Italeri’s Venezuela’s F-16 Falcon ’20 Años’
Venezuela was the first Latin-American country who got permission from the US to buy F-16s. They stayed the sole operator in Southern America untill Chile received their new F-16s in the course of 2005. In May 1982, the government of Venezuela signed an agreement to buy 18 block 15 F-16A’s and six Block 15 F-16B’s to replace the fleet of Mirage III interceptors and Mirage 5 ground-attack aircraft serving with the Fuerza Aérea Venezolana. This purchase was under the Peace Delta Foreign Military Sales program. The original intent was for an order of up to 72 aircraft, but budget restraints lowered that number to 24. For more info keep reading over at F-16.net.
One Super Decal Sheet with Markings for 6 Aircraft Versions:
1: Koninklijke Luchtmacht, 323 Sqn. 50th Anniversary (May 2000)
2: Grupo Aereo de Caza 16, El Libertador AB, Maracay–Palo Negro,
3: Aeronautica Militare Italiana, 23rd Gruppo, 5th Stormo, Cervia,
4: Aeronautica Militare Italiana, 18th Gruppo, 37th Stormo,
Trapani, Italy (2005)
5: US Air Force, Texas A.N.G., 111thFIS, 147th FIG
6: Florennes, Belgium (2004)
This is the Italeri 1/48th scale F-16 No. 2654. It is pretty much the same kit boxed by Italeri but with a giant decal sheet with markings for 6 countries. This is pretty much my 3rd Italeri Fighting Falcon kit and this time I decided to use the markings for Venezuela’s Air Force (FAV). The markings for ‘20 Años‘ (20 years) are very colorful.
For the moment this is the only aircraft from Latin America that I have on my shelves. I would like to add something from Cuba, so feel free to e-mail me your suggestions. This kit a way better than Academy’s ‘Flying Razzorbacks‘ offering but don’t expect a Tamiya Falcon CJ either.
For the money and *my* personal opinion, the Italeri F-16 is well worth the price tag; That considering that Italeri has a hefty price tag on most of their model kits.
The kit goes along very well in terms of fit. But you will hit a bump as soon as you get to the landing gear and bays. The assembly is somehow not clear on the instructions and there a few small parts to fiddle and flex carefully to make them fit. It is tricky, but it is doable and once you have your parts in place, the kit will stand well leveled and very good stance. The decals provided by the kit are not that bad, just have your decal set solution handy to conform them thru crevices and panel lines.
You better check your sources, I relied on Italeri’s colors from the instruction to find out that the shade of green on the underside was wrong. Venezuela’s Air Force released their F-16 Falcons twice to commemorate. First was ’20 años’, then ’25 años’ (20th and 25th anniversary). There’s even a twin seater ’25 años’.
While looking for reference pictures on-line, you might come across both with different colors on the underside. Ranging from the regular Light Gray, to Light Green and even Egg Blue. If you are planning on building this version, start looking for reference pictures. Many of them for some reason don’t last long on the web.
If you ask me, I would recommend this model kit. Heck, I’ve built 3 of them already. This version decal’s alone are worth half the price of the entire kit. If you are really picky about your kits, then I will suggest Tamiya’s 1/48 F-16 CJ Falcon (which I have built in 1/32 scale).