Hasegawa 1/72 QF-4E 'USAF Farewell'

KIT #: 02238
PRICE: 2840 yen (3400 yen SRP)
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Limited Reissue (2017)


Developed for the Navy, used more by the USAF than any other, built overseas by Kawasaki, and, after nearly 60 years since its first flight, still used by a few nations. A record that will be difficult to eclipse, especially for a combat jet fighter. But what does a nation do with these old warriors when retired?

In the US, the USAF has been using no longer needed military jets for many years as drones. Some are used to test equipment and systems that could be hazardous. Most are expended as aerial targets so that Air Force pilots will get the opportunity to do live fire exercises against a fast, maneuvering opponent.

The USAF has used a variety of airframes as drones and has a rather extensive program set up to convert old aircraft into full scale drones. The cost per conversion is not inexpensive, costing about $2 million an aircraft for the modifications. Apparently this is a good use of the money.

Prior to the use of the F-4, the F-100, F-102 and F-106 were modified and its replacement are early F-16As. Drone controllers are highly experience pilots who have considerable skill and often were pilots of the airframes they control. These aircraft can be fully manned if need be and they are made expendable simply by removing the ejection seats. An interesting bit of info is that with previous and perhaps future drones, a big issue was the weakness of the landing gear. Drones that are not shot down often land a lot harder than normal. It was not uncommon for the landing gear to break or have struts punch through the wing. Not an issue with the F-4 which, as a naval aircraft, was designed to take these sorts of landings on a daily basis.

Most of the airframes turned into drones were F-4E and F-4Gs with a few RF-4Cs. The C and D models were deemed too old with insufficient spares to bother with the conversion. Towards the end of the use of these planes, several were painted in commemorative schemes and flown as part of the USAF's Heritage flight. But I guess that keeping them in the air was becoming too much as last year, the USAF grounded the last of them.


 This kit represents that last QF-4, 74-1638. In this case it is a very late build E model and like the other later special QF-4s is painted in a glossy scheme. In this case it is SEA colors, though it still has the international orange tips on the stabilizers.

It is basically a standard F-4E with a new set of decals. It does not include the additional aerials and the enlarged  upper fin section that is typical of the QF-4. Once it was removed from the QF-4 program, it seems to have lost the large dorsal antenna that was used for the air to ground operation.

Naturally, it would not be armed, yet still kept the inner wing pylons and the Sidewinder rails. Those with sharp eyes will notice that the insignia is of a style not used since 1946. The sheet isn't sure if the other side or underside has current insignia or not and provides those as an option.

The kit has held up well considering the zillion pressings done over the years. I just gave it a cursory examination and will get more into it when I get around to building it, but there are a LOT of pieces that won't be used. Note that the airplane usually carries the centerline tank so you will not be using the outer wing holes. Instructions are standard fare for Hasegawa with the usual Gunze paint references. All the colors should be easy to locate in a variety of paint lines. The decal sheet is very nice and quite usable.


I would have to guess that Hasegawa has done 50 or 60 different boxings of this kit, whether it is a USAF plane, one for the German Air Force, Japanese version, or the other nations that have and are flying it. It is a tad fiddly, thanks to all the inserts and most of us have found the clear bits don't fit all that great closed, but it is one most of us have built on multiple occasions so there will be no surprises.


References? I don't need no steenkin' references!

May 2017

My thanks to me for picking this one up.

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