Improving Monogram's 1/72 scale F-16XL (Part #2)


Go back and catch up with Part #1 of the build! 

Go back and catch up with Part #1 of the build! 

In the first part of the build I set out to improve Monogram's F-16XL by replacing the forward fuselage, due to a cracked canopy.  This would facilitate my desire to have an open canopy F-16XL.  I covered an installation of a spare Hasegawa cockpit tub, blended the fuselage with the replacement parts, painted the cockpit, and added a push-pin metal pitot tube and small detailing to the forward fuselage.  Click the link image to the right to go back and check it out from the start in case you missed it.: 


Part #2 | basic modelling..

Moving on now to some basic model building..filling gaps and seams.  Before committing to assembly with cement or superglue, I always, always dry-fit major parts.  This has several benefits., such as; helping to identify poor fit, the location of any gaps or seams, kit damage or helping with kit bashing and conversions for accurate measuring and cutting of parts.  My dry-fitting helped me identify long gaps along the wings leading edge on the underside of the fuselage.  I'll use one of my favourite basic gap-filling putties for this.  I'll use a method for smoothing the putty to minimize sanding using nail polish remover:  Check it out In the photos below:

Air intake

After dry-fitting the main air-intake to the underside of the fuselage, I realized that the old kit had no simulated intake trunking.  It was just a gapping hole that showed through to the inside of the kit with no detail or turbine face, etc.  So I simply decided to block off the intake just deep enough to paint the interior black to give the impression of deep trunking to the turbine.  I could have began a lengthy scratch-building of a seamless intake, but I didn't see the need to for this model.  The illusion would more than suffice for my desk-top replica.  See photos below:

After painting the intake interior white, I set it aside to await the main fuselage colours where I will apply the standard USAF grey scheme.  Now on to other details, such as static discharger whips.

Making static dischargers

I wanted to add more detail, so after inspecting reference photos of the F-16 airframe including the wings, I noticed the static discharger whips located on the trailing edges of the wings, ailerons and tail fin.  I checked the model and I saw the start of this abbreviated detail but, but not complete.  So i began making the discharger whips using Invisible thread.  The thread is appropriately thin and looked to scale with the model.  Also the thread is flexible incase of bumps after the model is finished and won't break off.  Perfect.  Heres how I made them:

Detailing the weapons and ordnance

Knowing that the F-16XL is/ was an experimental concept fighter and is shown with prototype AMRAAM's and AIM-9Ls, detailing them is somewhat unnecessary.  However, I was having fun and wanted to flex my detailing muscle as well as share how I go about detailing missiles and ordnance; specifically their rocket nozzles for a realistic look.  Here's my technique:

Painting and detailing the wheels

With the fuselage and weapons assembled detailed/ ready for paint, the model is rapidly nearing the stage for painting and finishing.  At this stage, lets work on the wheels.  Over the years I struggled to find a method to paint and finish the wheels for a sharp clean look with no overspray of the tire colour on the white hubs.  I came up with a tried and true method using Parafilm M to get the job done.  Check out the steps in the photos below:

Tinting the canopy

With our new "open-canopy" F-16XL, I wanted to simulate the tinted appearance seen on most F-16s.  The canopy that came with the kit was tinted "smoke."  I didn't want to simply recreate that look, I wanted to go for a more gold-ish appearance.  To do this, I often use Future floor finish (AKA: Pledge floor care finish, Pledge with future shine, or Klear) with food colouring or better; a selection of artist water colors.  The type I have found to work well for mixing with Future floor finish and tinting canopies are Dr. Ph. Martin brand transparent water colours.  They are available in single colours or a pack of standard colours from black to greens.  I'll go through my technique below to show how I tint my aircraft canopies.

Aircraft colours | painting and finishing

Well we've, made our conversion effectively replaced the forward section of our F-16XL, replaced the cockpit, canopy, added detail, addressed the lacking intake, filled seams and tinted the new open canopy.  Now, we are nearing the final stage of painting and finishing the model.  The F-16XL has the standard Light Ghost underside/ Gunship Grey upper with Neutral Grey forward area near the nose.  The F-16XL also has the very distinct red, white and blue scheme added.  There are no decals provided to achieve the over-all finished paint scheme.  All it takes is careful masking and layering the colours from lightest to dark for success.  For the F-16XL I used Model Master enamels.  See the photos below for my painting sequence:


Ready for inspection

I finished the model by applying the decals, accenting the panel lines and posing the new tinted canopy open.  All missiles, ordnance, landing gear and jet exhaust can has been painted and installed.  My new "open-canopy" F-16XL is ready to taxi to her place in my modern military aircraft collection.  So, as you can see, with some basic and maybe a few advanced tips & techniques; you can turn what may have been headed for the trash to a model you wouldn't hesitate to put in a model show.  

Click on the images to below to have a closer look 

I don't believe there is such a thing as a "bad kit."  The kit manufacturers all do an amazing job at mastering model kits with awesome detail, choices of scale and subject variety, and decent fit in general.  Where there is less than ideal fit, loss or lack of desired detail and accuracy; this is where the scale modeller comes in.  It's up to us to make the model the best it can possibly be, only limited by his or her personal skill level and imagination.  With that said, the kit gives us one heck of an amazing starting point.  It is a skilled modeller who makes a great finished scale model, not the kit manufacturer.  Anyway, I digress.  I hope you enjoyed following along as the F-16XL came together.  I also hope that you found the tips and techniques used here useful for your own scale modelling!  Tell me what you think; feel free to drop a comment or question or share a tip/ technique of your own.