Accurate Miniatures 1/72 F-4J Phantom II
|PRICE:||32.00 MSRP ($14.95 on sale from www.greatmodels.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Monogram rebox with new decals|
The F-4 is no stranger to modelers and aviation enthusiasts alike. The prototype first flew in 1958 and soon started entering USN fleet units by 1962. The Navy F-4B was even flown for a period of time by the USAF while they were awaiting the very similar F-4C to come on line. Eventually the Navy version was upgraded to the F-4J, incorporating many of the airframe updates of the F-4D as well as improved J-79 engines with the longer burner cans. This in turn was furuther updated to the F-4S which incorporated 'smoke-less' J-79s and outer wing leading edge slats for some improvement in turning abilities at the expense of a small amount of speed. The last Navy Phantoms were retired from VX-30 in 2004 ending a 45 year association.
The F-4 is still flown as a full scale drone by the USAF and in active service with the air forces of Japan, Turkey and Greece.
As many of you know, Accurate Miniatures has been doing a lot of reboxing over the last several years with kits from various sources. This one is a 2009 release and is a reboxing of the venerable Monogram 1/72 F-4J. Despite the age of the molds, it is in pretty good shape. There is some flash and that is to be expected, but nothing major. The kit includes not only the usual F-4J sprues (including the proper rear cockpit sidewalls), but the one for the F-4C/D. The only reason I can see to include that sprue is for two tiny rear view mirrors. At least you'll have some spares to add to what is probably an overwhelming collection of bits.
For those who have never built a Monogram 1/72 F-4, some of the highlights of the kit. First of all, it is all raised panel lines. Not a problem for most of us, but it should be mentioned. It also has a superb cockpit with the sort of detail that made Monogram famous. No need for aftermarket here. The lower wing already has holes opened for the three drop tanks and the inner pylons. These inner pylons have TERs already molded in place for three Mk 82 bombs with fuse extenders. The Sidewinders are the older type and for some reason, there is an odd short cable or something molded on the nose of these missiles. One should remove that bit or replace the missiles.
One has an option regarding the canopy of either a single piece version or one in segments with separate canopies. The fit of the intakes is different from every other F-4 kit I've built. The lower wing piece has the lower part of the intake with the upper part being the separate piece. Frequently I've had to add a small plastic shim to get things to mate up well. You will be removing most of the seam area detail with filling and sanding. At least I always have. The stabilators are such that they stick out from the rear fuselage. Monogram has molded some sort of extra piece there that causes this. I suggest trimming that back prior to cementing these in place as the stabs are almost flush with the rear fuselage. In fact, one often saw scrape marks where the leading part of the stab rubbed against the fuselage.
Instructions are very well done and in the rather unusual landscape booklet format used by Accurate Miniatures. The construction steps are well drawn and there is a written construction sequence as well. A separate camo and markings guide is provided in full color with Testors and Vallejo paint references as well as FS 595 references where applicable. Markings are for three planes with the decals very nicely printed by Cartograf. The first option is the box art plane from VMFA-321. Unfortunately, these are for an F-4S with the extended wing leading edge slats. As such, they cannot be used on the kit as it boxed. I'd save these markings for a Fujimi or Hasegawa F-4S. II was also amused that the plane was shown in combat somewhere on the box top. Of course we all know that the Sidewinder is an excellent air to ground missile as well. VMFA-321 has never, as far as I know, every deployed aboard ship or overseas while flying the F-4 and I don't think they did when they had the F-8 before then.
The other two markings are for standard light gull grey and white F-4s. Both of these units have deployed and both got at least one MiG kill during Vietnam. One is from VF-142 in their yellow markings and the other with VMFA-333 'Shamrocks'. Both of these are shown without the intake RWR antennas, which is appropriate for the early fleet use of the F-4J, though I'm thinking that perhaps by the time VMFA-333 was aboard the America, it would have had those added. Check references.
It is nice to see this old kit being reissued. I have to say that the LHS got in one or two of these, and they have been shelf sitters. The reason is the MSRP. These kits are not impossible to find in their original Monogram boxing, especially from show vendors, and for far less than what AM is asking for the same kit. Sure, the new decals are very nice, but not worth the premium price. If you can find this on discount as did I, it is worth picking up, otherwise, get one of the older boxings and a new, aftermarket decal sheet for it.
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