McDonnell F-4J Phantom II by Monogram

1/72 scale
Kit No. 5440
Cost: $15.00
Decals: One version – U.S. Navy VF-92, U.S.S. Constellation
Comments: Outstanding cockpit detail, time-intensive intake construction, very good decals

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-4J was a modification of the F-4B fleet defense fighter, based on specifications issued by the U.S. Navy with the same role in mind. Both were equipped with main armament of four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, but the J had somewhat more powerful General Electric J79-10 engines providing 17,900 lbs. of thrust, compared to the 17,000 lbs. generated by the B’s J79-8’s. The major difference was the J’s upgraded avionics package, consisting of a more modern fire control/radar (AWG-10), navigational computer (ASN-46A), bombing system (AJB-7) and radar warning equipment (APR-32). In addition, the J was fitted with an inertial navigation system (ASN-63), which the B lacked.

The Kit

This photo reveals the extent of the raised detail in the F-4’s cockpit. There are separate seat backs and control sticks for the pilot and RIO.

Before it merged with Revell in 1997, Monogram released a series of F-4 Phantoms in the mid-1980’s that were superior to anything the industry had produced in that scale, and that continue to set the standard 23 years later. The accuracy, ease of construction and cockpit detail of the Monogram Phantoms remains unmatched. Monogram’s F-4J, released in 1985, is no exception.

The painstakingly raised detail on all main and side instrument panels is complemented by detailed seats and control sticks for both the pilot and radar intercept officer. The F-4J has a full load of Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles, plus six Mk. 82 500 lb. extended fuse bombs, and above average detail throughout. Although it bears mostly raised panel lines, portions of the kit such as the intake ramps, show engraved lines.

The only drawback to this kit is the two-sided intakes. Many other Phantom kit in this scale has three-sided intakes that involve a minimum of putty and sanding. The Monogram version’s two-sided intakes make a bit of extra work for the modeler in trying to hide a visible seam along the side of each intake near the wing root. If not for this significant construction defect, one could claim the Monogram Phantom is as close to 1/72 scale perfection as injected molded plastic can get. Even with this flaw, Monogram’s kit is still the best on the market, over 20 years after its introduction.

The underwing weapons pylons, seats, instrument panels, auxiliary fuel tanks, and intake ramps all have exquisite detail. The only construction difficulty is the intakes, and, depending on the individual kit, the fit of the canopy. Monogram’s F-4 C/D, for example, had a one-piece canopy that was known to have fit problems. However, the F-4J has a five piece canopy that should not present difficulty in this department.

Decals

The kit provides decals for a single version, the “Silver Kings” of VF-92, which operated off the U.S.S. Constellation during the Vietnam War. The decals are excellent and perfectly in register, except for the black and gold letters that appear on the rudder – there is a little bleed of gold onto the black.

Monogram provides excellent decals in this example of the Phantom, although the decals in their F-4C/D kit were noticeably out of register. Here, the VF-92 decals for the Silver Kings look very crisp

 

The degree of raised detail on the pilot and radar intercept officer’s instrument panels is both unusual and of very good quality, one of the reasons Monogram is regarded as having produced the premiere F-4 Phantom in 1/72 scale.

 

Some of the finest detail anywhere on this kit can be found in the engraved intake ramps.

 

Reference

  • Modern Fighting Aircraft Volume 4: F-4 Phantom II, by Doug Richardson and Mike Spick; Arco Publishing, New York, 1984.

Conclusion

Monogram produced an outstanding Phantom kit that is a must for true F-4 aficionados. One can only hope it is re-issued by the marketing gurus at Revell-Monogram soon. Highly recommended.

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