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F-4S

Hasegawa 1/48 QF-4S Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2007 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject QF-4S Phantom II Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09762 Primary Media Styrene, Photo Etch
Pros Easy build, great external details Cons Sparse cockpit detail
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $49.95

First Look

F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit

From World War Two into the 1970s, the US Navy had not retained a fighter in operational service more than a decade before replacing it with a better machine hot off the drawing board. As the Vietnam air war was spinning up, the mainline fighter of the day was the F-8 Crusader, though the F-4 was starting to enter the fleets. Soon the mainstream fighter was the F-4B, but quantities were still not sufficient to support all of the Carrier Air Wings AND the Marine Air Wings. The Navy started to upgrade existing aircraft to support longer term requirements, and the F-8 was rebuilt and improved several times until the Phantoms were finally numerous enough to replace them.

The F-4J was next Navy Phantom off the production line which exploited improvements in engine and radar technologies. But even as the F-4J was entering service, the Navy was already seeking a replacement for the Phantom. They became engulfed in political and budgetary battles and their new fighter was directed by the Pentagon to be the F-111B!

Fortunately, out of the ashes of the failed F-111B concept came the F-14 Tomcat. Unfortunately, the delays in getting the Tomcat into the fleet dictated that the existing Phantoms had to be modified to keep them combat capable. The F-4Bs were given an avionics rework and redesignated as the F-4N. The F-4Js were younger, so in addition to their new avionics, the F-4J was refitted with leading edge slats similar to the late model USAF F-4E. While the slats reduced their top speed, the slatted Phantoms had better low-speed handling and better air combat maneuvering than the 'hard-wing' Phantoms. These modified F-4Js were redesignated as the F-4S.

Even after the F-14 entered fleet service, the F-4S would have to soldier on as there were engineering issues that prevented the F-14 from operating aboard the USS Midway and Midway was needed to homeport at Yokosuka, Japan (it was a non-nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in keeping with the will of the Japanese government banning nuclear-powered vessels in their ports). It would be the F/A-18A Hornet that would finally replace the F-4S in March 1986 aboard the USS Midway.

We took a look at this kit earlier in the year (look here) and knew the time was approaching for a re-release of this popular subject. Your wait is over! This release brings back the F-4S with the markings of VX-30 and billed as a QF-4S (drone). While the aircraft is billed as a drone, the photos of the real aircraft don't have the usual (or unusual) mix of cameras and antennas. In fact, aside from some very minor visible differences, you wouldn't be able to tell this was a QF-4. In any case, the kit is the same F-4S as previously released.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts and a fret of photo-etched parts. As might be expected, the engineers at Hasegawa mixed and matched sprues to arrive at this kit. The fuselage parts are F-4J, while the wing is F-4E. With the exception of a few very minor details, the combination is very accurate.

The kit is still beautifully molded with no flash and very minimal ejector marks. All details are finely scribed. Also included in the kit is the rear cockpit sidewall that distinguishes a Navy Phantom from a USAF bird.

Hasegawa provided the photo-etch 'sprue' that is critical for the F-4S. Evidently, the F-4Js were starting to experience fatigue problems in the main spar/wing box area and McDonnell Douglas reinforced this area during the upgrades. The photo-etch sprue shown below corrects the kit wing to the 'bandaged' configuration.

The kit is armed with four decent AIM-7s, four crude AIM-9Bs (replace them!), one centerline tank, two wing tanks, and Navy pylons. As is usual for many of these Hasegawa re-releases, they don't provide you with the parts to replicate the aircraft on the box. While the markings are there, that ECM pod which you'll also see carried by the aggressors, is not included in the kit. If you do want one, the pod is included with Cobra Company's F-16 Aggressor Set.

This kit provides markings for three Sierras from the US Navy's VX-30 Bloodhounds:

  • F-4S, 155544, VX-30, -/120, NAS Pt Mugu
  • F-4S, 158360, VX-30, -/122, NAS Pt Mugu
  • F-4S, 153832, VX-30, -/126, NAS Pt Mugu

If VX-30 isn't interesting enough for you (go operational test!) then there are lots of aftermarket decals available for the F-4S, some of which have been reviewed here. Have some fun!

Hasegawa's love affair with the Phantom is shared by many modelers around the world. This kit, along with the others in the Hasegawa line-up, are the best Phantom kits in 1/48 scale. The Tamiya 1/32 Phantoms have assumed the title of best Phantom in any scale (below 1:1).

I highly recommend this kit to any Phantom lover!

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