Airfix 1/72 F-4 Phantom II




Au $19.95


US Navy F-4B VF-74, US Air Force F-4C GG, US Air Force F-4D 7466,
Israeli Air Force F-4E 610, US Navy F-4J VF-31.


Steven S. Pietrobon




For a history of the Phantom, please see the other reviews in this website.


I first built this kit in my youth in the 1970's, however I did a major stuffup.  I swapped the engine inlets 14 and 15, resulting in the inlets not lining up with the body. As was usual at that time, I did not use any putty or paint. This  time I would get the inlets right! The kit was moulded in grey, instead of white. The decals were exactly the same. There are five versions that can be selected, a US Navy F-4B or F-4J, US Air Force F-4C or F-4D or Israeli Air Force  F-4E. I chose the F-4J as I liked the cat holding the bomb decals on the sides and its an easier painting scheme with no camouflage. Modern F-4 kits are much
better than the Airfix kit, but as you can see, the Airfix kit can give quite a  good result, despite its 1971 vintage. This was my first plane kit in 20 years.


Both the old and new instructions had no painting details for the interior. I used dark green for the pilot's suit, semi gloss black for the boots and mask, flesh for the hands and face, and gloss white for the helmet. The seats and top  of the joystick were painted semi gloss black. Looking at a photo of the cockpit interior, it looked sky blue, so I painted it duck egg blue. I later learned that the cockpit should be painted light grey. Using plastic card I added forward and rear bulkheads.

The rest of the kit went together well although there was a huge gap between where the bottom of wings 24 attaches to the front of the fuselage. Plastic card and a lot of putty and sanding were required to fill in the gap. I also added a  small piece of plastic card under the rear engines to fix a small inaccuracy. I also added a thin slice of plastic card between the top of the wings 22 and 23 and the fuselage halves 7 and 9 to fill in the gap there.

The left wing trailing edge is a lot thicker than the right wing. Using a file and a bit of elbow grease helped make the edge thinner. The top fuselage join also needed some putty. The new plastic felt like hard candle wax, so after some sanding, the joint flattened a little.

One trick I thought up after bending the tail aerial a few times, was to use  some masking tape to hold it in place while handling the model. Painting the interior of the engine inlets was a bit tricky. I first sprayed dove grey  Humbrol 40 behind the inlet. Since that was gloss, this was then sprayed with a semi gloss varnish. The inlet interior were painted gloss white and the external part of inlets 12 and 13 dove grey. These were then sprayed with semi gloss  varnish. The back of the inlets was painted matt black.


After glueing the cockpit glass using Testors Clear Parts Cement, the cockpit and engine inlets were masked up using Tamiya masking tape in preparation for spraying primer Humbrol 1. I scribed two hinges behind each of the two cockpit  canopies. This was the only scribing I did on the model. I left the raised detail untouched. After sanding and respraying any imperfections, the bottom was sprayed gloss white.

The bottom and wing and tail aerilons were then masked up in preparation for spraying the rest of the model dove grey. I used newspaper to cover most of the bottom which was a mistake. The newspaper left a smudge on the paint underneath  which is hard to remove. I'll be using plain white paper in future. The tape over the aerial was removed.

After spraying the dove grey, the masking tape was removed and the nose was masked up to be painted semi gloss black. The cockpit mask was left on. It was at this point that I noticed that Humbrol 40 appears a little too gray. Oh well!

Now was the time to apply the decals. There was some misalignment, but I was not  bothered enough to buy new decals. Apparantly, Airfix will be producing all their decals inhouse which will hopefully avoid these alignment problems in
future. I also used decal setting solution (basically diluted acetic acid or vinegar) for the first time. It worked great! I cut a bit too much around some decals, like the NAVY and VF-31 decals, which caused some problem with the decal
folding on itself. The right VF-31 broke into four pieces while trying to unfold  it, but I was able to put it together without any trace that it was broken. The VF-31 is actually printed VF-91. I cut the 9 to make it into a 3 and painted Airfix matt red M19 on the rest of the 9 on the decal. Not a perfect 3, but its pretty close. I also painted some red sparks coming from the bomb carried by the cat.

The whole model was then painted with semi gloss varnish. The Humbrol varnish is  a little yellow, which shows up on the bottom white surface. Spraying the varnish also makes it a bit more matt for some reason. The back was then masked  and hand painted silver using my over 20 year old Humbrol 11. This silver works a lot better than other new silvers I have bought. Hand painting gives a much better finish than spraying, which will give a toy like appearance. I made a step in the line from the engines to the back, which should be straight. Unfortunately, this is too hard to fix.


While all the above was going on, I was also preparing the engine exhausts, Sparrow missiles, undercarriage, fuel tanks, M117 bombs, and rear tail wings. The fuel tanks and bombs required no putty, but a lot of sanding was required to get a smooth round finish. A small amount of putty was used for the rear wings. While the main model was being sprayed gloss white, this was also used to paint the fuel tanks and rear wing tips. The landing gear was painted by hand, with the gloss white being covered with semi gloss varnish. One engine exhaust was a bit malformed which required some sanding to get it back into shape. The exhausts were painted gun metal with the inside matt black. The tips of the missiles were painted dove grey. Airfix says to paint the bombs white, but they should be dark green. A little yellow was painted around the tip and the tip itself painted silver.

Attaching the wing fuel tanks was a bit of a pain. The slot into the wing is loose, so I basically filled the slot with glue, and then let the pylon set. I also added clear cement around the join, and then painted it satin white. I put the front gear rear door on the wrong side, but had also put it in backwards, meaning the circle on the door was close to the back than the front. This meant that putting it on the correct side, put the circle also correctly close to the front, which was fortunate. The last step was painting the side windows on the cockpit gloss black. Not entirely convincing, but its the best I could do. After a few weeks sitting on its wheels, the right wheel had a significant tilt on it. As I tried to straighten the wheel, it came off. I scraped some plastic from inside the wheel and then superglued it on. Hopefully, the wheel will stay straight.


Personally, I felt the kit came out much better than I expected. I think it looks great. I would recommend the kit for anyone looking for a cheap Phantom who is also into a bit of model nostalgia. Seeing how I stuffed the inlets up as a kid, a moderate skill level is required.


I used various photos I found on the web and "Vietnam Air War Debrief" edited by R. F. Dorr and C. Bishop, 1996. More photos on the construction of this kit can be found at .

January 2004

Steven S. Pietrobon

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page