Hasegawa 1/48 F-4EJ kai 'Sea Camouflage'
KIT #: 07392
PRICE: 3360 yen from www.hlj.com
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Limited Edition


To upgrade the Phantom fleet the JASDF planned the F-4EJ Kai (Japanese for "modified") program. This involved 110 aircraft, later reduced to 96, which were upgraded with APG-66 radar, ground attack capabilities and most importantly, ASM-1 or ASM-2 anti-ship missiles (two mounted under the wings). This boosted their capabilities in the anti-shipping role; filling in for the indigenous Mitsubishi F-1s which were too few in number and lacked range, and the P-3Cs which were too slow, even if well-armed with Harpoon missiles. The F-4EJ Kai upgrade added several other air-to-surface weapons to the F-4, including bombs and rockets.

RF-4Es were upgraded to RF-4 Kai standard with AN/APQ-172 TFR radar, and the J/APR-2 RWR was replaced with the J/APR-5; both Japanese-designed systems. Seventeen F-4EJs were also converted to RF-4EJ configuration, which, while mounting no internal cameras, carried podded reconnaissance equipment. Among the systems installed were TACER (electronic reconnaissance pod with datalink), TAC (pod with KS-135A and KS-95B cameras), D-500UR IR detection system, and the LOROP pod (with a KS-146B camera).

The F-4EJ Kai first flew on 17 July 1984, and first F-4EJ Kai was delivered on 24 November 1989 to the JASDF 306th Squadron. It was fitted the smaller and more lightweight AN/APG-66J pulse Doppler radar and a heads-up display resulting in a lookdown/shootdown capability. The central computer was updated, as well as the J/APR-6 homing and warning system, IFF system and the inertial navigation unit.

The first F-4EJ Kai aircraft were delivered to the 306 Hikōtai at Komatsu, but within a few years they were replaced by F-15Js. In April 1994 the F-4 strength was reduced to three squadrons: 8 (Misawa), 301 (Nyutabaru) and 306 (Naha, Okinawa). The 501st at that time operated the RF-4EJ. Over time the F-4s and F-1s are being replaced with the newer Mitsubishi F-2, an enlarged development of the F-16 developed jointly with Lockheed Martin.


One can always count on Hasegawa to reissue kits with new decals and sometimes resin bits in their limited edition series. This kit is their F-4EJ kai variant which differs from the standard F-4EJ and the US F-4E by fin mounted antennas and a few other minor areas. This kit has different fuselage halves to take these differences into account.

This is not a raised panel line kit as is their F-4C/D and the original boxing of the F-4J. Nor is it a mixed raised/engraved kit as was their RF-4B, but the most recent big Phantom tooling with all engraved panel lines. Those who have built any Hasegawa Phantom kit in this scale will find it very familiar. It has a nicely appointed interior that is designed for the two pilot figures, hence rather plain bang seats. The cockpit tub has control sticks fore and aft along with instrument panels. There are decals for these panels and raised detail on both the instrument panel and side consoles. A nose gear well fits under the cockpit floor and this is in turn trapped between the two fuselage halves.

One then adds the nose and the intake sections. Historically the fit of the intakes takes a bit of filler, at least it does for me. The wing is a full lower section with separate upper wing halves. One will need to remove the little bumps on the center upper wing as the F-4E does not have the beefed up landing gear joints of the USN variants.

The kit provides nicely detailed landing gear with all the proper struts and scissors. The speed brakes can be displayed lowered and it was not unusual to see these deployed when the plane was on the ramp. There are the usual inserts for the area that holds the catapult strop on the Navy versions and the small ESM bumps on the lower wing will need to be removed.

A multi-piece cockpit canopy assembly is provided with separate canopies which can be posed up or down as you wish. A boarding ladder is provided. For things under wings you have an F-15 style centerline tank and two wing tanks. Inner pylons are supplied for the Sidewinders. Unlike many Hasegawa kits, this one comes with both Sparrows and Sidewinders. A set of anti-shipping weapons would have been appropriate for this boxing and perhaps you can get those separately.

Markings are provided for two planes from 8 Squadron in the early 2000s. The scheme is two blues as used on the JASDF's F-2s, which makes for a relatively dark airplane. The very long decal sheet has more stencils than you can shake a stick at. Fortunately, Hasegawa provides these in groupings, making it a bit easier to apply them. The decals are nicely done and will work as well as aftermarket.   


It is nice to see this kit reissued. As of late, F-4 releases from Hasegawa have been few and far between. One thing you can do is model this kit in the earlier two greys camouflage scheme if you do not like the two blues. The decals are appropriate to both schemes. I should mention that not only are all the F-1s out of service, but the F-2 has taken over operations in 8 squadron with the F-4s being either allocated to the remaining Phantom units or put into storage. I believe this boxing has also been done in 1/72 so check for it.



November 2014

Thanks to www.hlj.com for the preview kit. You can find this one at this link.

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