Hasegawa 1/72 F-4B/N Phantom II 'Bicentennial'
|PRICE:||2200 yen when new in 1999|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||1999 Limited Edition|
The first full series production version of the Phantom II was the F-4B. Yes, there were F-4As, but those were pre-production types, or mostly used by the two training squadrons; VF-101 and VF-121 as well as by various test units.
The F-4B was the first fleet squadron capable aircraft and was what went to war in Vietnam with USN units. Later in life, most of those were upgraded to F-4N standards that included upgraded avionics and in some cases, better engines. The easiest way to tell an F-4B from an F-4N is that the N model has long ESM antennas along the upper intake. Some F-4B and F-4N aircraft were modified for drone duty as QF-4B and QF-4Ns. The rest were either lost in operations used for display planes (some of them wearing USAF colors and serials), or scrapped. There may still be a few in the boneyard.
Navy Phantoms were exported only on on occasion when the RAF needed aircraft to replace a unit sent to defend the Falklands in 1983. A squadron of F-4Js was overhauled and equipped with some British avionics to become F-4J(UK)s. They served with 74 Squadron.
When one opens the box, the only thing one sees that is new is an addendum instruction sheet and a large decal sheet. The kit is your standard Navy F-4 kit that has been around for many years. It has held up quite well as I found little in the way of flash, quite a feat as parts of this kit must have been cranked out hundreds of thousands of times over the years. The assembly instructions you get are for kit KX 3 which was one that had VF-111 and several other units for decals. You can pretty well follow these without any real worries. Many still consider this to be the most accurate Phantom in this scale and despite it being rather fiddly (due to all the inserts and additions so all variants can eventually be built), with care builds into a great model. If you want to get more information, see some of the other previews of Hasegawa Phantoms.
Anyway, instructions are typical Hasegawa and provide your standard, and now getting difficult to find in the US, Gunze paint references. The sheet has decals for the instrument panel and side consoles as well as the upper wing and intake walk areas. Note that two sets are provided as one plane uses the black and the other the dark grey. These aircraft were the Bicentennial birds with VF-151 and VF-161 attached to CAG-5 and the USS Midway during 1976. You will have to paint the fins white and also paint the black anti-glare panels and the long fuselage stripe on the VF161 option. The sheet is very nicely printed and even after 15 years should not be a problem. Both planes are, of course, in the light gull grey over white scheme. I would go with gloss for the upper surface color as by the time the F-4N was fully with the fleet, the switch from matte had been made. All N models were retrofitted with the slotted stabilators as provided on the later production B models.
So there you have it. Another great boxing of one of Hasegawa's best selling aircraft. Despite most of these planes having been withdrawn from service, a few are still soldiering on in parts of the world and should continue to do so for a few more years. If you have never built a Hasegawa 1/72 F-4, do yourself a favor and give one a go. Careful building will result in a real beauty.
Thanks to me for the preview kit.
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