Decals: 9 versions – 2 flown by Colonel Robin Olds, USAF, 1967; 1 of 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, with Bicentennial paint scheme; 1 flown by Colonel Chuck Yeager, C.O., 4th Tactical Fighter Wing; and 5 different aircraft of the 171st Fighter Intercept Squadron, Tyndall AFB
Comments: Re-issue of the famed Monogram kit released in 1980’s, with minor retooling
The F-4 family of fighter aircraft is regarded as one of the finest breed of interceptors ever designed. 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. Before it even completed its flight test phase, the Phantom began to set the first of what would ultimately become15 world records for in-flight performance, including an absolute speed record, and an absolute altitude record.
It didn’t take long before the Department of Defense ordered competitive evaluations to be held between Navy Phantoms and the cream of Air Force fighters. In 1961, the Phantom was evaluated against the F-106A Delta Dart in a program called Operation Highspeed. At the time, the F-106A was considered the very best Air Force interceptor; but the evaluation proved that the Phantom had superior speed, range, and altitude. It could also carry a heavier weapons load than the F-106, and had 25 percent better radar range.
The Air Force version was initially designated F-110 Spectre, which changed to F-4C after a Septermber 1962 directive from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara for uniform aircraft designations across all services. Changes to the F-4C were kept to a minimum. The C had General Electric J79-GE-15 engines, differing from the B’s J79-GE-8’s in that they could be used for remote field operations, since they had a cartridge-pneumatic starting system, unlike the compressed air turbine system used by the U.S. Navy. More powerful brakes were installed for the landing gear, and wheel and tire width was increased from 7.7 to 11.5 inches. The Navy in-flight refueling probe was replaced by the Air Force boom receptacle; full dual controls were fitted (the early years of Air Force service saw Phantoms crewed by two rated pilots, only later did the back seater become the Weapons System Officer); a modified APQ-72 radar was installed, called APQ-100 and offering better radar mapping capability; and an ASN-48 Inertial Navigation Computer replaced the Navy unit, enabling better long-range independent navigation.
Two changes were made to the armament: the AJB-7 bombing system was added to the F-4C, with a provision for the AGM-12 Bullpup air-to-ground missile; and finally the C could switch between AIM-9 Sidewinders and the cheaper AIM-4 Falcon missile on the inboard wing pylons.
The Phantom had 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. Designed as an interceptor, F-4’s were later been modified to handle close air support, interdiction and reconnaissance missions.
The Phantom was in operational use for close to 40 years, during which time over 5,200 aircraft were produced. Ongoing modification programs ensure that the Phantom’s life is far from over in the countries to which it was exported. The F-4’s drooped stabilizers, upswept wingtips, and cavernous air intakes give the Phantom the appearance of an aircraft that is both a thoroughbred and a killer. Buried deep within the fuselage are two General Electric J-79 turbojet engines capable of propelling the Phantom at speeds of over 1400 miles an hour — almost twice the speed of sound. Outfitted with up to 8 air-to-air missiles and external bomb racks, the Phantom can carry up to 16,000 pounds of ordnance, or over four times the payload of the famed B-17 heavy bomber of World War II.
Accurate Miniatures’ re-box of the old Monogram kit does not disappoint. It is molded in grey and consists of 108 parts, one of them a new resin ECM pod courtesy of AM. It appears to be a re-box of Monogram’s F-4J kit, based on the goodies provided, and has the same engraved cockpit detail and attention to underwing ordnance (One 680- and two 370-gallon drop tanks, a full load of Sidewinder and Sparrow missiles, 20mm gun pod, and six 500 lb. Mk. 82. bombs fitted with fuse extenders, together with two weapons pylons fitted with triple ejector racks) that made the Monogram kits such winners.
For those who care about such things, the instructions include a detailed history of the Phantom, which the Monogram kit lacked. The mold is identical to the Monogram F-4J, with one exception: in addition to the AN/ALQ-101 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod included on the original sprue, a new resin version of the AN/ALQ-87 ECM pod is provided in a small ziplock baggie. The instructions are well-illustrated and clearly laid out, every last part is identified by name, and each step includes written painting instructions. Although two different types of exhausts are provided, only one is correct for the F-4D, so close attention to Step 10 of the instructions is necessary if accuracy is a must for the modeler.
There are nine different versions of decals, all of them for some variation of a U.S. Air Force F-4C or D. The three most notable are as follows: Two are camouflaged F-4C aircraft flown in Vietnam during 1967 by Colonel Robin Olds, one during January 1967’s “Operation Bolo,” the other named “Scat XXVII” in which Olds made his third and fourth kills Colonel Olds was the only American pilot to achieve ace status in both World War II and Vietnam. The third is an overall grey F-4C flown by Colonel Chuck Yeager when he was commanding officer, 4th Tactical Fighter Wing during the Spring of 1968. There are markings for six other aircraft, one a camouflaged F-4C of the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing with its wingtips and tail painted in a special Bicentennial scheme during 1976. The aircraft, 67-6760, had previously served in Southeast Asia from 1972 to 1973. There are 5 additional versions of markings for F-4C’s of the 171st Fighter Interceptor Squadron, all in overall Air Force grey, and all bearing some form of nose art: “Shadow Demon,” “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” “Defender of Freedom,” “Patience my Ass,” and “Trust Me.”
This is a great kit. If you never built the Monogram Phantom, don’t miss it, now’s your chance. If you did, this kit may make you want to do it again. If it was possible to improve on the Monogram Phantom, Accurate Miniatures has done it. Highly recommended.