is something I leave off intentionally, I circle it in red and cross off the part as added. This really helps with kits with lots of parts.
Flaps are separate as are the speed brakes. I closed the speed brakes and dropped the flaps as most pictures on-line look this way. I added the radar tot he nose for the reader to see but removed it and closed it up as I like the lines of the plane when the nose is closed.
I added the nose- a nice touch here are the turned metal pitot tube and AOA sensors. This is the first F-16 kit I have built in any scale where I didn't break the pitot tube- a great add from Academy. One other point to make during construction is that there are photoetch parts included in the kit. Not a lot - antennae additions, flare dispensers and a plate for the bottom of the fuselage. In hind sight, I might have made the plate from styrene- would be easier to glue in place (especially if you are as ham fisted with CA as I am!!). Landing Gear was also added at this time and the great Wheeliant 1/32 set too. A great addition.
The tail was added and just a small amount of putty and we were ready for paint. I chose the F-16I, 422, 253 Squadron 'Negev' scheme. The paints called for on the instructions look great but in my mind, the green was way too green based on pictures and several modelers recommended Sky Type S - it looks the part well - Xtracolor Enamels were used during painting. Once dry, the Xtracolor paints are glossy enough that I could add decals with no clear coat. And there are a LOT of decals to add. Stencils- about 130-140 alone and then you add the markings for the kit which are another 10-15. The decals worked perfectly and I had no issue with any. I clear coated and applied a dark wash to the kit and once that was wiped off, I flat coated the kit and turned my attention to the "things under wings".
There are lots of options here- I chose to go with the Litening II Target Pod, AN/AAQ-13 Lantirn Pod, two AGM-1130's, two AIM-120B's, two Python-4's and fuel tanks. All of these were built an painted along with their respective pylons and added tot he bottom of the kit. By the way, each one of these is fully decaled- lots of decals.
Time to pull it all together. The canopy and glass parts were prepped and added. You have a choice of a clear canopy or smoked for all parts here. HUD was added as was all the navigation lights. They are all really well done.
The parts were all added and a little touch-up done and we are finished. This kit is a winner! Fit is excellent, detail is also excellent, selection of stores is superb and it is beautiful once done. Go buy one or two. It is highly recommended to any one interested in planes. Many, many thanks to Bob Lewen and Akiko Kimura of MRC-Academy for the review sample. I can't wait to see the F-16F that they have coming out later in the year!!