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The Early Viper Guide
The F-16A/B Exposed

by Jake Melampy

Reid Air Publications


 S u m m a r y :

Title and Author:

The Early Viper Guide: The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy


Softcover 195 Pages




US$39.95 from Reid Air Publications

Review Type:

First Read


An outstanding one stop reference for anyone with an interest in early model F-16s. From a modeller’s perspective it looks at the subject in a logical and organised manner, providing photographs to illustrate key details and identify differences between production blocks and later upgrades. Photographs are clear and published in such a way as to make them useful.


None noted especially, however not all early F-16 operators (eg TNI-AU) represented in photographs in the F-16 users section.


Written by noted pilot and aviation photographer Jake Melampy in cooperation with some of the best known photographers and authors on things F-16, this book is a must if you have any form of interest in the F-16.

Reviewed by Ken Bowes

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The Early Viper Guide is the 10th book in what has become a long running series from pilot and noted aviation photographer Jake Melampy. Many Hyperscalers would be familiar with his work and other volumes published under the Reid Air Publications banner have been reviewed in these pages. Initially a vehicle to compile some of his extensive photography of USAF and Air National Guard aircraft, Melampy’s books have morphed into essential references on many of the USAF’s modern types as well as some a little more historical such as the F-4. This volume, subtitled the F-16A/B exposed is a natural and much anticipated follow on to his book, the F-16C/D Exposed, published several years ago.

Melampy has long focussed on the F-16 and this is reflected in the breadth and depth of this book. The reader is first presented with a short introduction which contains an illustrated history of the early F-16 and a country by country summary of early F-16 operators which nicely sets the scene for the remainder of the book. As much as possible Melampy illustrates the points he makes and gives a hint of what is to come.


  • The Early Viper Guide The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy Book Review by Ken Bowes: Image
  • The Early Viper Guide The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy Book Review by Ken Bowes: Image
  • The Early Viper Guide The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy Book Review by Ken Bowes: Image
  • The Early Viper Guide The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy Book Review by Ken Bowes: Image
  • The Early Viper Guide The F-16A/B Exposed by Jake Melampy Book Review by Ken Bowes: Image
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The real meat of this book is the photographic coverage of the subject itself. Over several volumes Melampy has perfected the approach to these books, although I guess the concept of starting with the extremity of the nose and ending with the landing gear and engine bay makes perfect sense. Along the way there are detailed photographs of the external and internal structure, cockpits, avionics and other significant features. Where there are differences between production blocks these are illustrated, as are any differences between the single seat A model and the two seat B model. Further the changes between types as a result of upgrades such as the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) applied by a lot of early Viper operators as well as the ADF variant are all noted in photographs and supporting text.
Two wrap up, Melampy provides around 30 pages documenting useful aspects of pylons and ordnance, which, given the proliferation of new pylons with integrated EW self-protection systems and other modifications, is most helpful to modellers. This section also illustrates how far the early Viper has come from simple being armed with simple AIM-9 missiles and Mk 80 series bombs in the 1980s to the latest beyond visual range air to air missiles, smart weapons and targeting pods being employed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in the present day. Photographic captions do not just state the obvious but point out key features and give explanations as why the subject area has been developed the way it has.

In summary, the F-16A/B Exposed is an excellent resource that is clearly a labour of love for Melampy and his collaborators. Photographic reproduction quality is exceptional throughout, whilst overall production quality is high. For anyone interested in the F-16, this will be useful adjunct to other references on its history and development. However for those who wish to build an accurate scale model or are focussed on key details it will become an essential resource. I personally have been buying Melampy’s books since he commenced publishing and found in them everything I have wanted when modelling the F-16 and other types. This volume is no different and should be considered by any modeller whose subjects include modern military jets.

With thanks to Jake Melampy / Reid Air Publishing for the review sample.

Review Copyright 2011 by Ken Bowes
This Page Created on 15 November, 2011
Last updated 15 November, 2011

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