Well just look at it! Who wouldn’t want a F-16B in this scheme? It’s a thing of beauty!
Hello and welcome back! So this is why I’m building this 1/48 Kinetic F-16B in United States Navy Fighter Weapons School markings! Otherwise known as TOPGUN, the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School train the US Navy’s frontline pilots by engaging them in a tough syllabus of air to air combat using fighter aircraft that are flown by instructors who mimic the fighter tactics of potential enemies. The F-16B is one such aircraft that the US Navy had on their inventory for some years and it was adorned with some superb paint schemes.
Ever since the TOPGUN maintenance crews began painting their adversary aircraft in these exotic camouflage schemes I have been in love with them!
Which brings us to TOPGUN 04. This F-16B was painted in TOPGUN 40th Anniversary markings and the two tone blue and grey splinter camouflage pattern really makes this aircraft stand out. I have wants to build this aircraft for a long time ad finally I got my chance!
The Kit: I’ll address the elephant in the room now. The original tooling of the 1/48 Kinetic F-16B is not a great kit. To be honest, it’s like an old Affix kit. Yeah…….it’s really that bad!
I won’t dwell on this any further than to say as we progress through this build, you will come to see my frustrations and understand why I really did not like building this kit at all. Before you tackle this kit, please know that the kit instructions are very poorly designed and not checking your references can result in severe annoyance! Ask me how I know…….
In order to add more detail to the model I purchased a cockpit set from Quinta Studios. These 3d printed “decals” are fantastic and really help to enhance a model.
Once the cockpit was completed it was straight into building the airframe, this is one of the area’s where the kit could have been better. The engine intake is sandwiched between top and bottom fuselage halves and much fettling was required to get an acceptable fit of parts. You also need to fit the undercarriage legs at this point and it’s very flimsy. So great care was needed not to damage it. Ask me how I know……
Filler was used in many areas. The pictures below show clearly where the fit was less than adequate around the top forward fuselage, nose cone, flaps and slats.
Next a word of caution, if you want to build a US Military F-16B from this kit then throw away the instructions! I aimlessly followed Kinetic’s instructions only to realise that I had fitted the wrong drogue housing underneath the tail! Not the end of the world , but bloody annoying nonetheless! Luckily the correct parts are in the kit! It was easy enough to swap the wrong one out for the correct one.
With the airframe finally completed, all the filling sanding and re-scribing out of the way I could finally get stuck into that great paint scheme!
I used a mixture of modified blue acrylic pants from AK Real Colours and Citadel Minatures. As this is a splinter scheme, a lot of masking was required!
Once the paint scheme was completed the model was coated in a clear gloss in preparation for decals. Thins the one only area where thicket shines! The decals are designed by Fighter Town Decals and printed by Cartograph. They are excellent.
Bang seats and canopy-
The kit seats were improved with parts from the Quinta Studio’s set and the canopy was sanded smooth to remove a nasty seam line. It was then polished and dipped in Future. (Yes, I still use it!)
I then had to mask off the rear portion of the canopy to colour the forward portion in clear yellow tint. Had never attempted this before so I decided to spray Tamiya Clear Yellow then once it was dry, unmask the entire canopy and again dip it in future which to my delight, worked a treat!
Here are the detailed bang seats fitted to the aircraft:
I di not spend much time on weathering this model as I wanted to portray it as fairly fresh in its anniversary markings so a simple enamel wash was used to highlight the recessed panel lines and details. I added a targeting pod and dumwinder to the wingtip pylons and I also had fun adding the busted up centreline fuel tank that I saw in some of my research photos.
This then, is my take on F-16B TOPGUN 04 as she was at NAS Fallon in 2009.
As this build was for my own collection, I chose to display it in a custom made display case made by my good friend Paul Thompson. While this model gave me lots of grief during the building process, now that it’s completed and on my display shelf, it really does make me smile.
I hope you have enjoyed my trials and tribulations on this model. I guess the moral to this tail is that if you want a model bad enough, you will put the extra work in to build it. I’m glad I did on this one!