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F-4S Phantom II Kit

Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/48 F-4S Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2017 Manufacturer Zoukei-Mura Inc.
Subject F-4S Phantom II Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48005 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful molding, excellent detail Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $75.00

First Look

F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit
F-4S Phantom II Kit

The F-4S Phantom II was the result of a life-extension of the F-4J after the new fleet defense fighter, the F-111B, was cancelled in order to keep the type combat relevant until the F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet entered service. Since no F-4S airframes were ever produced by McDonnell Douglas, the F-4S configuration was applied to over 300 F-4J airframes and included:

  • Strengthened airframe
  • Smokeless J79 engines
  • Leading edge slats
  • New wiring harnesses
  • New hydraulic plumbing
  • AWG-10B digital weapons control system
  • Updates for newer weapons
  • Formation 'slime' lights

The F-4S remained online with the US Navy until the arrival of the Tomcat and with the US Marine Corps until the arrival of the Hornet. Unlike other Phantom variants, the F-4S was not exported to allied nations when they were retired from active and reserve duties and eventually joined their compatriots as drones.

Zoukei-Mura surprised the modeling community with its 1/48 F-4J kit which was released last year. As you've read here and elsewhere, the Zoukei-Mura F-4J is the best F-4 kit in 1/48 scale and is a contender for best F-4 kit in any scale. Now they've returned with this F-4S kit and it is as impressive as their F-4J. This is the first injection-molded kit of the F-4S in any scale and they've certainly done their research.

Before you head to your email to dispute this, remember that the Hasegawa F-4S was not tooled as an update to the F-4J but was a strategic mix of parts to render their F-4S by using the slatted F-4E wing with the F-4J fuselage and a few extra styrene and photo-etched parts. The Zoukei-Mura F-4S has the tell-tale structural stiffener under the wing integral to their lower wing half while the upper wing halves have the correct wing fences for the Sierra. The Hasegawa kit uses a set of photo-etched parts to replicate that stiffener while the wing fences are F-4E.

This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eleven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts (duplicate trees not shown). This kit does have some amazing detail yet is laid out for relatively simple construction. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Beautiful front and rear cockpits
  • Stick, throttles and even canopy lock handles provided
  • Detailed Martin Baker ejection seats (no crew restraints provided)
  • Canopy can be posed in open or closed positions
  • One-piece canopy provided for closed option
  • Nicely detailed J79 engines
  • Optional engine stand provided
  • Intake ducts to the compressor faces
  • Intakes include pitots
  • Exhaust nozzles molded in open position
  • Detailed wheel wells and landing gear
  • Leading edge slats are designed to be displayed extended
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Tail hook molded separately but depicted in up/stowed position
  • Speed brakes molded separately and depicted in open position
  • Ventral aux air doors molded separately and depicted in open position
  • Positionable air refueling probe

External stores include:

  • 4 x AIM-7 Sparrow
  • 4 x AIM-9L Sidewinder
  • 2 x 370 gallon external tanks
  • 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank

Decals are provided for one subject:

  • F-4S, 153808, VF-161, NF/100, USS Midway, 1981, CAG

The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and provides an extensive set of markings and stencils for the airframe and weapons.

Note that the instruction book is well illustrated but still requires a bit of study to ensure you understand the tasks at hand. In the F-4J kit, we noted that the flaps and ailerons were molded separately but posed neutral, you would have the same impression here until you get to page 30. Here they've documented the proper flap and aileron angles for when the flaps are extended along with other useful information.

If you've built the Hasegawa and/or Academy Phantoms, the Zoukei-Mura Phantoms are superior in a number of ways including:

  • Cockpit detail is far better
  • Aux intakes have details inside thanks to the J79s that are included in the kit
  • The little details from antennas to catapult bridle hooks are molded separately and included
  • The underside of the fuselage is one piece so you don't have the awkward (for me) joint found in the Academy kit
  • Rails on the AIM-9 missile rails
  • The kit has nice detail without it being complex or over-engineered

Since there are no crew figures in the box, it is a bit disappointing to have these nice ejection seats without any crew restraints, but there are plenty of options in the aftermarket for these.

This is another nice addition to the quarter-scale Phantom flightline and along with their F-4J, continue to be the best Phantoms in 1/48 scale. I hope they'll consider the F-4E soon though I'm sure the next will be the F-4B/N given that it has so much in common with the current tooling.

My sincere thanks to  Zoukei-Mura Inc. for this review sample!