Hasegawa 1/72 F-4S Phantom
II “USS Midway Low Visibility”
F-4S was the designation applied to 265 (some sources
say 248) F-4Js which were upgraded in the
mid-1970s with the goal of
prolonging their life so that they
could remain in service until replaced by the F/A-18 Hornet in Marine Corps
service and by the F-14 Tomcat in Navy service.
Major changes included airframe and undercarriage
strengthening. The electrical system was completely rewired, and the hydraulic
system was replumbed using stainless steel tubing. In order to improve the
maneuverability, two-position wing leading-edge maneuvering slats were fitted to
the F-4S, which gave a 50 percent improvement in combat turning capability in
comparison with an unslatted F-4J.
was fitted with the digital AWG-10B weapons control system with new
AN/ARC-159 dual UHF radios and an ARN-118 TACAN (but not to all F-4Ss). The
ALQ-126 or 126A deceptive electronic countermeasures set of the F-4J was
retained, with the same short intake antennae fairings. It was also fitted with
smokeless J79-GE-10B engines with low smoke combustors and low-energy ignition.
Low-voltage formation lights were fitted to the sides of the nose, mid-fuselage,
and tailfin, and staggered cooling ports were fitted near the nosewheel well.
The first F-4S modification (F-4J BuNo 158360) took
off on its maiden flight on
July 22, 1977.
The first F-4S delivered with leading edge slats from the start was 155899,
which first appeared in November of 1979.
First to get the F-4S was VMFA-451, which began to
receive unslatted planes in June of 1978., while the first Navy squadron to
receive the F-4S was VF-21, based at NAS Miramar in
California, which began to
receive its planes in December 1979.
throughout the remainder of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, the Navy
progressively replaced its F-4Ss with later equipment in most deployable
carrier-based squadrons. The exceptions were six squadrons which were assigned
to the older and smaller USS Midway (CVA-41), Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42),
and Coral Sea
(CVA-43), which were reequipped with F-4Ns and F-4Ss and soldiered on with these
planes for a few more years. However, by 1986, all of the Phantoms serving with
the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets were gone, the last carrier launch of an F-4S
having taken place on March 24, 1986 when F-4Ss from VF-151 and VF-161 were
launched from the USS Midway for the last time. After stateside service, in
January of 1992, VMFA-112 retired the last F-4S from the US Sea Service
Hasegawa’s kits are the weapons of choice when
building Phantoms in 1/72 (and I guess in 1/48). This particular boxing, no.
00834 “USS Midway Low Visibility” is a very interesting kit with lots of extra
parts and four excellent choices in the decal sheet, catering for both late
F-4Js and Ss. As all their brethren, cockpit is completely bare, with decals for
instrument panel and consoles, so the Eduard SS209 was used for the cockpit and
the Airwaves AC48-14 for the canopies. They are also stripped of armament, only
fuel tanks and missile rails are included, so some weaponry from the Hasegawa
Weapons Set no. VI was added.
cockpit was very straight forward, the PE parts fitting like a glove, but some
scratch built detail added to floor and consoles, and a maze of cables made from
wire to dress the space between the crew stations. The rear overhead
panel was scratch built with some decals from the kit’s sheet. I chose to use
the kit’s seats with the PE harness and fittings, and the result is quite good.
Assembly of fuselage is a bit tricky because of the parts layout; I am not a
good assembler and had to rely on lots of putty on the intakes and under nose
pan. Outer wing panels’ dihedral can also be a chore and require careful fitting
and gluing. Wheel wells were detailed with pieces of styrene and wire. The
exhaust cans were detailed on the inside with strips of Tamiya tape, an easy
trick that looks quite good, but I did not attempt to do anything inside the
intakes’ trunking (FOD guards are the way to go, I think). I chose to arm my
Phantom with what seems to have been the standard short range Fleet CAP load,
two Sparrows on the rear bays and four AIM-9L Sidewinders (most late Phantoms
should carry just training loads, but this one was an operational fighter, so I
painted the missiles as live rounds), plus the ventral tank.
Tactical Paint Scheme of FS 35237, 36320 and 36375 is most subtle but
challenging in order to get the dirty and “vague” look most often seen in
pictures. I used WEMMs paint for the lighter colours and Xtracolor for the
darkest, with hard tape masking. The subdued, almost single color look was
sought by a heavy preshading in a dark ochre, both freehand and masked, and by
mixing a little of the lighter color on the next darker coat, painting this very
lightly and leaving it a bit “undone” at the edges on purpose, to mix the
colours. Very little postshading was necessary, though after the decals were
applied a very light and thinned dark mix was randomly sprayed. Some oils
completed the job. All clear coats were made using Xtracylics varnishes, which
make the paintwork immune to washes and filters with enamels or oils.
Metal parts were painted a combination of Alclad
Aluminium and Exhaust, and Testors Magnesium and Gun Metal.
I chose to paint the missiles in their later livery of
FS36375, though in the mid ‘80s they might well have been White overall.
kit brings four very interesting decal options, one F-4J and two Ss belonging to
VF-161 in the intermediate low viz scheme of FS 34440 overall, and my choice, a
TPS F-4S from VF-151 circa 1986, which may well have taken part in the last sea
cruise by a Phantom equipped unit in the US Navy. They went nice on the glossy
surface, even the fearful looking tail design, helped by the use of the “hot
flannel” technique. This particular decal was completed with MM Panzer Grey,
which proved to be an almost exact match (though I guess FS36118 should be the
true color). The formation lights in the kit’s sheet are in an awful bright
yellow color and they were replaced by Pro-Modeler special decals (sheet
800200), carefully placed over them. Missile decals, from the Hasegawa box, are
exacting but very rewarding.
Hasegawa Phantoms are
sure fire kits. Once you start building them they are enjoyable and predictable,
with no pitfalls, though care should be exercised when assembling them. This
boxing is particularly attractive for the wealth of spare parts left, even
including outer wing panels to convert F/RF-4Es from unslatted to slatted and
back. Are Hase’s decals improving noticeably? Certainly I have been using the
ones in their later boxings with some success.
Douglas F-4 Phantom II, A Comprehensive Guide, Part 2: US Navy and Marine Corps
Variants”, Andy Evans, SAM Limited
“Modelling the F-4
Phantom II”, Geoff Coughlin and Neil Ashby, Osprey Modelling series, Osprey
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