Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet 16 - Episode VI

Weapons and Stores

Ah, weapons. As a new Aircraft Armament Systems apprentice in the United States Air Force, this marks the first time I have modeled a subject that I am personally familiar with. I have actually had direct contact with each munition and each store that will be represented on this little F-16. I find it neat, but then again, I'm not that hard to please...its the little things, you know?

Inert AGM-88 HARM
The detail of the kit doesn't stop at the weapons pylons. No, the weapons and stores are just as detailed, for what the scale will allow, as the rest of the aircraft. The kit allows for several munitions options. If you want your F-16 geared up to hunt some enemy radar stations then you can fit it with two AGM-88 HARM missiles. Known as High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, this air-to-surface missile is designed to home in on electronic transmissions coming from surface-to-air radar systems. It is a large missile, as you can see from the photo of a training missile I loaded during tech school.

If you don't want to use the HARM then you have the option to mount GBU-31s to stations 3 and 7 instead. The GBU-31 is a 2,000 lb MK 84 bomb body fitted with guidance systems to give them greater accuracy. Known as JDAM for Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the bombs are guided by an integrated inertial guidance system coupled to a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. Essentially the JDAM kit turns an unguided "dumb" bomb into a "smart" munition.
Perhaps you'd like to see several of these at work? Of course you would...But beware, there is some NSFW Language.

I'm sure if you saw that first hand, you'd have some choice words as well. Any how, I'll be modeling my F-16 with these beauts. Each one comes in four parts: Two halves, and two separate fins. 

The fins are tiny, obviously, and a bit hard to align. Never the less, you can see they have nice detail including the access panel at the rear of the tail kit to provide access to the tail fuze. The strakes are nicely molded and you can see they have two locator holes to mount to the wing weapons pylon.

That covers the air-to-ground weapons. The kit provides three different weapon sets for the air-to-air mission essentials - two AIM-120/B AMRAAM, two AIM-9L/M, and two AIM-9X.
The AIM-120 AMRAAM is an impressive missile, capable of all weather day/night missions with the ability to engage aerial threats beyond visual range. I could keep writing about them, but I figured I'd indulge you with another video....

Mmm hmmm, very nice, indeed.

The model's AMRAAMs are nice though I did have to drill out the rocket motor nozzle, otherwise it would have been flat, which isn't accurate unless its a practice missile.

To compliment the AIM-120s, you have the option to choose either the AIM-9L/Ms or the AIM-9Xs. The AIM-9 Sidewinder is an infrared homing, short-range, air-to-air missile carried by aircraft in the Navy and the Air Force. 
Though the -9X is impressive, I don't like the way it looks, especially in 1:72 scale. Very small, and not much detail to make it an inspiring inclusion to the model. So, I used the AIM-9L/Ms. Slightly larger, they have a bit more detail and character to add some visual interest. Having the molded on rollerons are a nice touch. Rollerons are the small control surfaces on the rear fins of the missile that utilize spinning disks to keep the missile from rolling. I just had to add some filler to the gaps created by the rear fins, which actually slide on tight enough to make glue unnecessary. As with the 120s, I had to drill out the rocket motor. 

 So that concludes the weapons section of this build. 
The kit would hardly be complete without including the 370 gallon fuel tanks though, which are nicely detailed as well.
Finally, you have the avionics packages. What you see here are the AN/AAQ-14 Targeting Pod (top), and the AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Attack Pod.

The AN/AAQ-14 Targeting Pod houses Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) which projects targeted images onto the pilot's HUD. It also provides targeting information for the aircraft's on-board fire control system and functions to illuminate targets for laser guided munitions.

The AN/ALQ-184 pod provides self-protection for the F-16 combat aircraft and crew in a complex radar guided threat environment. It also protects aircraft against radio frequency threats by selectively directing high power jamming against multiple emitters.

So there you have it. The F-16 is ready to be painted and loaded. Stay tuned for the next episode where I show you how I add a little detail to the wheel wells.

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