Sweet 16 - Episode I

It has begun! Glue is now being applied to plastic. 

I have always thought that the cockpit has to be one of the nicest looking features of any finished model aircraft. It is an area that contains a great concentration of detail, and viewers expect to see all the various features in the pilot's office. If a kit's cockpit detail is sparse it can be pretty tricky adding odds and ends to fill the void. I mean, just look at what is packed into a real cockpit of an F-16.

 Mmm hmmm, that is a lot of stuff. Fortunately, there are manufacturers out there who understand our concern and have taken it upon themselves to create cockpits that are accurate enough to mistake for the real thing...if you were a really tiny pilot that is. I generally do not lay down the cash for such opulent additions because I'm cheap. Instead, I either scratch build or rely on purchasing a kit of half decent quality. In this case, it is the latter.
Academy saw fit to make this kit nice enough for regular modeling Joe's like myself. And at 1:72 scale, much of the smaller detail isn't necessary any way. 
Like most aircraft models, this one starts with the ejection seat. The ejection seat is a fascinating invention, propelling the pilot out of a disabled aircraft via rocket motor, fast enough to deploy a parachute, hopefully before its too late. You can see that it can certainly get a pilot out of a tight spot quickly:

 My ejection seat doesn't do anything fancy like that, but I like the way it turned out. This is the first time I have modeled a subject that I have a personal attachment to. Since I work closely with F-16s, I've actually had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit. Modeling takes on a whole new meaning when its a subject you're very familiar with.
All I added to the ejection seat were straps made out of masking tape. The kit seat has molded straps, but in such a small scale are difficult to make out.

Compared to the real thing, not too bad...

With the seat finished, it fit nicely in the cockpit tub. There are dials and switches molded in place, which are not visually impressive but stand out enough to meet my satisfaction. The instrument panel does not have much detail, however, the kit includes two decals for the Multi Function Displays which are a nice addition. The only thing I've noticed that is missing, so far, is the throttle grip. It is an interesting subtraction since it is a prominent feature inside an F-16.

And with that, I'll begin work on the air frame tomorrow.
Thanks for reading!

Take a look inside the kit...


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