|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Two kits in the box|
The Phantom II is a plane that needs no introduction for most of us, so here are the specifics on the E model. The F-4E was a USAF version with an integral M61 Vulcan cannon in the elongated RF-4C-style nose, AN/APQ-120 radar with smaller cross-section to accommodate the cannon, J79-GE-17 engines with 17,900 lbf (79.379 kN) of afterburner thrust each. Late-series aircraft equipped with leading-edge slats to improve maneuverability at the expense of top speed under the Agile Eagle program. Starting with Block 53, aircraft added AGM-65 Maverick capability and smokeless J79-GE-17C or -17E engines. First flight 1 August 1965. The most numerous Phantom variant; 1,370 built.
Platz has partnered with F-toys to produce a growing catalogue of 1/144 kits. These kits are marketed as two to a box, which provides a good value for the builder. They are also designed to be built without too much fuss and you'll find most of the attachment points to be quite large. The kits provide engraved panel detail which is grossly overscale, but once painted will not look all that bad.
The kit provides a well appointed cockpit with raised detail on the side consoles and instrument panels. It has separate seats and while there are no control sticks, if one uses the two crew figures that are supplied, this will not be noticed. All this will eventually be under a somewhat thick one-piece canopy assembly anyway.
As a first for me and an F-4 kit, there is an insert for the section between the afterburner cans. Intakes are pretty standard stuff with a separate splitter piece and outer intake section. no indication is provided as to any need for weight but the bigger scale ones do not need it. The wing is a single piece with the holes for the pylons and tanks already opened.
The kit does provide an option to have the kit built gear up, and while there is no display stand provided, one could easily be made or adapted. As mentioned, the attachment pins are large, so getting the landing gear and doors attached will be pretty easy. Attaching the Sidewinders is the usual butt join.
Now for a couple of notes. First of all, this molding is used for a number of other boxings, as such, there are features that may not apply to the markings option you wish to use. For instance, the wing-tip ECM antennas would not be used in a Vietnam War plane. The same goes for the stabilizers with the arrow shaped reinforcement plate, though the slotted stabs would have been used. So fill those plates in at least for the first option. The first option would have probably not have had the later gun muzzle so you may want to consider sanding that back. Finally, the Edwards test plane was really a modified F-4D. While later it life it did have the proper gun muzzle, it never got the slotted stabilizers. Fortunately, the kit provides both styles so you can make the change. I am also not positive if the slime lights would have been applied to the second option. It is stated as shown as it was in 1972 while the lights were a late 1970s addition.
So the instructions are well done and in Japanese. There are six construction steps and FS 595 color references are provided. The first option is from the 34th TFS and is a Vietnam War bird. The second is from the 421st TFS and this unit flew the E in the last couple of months of the war from Thailand. The third is the YF-4E that was developed from an F-4D, it is shown in its later scheme from 1983 so would have had most of the E updates, though as you can see from the photo I've included, still have the early stabs. The small decal sheet is nicely done and offers markings for all three planes. Notice that the original sheet was missing the red bits of the insignia but this was covered by an addendum. Note also that all three planes have shark mouths. There are aftermarket sheets out there if you care to search for them, but I think that what is supplied will make some great models.
As is often the case, a simple looking kit is not really all that simple. I started by painting the interior bits save the seats and instrument panels in dark gull grey. The instrument panels were black and I used NATO black for the seats. The seats sit rather low in the cockpit and there is no really good attachment point for the instrument panels. The fit of this item into the fuselage is very positive as are several of the various attachment points.
I did stick a bit of weight in the nose, though it is probably not needed. The fuselage halves leave a relatively big seam when attached to each other and the intakes do not fit very well. Attaching the wing is even worse with a huge step between the forward fuselage and the forward wing section. As I was going to do the Edwards option, I attached the landing gear and gear doors. The doors have huge tabs that fit into slots in the gear wells, but they don't fit all the way down. Main gear and the outer doors are a single piece and did not come close to properly fitting in the gear wells. Apparently the main gear leg fit into a hole outside the well. Not this kid and I simply butt fit the main gear into the well as best I could. On the nose gear, the retraction strut piece broke when I was removing it from the sprue. Thanks to all these hassles, the other kit in the box will be gear up.
The canopy has very large attachment points and comes with a completely smooth windscreen without the usual demarcation lines. The small windows between the forward and aft canopy are impossible to mask. I attached the canopy (cracking it down the centerline seam as I did so and it is not a tight fit), masked most of it and headed for painting.
|COLORS AND MARKINGS|
Well, what can I say about this one. Uh...decals are great. It is pretty obviously not a Platz mold as their kits are superb, however, it does make into a nice shelf model and for those with more skill than I, it can be made into a very nice little model. Things I found frustrating were the fit of some of the parts, the canopy and the rather odd way they want you to attach the main gear. I know these can be made into real gems as I see them all the time on the 'net. It will fill a lot of spaces in your 1/144 aircraft collection and looks a lot more like a proper F-4 than any previous attempts. I still have one to go and will take what I've learned, applying it to that one when my decals arrive.
18 August 2017
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