McDonnell F-4B Phantom II by Fujimi

1/72 scale
Kit No. G-11
Cost: $14.00
Decals: Two versions, both for U.S. Navy squadrons (VF-84 “Jolly Rogers” and VF-213 “Black Lions”)
Comments: Crisp mold, very good external detail but the engraved panel lines are a bit weak. Includes a full load of 4 Sparrrow and 4 Sidewinder missiles; tail hook is part of the main fuselage.

History

The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. One of the best known and most recognizable post-World War II jet fighters in the world, it first entered service in 1961 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force (a rare development at the time, given the traditional inter-service rivalry, and an indicator of the superb nature of the aircraft) — by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their respective air wings. Beginning in 1959, it set 15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.

The Phantom was a large fighter with a top speed of over Mach 2.2. It could carry more than 18,000 pounds (8,400 kg) of weapons on nine external hardpoints, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and various bombs. The F-4, like other interceptors of its time, was initially designed without an internal cannon. Later models, beginning with the F-4E, which appeared n 1968, incorporated an M61 Vulcan rotary cannon. During the Vietnam War, the F-4 was used extensively; it served as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, and became important in the ground-attack and aerial reconnaissance roles late in the war.

The F-4B fleet defense model was fitted with General Electric J79-GE-8 series engines, an improved form of the -A model’s powerplant. The first operational squadron of F-4’s in the U.S. Navy was VF-114, which received its F-4B’s in October 1961, after successful carrier trials conducted during 1960. The U.S. Marine Corps quickly followed suit, seeing the multi-role capabilities of the aircraft, and received their aircraft in 1962 with plans to employ them as their primary close air support fighter-bomber. F-4A and F-4B models quickly set aviation records for maximum altitude (98,556 feet on December 6, 1959), time-to-altitude and overall speed (1,606 mph on November 22, 1961), among others.

While the Phantom would go on to greater fame and renown, ultimately serving also the U.S. Air Force and the air arms of at least 11 other nations (including Japan, Israel, Germany and Great Britain) it was the F-4B that first put the Phantom on the map of world military aviation in the early 1960’s.

The Kit

First released in 1985, Fujimi’s F-4B is molded in gray with engraved panel lines and has 106 injection molded parts, five of which are clear plastic for the canopy. The instructions are well illustrated, and include supplemental drawings to show the proper positioning for open canopies, as well as the proper angle for the rear stabilizers and a paint guide for the missiles. Overall, this appears to be a very good kit; my only complaint is that the cockpit is not terribly detailed.

Cockpit

The cockpit features decals for all instrument panels, and seats of fair detail that offer separate parts for the pull handles triggering the ejection sequence. The pull handles are not particularly detailed, but at least an effort is made to represent them. Many manufacturers do not bother with this part. If you care about this aspect of the build, I recommend Aires ejection seats. There is a separate control stick for the pilot, but none for the radar intercept officer in the back seat. I do not know if this is standard on F-4B’s, so cannot speak to its accuracy. Fujimi’s kit has an unusual construction feature in that the cockpit tub is cemented into a separate part that is a section of the bottom of the fuselage directly beneath the canopy.

Intakes

Fujimi’s jet intakes are of good quality, with engraved detail on the ramps. Like the much older 1/72 Revell F-4E, the Fujimi version features intakes that curve around to meet the ramps on top and on the bottom, covering a full 180 degrees on a vertical line. This is a big plus, since some other manufacturers (namely Monogram) feature intakes that do not cover a full 180 degrees, meeting the bottom edge of the fuselage, and require a lot of putty, sanding and patience to hide an ugly seam that never appeared on the actual Phantom. With the Fujimi Phantom this is not a problem.

Exhaust Nozzles and Missiles

The kit’s exhaust nozzles seem to follow an industry standard of providing good external detail, and fairly good molding representing the turbofan at the end of the shaft.  The kit’s missiles are noteworthy mainly because they bear engraved panel lines, something I have rarely if ever seen on a kit.

This close-up of one of the F-4B’s ejection seats gives a precise idea of the level of detail in the cockpit. To the upper left are the plain parts for the instrument panels for which decals are provided, and above them is a partial view of the cockpit tub, which is similar to its counterpart in Esci’s F-4E. Directly above the seat is the bottom fuselage section into which the cockpit tub is cemented.

Decals

The kit decals are crisp and all completely in register with no bleed-over or blurred lines. There are two versions: The first is for VF-84, the “’Jolly Rogers” that features two different versions of the skull and crossbones tail insignia, both of them white, but one with a black background that is reminiscent of the flag of 18th Century pirate ships. The VF-84 version looks impressive and includes markings for the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence. My only criticism is that the particular shade of yellow in the diagonal band across the fuselage does not ring true. The second version of decals is for VF-213, the “Black Lions,” and does not appear to have a vessel designation – overall a much plainer looking aircraft bearing little more than aircraft and serial number designations.

Conclusion

Fujimi’s F-4B offers above average detail of the kind we have come to expect of this manufacturer. This is among the best versions of the early Phantom available.

References

  • www.militaryaircraftfactory.com
  • wikipedia.org
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