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How to drop the
F-16’s Flaperons

by Ryan Fernandez



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I recently read a fellow HyperScaler’s comment about all the awesome photos of built and almost completed models being posted on Plastic Pix but one comment he said really stood out for me. The modeler had requested other modelers out in cyberspace to write up some how-to techniques to help the beginners out. Well, I welcomed the request and decided to do one: How about dropping the flaperons (combination of aileron and flaps) on the F-16 Fighting Falcon! In my how-to article, I am using a 1/48 Hasegawa F-16 kit and showing you how to do this simple modification to add some extra realism to your kit!

Before I begin I want to note that in addition to the 1/48 Hasegawa F-16 wing parts used in my article, I will be using wing parts from another Hasegawa kit of a Japanese F-16 derivative, the Mitsubishi F-2A. I used the wing parts of this kit as a comparison with my dropped F-16 flaperons because the area of concern is so similar between the two kits (albeit different wing and flaperon sizes) and it helps to show the reader what result I am eventually trying to get to! In other words, the Mitsubishi F-2 kit already has dropped flaperons (as well as dropped leading edge slats) and I’m just trying to copy “the look” by using the F-16 kit. Got it? So here goes…



The Technique

Materials needed:

1. sharp, new X-Acto No.11 blade
2. round needle file
3. Evergreen half-round plastic rod or equivalent
4. contour putty (Testor’s plastic putty or Squadron putty or equivalent)
5. plastic cement


Step 1 Removing the Flaps:

To drop the flaperons (I will now refer to these parts here as “flaps” from now on so as to avoid more typing!) on the F-16, you will first need to cut out the parts from the main wing. Do this by scribing along the flap’s “panel line” with the back of a sharp, new Number 11 X-Acto blade (see fig.2). Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the surrounding area of the flaps. Once you’ve removed the flap continue to the next step.



Step 2:

This part involves cleaning up and reshaping the flap(s) you just cut off (You did remove both? No? What? Go repeat Step 1 and cut out the other flap!). Okay class, keep up the pace and pay attention! That means you Craig in Daytona and Wookie in the back row! Where were we? Oh yeah…Step 2. Clean up the forward end (the leading edge) of the flap you just cut off by sanding a little of it flat. I use sandpaper (600 grit) placed on a flat surface (rough side up Craig!) to accomplish this.



Why? Because it helps when you go to the next step!

Step 3: Reshaping the flap to an aerofoil:

Next, you will need to reshape the leading edge of the flap into an aerofoil. As molded on the Hasegawa F-16 kit, the flaps you removed are not in the shape of an aerofoil and are a bit short in chord. The flap needs to look like the Mitsubishi F-2A flap (See figures 5 to 9 below and compare.) Note that the F-2A has a bigger wing and hence a bigger flap so don’t think that the F-16 part is too small. I’m just using the F-2A parts as reference. To get the F-16 flap’s leading edge to look like the F-2A flap’s leading edge, you will need to glue a piece of half-round plastic stock (available from Evergreen Scale Models, Inc.) cut to size to match the length of the F-16 flap leading edge. Now here’s the tricky part! Adding the half-round plastic doesn’t instantly make the flap into an aerofoil shape. It will need some help with your favorite contour putty (I use Testor’s plastic putty and Squadron Green Putty) and some more sanding! Once you’ve got an aerofoil shape, you can move on to the next step!


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Step 4: Main wing flap well:

In this final step, you will notice that the F-2A wing’s trailing edge has a rounded groove (trough) that exactly fits its flap’s leading edge. On the F-16 kit wing, once you’ve removed the flap, all you’ve got is hopefully a flat sided area that needs some re-shaping. You were careful removing the flaps in step 1 right? To make a similar groove in the F-16’s trailing edge I used a rounded needle file and slowly gouged the plastic until I got it in the shape of the F-2A’s flap groove. Once you’ve reshaped the F-16’s wing grooves to match the F-2A’s in the photo, check the fit of the F-16 flaps to the main wings to insure a close fit. If not, more reshaping of either the flaps or wing grooves with putty or the needle file is required. Once you’re satisfied, you now have dropped flaps! (Check your references to see how much to drop the flaps.)


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


  • F-16: Uncovering the Lockheed-Martin F-16 A/B/C/D. Danny Coremans & Nico Deboeck. Daco Publications 2001.

  • World Air Power Journal. Vol. 36 Spring 1999. Pages. 58-107. AIRtime Publishing Inc.

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2006 by Ryan Fernandez
Page Created 05 January, 2006
Last updated 04 January 2006

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