Fujimi 1/72 F-4N Phantom II




$15.00, in the mid-1980s


One aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The F-4B was the second major Phantom variant in the Navy'sinventory and, as happens to all airframes, it was getting rather tired. Ratherthan spend the extra money to build entire new aircraft, it was decided toupgrade the F-4B. This was accomplished under project Bee Line and themodification was done on 228 airframes at NARF San Diego starting in early 1972.

The following changes were made to the F-4B: Structuralstrengthening, complete rewiring, ASW-25 data link, improved IR seeker, a helmetsight, air to air IFF equipment (APX-76 and KIT-1A/KIR-1A), a dogfight computer,engine smoke abatement equipment, Mode C IFF(Altitude Reporting), and finally,upgraded ECM equipment. Most of the changes to the aircraft were internal,though one can tell an F-4N from an F-4B by the addition of ECM antennas on theintake trunking. The N model retains the thinner high pressure tires and noupper wing bulges of the earlier F-4B. A number of surviving F-4Ns wereconverted to QF-4N drones. As of this writing (Jan 2001), there are still a fewflying from NAS Pt. Mugu; being replaced by QF-4S versions.


 Probably the first really good F-4 kits in 1/72 are these that wereproduced by Fujimi in 1985. At last modelers no longer had to make do with therather dodgy Airfix, Revell and old Hasegawa kits. While Monogram did downsizetheir F-4C and F-4J kits about this same time, Fujimi offered an entire line ofPhantoms, including the 'flat winged' Navy F-4B and F-4N.

Uponopening the box, one is confronted with a mass of parts that are now quitefamiliar to F-4 builders, but was then rather novel. There are three polybagsfull of medium grey F-4 bits. All of the parts are superbly detailed and havenicely engraved panel lines. There are all the proper pylons and weapons to dothe proper version kitted. There are also various inserts, something relativelynew to modeling at the time, to enable the modeler to build the specific type.Typical of these kinds of kits, there are also a few things that have to be cutoff as well, but nothing that any semi-competent modeler could not do.

Wherethis kit lags current Phantom kits and even later boxings by Fujimi are in thecockpit and canopy. The early releases only offer a closed canopy option. Alsothe interiors are not really that good. They are rather generic in design andthe same regardless of if you have a Navy or Air Force version. Instrumentpanels and side consoles are decals, which was fine for the day, but not whatone expects nowadays. There is also no sidewall detail whatsoever, again,something that we expect from mainstream kits today.

Instructions are quite good offering allsorts of closeup images to assist in building. Color information is given in theconstruction sequence with paint numbers corresponding to the Gunze Sangyo lineof paints. No FS numbers are given. The instructions themselves are in bothJapanese and English. Markings are for just one aircraft; the CAG bird fromVF-111 'Sundowners', BuNo 151000. A very colorful set of markings with brilliantred tail markings and sharkmouth. In fact, the red is too brilliant, in myopinion. The decals do offer everything one needs in terms of general markings.Like other Japanese kit decals, they are a bit think and the builder mustuse very warm to hot water to soak them in so as to get optimum performance fromthem. Don't use any setting solution or you'll regret it.

Otherthan the cockpit, the Fujimi Phantoms are quite presentable and build into verynice models. I have built a large number of them and cannot see any reason notto do so in the future. Though no longer being produced, they can still be foundin stores, at swap meets or in on-line auctions for around $10-15 depending oncondition.


McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920: Volume II, by ReneJ Francillon, 1990, Naval Institute Press

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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