Revell 1/32 F-4E Phantom II Kit First Look
|Date of Review||August 2014||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Subject||F-4E Phantom II||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||4668||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Builds into slatted F-4E||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
When the US Air Force first evaluated the F4H-1 (F-4A) Phantom II, they were surprised that the aircraft met or exceeded their requirements. The first USAF-specific version was to be the F-110 Spectre though the McNamara standardization of aircraft designators changed that to F-4C Phantom II (the Navy's first full-production version was the F-4B). The Air Force continued improving the avionics of the aircraft rendering the F-4D. As the F-4B, F-4C, and F-4D gained combat experience in Vietnam, one deficiency continued to frustrate aircrews when dogfighting MiGs - no gun. The Navy and Air Force Phantoms started receiving hastily developed gun pods that were typically carried on the aircraft's centerline station, but stability and vibration issues affected the accuracy of the gun.
The Air Force looked for an internal gun solution for the F-4 and McDonnell had originally planned for four 20mm single-barrel cannons in their early concepts for the aircraft. Using an RF-4 nose section, the M61 Vulcan was mounted into a canoe under the nose while the radar and avionics bay was moved forward to accommodate the new ammo drum. The increased weight and forward center of gravity shift of this modification were offset by the installation of more powerful J79 engines and a new fuel cell in an aft fuselage bay. The stabilators were given inverted slats to provide greater pitch authority as well. This new combination of capabilities became the F-4E Phantom II.
The F-4E continued to receive production improvements which were incorporated as part of new production blocks. The first production block was Block 31 which started in 1966 and these incremented with each set of improvements. Block 67 would be the last version when production ended in 1978. Block 48 would start some of the more distinctive improvements which included the replacement of the wing leading edge flaps with slats (though most of the earlier F-4Es were retrofitted with slats during their next stop through depot) as well as the installation TISEO (TV telescope) mounted to the port side wing.
In 1998, Revell released this F-4E kit in 1/32 scale based upon their F-4F ICE Phantom II. The F-4F was developed as an export version of the F-4E which translates to no Sparrow missile capability nor other sensitive avionics included. Over time however, the Luftwaffe improved their F-4Fs and under the Improved Combat Efficiency (ICE) program, the F-4F received the APG-65 used by the F/A-18 Hornet and the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile in addition to the AIM-9L Sidewinder integrated previously. The Luftwaffe Phantoms were among the most capable F-4s in the world before they were replaced by the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Using the F-4F ICE kit as a starting point, Revell updated some of the tooling to reflect the differences with the F-4E. This tooling has no resemblace (except the name) to the decades-old 1/32 F-4E kit originally released by Revell. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on ten parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.
Among the features and options:
- Basic cockpits
- Postionable canopies
- Positionable radome
- Radar antenna and gimbal for optional display with open radome
- Optional crew figures
- Optional boarding ladder
- Positionable landing gear
- J79 engine faces visible from open ducts
- Shallow afterburner chambers
- Positionable speed brakes
- Chaff/flare launchers on inboard pylons
- Detailed radar dish and avionics bay
- Detailed M61 Vulcan and ammo drum
- 4 x AIM-9L Sidewinders
- 2 x AIM-7F Sparrows
- 4 x AIM-120 AMRAAM (should not be used with this subject)
- 1 x ALQ-119 ECM pod
- 2 x 370 gallon outboard tanks
- 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
- 1 x 600 gallon F-15 centerline tank
Markings are included for two examples:
- F-4E-35-MC, 67-0308, 110 TFS/131 TFW/MO ANG, 1988, 30th Anniversary Phantom markings
- F-4E-38-MC, 67-0392, 141 TFS/108 TFW/NJ ANG
While this kit is now long out of production (the 4668 kit number is now an F-104G), they are still available at kit swaps. Some of the biggest issues with the kit include the conical radome (AMS Resin produces a properly ogival-shaped replacement); the open air intakes (there are nice seamless intake ducts available); the odd afterburner chambers (ditto on aftermarket options); and the spartan cockpit ( there have been numerous F-4E cockpits produced in 1/32 scale). While Tamiya kit may be nicer, the Revell kit is less expensive and offers the slatted wings.
As you may know, Revell is reissuing this kit with a new parts tree to convert this kit into an early F-4G Wild Weasel. The new parts include the new sensor nose replacing the gun, the new sensor fairing for the top of the vertical stabilizer, new instrument panel for the rear cockpit, one AGM-78 Standard ARM, one AGM-45 Shrike, and a few other parts. They're even offering the F-15 windscreen which was fit to a number of F-4E and F-4G airframes before they retired. I didn't see any correction for the nose or any other details for the otherwise spartan cockpit.
So is this kit worth building? Absolutely. If you have the various corrections and detail sets available, you can go to whatever extreme you'd like to render your favorite F-4E. The aftermarket detail sets I saw at IPMS/USA 2014 National Convention offer some interesting options including the ARN-101, TISEO, and other tweaks and you can even do a really nice F-4G of your own with the available conversions. The real question is whether to start with the Tamiya or Revell F-4E kits. I think I may have to do both just to see side-by-side how well the kits can be transformed into later-block F-4Es.