|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Hello? This is the F-4 Phantom II, probably the most famous and best known jet fighter of the last forty years. Actually, more like fifty as the first one flew in 1958. Quite a testament to those that are still soldiering on. In fact, the newest F-4 is over 30 years of age as it would be a 1975 build. So who is still flying them? Well, Japan, Turkey and Greece still have some that have been upgraded for additional life. Perhaps Israel and Germany as well, though they may well be retired by now (late 2009). In the US, they are still converting F-4E and G models out of the boneyard into drones and if you are lucky, you might see one at an air show. All the Naval versions are long gone as the rigors or carrier-borne life tends to shorten the lifespan of an airframe.
Those who pop open the box on this one will be greeted by an old friend. The Hasegawa 1/48 Phantom II was released in the early1980s at the then outrageous price of $22. We never thought anyone would buy them as they were astronomically expensive (for the time). Well, buy them people did and this venerable kit is still being reissued. No engraved panel lines here, this is all high quality, raised panel line molding. In fact, you can tell this is an old kit as it comes with missiles.
There isn't much in the way of options for this one except to have the canopies opened or closed and to install the pilot and RIO figures. It comes with acceptable bang seats, though resin replacements would be better or at least a set of harnesses. Typical of Hasegawa 1/48 Navy Phantoms, or at least this version, the back seat is all wrong. It is actually a USAF back seat. If you are thinking 'resin cockpit', it might not be such a bad idea. Of course, you could easily just blow that off and leave it be as few of your friends will realize the difference.
The rest of the kit is well done and it is nice to not have to spend the dollars/yen/euros on aftermarket missiles, though the ones in the kit are somewhat basic. You also get two wing tanks and a centerline tank. It was normal when operating from a carrier to not use the wing tanks, though one never says never. The markings on this one are for two planes from VMFA-531. The first is the box art plane from the USS Forrestal when it did some cross-deck operations with the RN and the HMS Ark Royal. Both 531 and 892 Squadron had their planes royally zapped and this the the 531 offering. This plane is in gloss light gull grey over white and though an F-4N, does not yet have the ESM antennas on the intake. The other plane is when based a few years later on the USS Coral Sea. By this time the scheme had changed to the easy-to-paint overall light gull grey and this is the CAG bird. Hasegawa is kind enough the provide the wing and fuselage non-skid areas. Hasegawa provides instructions for an earlier kit along with an addendum sheet that includes the new decal placement guide. Read over the addendum sheet before choosing your markings to keep from screwing up. The new decals are superbly done and I'd hang onto the walkway areas that you don't use as they do come in handy.
It is no longer new and no longer $22 but still a great kit. I've built several Hasegawa Phantoms and have enjoyed every one I've done.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local shop or on-line retailer.
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