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RF-4B Phantom II

IMC 1/72 Battle Damaged RF-4B Phantom II Build Review

By Chuck Holte

Date of Review March 2011 Manufacturer IMC
Subject Battle Damage RF-4B Phantom II Scale 1/72
Kit Number 0481 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Something different in F-4 kits, exercise in nostalgia Cons Poor fit, lack of detail, decals
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) long Out of Production


“…Da Nang tower, this is Brownie 21 on Guard, declaring In Flight Emergency, request direct approach to immediate landing your station.  We are single engine capable, no flaps…”

Well, with the condition of the kit/aircraft I modeled, the crew’s radio call could have gone something like that.  As you see, the model is intact, so we can hope all turned out well and they lived to tell their story.

The Kit

The Battle Damaged RF-4B kit is part of an IMC (Industro-Motive Corporation, Troy, Michigan) series in 1/72nd scale issued in the early 70’s. They provided “damaged” parts as options to show a dinged-up version as well as parts for a “straight” build.  Others in the series included: A-1H, A-4E, F-100D, F-105D and MiG-21.   The kits were OK for their time; they looked like the aircraft they were meant to represent and provided ample modeling challenge and opportunity between the box and the display shelf.  And, you could show some serious battle damage with your model.

I recently ran across an IMC RF-4B kit in my stash while looking for something else and knew right away time had come to slap this baby together.  There are much better RF-4 kits available, but none have the character of purposely designed holes in the wing, engine inlet and stab.  There is also an optional “holed” canopy that looked nasty, but I didn’t use it; Brownie 21 had enough problems.


Construction was straightforward and fit was what you would expect for this vintage kit; I used lots of superglue as filler and the sanding sticks and Flex-i-Files got a serious workout.  The “battle damaged” parts had a lot of flash, especially the wing area, so I spent time with a new #11 hobby knife cleaning that up. 

The wing damage has a lot of molded lattice work to supposedly represent the skeletal remains of the wing interior structure – I don’t think it really looks like that, but for the sake of the model, I played along.  The cockpit tub is basic with molded in seat bottoms that are supposed to meet with ejection seat headrests molded to the fuselage halves, but don’t.

RF-4B RF-4B No interior detail, instrument panels or the like.  I opened the side-looking camera ports in the nose but didn’t open the three bottom ports, leaving them for black decal treatment instead.  The camera area looks a bit long to me, but for sake of a quick build, I didn’t attempt the surgery needed to give it a nose job. 

The kit has nicely defined and scribed flight controls but the wing and fuselage panel lines are, for the most part, double rows of raised rivets with no scribed or raised lines.  The stabs are not slatted and the bottom of the fuselage is pretty much detail free, a blank canvas, so to speak.  You get two external fuel tanks and pylons that resemble what was normally carried.   I only used one tank and pylon, reasoning that whatever weapons effect caused the gaping holes in the left wing probably took the tank and pylon at the same time, thus giving Brownie 21 even more problems with an asymmetric load, no flaps and possibly only one engine. 

The kit landing gear is pretty pathetic; however, the previous owner of my kit had sourced and included a set of old Hasegawa F-4 gear and I used that with some modification (shortened the nose gear strut by about ¼ inch to get the fuselage level.

Painting and Finishing

Paint is the usual Vietnam-era USN gull gray (FS16440) upper surfaces with white flight controls and a white bottom.  I used Model Master enamels.  The battle-damaged areas were a freestyle of yellow zinc chromate and aluminum with airbrushed dark gray and black for the smoke and fire residue.  The main reason I started this project was to try out my new Iwata Revolution HP-TR1 (trigger model) airbrush, particularly for highlighting panel lines and weathering.  I was very pleased with the brush, even on my first attempt.  I was able to suggest panel lines by keeping a fine dark gray line between the double rows of rivets and it was a lot of fun to use in highlighting the damaged areas. 


Kit decals were for a Marine VMCJ-3 bird from El Toro and an Air Force aircraft of unknown lineage (I don’t think AF ever flew “B” model RF-4s, only “C” models), but were unusable in any case due to age and wear and tear.  I wanted decals from VMCJ-1 at Da Nang, reasoning that serious battle damage was more likely from the Vietnamese countryside visited VMCJ-1 than by what the California-based VMCJ-3 would experience, even on a bad training day. 


My search for Da Nang decals was in vain so I settled for a Microscale sheet (72-320) for VMCJ-3 with “TN” (El Toro) markings similar to the kit decals.  A top coat of Floquil Flat brought everything together and the finishing touches were filling the side camera ports with clear-setting Testors Clear Parts Cement and adding pitot tubes made from hypodermic needles.



So there you have it.  I took a short stroll down memory lane, had a lot of fun with a new airbrush, and one of the older RF-4 kits now rests in my display case representing what could have been a bad day at the office for a young Marine recce crew.