The F-4D was an
improved version of the F-4C which was better suited to the specific
requirements of the Tactical Air Command. It was authorized in March of
1964, and the first example flew on
December 7, 1965.
Deliveries began in March of 1966. A total of 793 F-4Ds were built for the
significant change was the replacement of the APQ-100 radar of the F-4C by
the smaller and lighter partly solid-state AN/APQ-109A. This was part of the
AN/APA-165 radar set which introduced an air-to-ground ranging mode using
movable cursors. Some sources claim that F-4Ds fitted with the AN/APQ-109A
radar set could be externally distinguished from the F-4C by
the presence of
a larger radome, but I could not confirm this. The undernose pod for the
AAA-4 infrared search and track was removed. Though reinstalled later, it
did not house the AAA-4 infrared search and track, but rather carried the
forward amplifier and antenna of the ALR-25/26 radar warning system. Later,
this system was replaced by APS-107A with fin antennae and ALR-69(V)2 with
antennae in the chin pod.
Externally-hung jammers that could be carried included the ALQ-87 FM barrage
jammer, the Westinghouse ALQ-101 noise/deception jammer, and the
Westinghouse ALQ-119 noise/deception jammer capable of covering three
all-altitude bomb delivery system was provided, which was connected to an
ASQ-91 weapons release computer for delivery of laser-guided bombs.
Air-to-air armament included the ill-starred AIM-4D Falcon, which
was quickly replaced by the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow and an optional
SUU-16 or -23 pod housing a Vulcan 20mm revolving cannon (which could not be
boresighted, thus having a low accuracy). Several TV/laser aiming devices
could be installed, the most widespread being the Westinghouse
AN/ASQ-152(V)-2 Pave Spike laser designator pod and perhaps the most
spectacular the big AN/AVQ-10 Pave Knife, which could be used in nighttime
and was responsible of the bringing down of the Paul Doumer bridge at Hanoi,
on May 10th,
1972, during the Linebecker II offensive.
1992, the last F-4Ds had been withdrawn from the fighter interceptor groups
of the Air National Guard.
have the best memories of the Fujimi Phantoms. In the early ‘80s, they were
among the first “serious kits” to reach the retailers in
I particularly liked the mindful different fuselages according to the
version, and the standard armament package (sorely missed in the Hasegawa
offerings) Nowadays, as I built this kit, I found it lacking in cockpit
detail and slightly suspect in the nose profile. However, with some care it
can be built into a good replica. The one used is a reissued twin package
containing all the parts necessary to build a F-4J/C/D, simply including
instructions and decal sheets for both. For good measure I throw in an
Eduard PE set, SS201, for the interior (it’s for an E, but no one will tell
the difference), an Airwaves AC72023, for the canopy sills, and two Martin
Baker seats from Quickboost, 72011. Armament came from the kit’s Sparrows
and ALQ-119, plus Hasegawa Weapons Set III AIM-9E Sidewinders. The decals
came from the excellent Xtradecals X72072 USAFE Phantoms sheet.
Of course it started with the cockpit.
The sidewalls were treated with scratchbuilt structural detail and
electrical boxes. The problem was with the bathtub and the instrument
panels. The former goes very deep, and the latter are designed very small
and not to protrude the sidewalls. Finally, the coaming is extremely narrow.
I realized that severe scratchbuilding was on order, and decided to base it
on the excellent Eduard pieces and the parts on a Hasegawa model. The
instrument panels were rebuilt as plastic backings for them. I cut most of
the divider between the cockpits to place the rear panel in a suitably high
and correct position. A plethora of cables protrude from its back. To do the
same with the front panel, I resorted to making a mould in plumber’s sealing
rubber of the Hasegawa part and cast it in Parsec resin. It sounds rocket
technology, but it is not, and worked. In the end, the rear bathtub was left
too deep, but it could have been corrected had I realized in time. Other
boxes and things were added following the Aires resin cockpit for the F-4F.
