Tony, the nozzle petals weren't too bad as they were all individual pieces, but the fan was a nightmare. The middle p[art had to be pulled up and twisted, then the outer part dished to fit. I'm amazed I didn't break it.
The build portion is now almost complete, all of the PE has been added, other than the pitot & AOA probes and the static dischargers which I will most likely add after painting. I do still have to paint the rails and ordnance, but will do that in between painting sessions and add at the end.
The other part I completed last night was the exterior petals of the nozzle. For this I went with a set from AMUR Reaver which I haven't tried before. The petals are steel, and before removing from the sprue they have to be heated red hot to both anneal them and provide heat staining. When removed from the sprue each one has to be formed using a spherical object (I used a marble) by rubbing the back of them against a cutting mat before attaching to the nozzle.
I'm quite pleased with the result, the heat staining looks realistic to my eye and is better than I could manage with paint.
It's been a case of 1 step forward and 2 steps back with this build for the last few days.
I started putting the AN/ALQ-188 Jamming Pod together and realised that the hole I had drilled in the fuselage to mount the plane on a pole was slightly too far forward and would be blocked by the pod. I considered filling the hole and moving it backwards, or just leaving the pod off, but then came up with a cunning plan. I cut a section of the pod out (using a handy Lego jig to keep the cuts straight) and using an offcut of sprue runner inside the cavity to keep everything centred I glued it all back together again. True it's now slightly shorter than it should be, but I don't think it will be too noticeable once hung from the underneath.
With this sorted I moved on to the rails, missile and ACMI pod. Eduard supplied some nice PE for the rails, but would have you cut off the locating tabs for the missiles. Rather than do this I cut the PE into sections and glued it around the tabs.
With the last of the parts together it was ready for priming, but before doing so I had a look at the Aero Masks and Two Bobs stencil instructions. It was at this point I realised I had made another error. I'd been following Tamiya's instructions (which matched the pics on F-16.net) which would have a single AIM-9 on one wingtip, and the ACMI pod on the other. However the pics on F-16.net were of the airframe in the Blue Flanker scheme, and not the Blue Splinter that I am trying to replicate. I finally found some more up to date pics of 86-0335 in the correct scheme (https://www.jetphotos.com/photo/9259493) and realised that it should actually have AIM-120's on the wingtips, and the AIM-9 and ACMI pod on under wing hardpoints, as well as the external tanks fitted. The AIM-120 missiles and tanks are included on the sprues, but not mentioned in the instructions.
It was too late to try and fit the tanks now as the holes required drilling before the wing halves were glued, and I wasn't confident of drilling from the exterior and getting everything in the right place. However I could fit the missile hardpoints, although this involved carefully digging out blanking plated that had been glued in earlier.
With this all done I finally got the primer on, at which point I found yet another problem. I hadn't fitted the canopy properly, and there was a noticeable ridge at the front where it met the nose as it wasn't sitting down properly. Luckily I had attached it with Glue n' Glaze, so was able to carefully remove it with a fresh blade without causing damage.
After much puzzling and head scratching I worked out that I hadn't glued the internal canopy structure in the correct place which meant the canopy edges would never meet the fuselage properly. So the internal structure was carefully removed, all traces of glue scraped away and then it was refitted in the correct place. A test fit showed this has worked, so off came the canopy again, some remedial repairs done to the paint work, and the canopy refitted and glued with TET. A rubber band held this in place overnight and I ampleased to say that upon removal this morning the canopy is now perfect.
This morning I touched up the primer, and also painted the radome, rails, missiles & ACMI & AN/ALQ pods. I'm hoping to get the radome masked later this evening and the first of the colours down on the rest of the kit.
Unfortunately I ran into yet more problems, I swear this build is cursed.
Having read the mask instructions more thorougly it appears that the base colour should have been the Air Superiority Blue,. and not the grey as I assumed. To avoid putting down an overall coat I just painted in the bits that will stay AS blue and will apply the masks later.
Strangely I then have to paint the darker Agressor Blue before applying more masks and going back over with the grey. Seems strange going over lighter with darker??