F-16N Cockpit Set (for Tamiya..sort of)

Published: June 14th, 2011     
Kitset packaging
Kitset packaging
Reviewed by: Andy Renshaw - IPMS# 35806
Scale: 1/48
Price: $21.50
Product / Stock #: 4499
Product provided by: Aires Hobby Models

Any of us who suffer from AMS (Advanced Modeler Syndrome) are never satisfied with the "stock" kit, even one as fine as Tamiya's F-16 series! Luckily there is a cure for those who love that insane level of detail but don't have the time to do it ourselves, and Aires has long delivered the goods. This cockpit set continues to provide the quality we expect from Aires, however there are a few issues with getting it into the advertised kit it was "designed" for.

First off, the set consists of nine resin parts, a clear sheet of printed acetate, and a single small photo-etched fret. All the parts are perfectly cast and free of any imperfections. Detail is outstanding and definably has an edge against the stock kit parts. Instructions are on a single piece of folded blue paper, printed on both front and back and are clear and easy to read. While looking at the instructions, we run across our first clue that we may be in for some work ahead; the instruction illustrations seem to be made for the Hasegawa kit! I've taken a couple of pictures of both the Tamiya nose and Hasegawa nose with the instructions to illustrate my point. Notice how the instructions match the Hasegawa nose and not the Tamiya, and calls for the removal of plastic that isn't on the Tamiya kit! Also there is no mention of the plastic around the rear of the cockpit that needs to get removed from the Tamiya kit.

Assembly of the parts is straight-forward, and I had no issues. Once painted the cockpit was ready to install into the kit. I recommend doing this early in kit construction, as you will need to do some modification to the kit parts.

Comparing the resin tub to where it needed to fit into the kit, I used a Dremel and carefully removed plastic. I also removed all the detail on the kit sidewalls and proceeded to thin the walls a bit as well. A lot of trial and error fitting the pit into the kit, but by test fitting and removing a little plastic at a time we slowly can get it to fit. The kits sidewalls have to have all the molded detail removed and significantly thinned to the point you can see light through the plastic. Also you have to bevel the top edges of the resin sidewalls. Having done a resin pit in the Hasegawa F-16 kit, It is obvious that the originals for this set were made for the Hasegawa kit as the resin sidewalls fit the Hasegawa kit perfectly without much modification. At the rear, you want to remove everything inside the cockpit seal (that raised bead of plastic) and the recessed area for the canopy hinge. If you're a little more conservative than me, you can remove just enough plastic to fit the resin, otherwise you may end up with a gap between the resin and plastic as I did. Nothing a little filler can't handle however.

With the main tub fitting, I then taped the sidewalls to the tub using some Tamiya tape. This would allow me to push the sidewalls out to meet the plastic kit cockpit sills once the entire pit assembly was installed. With the sidewalls placed, more test fitting and plastic grinding continued. Finally after a lot of work, the whole pit fit into the Tamiya fuselage. Last step was to slide the ejection seat down the guide rails. It does actually fit between the rails, and the seat has some small knobs molded into it for alignment.

Overall, the end result is a more detailed cockpit, however it was a bit souring to discover that the set labeled for the Tamiya kit appeared to be a re-box of one meant for the Hasegawa kit. Luckily for us the overall shape of the Hasegawa kit is similar to Tamiya, or this set would not have worked at all. Aires could have modified the masters to fit the Tamiya kit better, and at the very least changed the instruction illustrations to actually match the Tamiya kit. I'll still "recommend" it, but only for those who really do want an edge of extra detail. The Tamiya stock cockpit builds nicely and will probably be adequate for most modelers without the need to go through all the effort to get this resin set to fit. Now for those of us with the Hasegawa F-16N lying around, this could just be the set for you! As a side note, the ejection seat is a worthwhile improvement, and is available separate both through Aires (with photo-etched straps) or Quickboost as a single resin casting. So it's up to the modeler to decide just how far you're willing to go.

Thanks to Aires and IPMS USA for the review sample.

  • Kitset contents
    Kitset contents
  • Cockpit tub in kitset
    Cockpit tub in kitset
  • Cockpit combing on pour block and finished painting
    Cockpit combing
  • Instrument panel on pour block
    Instrument panel on pour block
  • Hasegawa nose section over instruction sheet
    Hasegawa nose section
  • Tamiya nose section over instruction sheet
    Tamiya nose section
  • Painted parts
    Painted parts
  • Comparison with plastic removed
    Comparison with plastic removed
  • Test fitting
    Test fitting
  • Test fitting
    Test fitting
  • Test fitting
    Test fitting
  • Showing ggaps to be filled
    Showing ggaps to be filled
  • Completed installation
    Completed installation
  • Completed installation
    Completed installation

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