Further detail was added to the wheel bays and U/C
legs. The afterburner cans received interior “petals” made of Tamiya tape.
The rest was really smooth, with a reasonable amount
of putty. Most of it
follows the usual breakdown seen in Esci, Revell-Germany and Hasegawa kits
of the Phantom. The single piece fuselage and lower wings make a very strong
structure, as opposed to the rather flimsy two latter named kits.
armament of a “modern” aircraft kit is always an exciting yet troublesome
affair, specially for a WWII aircraft modeler like me. First you must
research the different configurations to achieve a realistic look. Then you
must find actual pieces of plastic properly depicting the real thing, which
is not easy. 493rd
FS was (and still is, mounted in F-15s) an air superiority squadron, so the
armament should be air-to-air. No fancy laser pods on this one. The basic
armament package included in every Fujimi Phantom kit (four AIM-7 Sparrow,
four AIM-9B Sidewinders and one ALQ-119) is very reasonable, but I wanted to
provide better Sidewinders, more appropriate for a mid-seventies machine. I
reasoned that they could be either –Es or –Js, and chose the former
(actually, the latter could have been even better)
Well, one of the aspects of this project I was
most excited about was painting. This machine sports a modified “SE Asia
Scheme”, with “three greens” instead of “two greens and a tan” (it is
depicted in the cover of an “Air Extra” magazine). Long ago, I had seen, in
a RAF Yearbook, a picture of a F-4D in which “a light green replaced the
usual tan” (oh, those pre-FS years!), a fact that I unsuccessfully put
forward in several live and online discussions. For a while, the doctrine of
the “30219 bad batch” was predominant. Now, it seems that FS34201 (a SAC
color present on FB-111s and B-52s) was field applied to Phantoms based in
the UK (and some others, as picture evidence show), which makes sense, both
in the increased effectiveness of the camouflage as well as in the
availability of the actual paint (that is, if cooperation between TAC and
SAC is as smooth as it should be!). So the scheme rounded up being
34079/34102/34201 over 36622.
In my model, all paints came from the Xtracolor range, exception
made of the 34102, which came from the WEMM’s Regia Aeronautica range (where
it poses as Verde Mimetico no. 2!), as the Xtracolor is more of a Medium
Green lacking all Olive content.
Pictures show a patch of 30219 in the fin,
under the codes (lazy painters!) All were applied with liquid mask over a
traditional Grey primer and preshade, performed both freehand and masked.
Exhaust areas were painted in Alclad Aluminium, Magnesium, whereas the can
themselves in Gunmetal plus a bit of
further enhanced by some masked postshading, oils and some pastels. I use to
coat my models, regardless of the paint used, with acrylic clear varnishes,
so they are impervious to enamel/oil based weathering agents. USAFE Phantoms
of the period do not show much dirt.
For decals, I used the stenciling from the kit;
Fujimi decals are good enough not to be concerned about them, though the
White has a characteristic Japanese ivorish hue. Xtradecals are simply
wonderful, easy to use and possessing a painted on look. The Red fuselage
band was cut from some solid decal sourced from elsewhere, while the Yellow
squadron ID fin top was painted on. I used the usual Set and Sol concoctions
on a mostly glossy surface.
I like the final product, though could not help
wondering if all the effort and aftermarkets could have better gone into a
Hase kit, paying the slightly increased price. Well, there are a couple of
interesting F-4Ds remaining in the decal sheet!
- “Modelling the F-4 Phantom II”, Geoff Coughlin
and Neil Ashby, Osprey Modelling, Osprey Publishing.
- J. Baugher website (wonderful historical and
- “The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, A
Comprehensive Guide, Part 1: USAF Variants”, Andy Evans, SAM Limited.
- “Air Extra Magazine no. 15”, Ian Allan
Publications (kindly provided by my friend and countryman Jorge Figari)