Monogram 1/48 F-4C Phantom II (2013 release)

KIT #: 5859
PRICE: $11.89 on sale ($21.95 SRP)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2013 release


Thought designed as a naval interceptor, when the USAF went looking for a high performance, multi-role fighter, the only one that really met all the qualifications was the Navy's F-4B Phantom II. At the time, it had set all sorts of records for speed and altitude, records that, in the US, would stand for well over a decade until beaten by the F-15. It was said that the top speed of the F-4 would never be discovered as it would run out of fuel before it stopped accelerating. Well, urban legend or not, it was very fast in a straight line when unencumbered with fuel tanks or weapons.

The USAF F-4C was pretty much the same aircraft as the F-4B with a few exceptions. Most noticeable is that the USAF wanted a wider, lower pressure main tire. This required a bulge in the upper wing and the gear doors to accommodate this feature. There were also a few Air Force avionics systems that they needed incorporated, but otherwise, most of the airframe was interchangeable with the Navy version. The F-4D added even more electronics capabilities including the ability to carry Falcon missiles and on some, the installation of LORAN receivers and antennas. The F-4C/D became the main USAF fighter in Vietnam, scoring an impressive number of air to air kills and having much success as a bomber as well. Once the F-4E had replaced most regular USAF units by the mid 1970s, those remaining F-4C/D aircraft went on to long careers with the ANG and the Reserves with the last ones leaving those units in the late 1980s. Some F-4C/D aircraft were exported overseas to Spain and Iran to name the only two I can think of to have flown these versions.

Monogram's F-4C/D has been around for a very long time and many of us have had the pleasure of building one or more of these kits over the years. It is a raised panel line kit, which may be a turn off to the fussy, but for most of us, is not that much of an issue. Monogram has always had an excellent reputation for detail and this kit is no exception. The interior alone is superbly done with more panel detail than even some newer kits provide. New to this boxing are instrument panel decals, which some may wish to use. Unique among 1/48 F-4 kits is that the seat bottoms are molded in the cockpit tub with only the seat backs being separate. This makes using aftermarket seats a bit of work, but really, most modelers will not need them as the kit seats are very nicely done.  Monogram kits have also provided crew members for their cockpit and this one is no exception with one seated and one walking.

Monogram also provided for drooped flaps and for the ability to mold the speed brakes open if one wishes. The actuating piston for the speed brake is molded in the brake well, but is convincing enough. Probably one are where construction requires a bit of thought is the intake. The lower part of the intake is molded with the lower wing section while the upper piece is separate. I have found that often times a section of thin card is needed to fill the gap that sometimes happens with this join. Other areas of concern are the tail planes. For some reason, Monogram molded these a bit proud of the rear fuselage when inserted. Sand away the extra area so they are flush. The stabilators also have the arrow head shaped reinforcement, which is fine for post Vietnam planes, but if using aftermarket decals to do a wartime bird, you may want to sand those away. The stabs are non-slotted.

Unlike some other kits, you get a full load of weapons, specifically Sparrows and Sidewinders in terms of missiles and a centerline gun pod. This latter item was not frequently used, but is there if you want it. You also have an ECM pod typical of the Vietnam era if you wish to mount that. The kit does include F-4D bits in terms of the bulge on the under nose sensor and the LORAN antenna rack, but these are not required for the F-4C. Of course there are wing tanks and a centerline fuel tank. Rarely were all three carried. Most USAF F-4s seemed to like just carrying wing tanks, but check your photos for the plane you wish to depict.

Instructions are standard Revell-Monogram with well drawn construction steps, a parts list and generic or FS 595 paint callouts. The two aircraft options are very colorful depicting planes of the 58th Tactical Training Wing during the mid 1970s. These two are in the standard SEA camouflage scheme with lots of stencils and data markings. The one with the black bands is General Haefner's plane (see photo of 1/72 Monogram F-4C) while the one with the red bands as shown on the box art belongs to the Wing Commander. For both options the white for the wings will need to be painted. The decals themselves are superbly printed and if you wish to use them, I would bet that you'll have no issues with them at all.


Despite there being more modern (and more expensive) Phantom II kits out there, it is hard to go wrong with these old favorites. This is at least the fourth boxing of this kit and there are probably some others I have missed. Though no longer the $5.95 of the initial offering, even at today's price the kit is a read bargain and well worth the effort of building. R-M has taken good care of the molds and they seem to be as crisp and free from flash as when it was first offered.

Here is a photo of the last 1/48 Monogram F-4C I did about a decade or so ago.

Thanks to me for picking this one up on sale, though I really did not need another 1/48 F-4!

September 2013

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