F-16I conversion set

August 26, 2009

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IsraDecal F-16I Conversion and F-16I In IAF Service book by Ra’Anan Weiss

IsraDecal premiered their F-16I conversion set for the Tamiya 1/32 Thunderbirds F-16 kit at the 2009 IPMS Nationals, and I was THE very first one to purchase it at the show. Watching him open the box (that had been held by customs for an extra day) and pack my kit, my excitement was at it’s highest of the show. The line formed behind me, dammit! I’ve wanted this option for a 1/32 F-16 since I first saw the aircraft on the internet, finally I can build it! Their kit doesn’t disappoint. The kit contains all of the parts needed to convert the single seat Tamiya kit to the two seat Sufa, including the back cockpit tub, seat, control panel, canopy, and even new heads to model the Israeli helmets. You get your choice of squadron markings, I chose the Negev squadron with the eagle on the tail. Other choices are “The One” squadron and “The Orange” squadron. I’m not sure if they offer the markings for “The Bat” squadron, but they probably do. Also included is a small PE fret, a metal rod for the canopy actuator, stickers for a base nameplate, and a resin “squadron patch” for your base, and of course, nicely drawn and printed instructions to help you put it all together.

Upon opening the box you’re suddenly aware that you’re going to be quite busy with the razor saw, hacking away at grey resin. VERY prominent pour stubs are attached to all of the big parts, and the small parts have healthy stubs themselves. The most difficult looking is the tail pour stub. Wow! Now THAT is how to waste rubber and resin! Other than this one part, not bad on the casting. There are a few bubbles here and there, but nothing that the modeler of a few resin kits can’t fix and none in detail destroying areas. The resin density is about the same SmoothOn 305 after set up, not brittle and should take paint well.

What You Get

Consistency of the panel lines on the conversion parts is a problem with the set that I can see without actually building the thing. Some of the panel lines along the spine and the CFT’s are deeper than others, and some of the panels aren’t square and exhibit some rough edges. You can definitely see that the parts were hand made as some of the sanding marks are still apparent in the spine around a few of the “bumps”. But, once built and painted all of these problems will fade with attention paid to them during assembly. In other words, you’re a modeler, fix it and quit whining. A few swipes of the sanding stick and push of the scribing tool and they’ll be perfect. I also would have liked to have seen PE parts used for the CFT vents and flare/chaff dispensers instead of the supplied decals, but I’ll deal with it. I may get another set of the Skunkworks Models CFTs and use those instead. If not, I’m sure I have 6 or 7 other F-16’s they’ll fit!

The vac formed canopy is clear but exhibits what looks like “dirt” bubbles in some places, as if sand were trapped between the buck and the plastic when forming it. Not sure if I’ll be able to fix this, I may have to make another myself. If there’s a part in this kit that I’m disappointed in, it’s the canopy. The cockpit parts are very nice and on par with Aires as far as details go. We’ll see how they fit…

All in all a VERY nice set, especially at the show special price of $119, normal price being $150. Purchasing at the show allowed me the extra money to get the book that’ll be invaluable when building, conveniently sold by the same guy!

Reference book

If you’re going to build a Sufa in any scale, BUY THIS BOOK!! With a short few pages of history and basic info scattered throughout it, F-16I In IAF Service book by Ra’Anan Weiss was designed for modelers. Hundreds of modeling minded, full color pictures of every square inch of the Sufa assault your eyes as you slowly flip through the pages. Details are zoomed in and sharp, colors are clearly discernable. For example, I didn’t know that the brown color on the CFT’s is different than that on the aircraft. The pictures show this and an explanation is given explaining why. All squadron markings are shown in some lovely drawings and pictures, and each weapon system is closely scrutinized in pictures. Gear bays, cockpit shots, even great references for ground crew can all be found in this 98 page soft back offering at the low price point of $30 (at the show, not sure of it’s normal price). Order it today if you intend to build the Sufa, you must have this book before you build one!

I’ll be back in the coming months with more on this set and book in my online build article for it. Stay tuned!


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This page was last updated 08/26/2009