Academy 1/48 F-4D Phantom II

KIT #: 12300
PRICE: $44.00 direct from Korea. Price includes shipping
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2013 tooling


 Set the wayback machine to the late 1950s. The USAF was looking for a fighter bomber that would be able to carry a respectable load and also one that could defend itself in air to air combat. This was the beginning of the era when it was thought that missiles could do anything. The USAF wanted the F-111, but thanks to teething troubles and the usual delays that come with a new weapons system, it wouldn't be ready for a long time. Besides, the F-111 was a huge plane and not exactly much of an air combat platform. The USAF had the F-105, but it too, was not that great and air to air fighter and was somewhat limited in terms of its weapons load.


In another part of the Pentagon, the US Navy was very pleased with its new fleet defense fighter. The F4H-1 was turning into a world beater. It was fast, had two engine reliability, and carried a respectable payload. It was breaking speed and altitude records left and right. It was also the Navy's first fighter that did not have a gun, having a weapons load of Sparrows and Sidewinders instead.


Despite the relatively intense rivalry between the USAF and USN, it was pretty obvious to USAF brass that the Navy had the fighter bomber that the Air Force needed and it was available now. Swallowing their jealousy and pride, the USAF decided to adopt the Navy's F4H as their next fighter, the F-110. Of course, they required some changes. Some of it was avionics and some was structural as they needed to add rear cockpit controls and they wanted beefier wheels for use on runways instead of the very high pressure tires used for carriers. This added some bulges to the upper wings and gear doors, but in most all other respects, it was a Navy plane and most parts were interchangeable between the two. By the time the plane entered service, there was a combination of USAF and USN designations with the Navy plane being the F-4B and the USAF version the F-4C. The USAF initially got pilots and maintenance guys up to speed by borrowing 36 F-4Bs until their F-4Cs became available and it was with these planes that the Air Force took the Phantom to war.


Interestingly, the USAF never upgraded their extant F-4Cs. The Navy did, turning most of their F-4Bs into  the F-4N, an aircraft with improved avionics and engines. However, F-4Cs lasted longer as they had some remaining in ANG service until the late 1980s, long after the F-4Bs were out of the fleet or converted.   


When Academy announced a new line of 1/48 Phantom kits in 2013, Phantom phans became very excited at the prospect of seeing these new kits. After all, the kings at the time were the Hasegawa kits, which were basically designed in the early 1980s and while still great kits, were lacking in detail in some regards. In 2014, the F-4B was released and eagerly snapped up by modelers. This was followed by an F-4C and this kit, produced for the home economy, an F-4D. I'm sure a whole line of Phantoms will eventually be kitted as this kit has a lot of 'spares'. In fact, it is the second F-4D to be offered in Korean markings, the other being in the greys scheme. Korea only operated this variant, never using the later gun nose F-4.

You have probably noticed that MM is rarely the first place to preview kits. To be honest, it just is not a priority to be first. It just doesn't fit the tone of the web site. Once one gets past sticker shock and gets the kit home, opening the box reveals a lot of sprues, several of them duplicates. The different colors of the plastic (white, grey and black) are also a bit odd and there seems no rhyme or reason for the white or black plastic.

The cockpit is quite complete and includes inserts for the instrument side consoles, something I assume is done to allow the USN and other versions to be done. The kit does not offer decals for the instruments, something I like but others are ambivalent about. Seats are nicely done and consist of eight parts. No belts are provided, though you do get crew figures.

The instructions go almost immediately into building up the landing gear bays, each bay consisting of at least four separate walls. It then has you install the gear into these bays, correctly showing a slightly inward cant to the main gear. From what I see, this is an open invitation to break the landing gear while building the kit and makes it so much more difficult to mask when painting the underside. Anyway, we then go to assembling the wings and this is pretty straight-forward stuff. The kit provides separate outer ailerons/flaps. Speed brakes are also separate as they often bleed down once power is removed.

A full intake is offered and though it will be difficult to remove the seams, they are off to the inside so may not be all that noticeable when done. These fit into the lower fuselage section and the upper bit is placed atop it, trapping the intake ducts and the exhaust bits which have to be assembled and installed prior to this. The exhaust assembly also includes the inner lower rear fuselage section between the burner cans. Personally, I would see if the burner cans can be glued in after the fuselage is together, again because masking these to paint around them will be a real pain if not. The intakes themselves are just like every other F-4 kit I've built. the lower aft fuselage, which is most of the unpainted area aft of the exhaust, is separate and in a different color plastic from the rest of the fuselage. But that shouldn't be too surprising as the separate fin and stabilizers are also a different shade.

You get both slotted and unslotted stabilizers to use and  the slotted ones are recommended for this kit. Note that these do not include the reinforcement plates.  You also get separate fin tips and rudder along with separate outer wing sections, though these cannot be modeled raised. Main wheels are in four parts with two pieces for the hub and two for the tire. I did notice that the gear doors have large attachment points on them, something that I like to see as most of the time you have to butt fit the doors. I should also mention that the IR seeker for under the nose is separate. I should point out that since the sprues for this and the F-4C are identical, frugal modelers will scarf up on the less expensive D kits direct from Korea and use that as a source for their fleet of F-4Cs.

Several sprues are dedicated to weapons and pylons. You only get the USAF rounded versions, along with Sidewinder rails and both a MER and TERs. Naturally, these are multiple pieces with a single TER being five pieces. The wing pylons show flare/chaff dispensers. These are correct for later F-4Ds as this was a mod that was also added to USAF F-4Es.  Other bits are multi-piece Sidewinders and Sparrows, and Mk 80 series slick bombs, all of them with separate fins to attach. I'm not sure if the KAF ever got F-15 style centerline tanks, the kit offering an early centerline tank and wing tanks are also provided. The canopy is in several sections and a boarding ladder can be  installed if one wishes.

Academy's instructions are the map type that are similar to what Dragon and others use. The construction steps are well drawn with some detail images to be sure things are properly aligned. There is a large color chart with the paints from a number of brands provided. Two decal sheets are provided. One is very large and has a zillion data markings on it for the plane and weapons. This is provided with every Academy 1/48 F-4. The other, smaller sheet, is for three planes that differ only by serial and the box art plane with the large nose lettering. Decals are by Cartograf.


With all the parts in this kit, it almost makes the Hasegawa offering look like a snap tite! No need to buy aftermarket weapons with this one and you do get a lot of detail with the kit. As I mentioned, the F-4C and F-4D kits have the same plastic so if you plan on building a lot of these versions and have a nice supply of aftermarket, I'd say get this or the other boxing direct and save a bunch of money. Overall I would say that you shouldn't toss your Hasegawa Phantoms as they are still quite nice kits, but this one looks nicer.

May 2016

Thanks to my suffering credit card for this one. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contactthe editor or see other details in the Note toContributors.

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