Accurate Miniatures 1/72 F-4C/D Phantom II Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||September 2008 (Updated July 2011)||Manufacturer||Accurate Miniatures (Monogram)|
|Subject||F-4C/D Phantom II||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||0410||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Very nicely detailed kit||Cons||Majority of decals are for F-4C, kit is an F-4D out of the box (see text)|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
As the US expanded combat operations in Southeast Asia in the mid-1960s, the US Air Force found itself unprepared for the counter-insurgency warfare as well as the air superiority missions required to support supply interdiction missions in the north of the country. The leading fighter at the time was the F-100 Super Sabre, but the aircraft lacked radar, so it was unable to affect intercepts against North Vietnamese (Russian) MiGs attacking US strike aircraft. While there were radar-equipped interceptors in USAF inventory at the time, most were dedicated to the defense of North American and lacked self-sealing fuel tanks that would be needed in combat operations.
The US Navy was developing its next-generation fighter to move carrier aviation from the Mach 1+ F-8 Crusader to Mach 2+ and to integrate improved radar and guided missile technologies in the resulting fighter. This new aircraft was McDonnell Douglas' F4H Phantom II and would become the mainstay of US Navy and Marine Corps aviation for several decades. The US Air Force was in the uncomfortable position of not having a suitable radar-equipped fighter in its own development pipeline, so they had to 'buy Navy'. The new Air Force aircraft was an F4H-1 that had minor variations in equipment fit and was initially dubbed the F-110A Spectre, but SecDef McNamara's designator standardization of late 1962/early 1963 resulted in the F4H-1 becoming the F-4B and the F-110A becoming the F-4C.
In 1966, the Soviet Union introduced the MiG-21 into the North Vietnamese Air Force and this new threat was very effective against the bomb-laden F-105 Thunderchief. While the MiGs prefered to pick off F-105 Thunderchiefs and other targets of opportunity without the protective cover of the Phantom, one of the F-4C Phantom IIs of the 8th TFW 'Wolfpack' was also shot down by the MiG-21. On 2 Jan 1967, Wolfpack under the command of Colonel Robin Olds decided to spoof the MiGs into coming out and playing with them. They developed tactics and callsigns to make the Phantoms appear to be bomb-laden F-105s driving North and the MiG pilots couldn't resist. In the end, the Wolfpack scored seven MiG-21s shot down with another two probables, and while that number doesn't sound too impressive, the North Vietnamese only had 16 MiG-21s at that point in the war.
After that bloody nose, the North Vietnamese Air Force changed targets and started intercepts against reconnaissance flights up North. Once again, the Wolfpack substituted two F-4Cs in tight formation for the lone reconnaissance aircraft and lured up four MiG-21s and downing two of them. The remaining MiG-21s were subsequently grounded while replacements could be acquired and new tactics developed. The MiG pilots were put on notice - don't mess with the Wolfpack!
In recent years, Accurate Miniatures has been releasing other companies' kits in their own boxes including Eduard's 1/48 P-39 Airacobras, Special Hobby's 1/48 F2G Super Corsair, Revell's classic 1/72 aircraft, and Eduard's beautiful 1/48 F-4C/DF-8 kit. This release features Monogram's 1/72 F-4C/D kit - let's take a look.
The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on six parts trees, one additional tree of clear parts, and one resin ECM pod. The tooling is older generation, which means that the panel lines are raised and there is a hint of flash here and there. The way this kit is laid out, it is clear that the tooling was designed for a number of their 1/72 Phantom releases and provides you with some nice parts for other projects.
While there are a variety of Phantom variants supported by the Monogram parts trees, the one absolute is that this is an F-4D kit. For whatever reason, Monogram opted to mold the chin pod to the underside of the radome. The F-4C chin pod housed an infrared search/track set while the F-4D chin pod housed a radar warning receiver, resulting in a different shape:
F-4C IRST Chin Pod
F-4D RWR Chin Pod
The difference in shape is not significant, you'll need to do some sculpting/reshaping of the chin pod to backdate this kit to an F-4C. Also note that the instructions are a little vague here and there which is okay for the most part since the F-4C and F-4D are very similar, but beware of the LORAN antenna (part 44) as this was only used on Pave Phantom Block 32 and Block 33 F-4Ds (no F-4C received the LORAN and only 72 F-4Ds were so modified - as always, check your references).
What kind of details are inside this box?
- Nicely detailed cockpit
- Slotted and unslotted stabiliators
- Short and long nozzle J79 afterburner nozzles
- Pave Phantom LORAN-D towel-rack antenna
- Late-update F-4J intake ECM fairings
- Navy and Air Force inboard pylons
- Navy and Air Force nose gear doors
- Separately molded speed brakes
- Separately molded ailerons
- 2 optional crew figures - one seated, one standing
- One-piece and four-piece canopies provided for posing the canopies open or closed
External stores options include:
- Centerline 20mm gunpod
- 4 x AIM-9 Sidewinders
- 4 x AIM-7 Sparrows
- 2 x Outboard wing tanks
- 1 x Centerline tank
- 6 x Mk.82 slicks w/fuse extenders
- 3 x ECM pods: ALQ-87, ALQ-101, and a resin QRC-160
Decals are provided for nine aircraft:
- F-4C-21-MC, 63-7680, 479 TFS/8 TFW, FP, Ubon RTAFB, Operation Bolo, Jan 1967 (the instructions indicate that this aircraft flew from Upon RTAFB)
- F-4C-24-MC, 64-0829, 433 TFS/8 TFW, FG, Ubon RTAFB, Scat XXVII, May 1967
- F-4C-23-MC, 63-7676, 58 TFTW, Luke AFB, 1976 (instructions indicate this is F-4C 67-6760)
- F-4D-31-MC, 66-7678, 334 TFS/4 TFW, SA, Seymour-Johnson AFB, 1968
- F-4C-18-MC, 63-7482, 171 FIS/ MI ANG, William Tell 1982 @ Tyndall AFB, 'Patience My Ass'
- F-4C-16-MC, 63-7442, 171 FIS/ MI ANG, William Tell 1982 @ Tyndall AFB, 'Shadow Demon'
- F-4C-17-MC, 63-7460, 171 FIS/ MI ANG, William Tell 1982 @ Tyndall AFB, 'Puff the Magic Dragon'
- F-4C-18-MC, 63-7475, 171 FIS/ MI ANG, William Tell 1982 @ Tyndall AFB, 'Defender of Freedom'
- F-4C-19-MC, 63-7529, 171 FIS/ MI ANG, William Tell 1982 @ Tyndall AFB, 'Trust Me'
As indicated above, straight out of the box, only one of these markings apply to the kit, Chuck Yeager's F-4D from the 4th TFW. If you don't care about the chin fairing or choose to resculpt the fairing back to the F-4C, then you have some dynamite choices here. If you're careful, you have enough markings in this kit to complete perhaps four aircraft.
Overall, this is stil a nice kit of the early USAF Phantom II and features some nice air-to-air and air-to-ground loadouts and enough detail variations to make this kit interesting.
Thanks to Accurate Miniatures for this review sample!