Revell 1/72 F-4F Phantom II ICE

KIT #: 04615
DECALS: Two options

Ask someone to name a fighter ace. Don't ask a modeler, ask a regular person. My money is on one of two answers: Maverick or the Red Baron. Thankfully, we'll probably never see a "Tom Cruise" Squadron. But the Red Baron got a Phantom wing named after him. It's Fighter Wing 71 of the Luftwaffe: JG71 Richthofen.

This was post-war Germany's first operational jet fighter outfit. Its first boss was the legendary Erich Hartmann, the most prolific fighter ace of all time. They started out in 1959 with Sabres, graduated to Starfighters in '63, and moved on to F-4s in 1974.

Until very recently, JG71 was the last German air wing still flying the old Phantom. Germany's F-4s all got a big upgrade in the 90s, with souped-up radar and the ability to fire AIM-120 AMRAAM beyond-visual-range missiles (more details in the wiki links below). Still, by the turn of the century these jets were already rather long in the tooth. In 2013, they had to be on their last legs. AMRAAM or no, I don't fancy an F-4's chances against, say, a Flanker!

Still, the Richthofen wing's F-4s were responsible for Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in northern Germany and formed part of NATO's Immediate Reaction Force. They made deployments to the NATO Baltic Air Policing operation, and flew out of Iceland defending that part of NATO airspace.

But not any more. In June 2013, the last F-4 landed for the last time, and 40 years of Phantoms in the Luftwaffe came to an end. 

In 1999, for the 40th anniversary of the wing, and the 25th anniversary of Luftwaffe Phantoms, one of the JG71 F-4s was decorated in this striking red and black scheme.

You can read my preview of this kit right here on MM.

In a nutshell, it is a beautiful kit. Finely moulded, excellent detail, and a full suite of Sidewinders, AMRAAMs and a jamming pod for your ICE version (the pod is a bit basic but the missiles are nice). It comes with the modified wing tips as well. Two underwing and one belly tank round out the ordnance.
Decals are included for the commemorative scheme that I chose, or a regular grey/grey example.

I started in the cockpit by painting the instrument panels. They have raised lines so you can dry-brush the detail on; there are also decals. The side consoles have raised detail. I didn't put the ejection seats in until nearly the end. These are made up of several parts and include the pull handle loops at the top, which I think is a nice touch.

The fuselage goes together fairly well with limited hassle. There are two engine fans buried in there, so remember to install them before putting the airframe together. Fit is great. I didn't use any filler on this. I used some blue tack in the nose cone for ballast.

I chose to do the special scheme so there were no underwing stores for me (as noted the kit includes wing and center tanks, 4 AMRAAMs and 4 Sidewinders, plus the jamming pod). The undercarriage is simple as well, so really building this kit is very straightforward. The seats fit together nicely and slot right into the cockpit area. Each cockpit has a stick. You could do more in the cockpit, for sure, but what comes in the box is quite respectable.

The canopy sections fit nicely. You can pose them open if you want.

The whole kit goes together really quite easily.

I really like this bold scheme. I used Tamiya X-18 semi gloss black and Tamiya Red, both in acrylic and both handbrushed using a Tamiya paintbrush (I really like these brushes). I did a few coats of each colour, masking them off with tape. The nosecone is Tamiya middle grey. At the rear end I used some Mr Color metal colours, with mixed success. There's also some Tamiya XF-16 back there. Pictures of the real thing indicate the finish is less glossy than what I chose, and the red is a slightly lighter shade. But I am happy with the way mine looks.

The decals are generally very good. The only disappointment really is the "R" marking either side of the air intakes. If you look closely, you can see that the white border is - for want of a better word - pixellated. It is not really white, but made up of white dots on a darker background colour. I'm hoping that was some kind of production blemish unique to my kit.

They responded well to Mr Mark Softer and that product made the nose markings in particular relatively easy to put on.

There is a little silvering in one or two of these photos but only where the direct sunlight was reflecting off the shiny surface. 

You can't really go wrong with this kit. If you want a Phantom that is easy to build and gives a great result you'd be hard-pressed to top this. Revell has released it with other colour schemes too.
Some fantastic photos of retiring Luftwaffe F-4s in other special schemes at this link.

Richard F

November 2013

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