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F-4J Kit

Academy 1/48 F-4J Phantom II 'VF-102 Diamondbacks' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2018 Manufacturer Academy
Subject F-4J Phantom II 'VF-102 Diamondbacks' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12323 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $69.00

First Look

F-4J Kit
F-4J Kit
F-4J Kit
F-4J Kit
F-4J Kit
F-4J Kit

The Navy flew the F-4B extensively in Southeast Asia and as technology improved, the Navy ordered the F-4J to replace the F-4B. The F-4J featured an improved radar and higher thrust J79 engines. When Secretary of Defense McNamara's mandated replacement for the Naval F-4 faltered in development (the F-111B), the Navy performed a life extension program on their fleet of Phantoms. The F-4B received avionics updates and the resulting aircraft was designated F-4N, while the F-4J was not only given upgraded avionics, it also retrofitted with a similar flap/slat system as the later block USAF F-4Es. These updated F-4J aircraft were designated as the F-4S. These upgraded Phantoms soldiered on until the F-111B replacement, the F-14A Tomcat, could enter the fleet in sufficient numbers.

Academy first released the F-4B about four years ago and it was an interesting process to observe in the online chat rooms as a number of Phantom lovers leapt upon the new kit to point out its various shape flaws, but as the discussions went on, folks began to realize that it was the venerable Hasegawa 1/48 F-4B that possessed the shape flaws and Academy had actually created a correctly shaped aircraft. In the grand scheme of things, these shape problems were relatively minor, but the Academy Phantom kits are generally acknowledged as the best in scale. We've built the F-4B as well as doing a comparative quick-build of the Academy and Hasegawa kits.

Academy has now reissued their F-4J kit, originally released two years ago, this time without the multi-colored plastic and with new markings options. Among the kit's features and options:

  • Fuselage is molded in one part, just like the Tamiya 1/32 kits
  • Cockpit is nicely detailed
  • Rear cockpit has correct starboard sidewall
  • Nice Martin Baker ejection seats
  • Optional seated crew figures
  • Optional boarding ladder
  • Positionable canopies
  • Nicely detailed main gear wells
  • Main wheels and tires molded separately for ease of painting
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Outer wing panels molded separately and can be folded (wing hinges not included)
  • Intakes have ducts to the compressor faces
  • Nice afterburner chambers with turbine faces
  • Positionable air refueling probe

External stores included for this version:

  • 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder
  • 4 x AIM-9D Sidewinder (included but not acknowledged in the instructions)
  • 4 x AIM-7D/E Sparrow
  • 12 x Mk.82 Slicks
  • 2 x 370 gallon wing tanks
  • 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
  • 2 x triple ejector racks (TER)
  • 2 x multiple ejector rack (MER)

There are other weapons and pod options in the box that aren't used with this release.

This kit provides markings for two examples:

  • F-4J, 155510, VF-102, AG/100, USS Independence, 1973, CAG aircraft
  • F-4J, 155510, VF-102, AG/100, USS Independence, 1976, CAG aircraft

As with the previous releases, this decal sheet includes a nice array of airframe and weapons stencils plus airframe walkways.

For a look at the Academy F-4B up-close, take a look at our quick-build review.

This is another nice release from Academy and you'll be glad to know that most of the aftermarket details and decals designed for the Hasegawa kit will work with the Academy kit as well (though you've already seen the number of new decal and detail sets that are being produced for this great kit series.

My sincere thanks to Model Rectifier Corporation for this review sample!