1/48 Tamiya F-16C

Gallery Article by Burak on May 19 2009

Turkish Remembrance of Ataturk and Youth Day for Turkey


This is my attempt at Tamiya's excellent F-16 model finished in Turkish Air Force scheme. I am back to modeling after many years, and I am starting to learn how to use an airbursh, preshading, postshading, clear coats, washes, and everything else. It took me a long time to finish this as I can work on modeling only very sporadically.

The kit was built out of the box except for the decals. From my references,  I can tell the IIF "bird slicer" antenna is not what TUAF uses and my model is missing the parachute housing on the vertical tail. As I gain more experience, I hope to be more true to such details with after-market products and scratch builds. Construction was pretty good with clean sprue trees and excellent part fits. Almost no putty is required on this beautifully engineered model. Nonetheless, it does take some time to put together the entire model. I used bristles from an old toothbrush for the static dischargers on the wings and horizontal stabilizers, which I think adds more detail to the model. The only thing I could not resolve is the front of the canopy not sitting completely on the body leaving a gap. Oh well...

I first primed the entire model and preshaded the panel lines using Tamiya flat black. The model was then painted with MM enamels (36118, 36270 and 36375) with no scale effect (i.e., no white added). In my opinion, 36270 came out too dark so perhaps I will change my strategy next time. I used future as an undercoat for decaling and washes, and used pollyscale flat coat for the final clear coat. I finally used post-shading using Tamiya Smoke to darken some panel lines that are extremely pronounced on F-16s. I like the fact that the Tamiya smoke I used for postshading is somewhat glossy and creates a nice depth when the flat finish is taken into account.

Speaking of flat coats... Is it only me or has anyone experienced a 'haze' created by pollyscale flat? For some reason, despite my thinning, there seems to be a white haze lingering over the model due to the flat coat. I thin pollyscale with Tamiya acrylic thinner about 50% and I mix it really well. Then, I apply it in multiple very thin coats. For some reason, I get the haze and it is bothering me. I tried using distilled water to thin pollyscale flat coat with horrible results so I have moved away from that. Perhaps I should use Windex or wiper fluid for thinning? Could it be pollyscale not liking the Tamiya thinner? If things don't work out the way I want, I may go back to Testors Dullcoat (I had success with it in the past but after one horrible experience, I quit using it), or use the future/Tamiya flat combo. Any suggestions? Feel free to e-mail me.

I used West Decal's TUAF decals that I purchased last summer. The clear parts of the original decal set were extremely yellowish. But, thanks to some tip I had read online, I left the decal set under direct sunlight for about 15 days and it worked perfectly! All the yellow was gone. I also modified and printed my own few decals using Kaan Gok's graphics file for TUAF F-16 I had found online a while ago. I like TUAF aircraft, which often necessitates custom printed decals. Unfortunately one of my biggest obstacles in modeling is a lack of printer that can print white ink (ALPS discontinued as far as I know); I have not had great success with white decal paper thus far. Thus, even though pilot names are printed in white on TUAF F-16's right under the canopy, I had to go with gray. Incidentally, my childhood dream was to become a fighter pilot, which never happened. So I am living that fantasy in scale modeling by rendering myself as the pilot.

My biggest disappointment with the model is my choice of using Hasegawa's decal for the refueling marker. The decal was too thick and despite all the Microscale products I used, it still shows significant silvering. Tamiya decals are awesome but one thing I discovered is that you should use Microsol only after the decal has completely cured. Otherwise, Microsol seems to be too aggressive and causes the decal to curl up onto itself, which sometimes is unrecoverable.

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I learned a few things and reinforced my need to acquire some new modeling skills. First, I need to do a better job masking my canopies. A 'fresh', sharp Xacto blade is a must if you use Tamiya tape for masking. I need to find a better way to paint tires. I use flat black using a brush which sometimes results in an uneven finish. To blend everything, I use a shoe shiner brush, but that results in a semi-gloss to gloss finish. I may have to do some flat coating to my tires next time. I may need to add white to the main colors to give some scale effect. Especially 36270 came out too dark. I also need to find a better way to rescribe curved/cylindrical components like external fuel tanks. Currently, I cannot seem to get a straight line even though I am using a thick dynamo tape as a guide. Any suggestions here? Just to let you know, the rest of the model does not need any major rescribing. Panel lines are already excellent. Only the sections you lose to sanding have to be rescribed. Finally, I think I can do a better job weathering with pastels. I am not too happy with the current results.

For the modeling and photography in general, I am very much inspired by the incredible models and shots found at http://www.naritafamily.com/  I am new to photography and only have a Canon PowerShot A620 and have no experience with lighting. I am slowly setting up some fixtures and light softeners etc. using some online resources, but have long ways to go.


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Photos and text by Burak