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F-16XL Skunkmodels 1/48

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My first new build for 2024 is Skunkmodels's F-16XL.  This is an aircraft that I am sure needs no introduction on here even though only two were ever built. Thus for this intro I will focus on the kit itself.  The kit, being relatively new, has seen some coverage on BM too. Mike did an excellent review maybe 9 years ago now. Apart from that, and one unfinished WIP, this model doesn't look like its had much time in the spotlight on Britmodeller, so I decided record my build here.


The first thing that struck me about this kit was the size and weight of it. The box is fairly average length and width but it is quite deep. It is bigger than I was expecting for what is a single engined, single seat light fighter. And then I opened the box and it is full to the brim with plastic. 280 parts according to the box. That's quite a lot.




Lots and lots of parts. On lots of sprues.









Many photos of the XL show it carrying a quite ridiculous number of weapons and that goes some way to explaining the kit's high parts count. A  browse through the instructions reveals the rest. Everything seems to be broken down into little pieces. The vertical stabiliser is a 9 part assembly. The nose cone is provided in two halves. Each wheel is 4 parts. Two for the wheel itself, and two parts for each tyre, which is separate. It also appears to have two fully moving elevons. I won't be needing those. Probably legacy parts from this kit's origins as Kinetic's regular F-16. Happily this high part count also means good detail levels like the well appointed cockpit, complete intake tunnel, separate afterburner ring, posable flight surfaces, and more.


Instruction booklet is comprehensive.



Note the part count for the vertical fin in step 8.



Plenty of decals to work with. Two sheets are provided. One has the markings for the five XL schemes offered with the kit. The other carries the Kinetic name and looks like generic F-16 markings.




Yep, you read that correctly. Skunkmodels offer five options for detailing your XL. Considering only two XLs ere ever built, and of those two only one was a single seater, that is a surprisingly generous range of options.


Two of them are the two actual paint schemes that the single seater, XL1, wore in its career. There's the grey scheme with the blue spine worn when XL1 was a demonstrator, and the black with gold stripes scheme worn during its service with NASA.


The other three schemes are what ifs: Two USAF grey squadron liveries and a more colourful Israeli Airforce option. The instructions dedicate two full pages to each livery, which is nice, but the images are in black and white which I find makes it a bit harder, particularly for the Israeli livery, to match the colours on the aircraft to the colour keys. Everything is similar shades of grey. This is not an issue for the two actual schemes as there are plenty of reference photos on the internet of XL1 wearing those scheme. There are, of course, no reference photos for the what-ifs though. It can be worked out with a bit of logic and by referencing different types of aircraft that wear the camouflages used, but it would be nicer if the colours in the instructions were easier to tell apart.


XL1's prototype / demonstrator scheme. This is the one I'll be modelling.




The NASA scheme is also really nice.



The two USAF options







The IAF option.



I am really looking forward to this one. Any F-16 is a good looking aircraft but to my eyes the XL, with its large, elegant wing draped over it like an evening dress, is the fairest of them all. It will be a fitting compliment to the 1/48 F-20 Tigershark already on my shelf: Two famous 1980s aircraft that failed to find buyers.

Edited by kiseca
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Very cool! I had one of these in the stash before I realized I was not going to be doing jets in 1/48, and sold it off. Ended up getting the old Monogram 1/72s, so I'll be along for the ride.

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This is the first I've seen of this kit, so this should be interesting. I don't mind a high parts count as long as they fit!

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8 hours ago, Alan P said:

This is the first I've seen of this kit, so this should be interesting. I don't mind a high parts count as long as they fit!

Yeah :D


I've always said my favourite part of modelling is glueing the bits together, so I should be rejoicing, really!


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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

It's been so long since my first post I'll qualify for a holy thread resurrection batman meme but if you thought I'd abandoned my F-16XL, you're wrong!


Actually there isn't much progress to report, but some stuff has happened. Here's where we are right now:


Cockpit is painted and attached to fuselage upper half.




Wheel wells are painted. Now need some detail parts attached, and a wash.





Jet intake tunnel is painted. This has a front half and a back half and is the most comprehensive intake tunnel I've come across in a model so far. I painted the interior before joining the top and bottom halves but then found that the join was too prominent so I had to fill that in with some carefully syringed Perfect Putty and then sand it down with a round sanding stick, before repainting carefully. You can see my work quite clearly in the back half, hopefully that won't be visible once assembled.


Front half:




And back half, with fan:




The fan is almost completely invisible down the full length of the tunnel.




My thoughts on the model so far are: it could be better. Fit is fairly ordinary and many parts need some sanding or filler to fix the joins. As an example, below you can see there's going to be a big gap to fix just behind the leading edge, where the bottom half of the fuselage joins the top half.


The fuselage doesn't fit together well in other areas either. The front and rear will have to be gently bent down to make contact, and I needed my sanding sticks to make parts of the wheel wells fit as well.


It's not terrible but the quality with which the parts fit together is definitely below average in my fairly short experience. 




There is still plenty to do before I join the fuselage up, but next up is the jet exhaust, which is quite detailed with a separate turbine and afterburner ring and corrugated inner walls, but again it really doesn't fit together snugly. That's a bit of a shame on a kit that has twice as many parts to fit together than most at this scale.


Still, now the Tu-22 is finished, this becomes my primary build and should start moving along a bit more quickly from here on. Despite my reservations on quality I do think this is going to produce a highly detailed and well shaped, attractive F-16XL.

Edited by kiseca
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