Tamiya 1/32 F-4E Phantom II Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||August 2014||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Subject||F-4E Phantom II||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||60310||Primary Media||Styrene, White Metal|
|Pros||Best F-4E in any scale||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$196.00|
When the US Air Force first evaluated the F4H-1 (F-4A) Phantom II, they were surprised that the aircraft met or exceeded their requirements. The first USAF-specific version was to be the F-110 Spectre though the McNamara standardization of aircraft designators changed that to F-4C Phantom II (the Navy's first full-production version was the F-4B). The Air Force continued improving the avionics of the aircraft rendering the F-4D. As the F-4B, F-4C, and F-4D gained combat experience in Vietnam, one deficiency continued to frustrate aircrews when dogfighting MiGs - no gun. The Navy and Air Force Phantoms started receiving hastily developed gun pods that were typically carried on the aircraft's centerline station, but stability and vibration issues affected the accuracy of the gun.
The Air Force looked for an internal gun solution for the F-4 and McDonnell had originally planned for four 20mm single-barrel cannons in their early concepts for the aircraft. Using an RF-4 nose section, the M61 Vulcan was mounted into a canoe under the nose while the radar and avionics bay was moved forward to accommodate the new ammo drum. The increased weight and forward center of gravity shift of this modification were offset by the installation of more powerful J79 engines and a new fuel cell in an aft fuselage bay. The stabilators were given inverted slats to provide greater pitch authority as well. This new combination of capabilities became the F-4E Phantom II.
The F-4E continued to receive production improvements which were incorporated as part of new production blocks. The first production block was Block 31 which started in 1966 and these incremented with each set of improvements. Block 67 would be the last version when production ended in 1978. Block 48 would start some of the more distinctive improvements which included the replacement of the wing leading edge flaps with slats (though most of the earlier F-4Es were retrofitted with slats during their next stop through depot) as well as the installation TISEO (TV telescope) mounted to the port side wing.
Here is Tamiya's 1/32 F-4E Phantom II kit which has been on the market now for over 13 years. I originally passed on this kit because it was configured as an early F-4E and I was going to wait for the inevitable late-block F-4E instead. Well as we all know, that late-block kit never happened and I put my projects on hold. During the IPMS/USA 2014 National Convention, I spoke with two aftermarket resin companies that both produced conversions for the Tamiya and Revell 1/32 F-4E kits. Even Revell was displaying their new 1/32 F-4G kit which brought my projects back to the forefront. I decided to aquire the resin parts and finally get my Phantom projects off the ground. First a look at the basic Tamiya kit.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eleven parts trees plus fuselage shell and ejection seat frames. Also incuded is two trees of clear parts, one set of metal landing gear struts, and one set of rubber (vinyl) tires.
Among the features and options that Tamiya has provided:
- Beautifully detailed cockpits
- Postionable canopies
- Optional crew figures
- Optional boarding ladder
- Positionable internal boarding ladder
- Nice intake ducting w/J79 engine faces
- Equally nice afterburner chambers
- Highly detailed wheel wells
- Metal gear struts
- Rubber tires on styrene wheel hubs
- Positionable speed brakes
- Positionable auxiliary intake doors
- Separately molded outer wing panels that have hinge detail but you'll need to provide your own hinges to pose the outer panels folded
- Movable stabilator with anhedral molded into part!
- Detailed radar dish and avionics bay
- Detailed M61 Vulcan and ammo drum
- Clear nose to view radar and gun details
- Choice of early or late gun muzzle fairings
- Choice of early or late vertical fin caps
- 4 x AIM-9E Sidewinders
- 4 x AIM-7E Sparrows
- 12 x Mk.82 500lb bombs
- 2 x TERs
- 1 x MER
- 1 x ALQ-87 ECM pod
- 2 x 370 gallon outboard tanks
Markings are included for two examples:
- F-4E-37-MC, 68-0338, 469 TFS/388 TFW, Korat RTAFB, 1968
- F-4E-36-MC, 68-0392, 469 TFS/388 TFW, Korat RTAFB, 1968
As I mentioned above, I held off on this kit because I wanted a late-block F-4E and I wasn't a big fan of the clear nose. At the time, this was also the most expensive aircraft kit Tamiya had produced but over a decade later, the prices aren't quite as breathtaking when you look at some of the newest kits coming online. In fact, I picked this kit up on sale after returning from IPMS Nationals, so there are bargains to be found.
This kit remains the best F-4E kit in any scale though I wish Tamiya had continued with the Phantom series. With the variety of aftermarket options and conversions that are available, there is no longer a need to wait on Tamiya and wait until you see what's next!