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F-4B

Project Phantom - F-4Bs Side-By-Side in 1/48th Scale

by Michael Benolkin

Background

For many years, the Hasegawa series of 1/48th scale F-4 Phantom II kits were the best kits of the subject in any scale less than 1:1. When Tamiya stepped in with their 1/32 scale F-4C/D, F-4J, and early F-4E kits, they not only dominated the 1/32 scale market, they also took the title of best F-4 kits in any scale less than 1:1. Nevertheless, Hasegawa has ruled unchallenged in the 1/48th scale market and are also holding their own in the 1/72nd scale market as well. When Academy announced that they were releasing the F-4B Phantom II in 1/48th scale (and the 1/72nd scale kit will follow), I was skeptical that Academy could unseat Hasegawa. Of course the easiest way to evaluate the two kits was to do a side-by-side quick build with no paint or filler just to see how these two models compare.

F-4B Quick Builds in 1/48th Scale

Comparisons

Both kits go together very nicely. The Hasegawa kit is a faster build because it is a simpler kit. The one fit problem that I experienced in the Academy kit was one of my doing (not following the instructions). The Academy kit is more accurate and offers more options than the Hasegawa kit.

F-4B Hasegawa Academy
Scale 1/48 1/48
MSRP (USD) $47.95 $69.95
Detail Raised Scribed
Intake Trunks No Yes
Armament Options Air-to-air only Air-to-air (more options)
plus air-to-ground
Fit Issues None None
Photo-Etched Parts No No

F-4B

F-4B

F-4B

F-4B

F-4B

F-4B

Pros and Cons

Hasegawa

Pros

  • Simple build, reasonably good fit
  • Tons of aftermarket detail and decal sets available for the kits

Cons

  • Limited external stores options in the box
  • Incorrect rear cockpit
  • Raised panel lines (the later Hasegawa Phantoms are scribed, but the F-4B was the first of the kit series released and the panel lines are raised)

Academy

Pros

  • Excellent fit, great engineering
  • Many of the Hasegawa aftermarket products will adapt to this kit
  • Wide range of AIM-9 Sidewinder types and two AIM-7 Sparrow types in the box
  • MER and two TERS with sufficient Mk.82 slicks
  • Lots of future options for kit subjects to come
  • Correct rear cockpit
  • Positionable air refueling probe
  • Intake ducts!!!

Cons

  • Joint between nose underside and wing will require a little care

Summary

The Academy kit has some really impressive engineering in the box and provides some good value for the price, especially as street prices will be lower than the MSRP. Should you toss out your Hasegawa kit? No, there is a reason why the Hasegawa Phantoms ruled this scale for so long. Even now, this model builds up into an impressive kit though it doesn't have the options and details of the Academy Phantom.

If Academy is going to take this design into 1/72 scale, Hasegawa will have some larger problems with their Phantoms as I'm really looking forward to see what other variants are coming in our future. From what's in this box, it is clear that we'll see the F-4B, F-4C, F-4D, and F-4N. With the larger afterburner nozzles, we'll at least see the F-4J but I'm hoping we'll see the hard-wing and slatted wing/TISEO F-4E, F-4G Wild Weasel, and the F-4S, not to mention the F-4F, F-4F ICE, and F-4EJ. If there's are gun-nosed Phantoms in this mix, perhaps we'll also see recce-nosed Phantoms too? RF-4B/C/E. The modular design of this tooling offers some great possibilities as long as the market demand is out there.

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