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F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit

Zoukei-Mura Inc. 1/48 F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2020 Manufacturer Zoukei-Mura Inc.
Subject F-4E (early) Phantom II Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48010 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful molding, excellent detail, corrected rear fuselage Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $75.00

First Look

F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit
F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit

When the F-4 Phantom II was first designed, it was one of the first aircraft to follow a new air combat philosophy that with guided missiles, guns were obsolete. As the Air Force, Navy, and Marines took the F-4 into combat, they realized quickly that this new philosophy was nothing more than bovine scat. In aerial combat, you can find yourself inside minimum launch range for both the AIM-7 and AIM-9 leaving one armed with only rude gestures. If your opponent was flying the MiG-17 however, they were still armed with cannons and close-in combat was very one-sided. Before long, F-4s flying CAP (combat air patrol) traded their centerline tanks for a 20mm gun pod. The problem with the pod was that between vibrations and aerodynamic forces on the pod, wherever you pointed the gunsight pipper was going to be the only place the gun wasn't going to hit. Pilots tended to 'walk the rudders' to spray the area around the MiG in order to score hits. To get more consistent hits on target, the Phantom needed an internal gun. McDonnell Douglas had already developed a long-nose design for the Phantom for the RF-4B/RF-4C, so they fitted a long nose on an F-4C/D and began working how to fit the M61 Vulcan as well a radar into that tight space. The solution was soon worked out and several prototypes were flown before the Air Force would adopt the design as the F-4E.

It has been a year since Zoukei-Mura's Inc. delivered their last Phantom kit with another F-4J, and many folks were excited to learn that they were beginning the long-nosed Phantoms next. Here is their first installment with an early F-4E and this is due to be followed-up in a month or so with a special edition F-4EJ Kai. I've had a few emails asking about what the differences are between an early, mid, and late F-4E. From a production point of view, you could consider the E-models (blocks 31-47) as 'early' production as they all featured the blown leading edge flaps from the earlier Phantoms. By definition, each individual production block introduced improvements and updates, but the visible differences between the early blocks was very minor. The late production F-4E began with block 48 and ran through block 67 and the initial difference was the introduction of the ASX-1 TISEO sensor mounted to the left inboard wing leading edge and the ARN-101 which had a distinctive antenna on the dorsal spine. It was also in block 48 that the slatted wing was also introduced, but several airframes were produced without slats. The slats replaced the engine-blown leading edge flaps and gave the F-4E greater maneuverability. Further improvements were made through the end off production though many of airframes were retro-fitted to earlier blocks including slat kits, the F-15 600-gallon centerline tank, chaff/flare launchers on the inboard pylons, smokeless J79 engines, and more. Some F-4Es were even fitted with the frameless F-15 windscreen.

The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on 14 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.

  • 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
  • Detailed canopy frames
  • 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 provided in open and closed positions
  • Detailed wheel wells and landing gear
  • Choice of normal or raised (take-off) nosegear strut
  • Leading and trailing edge flaps can be posed up or down
  • Ailerons molded separately and can be depicted in neutral (flight) or drooped (flaps down) position
  • Stabilators can be posed in your choice of three positions
  • Tail hook molded separately but depicted in up/stowed position
  • Speed brakes can be posed open or closed
  • Ventral aux air doors can be posed open or closed
  • Choice of stowable boarding ladder or larger boarding ladder (or none)

External stores include:

  • 4 x AIM-7E Sparrow
  • 4 x AIM-9E/J Sidewinder
  • 2 x 370 gallon external tanks
  • 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
  • 2 x TER
  • 2 x MER

Decals are provided for one subject:

  • F-4E-35-MC, 67-0308, 469 TFS/388 TFW, Ubon RTAFB, 'Betty Lou'

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

Notes:

  • If you've been following the evolution of these F-4 kits from Zoukei-Mura, you'll immediately notice that they are paying attention to customer feedback. For example, in the last F-4J release, the flaps, aux intake doors, and speed brakes were set up for only one pose, but this kit offers these details in open or closed poses. The stabilators have three position options, and even the J79 nozzles are now provided open and closed.
  • This kit has parts for future variants that are not used in this build. The instructions show all of the 'spares' that are not used in this build though I'm not surprised that the slatted options are not here since that takes a different wing.
  • This kit is set up primarily for air-to-air though the kit does include the multiple ejector racks (MERs) and triple ejector racks (TERs) should you want to bomb up your build (BYOB - bring your own bombs).
  • I still like the single-piece canopy as this is ideal for me as a cockpit mask while I later install the open canopy segments.

Update: As I noted above, Zoukei-Mura Inc. does listen to its customers. When they designed the new fuselage for the long-nosed Phantoms, they sought out expert help to get the shape of the rear fuselage correct. I heard from Andreas Klein, author and publisher of multiple definitive Phantom studies under his AirDOC/Double Ugly! banner, and Zoukei-Mura sought out his help. In turn, he obtained copies of the McDonnell Douglas blueprints/loftline drawings for the F-4E from the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum. If you look at the drawing below compared to the photos below, they did indeed get the rear fuselage correct.

F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit

F-4E (early) Phantom II Kit

F-4E (early) Phantom II KitF-4E (early) Phantom II KitF-4E (early) Phantom II Kit

In the photos above, the Hasegawa F-4E taped together (light gray) alongside the Z-M F-4E (dark gray). For years, we held many of the Hasegawa kits as the 'gold standard' by which new kits would be judged. As we discovered with the Academy 1/48 short-nosed Phantoms, Academy had corrected the shape of the nose, and after a heated debate online, the experts finally agreed that the Hasegawa kit was wrong. Here we are again, and differences in shape of the Zoukei-Mura rear fuselage, in conjunction with the drawings, highlight another bad accuracy assumption with the Hasegawa F-4E.

Given the design and details in this kit, the Zoukei-Mura F-4E is the best kit of the Phantom they've produced to date and my choice for best Phantom kit in any scale (less than 1:1).

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

Here is a list of paints Zoukei-Mura identifies for use with this kit and their equivalent colors from other brands:

 
AMMO
AV
GSI
HAT
LC
MIS
MRP
TAM
TES
XTRA
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
0925
71.011
C038
H078
N078
A022
C022
UA132
MMP054
072
XF62
2091
X211
XA1212
Clear Red
 
70.934
C047
H090
N090
 
 
 
266
LP72
X27
 
 
Clear Blue
 
70.938
C050
H093
N093
 
 
 
267
LP68
X23
 
 
Olive Green
0065
71.289
C303
H303
A021
C021
UA223
MMP066
102
AS14
1713
X116
XA1116
Green
0206
71.294
C309
H309
A016
C016
UA091
MMP058
101
AS13
XF65
1710
X114
Sierra Tan
0202
71.125
C310
H310
A012
C012
UA015
MMP060
103
AS15
XF59
1742
 
Gray
0226
71.296
C311
H311
A039
C039
UA021
MMP095
104
AS16
1733
 
White
 
71.279
C316
H316
A049
C049
 
MMP104
099
AS20
XF02
1745
X141
XA1141
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