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Hasegawa 1/48 F-4E (Late) Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2008 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F-4E Phantom II 'RoKAF' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09805 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, great details Cons Sparse cockpit detail
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $47.00

First Look

F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit
F-4E Kit

The F-4E evolved out of combat experience with the F-4C and F-4D in aerial combat over Vietnam. It had been clear to both sides that the era of the guided missile was a bit premature and deleting the internal guns from their fighters was not such a great idea.

The USAF developed 20mm gun pods that housed the M61 Vulcan cannon with a firing rate of 6000 rounds (sounds impressive until you realize that the pods only carried 1200 rounds or around 20 seconds of ammo). One of the more frustrating aspects of these pods was the way it shook when it fired in flight. The pod oscillation on the pylon would cause the rounds to go just about everywhere except where you were aiming. The solution was to mount the gun in the nose.

McDonnell Douglas added the M61 to a lengthened nose that also housed an improved radar. Aerodynamic improvements were added to the F-4E partway through its production replace the leading edge flaps with slats to improve low-speed maneuverability. These slats were retrofitted to the earlier F-4Es as well becoming a key feature in the Navy's F-4S (upgraded F-4J).

As the F-4E remained in front-line service with the USAF, it had also seen combat during the 1973 war in the Middle East where the Phantom was confronted with more modern (and dangerous) Soviet-made air defenses than seen in Southeast Asia. While the Israelis suffered significant losses with their Phantom fleet, they rebounded with new tactics that allowed the F-4E to regain the edge in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). The effectiveness of the Phantom in two wars led to its adoption in other air arms including the F-4EJ for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the F-4F for the Luftwaffe, and F-4Es for Australia, Egypt, Greece, Iran, South Korea, and Turkey.

Hasegawa's Phantoms remain the best kits of the type in 1/48 scale as well as 1/72. They clearly show a love affair that the kit designers have with this subject and to date have produced just about every version of the Phantom that rolled off the production line. Their F-4E kit has been the mainstay of many modelers' projects, but out of the box, it represented a mid-service airframe. While a few releases have addressed some of the updates, this one hits a home run with a nice representation of the late configuration F-4E.

The kit is molded light gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees of light gray styrene. The details on this kit (as are most of the Phantoms) are finely scribed. Only the early tooling of the F-4J was raised and I believe that has been reissued with scribed details to conform with the rest of the Phantoms in this series. The kit also comes with two clear trees representing two canopy configurations. This too is a product improvement that was introduced a few years back. Originally, the kit came with the separately molded windscreen, mid-section, and two canopies so the model could be posed opened up. Unfortunately, the canopies didn't fit that well to be closed up, so enter the second clear tree with a one-piece canopy/windscreen part to allow for a seamless (literally) closed canopy.

The basic F-4E kit comes with the slotted wing (which is also used in the F-4S kit), a simple cockpit with two optional crew figures, and a basic array of externals. The stabilator is slotted which is correct for this version. The intakes are blanked off down the trunk, but there are many aftermarket options to provide seamless intakes down to the engine face should you so choose. The inboard pylons are the correct rounded leading edge for USAF subjects (they also produce the straight leading edge pylons for their USN/USMC subjects). The gun muzzle fairing comes in two styles, just like the real thing - a blunt fairing, and a more streamlined fairing. Both are in this kit, so check your photos to see which one your subject had fitted.

The standard external stores as reflected in this release include:

  • 4 x AIM-9J/P Sidewinders
  • 4 x AIM-7D/E Sparrows
  • 2 x external 370 gallon tanks on the outboard pylons
  • 1 x standard 600 gallon centerline tank

Late Block Updates

There have been a number of really nice decal offerings for the late-configuration F-4Es, but with just a few exceptions, the usual Hasegawa F-4E builds into a mid-life F-4E. When I heard about this release coming out, I had hoped that this would have the missing bits to bring the old girl up-to-date. I was not disappointed!

This kit includes:

  • 1 x TISEO camera fairing for the port wing
  • 1 x F-15-type centerline fuel tank
  • 1 x ARN-101 'Arnie' antenna (the lone resin bit between the canopies)
  • 2 x External rearview mirrors for the backseater

So straight out of this box, you can now do a late-configuration F-4E! Yes!!

Markings are provided for five examples:

  • F-4E-37-MC, 68-0326, 153 FS/17 FW, RoKAF
  • F-4E-39-MC, 68-0431, 156 FS/17 FW, RoKAF
  • F-4E-41-MC, 68-0533, 152 FS/17 FW, RoKAF
  • F-4E-54-MC, 76-0497, 152 FS/17 FW, RoKAF
  • F-4E-67-MC, 78-0737, 153 FS/17 FW, RoKAF

This is a nice limited edition release, so if you're in the market to build a late-configuration F-4E in USAF or RoKAF service, this is the one you need. I'm sure Hasegawa will offer this configuration again in the future, but you just don't know how long that will be.

You won't have any problems finding detail sets and decals for any of Hasegawa's 1/48 Phantoms as the aftermarket world has responded just as enthusiastically to these kits. You can find:

  • Aftermarket cockpits - Aires, Black Box, etc
  • Ejection Seats - Aires, Cutting Edge, Quickboost, etc
  • Photo-etch details - Eduard, etc
  • Seamless intakes - Cutting Edge, etc
  • Afterburner chambers and nozzles - Aires, Cutting Edge, High Flight, etc
  • Decals - Aeromaster, CAM, Eagle Strike, Yellowhammer, etc
  • Resin Wheels - Cutting Edge, True Details, etc

I highly recommend this kit to any Phantom lover!

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!