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PBJ

Minicraft 1/144 F-4E Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2010 Manufacturer Minicraft
Subject F-4E Phantom II Scale 1/144
Kit Number 14621 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple build, nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $11.95

First Look

PBJ
PBJ

The F-4E evolved out of combat experience with the F-4C and F-4D in aerial combat over Vietnam. It had been clear to both sides that the era of the guided missile was a bit premature and deleting the internal guns from their fighters was not such a great idea.

The USAF developed 20mm gun pods that housed the M61 Vulcan cannon with a firing rate of 6000 rounds (sounds impressive until you realize that the pods only carried 1200 rounds or around 20 seconds of ammo). One of the more frustrating aspects of these pods was the way it shook when it fired in flight. The pod oscillation on the pylon would cause the rounds to go just about everywhere except where you were aiming. The solution was to mount the gun in the nose.

McDonnell Douglas added the M61 to a lengthened nose that also housed an improved radar. Aerodynamic improvements were added to the F-4E partway through its production replace the leading edge flaps with slats to improve low-speed maneuverability. These slats were retrofitted to the earlier F-4Es as well becoming a key feature in the Navy's F-4S (upgraded F-4J).

As the F-4E remained in front-line service with the USAF, it had also seen combat during the 1973 war in the Middle East where the Phantom was confronted with more modern (and dangerous) Soviet-made air defenses than seen in Southeast Asia. While the Israelis suffered significant losses with their Phantom fleet, they rebounded with new tactics that allowed the F-4E to regain the edge in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). The effectiveness of the Phantom in two wars led to its adoption in other air arms including the F-4EJ for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the F-4F for the Luftwaffe, and F-4Es for Australia, Egypt, Greece, Iran, South Korea, and Turkey.

Minicraft has re-released the Crown 1/144 F-4E Phanton II kit and this is a nice little gem. Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on two parts trees plus a clear styrene canopy. Molding in clean and layout is very simple.

This kit is a simple build and this starts off with the fuselage halves that go together with some ballast in the nose to keep the model properly balanced on its landing gear. Since the canopy is one-piece (can you imagine trying to position the four individual canopy sections in this scale?) Crown didn't waste resources on a cockpit and this is represented with a decal that will look good through the closed canopy.

The wing is one-piece and represents the early-block unslatted (hard-wing) F-4E, and that one piece means you won't have to worry about settnig the dihedral on the outboard wing sections. The rear stabilators are set up to make installation easy and make the anhedral position rather simple as well.

The kit provides options for landing gear up or down and provides outboard wing tanks, centerline tank, four Sparrows for the missile wells, and four Sidewinders on inboard pylons.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • F-4E, 20 FS/Luftwaffe Training School, Holloman AFB, NM, 1997
  • F-4E, 34 TFS/388 TFW, Korat RTAFB, Thailand, 1972
  • F-4E, 6 Sqn, RAAF, Darwin, 1972

This is a nice kit that will go together nicely and provide a quick project to add to your scale flightline. This is another nice installment in Minicraft's growing line of 1/144 scale aircraft.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Minicraft for this review sample!

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