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148
What Should Have Been: RNZAF F-16

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introduction
On December 1st, 1998 the New Zealand Government announced that it would lease-buy 28 Pakistani F-16s which have been kept in storage at the AMARC (Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Centre) The F-16s were going to replace New Zealand's 19 aging subsonic A-4K Skyhawks.

As a result of the embargo against Pakistan that was put in place by US congress over its concerns about the country's developing nuclear capacity the aircraft were put in a flyable hold for 5 years. The aircraft were thoroughly inspected to ensure that they were still in mint condition. During this time each aircraft had its engine turned over once every 45 days. This resulted in the unusual situation that most of the aircraft had more engine run time than actual airtime with actual airtime averaging only six hours.

This low airtime plus the fact that these aircraft were the most modern F-16A/Bs ever built, is the main reason why New Zealand decided to buy these second-hand F-16s.

In 2002 the newly elected government decided to cancel the plans to replace the A-4K with the embargoed Pakistani F-16s. The reason for this cancellation was because the government decided that an air combat force was not in line with its policies. This effectively erased 75 years of the air combat force for the RNZAF.

If the F/16A-Bs had been delivered, they would have been operated by 75 Squadron at Ohakea Air Force Base NZ and No. 2 Squadron. No 2 Squadron were based at the time in Nowra NSW in Australia. No 2 squadron provided air attack training for the Australian Navy (the RNZAF got paid by Australia to undertake this task)

End of an error
The Skyhawks were retired in December 2001 4 years after the New Zealand government started looking at their replacement. The RNZAF Skyhawk fleet was placed into storage at RNZAF Woodbourne. They sat there while deal after deal fell through - even a deal to sell the aircraft together with 17 MB-339 Aermacchi jet trainers to US based Tactical Air Services failed to materialise. For years there were unrealistic expectations about the value of these aircraft.

An announcement was made by the current government that 9 of the 17 A4Ks will go to museums throughout New Zealand (with one going to my home town aviation museum!!). Another will head back to its home base in Australia to the Royal Australian Navy Fleet Arm located at Nowra this fulfils a longstanding agreement that the RNZAF would give one of the ex Australian Skyhawks back to them.

The remaining aircraft, engines, spares, ground support equipment, role specific equipment, will be sold separately to private buyers.

In 31 years of active service with the RNZAF each Skyhawk airframe clocked up about 5,000 - 8,000 flying hours. These aircraft were well loved by all who flew them and provided crews with minimal problems during their time in service.
What if Build
I thought it would be a good idea to give it a go and build an RNZAF, F-16 model of 1/48 scale. I decided to give it an all over green paint scheme similar to the late model A4K-Kahu NZ6201 based at Ohakea 2001. However from research undertaken, it is my understanding that the RNZAF were to keep the gray paint scheme from the original Pakistani F/16s. The kit is an Italeri 1/48 scale. The main paint used when building the model was Mr Hobby. The paint combination was green 303(FS34102) for the top of the fuselage/field green 340(FS36081) for the underside. Washes was from Promodeler (Dark Dirt and Black)

Gekko Graphics supplied the low visible roundels and other markings (Thanks guys as they were the only company able to supply them in the required scale). I placed a set of coloured LEDs inside the kit facing out of the tail pipe to give it some wow factor then painstakingly ran fine wire down the landing gear disguised as hydraulic lines and then through the wheels to come out under the base to switch the LEDs/engine on-off.

Whilst testing different size battery holders to fit under the base I gave it too much power and burnt out the PCB for the LEDs (bugger) so the base was rebuilt and the aircraft sits idle (Sounds familiar)
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About the Author

About Stewart Askin (fireresq1)
FROM: WESTERN AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA

Ive been modelling for about 29 years on and off. I loved the army as a kid and have a military background so enjoyed modelling armour, 1/35 figures, and diorama's. Over the last 5 years I slowly started the move to aircraft and this has been enjoyable. I have a wonderful wife of 15 years and have ...


Comments

Nice build, Stewart. A nice clean build of what might have been... Thanks for sharing
JUL 01, 2012 - 11:35 AM