Improving Monogram's 1/72 scale F-16XL (Part #1)

Something old..something new.

Years ago, I built the General Dynamics F-16XL for my modern military air collection.  At the time, finding a readily available kit proved difficult until I managed to locate an old Monogram kit at a model show.  

After inspecting kit, and the parts sprue, I realized that the canopy was badly cracked!  I was surprised that there was not more damage, after all who knows where this has been, how it was handled, stored over the years, etc.  After contemplating shelving the kit, starting another search online to find a replacement, I thought.."I know, I'll convert it so it has an open canopy!"  So decision had been made and I was committed to begin.

Forward fuselage

If I was going to make it an open canopy model, It would require replacing the forward fuselage.  This was necessary to facilitate the canopy replacement as well.  The conversion required replacing the rear canopy bulkhead to allow correct fit and appearance of the new canopy to include new cockpit tub.  I began by marking the area on the XL that needed to be cut away as well as the forward cockpit area.  Click the photos below for a closer look.

Cockpit painting and detailing

After successfully converting the cockpit and forward fuselage, I could now move on to painting a finishing the cockpit as I do on other aircraft models.  I'll prep and detail the cockpit tub, add any detailing and paint the interior colours.  In this case the F-16 as with most USAF and NAVY fighters Flat Gull Gray is the standard.  I used Testors Model Master FS36440.

 Blending and re-shaping 

Next up, I'll need to blend the replacement parts to the kit body, fill any gaps/ seems and fair the curved slope of the *leading edge extension or (LEX).  Click photos below.

New pitot tube

After the top and bottom fuselage halves have been glued, I wanted to replace the main pitot tube on the nose.  I wanted a stronger pitot rather than plastic so I opted for a metal push needle.  Because the pin is metal, It looks the part very well and requires no paint for a realistic finish.  See photos:

Scratch-building detail | *Air Data Probe

Next up, I wanted to add a minor detail that is present on real F-16's which is a small Air Data Probe located on the pilot's right side of the fuselage, just under the canopy.  I used a tiny strand of heat stretched sprue and a small piece of .010 sheet styrene stock.  See photos below:

So thats it so far.  In part #2 of the build, I'll continue with filling gaps and seams with my favourite putty, addressing the air-intake, adding static discharger details, tinting the canopy glass and a bit more!  Tell me what you think so far, I'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions.  Keep the radar on!