Fujimi 1/72 F-4J Phantom II Kit First Look
By Mike Abbott
|Date of Review||February 2010||Manufacturer||Fujimi|
|Subject||F-4J Phantom II||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||72207||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Cartograph decal sheet, good level of detail||Cons||Air brakes moulded shut but chaff dispensers open? Some armament detail a bit soft|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (GBP)||£16.95|
As the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is one of the most well known aircraft around this history is my take on this wonderful hunk of metal.
With 5057 Phantoms produced (excluding kits for Japan and those produced by Mitsubishi) in a run that spanned 3 decades, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom II can rightly be called one of the aircraft of the 20th century. To be used by 3 out of 4 air forces in the US, and with minimal modification, was a definite achievement. Originally called the F-4H1 by the USN and F110 by the USAF, the Phantom served with distinction in Viet Nam, the Gulf War, Arab Israeli conflicts and various other minor skirmishes, sometimes on both sides. It narrowly missed out on the Falklands as the Royal Navy had withdrawn the only catapult equipped carrier, HMS Ark Royal, a few years earlier. Ironically, the RAF stationed F-4’s on the Falklands after the war to ward off any aggressive intentions from the locals.
Early Phantoms (F-4B & C) had an infra-red detector housing under the nose which went with the F-4D. The F-4E was designed to eliminate one of the Phantom’s few shortfalls, the lack of a gun which, instead of being a 30mm Aden as on the English Electric Lightning, the US installed a whacking great 6 barrel minigun. The F-4J was the last new build Phantom for the Navy / Marines, the F-4N / F-4S being rebuilds to extend service life and the QF-4 modified airframes for use as target drones. Over the life of the Phantom it had been involved in interception, ground attack, reconnaissance, a gun toting fighter, target drone and a big canvas for all sorts of colourful artwork.
The first export customer was Great Britain with the F-4K and F-4M. The British government insisted on having British engines, so they fitted Rolls Royce Spey’s which made these the most powerful F-4’s, however, the increased weight, size of the Spey’s and the need for a greater intake airflow counteracting any power advantage as area rule was compromised so they were in fact slower. The F-4M was the naval version and as British carriers were smaller than US ones the nose leg extended even further than on USN & USMC versions to give a very nose up attitude for launching. In a twist of fate the USN had landed F-4J 155510 from VF 102 onto HMS Ark Royal as part of an exercise, this actually ending up serving with the Royal Air Force as F-4J(UK) ZE358.
The first production F-4J was first flown on 27 May 1966 having developed from the B&C models. The most noticeable external differences were no underslung IR detector, longer afterburner turkey feathers, bumps on the top and bottom of the wing to accommodate wider tyres, a slotted tailplane and DECM housings on the intakes. F-4J’s served in Vietnam 155800 flown by Lt Randy Cunningham & Lt(JG) Willy Driscoll scoring 3 kills in 1 sortie on 10 May 1972, unfortunately they had to finish up ejecting after a near miss with a SAM wrecked their hydraulics.
I picked this kit up at the 2010 Milton Keynes show from one of the trade stands. Even though on the box this is a 2007 copyright kit the moulds look older, 90’s I feel, but I can’t be precise as I wasn’t paying much attention then (2 children, no money).
Moulded in a medium grey plastic the panel lines are a mixture of nicely engraved and raised so they should look good under a coat of paint. The 7 sprues are clearly identified with part numbers and also the different Phantom versions they apply to with holes where parts should be for other versions, so no extras for the parts box here. There is a small amount of flash present but nothing a quick swipe with a sanding stick or knife wouldn’t cure. Parts are packaged in separate plastic bags, the decals are also in their own
The inside of the fuselage has a number of ejector marks but not in any difficult position. The cockpit contains instrument panels, side consoles, control sticks, reasonable MB Mk7 ejector seats but with the head hood pull handle only, no seat straps and no sidewall detail. One little feature I do like is the holes are shown for the top fins of the Sparrow missiles in the fuselage recesses, not usually seen in my experience. The radome is moulded as part of the fuselage side.
The wing dive brakes are moulded shut but there are 2 openings in the rear fuselage below the fin which were originally flare dispensers for the RF-4C but were later used for chaff, a strange option methinks. The main gear doors are moulded in one piece and you have to cut them for gear down, but that is not an onerous task. There is also a choice for the catapult attachment points, with the hooks or plated over.
The arrestor hook is integral with the starboard fuselage half but moulded in such a way as to leave a gap between it and the underside only resting the hook on a pad. Typically for 1/72 scale F-4’s there is a wall at the end of the intakes which in my mind doesn’t pose any problem. The afterburner cans have no detail on the inside but do show the spraybar assembly at the end.
Transparencies are commendably thin and clear. The cockpit floor also forms the top part of the nosewheel bay which itself is moulded as part of the fuselage underneath the cockpit, it may be possible to add the cockpit after cementing the fuselage halves together. The wheel bays have moulded detail but no doubt AMS aficionado’s will go to town on these.
A full complement of drop tanks, Sparrows and Sidewinders are included, the missile detail looking a little on the soft side but still presentable.
The decals are for 2 versions:
- F-4J, 155786, USMC VMFA-122, Crusaders, MCAS Beaufort, 1975
- F-4J, 155761, USN VF-74, USS Forrestal, 1977
The decals are printed by Cartograph and, as can be expected, look very good. Also included are extensive stencilling and cockpit instrument panels.
All in all it looks to be a good kit and I think it will build into a decent replica even if you build it out of the box.