Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/48 F-4C Phantom II Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2017||Manufacturer||Zoukei-Mura Inc.|
|Subject||F-4C Phantom II||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||48006||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Beautiful molding, excellent detail||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$75.00|
In the early days of the Vietnam airwar, MiGs were able to engage US strike aircraft over North Vietnam with little effective resistance. The Air Force's primary air defender was the F-100 Super Sabre, which lacked an air intercept radar to find and engage MiGs hiding in the clouds. The F-104 Starfighter was deployed, as was the F-102, but they lacked the range and even with radar, they didn't have effective missiles to engage the MiGs in the clouds. In addition, interceptors in the USAF inventory like the F-102 and F-104 lacked self-sealing fuel tanks for air combat. In short, the USAF didn't have a fighter to escort the F-105s and B-52s 'downtown'. The US Navy had a similar problem with the F8U Crusader and already had the F4H Phantom II in development. As the Navy transitioned from the initial XF4H-1 (F-4A) into the production F4H-1 (F-4B) mission-capable aircraft, a number of these airframes were loaned to the USAF for evaluation.
The Air Force adopted the F-4 and issued their revisions to McDonnell Douglas for the F-110 Spectre. In 1963, when all branches of the military were directed to standardize their aircraft nomenclatures, the F4H-1 became the F-4B and the F-110 became the F-4C. The F-4C was flowing into squadron service as the Vietnam airwar was underway but many units were still not yet operational. The first squadron to reach Vietnam was the 555 TFS in December, 1964. The Phantom may have been late to the party, but the MiGs were forced to change tactics as the F-4C entered the fight.
Zoukei-Mura surprised the modeling community with its 1/48 F-4J kit which was followed earlier this year by the F-4S. These kits are easily the best F-4 Phantom kits in any scale to date and it was a pleasant surprise to see the F-4C and F-4D (w/LORAN) on display at the Zoukei-Mura booth during IPMS/USA Nationals earlier this year. In addition, Zoukei-Mura has officially announced the long-nosed Phantoms starting with the F-4E and F-4EJ coming next year.
Their F-4C Phantom II in 1/48 scale has landed here and is no less impressive than the F-4J and F-4S kits. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eleven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts (duplicate trees not shown). This kit does have some amazing detail yet is laid out for relatively simple construction. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Beautiful front and rear cockpits
- Stick, throttles and even canopy lock handles provided
- Detailed Martin Baker ejection seats (no crew restraints provided)
- Canopy can be posed in open or closed positions
- One-piece canopy provided for closed option
- Nicely detailed J79 engines
- Optional engine stand provided
- Intake ducts to the compressor faces
- Intakes include pitots
- Exhaust nozzles molded in open position
- Detailed wheel wells and landing gear
- Positionable trailing edge flaps
- Positionable ailerons
- Tail hook molded separately and can be depicted in up/stowed position
- Speed brakes molded separately and depicted in open or closed position
- Ventral aux air doors molded separately and depicted in open position
External stores include:
- 4 x AIM-7E Sparrow
- 4 x AIM-9J/P Sidewinder
- 2 x 370 gallon external tanks
- 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
Note: This kit depicts the F-4C later in its service life. If you're wanting to model a Vietnam-era F-4C, you'll need to find some aftermarket AIM-9B Sidewinders as these were the only Sidewinders in production at the time. The noses of these early heat-seeking missiles (heaters) were distinctive in shape. The variety of seeker heads for the kit's heaters include AIM-9D/G/H, AIM-9E, AIM-9J/P/N, and AIM-9L/M, but no AIM-9B.
Decals are provided for one subject:
- F-4C, 63-7618, 57 FIS, Keflavik, Iceland, 1976 (bicentennial markings)
The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and provides an extensive set of markings and stencils for the airframe and weapons.
If you've built the Hasegawa and/or Academy Phantoms, the Zoukei-Mura Phantoms are superior in a number of ways including:
- Cockpit detail is far better
- Aux intakes have details inside thanks to the J79s that are included in the kit
- Many of the little details are molded separately and included
- The underside of the fuselage is one piece so you don't have the awkward (for me) joint found in the Academy kit
- Rails on the AIM-9 missile rails
- The kit has nice detail without it being complex or over-engineered
Since there are no crew figures in the box, it is a bit disappointing to have these nice ejection seats without any crew restraints, but there are plenty of options in the aftermarket for these.
This is another nice addition to the quarter-scale Phantom flightline, and along with their F-4J and F-4S, continue to be the best Phantoms in 1/48 scale.
My sincere thanks to Zoukei-Mura Inc. for this review sample!