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F-4S

Hasegawa 1/48 F-4S Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2008 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F-4S Phantom II 'VF-161 Rock Rivers' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 09807 Primary Media Styrene, Photo Etch
Pros Easy build, great external details Cons Sparse cockpit detail
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $54.95

First Look

F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit
F-4S Kit

For a more in-depth discussion of the history of the F-4 Phantom II in Navy service, see our previous F-4S review here.

The F-4 Phantom II was supposed to be phased out in favor of the advanced fighter, the General Dynamics F-111B. Without digressing into the fallacies of the F-111B, its avionics, weapons, and engines were salvaged and a new airframe designed around that capability - the F-14 Tomcat. The F-4J and F-4B had to soldier on longer than planned while the Tomcat was under development, but as the Tomcats started flowing into the fleet, the Phantoms could finally be retired. Not so fast...

While the Tomcat could safely operate from all of the nuclear carriers as well as the America and JFK, the Tomcat could not be certified for safe operations from the USS Midway. Two squadrons of Phantoms were retained to provide fighter squadrons to the Midway's airwing.

The F-4S was a modernization program for many of the remaining operational F-4Js which incorporated new weapons and the slatted wing that was introduced into the midst of the USAF's F-4E production cycle. These slatted wings provided improved low-speed handling and slower approach speeds which made carrier landings a bit easier. The new weapons carried by the Sierra included the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder which gave the Phantom its first IR missile head-on kill capability.

In addition to VF-151 and VF-161 on the Midway, the Sierra remained in service with two Naval Reserve squadrons as well as with the US Marine Corps. These were all phased out around 1986 with the arrival of the new F/A-18 Hornet (which could operate from the Midway's deck).

Hasegawa has reissued the Sierra a little over a year after their boutique Sierra release that covered VX-30 QF-4S drones. This time, the kit is back with its familiar Midway airwing livery and all is well.

It is surprising that nobody has seriously challenged Hasegawa in all these years for the best quarter scale Phantom. The Tamiya 1/32 kits are still the best Phantoms in any scale, for whatever reason, Tamiya didn't elect to scale down their 1/32 kits into 1/48 as they subsequently did with their beautiful F-16 kits. So until another challenger arrives on the scene, the Hasegawa Phantoms are the best in 1/48 scale and absolutely nobody has produced more Phantom variants in any scale than Hasegawa!

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts, and a single fret of photo-etch. The kit is beautifully molded with no flash and very minimal ejector marks. All details are finely scribed. Also included in the kit is the rear cockpit sidewall that distinguishes a Navy Phantom from a USAF bird. The kit is armed with four decent AIM-7s, four crude AIM-9Bs (replace them!), one centerline tank, two wing tanks, and Navy pylons.

Hasegawa did not include any of the 'Hi Grade' parts in this kit (white metal landing gear and wheel hubs, rubber tires, and photo-etched parts), they did add one photo-etch 'sprue' that is critical for the F-4S. Evidently, the F-4Js were starting to experience fatigue problems in the main spar/wing box area and McDonnell Douglas reinforced this area during the upgrades. The photo-etch sprue shown below corrects the kit wing to the 'bandaged' configuration.

The kit is released in the same configuration as previous releases, which is a bit of a disappointment. Hasegawa has tooled two sets of clears for the Phantom series, the standard set you see here with the individual windscreen and canopies, which is fine if you're posing the canopies open. The new tooling that should have been included is the 'one-piece' canopy that makes for a simple closed-canopy solution. Even if you don't want to pose the canopies closed, the one-piece canopy is handy to mask off the cockpit during painting, then replace it with the individual sections when ready.

The major feature that changes with each of Hasegawa's special edition releases is the decal sheet, and we have three nice examples from the USS Midway to choose from:

  • F-4S, BuNo 153808, VF-161, NF/100, CAG, USS Midway, 1982
  • F-4S, BuNo 153820, VF-161, NF/101, USS Midway, 1982
  • F-4S, BuNo 153880, VF-151, NF/205, USS Midway, 1986

The two VF-161 examples are wearing the overall light Gull Gray subdued color scheme that was later replaced by the tricolor gray scheme used on most F-4S airframes toward the end of their lives and depicted here. The VF-151 example uses this later camouflage scheme.

Here is a list of paints Hasegawa identifies for the colors of this kit and the equivalent colors from other brands:

 
AMMO
AV
GSI
HAT
LC
MIS
MRP
TAM
TES
XTRA
White
0050
71.001
C001
H001
N001
A528
C528
LC001
MMP001
004
LP02
X02
1745
 
Black
0032
70.950
C002
H002
N002
A125
C125
LC002
MMP047
005
LP01
X01
1747
 
Silver
0195
71.062
C008
H008
N008
A003
C003
LC074
MMM006
128
LP11
X11
 
X038
Flat Black
0046
71.057
C033
H012
N012
A041
C041
LC002
 
020
LP03
XF01
1749
 
Steel
0191
71.065
C028
H018
N018
 
 
MMM002
030
X10
1780
X502
Olive Drab
0237
71.016
C012
H052
N052
A018
C018
UA106
 
 
AS06
 
X112
XA1112
Burnt Iron
0187
71.073
C061
H076
N076
A106
C106
 
MMM01
147
LP54
XF84
 
X508
Tire Black
0033
71.315
C137
H077
N077
 
UA733
MMP040
 
LP65
XF85
 
 
Olive Green
0084
71.093
C054
H080
N080
A152
C152
UA303
MMP034
078
XF58
 
 
Khaki Drill
 
 
C055
H081
N081
 
 
 
 
XF49
 
 
Deck Tan
0132
71.141
C045
H085
N085
 
 
 
 
XF55
 
 
Clear Red
 
70.934
C047
H090
N090
 
 
 
266
LP72
X27
 
 
Clear Blue
 
70.938
C050
H093
N093
 
 
 
267
LP68
X23
 
 
Gray
0208
71.120
C307
H307
A035
C035
UA027
MMP074
097
AS25
1741
X135
XA1135
Gray
0203
71.312
C308
H308
A037
C037
UA026
MMP073
038
AS26
XF2:1+
XF25:2
1728
X136
XA1136
Gray
0241
71.121
C315
H315
A048
C048
 
MMP069
 
XF20
1729
X137
XA1137
Gray
0205
71.277
C317
H317
A044
C044
UA033
MMP064
100
 
1740
X131
Red
0121
71.084
C327
H327
A219
C219
 
 
002
 
 
X103
Yellow
 
 
C329
H329
A066
C066
 
 
 
X08
1707
X106
Gray
0210
71.114
C337
H337
A046
C046
UA625
MMP072
105
 
1721
X126
XA1126

Hasegawa's love affair with the Phantom is shared by many modelers around the world. This kit, along with the others in the Hasegawa line-up, are the best Phantom kits in 1/48 scale.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!

References: