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In-Box Review
172
F-4B/N Phantom II
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by: Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]

History.

The F-4 Phantom first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their respective air wings. The F-4 was used extensively during the Vietnam War, serving as the principal air superiority fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, as well as being important in the ground-attack and reconnaissance roles by the close of U.S. involvement in the war. The Phantom has the distinction of being the last U.S. fighter flown to attain ace status in the 20th Century. During the Vietnam War, the USAF had one pilot and two WSOs, and the US Navy one pilot and one RIO, become aces in air-to-air combat. It continued to form a major part of U.S. military air power throughout the 1970s and 1980s, being gradually replaced by more modern aircraft such as the F-15 and the F-16 in the U.S. Air Force; the F-14 and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Navy; and the F/A-18 in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The F-4B was the first major production version of the Phantom and featured thin wings, none slotted stabilizers [although some late versions had slotted stabilizers], short jet pipes, thin tyres and a Infra Red seeker under the nose.
The F-4N upgrade program began in 1970, in response to Navy concerns about the condition of the F-4B aircraft, which by that time were over a decade old and rather the worse for wear. Eventually, 228 Navy F-4Bs were refurbished to the F-4N standard under the so-called Bee Line program. These aircraft were stripped, inspected, and completely rebuilt using new parts. The F-4N retained the thin wings, tires, main radar, and the under nose infrared search and track detector of the F-4B. The F-4B's J79-GE-8 engines were retained, though with added smoke abatement equipment. Modifications included structural upgrades to extend the fatigue life, along with a complete rewiring under which the electrical system was also upgraded. The F-4N was fitted with the slotted stabilizer as used on the F-4J, and their inboard leading-edge flaps were locked shut. The F-4N was fitted with Sanders AN/ALQ-126 or -126B electronic countermeasures set. The set's long antenna fairings mounted on the upper air intakes distinguish the F-4N from F-4B. The first F-4N flew on 04 June 1972, and the first rebuilt F-4N entered service in February 1973.

Contents.

All contents are tightly packed in a top opening box. On the side of the box is a little note stating that this product is “officially licensed by Boeing”. The numerous glossy light grey plastic sprue's are contained within one transparent bag. The transparent plastic parts are sealed in a separate bag. Contents include
-5 x large grey plastic sprue's.
-5 x smaller grey plastic sprue's.
-1 x transparent sprue.
-1 x large sheet of decals.
-1 x large multi folded sheet of instructions.

Cockpit: The walls of the inside of the fuselage will need a little attention with some wet and dry as the walls are a bit lumpy in places. I have a feeling that the recesses on the walls of the navigators position will be visible and will need some plasticard to fill them in. This may only be necessary for the port side as there is a separate panel that may cover the recess on the starboard side. Each ejector seat is made up from five parts. The seats look reasonable, but lack any moulded harnesses. The cockpit tub comprises of side consoles, very rudimentary rudder pedals for the pilot, and a box where the separate control stick is placed. Added to the tub are two separate instrument panels, two bulkheads that locate directly behind the the seats, control stick and a single panel that locates on the starboard side of the navigators position. This panel hides the retractable refueling pipe. There are no moulded details on the instrument panels or side consoles. Instead the detail is printed on decals. Although this approach representing instrument detail is very two dimensional, the decal instruments do look very good. The completed cockpit tub is then attached to the roof of the forward undercarriage bay. The cockpit is finished off with the fitting of the pilots instrument panel hood with separate HUD and a fairing that sits behind the navigators seat. All the parts have colour references in the instructions.
Canopy: is built up from four clear parts. It can be displayed open and there are plastic hydraulic rams to fit to make the open canopies look a bit more realistic. The clear parts are thin and crystal clear, no sign of any stress marks. As they are bagged separately there are no scratches either. The frames are very delicately reproduced. The canopy frame between the two opening canopies is clear plastic, the small windows are created by masking before painting. Great stuff. The rear view periscope for the navigator is a separate transparent piece.
Fuselage: The fuselage is split into two sections, the forward and the rear. The forward section includes the nose and extends back just aft of the cockpit. It is made up of three parts including the fuselage halves, split vertically and the separate lower fuselage. The lower fuselage contains the front undercarriage bay and the forward recessed housing for the two missiles. The bulk of the fuselage is the two part rear section, which is split vertically. Be careful separating the rear fuselage halves from the sprue as the pins that help locate the two sections of fuselage could be easily misidentified as sprue gates. The instructions recommend building the two sections separately before joining. I would be very tempted to join the forward and rear sections together before joining the fuselage halves. The reason is the rather generous bulkhead moulded onto the rear section that will provide a excellent place to clamp the front and rear sections together.
The two engine air intakes are made from three pieces. The inside of the air intake extends just a tad short of 3cms up to the bulkhead on the rear section. There is no representation of the primary air compressors. The splitter plate is made from two pieces and has the distinctive details on it. Inside each intake there are three partial holes which need to be drilled through, one for the inlet sensor common to both types and the other two are for the ECM wiring fairings for the F-4N.
The infra-red sensor under the nose is two piece and at the other end of the aircraft, the braking parachute door is separate. The rectangular recessed areas both sides of the rear fuselage where the vertical fin starts are for the photo flash cartridges for the RF-4C. As this kit is the F-4B/N and the flares were not fitted the recessed areas are faired over with the panels supplied with the kit.
The vertical fin is truncated at the top where a specific tip is attached. The kit includes four different types so pay close attention to the instructions and make sure you select the correct one for the type you are modeling. The sensors on the leading edge of the fin are moulded on port side and look good candidates for being knocked off. Hasegawa have a sprue moulded that specifically protects the fine probes from damage in the box. The fuel dump pipe and the tail hook are moulded onto the fuselage and look very good.
The quality of the recessed panel lines, grilles and rivets are first class some of the best I have seen. Overall shape looks excellent particularly the nose.
Wings:come in five pieces. The one piece lower wing spans the area between the wing fold joints and includes part of the lower fuselage. One obvious feature are the very shallow main wheel bays. I know the wing of the F-4B/N are thin, but the bays don't look right depth wise. There are cutouts for the two separate lash down hooks where the leading edge of the wing meets the fuselage. The piano hinge on the wing fold joint is delicately done. The outer surface of the partially moulded holes for the wing pylons are noticeable on the the wing and may need the attention of a fine sanding stick, otherwise they will be obvious if you are depicting a clean wing and are using an airbrush. The upper wings which span the same width as the lower one piece wing have part of the lower trailing edge of the flaps on them. The reason for this is that it results in a good sharp trailing edge. The two outer wing sections are both one piece and have excellent sharp trailing edges. With them being one piece there are usually ejector marks, but not in this case. There is a very generous sized angled stub providing both a positive fit and the correct dihedral.
The stabilizers are both moulded in one piece and are slotted. The slotted stabs are suitable for the F-4N, but I think the majority of F-4B had none slotted stabilizers [stabs]. No sign of ejector marks, but the pegs connecting the stabs to the fuselage are very, very thin. So it would be prudent to leave these off until you have finished masking and painting the stabs.
As with the fuselage the panel lines on the wings are beautifully done.
Engine nozzles: Hasegawa provide the long and short nozzles with this release. The F-4B/N requires the shorter nozzles. Detail is not bad, a bit simplified lacking the distinctive irises on the inner parts of the nozzles. The interior of the jet pipe extends back a good 12mmm and there is some good detail of the moulded reheat fuel lines and the low pressure turbine.
Undercarriage: main undercarriage legs are nicely detailed if a little simplified. The activating rams for the legs are separate. The kit contains two styles of main wheels, the thin and the thicker width wheel. The thicker wheel has two types of hub. The wheels used for this version are one piece, which unfortunately have raised ejector marks on the tyres that will need removing. The outer facing hub has some relly good detail on them.
There are three separate doors for each main undercarriage bay look a bit thick to me. As the plastic is thick there is a fair bit of shrinkage marks on the outer part of the doors. Either use wet and dry to rub the doors down or just view them as skin stress marks. The panel work on the inside of the doors is in low relief and there a number of raised rivets on one of the doors. A disappointing aspect of the doors is the number of recessed ejector pin marks on the inside of the doors. All that detail is going too disappear I am afraid. The inner doors have actuator rods to apply.
As I have already mentioned the main gear bays are very shallow. Not a lot you can do about it really without resorting to some surgery. There is a little bit of detail in the bays, recessed rivets a spar and a few hydraulic lines.
Over towards the nose landing gear and there is some good detail on the main oleo, the torque link is separate. The leg compression is set in a fairly neutral position. The diagram for the construction of the front undercarriage had me slightly puzzled initially. What it illustrates is the angle the separate torque link should be set at, by looking directly down the undercarriage leg. The actuating ram for the leg is separate. The two one piece front wheels are very nicely detailed. The inside of the gears have some low relief detail that again is marred by recessed ejector pin marks. The front gear doors has a blade aerial and a clear part to fix on. The detail in the gear bay is a little basic with ribs on the walls and cabling and pipes on the separate part that is the ceiling. Unfortunately the four obvious ejection pin marks spoil the detail here as well, two of which will be impossible to remove without damaging the detail.
Payload: any modelers who have built Hasegawa jets will not be too surprised to see that there is no armament at all with this kit. You will have to buy the separate armament kit. What you are supplied with are one centre line and two wing fuel tanks. The wing fuel tanks are located on the outer pylons, station numbers 1 & 9. The fuel tanks are two piece, split vertically and have the pylons moulded on. The kit has an additional centre line tank that is not used for F-4B/N. Also included are a couple of weapon pylons for stations 2 & 8 {the innermost wing pylons]. Each pylon is made up from five parts and includes twin AIM-9 rails.
Markings: Hasegawa have supplied markings for two Navy CAG aircraft and one Marine:
F-4N U.S. Navy, VF-111 “Sundowners” CAG aircraft, USS Roosevelt.
F-4B U.S. Navy, VF-151 “Vigilantes” CAG aircraft, USS Midway.
F-4B U.S. Marines, VMFA-115 “Silver Eagles”.

Decals: the decals sheet is slightly smaller than the box, so a pretty large sheet. What a range of colours, almost how I would imagine an invitation to a Rasta party. The CAG birds tail for the “Vigilantes” is very spectacular in it's range of colours. Also on the sheet are two styles of sharks mouth [both Navy aircraft]. There are quite a lot of stencils to apply, some of which are minute. The painted anti glare areas around the canopy and the wing walkways are supplied as decals. Decals are matt with minimal carrier film, understandably there is more carrier film around some of the more complex markings. Colour density looks spot on, the white stars in the national insignia look very strong.
Instructions: very good with black exploded line drawings. Some of the drawings are simplified so that the visual instructions are a lot clearer, which is very useful. There are plenty of notes to guide you through the building stages. The parts map is very useful in that it highlights the parts on the sprue's which are not required for this build. Paint references are for Aqueos Hobby colors and Mr Color. The main colours do have FS reference numbers. The colour and decal guide is very good providing four views of each aircraft [top and lower plan views as well as port and starboard profiles], as well as numerous separate drawings illustrating certain areas.

Conclusions.

This is a very fine representation of the F-4B/N. Overall shape looks superb, particularly that bulbous nose. When I first saw the parts that made up the fuselage I was a little concerned about it being overly engineered at the expense of simplicity. But no, this is is a very sensible approach by Hasegawa so that they could produce many version of the F-4 as they have. The quality of the recessed detail is second to none. An alternate one piece canopy would have been good, making life easier if you wanted the canopies buttoned up. The only disappointments are the simplified cockpit, the main undercarriage bays and the gear doors. All in all highly recommended. Can't wait to start building, that Marine Version looks tasty.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent shape, recessed detail and decals sheet. Also some great additions to your spare parts collection.
Lows: Cockpit detailing, main undercarriage bay and doors.
Verdict: Nice, very nice despite a few quibbles.
Percentage Rating
89%
  Scale: 1:72
  Mfg. ID: 01566
  Suggested Retail: $33.99
  PUBLISHED: Aug 29, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.86%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 86.04%

Our Thanks to Hobbico!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Tim Hatton (litespeed)
FROM: ENGLAND - NORTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM

Aeoplanes are my primary interest from WWll to present day.

Copyright ©2018 text by Tim Hatton [ LITESPEED ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.



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