Hasegawa 1/48 F-4S Phantom II 'USS Midway Low Visibility'
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
When the USN decided it was time for an upgraded F-4 to augment and eventually replace the F-4B, it decided to incorporate a number of the same systems and airframe upgrades as on the F-4D that was then entering the USAF. Among them were the wider tires and wheels, the upgraded J-79 engines, some upgraded avionics and the ability to use a wider array of newer weapons. This was the F-4J.
As often happens with military aircraft, about half way through its 25-30 year useful life, it was decided to upgrade the airframe once more. This meant newer avionics, 'smokeless' J-79 engines and slatted wings, which improved the Phantom's rather large turning radius by about 10%. The Phantom II was never an aircraft one could call a dogfighter as it was designed as a fleet defense interceptor with speed as its main goal. Fortunately, to get this speed it had oodles of power so could operate in the vertical plane quite well. It was with the F-4S that the Phantom eventually left the Navy inventory. Though many F-4B/N airframes were drone converted, this was not the case with the F-4S. Only a small number saw the conversion process before the Navy decided to get out of the full scale drone program a few years back.
Here is another of Hasegawa's limited reissues. This time it is their F-4J/S kit as an F-4S. This is the later engraved panel line version and as such, has a number of sprues from the F-4E kit, which is also engraved panel lines. If you are concerned that, like the RF-4E and probably RF-4B kit there would be a mixture of engraved and raised detailing, only spure G which has the sidewinders and its pylons is of this older type.
In line with other Hasegawa kits, you get basically a USAF cockpit into which you put a USN right rear sidewall and (perhaps) the proper front and rear instrument panels. I say perhaps as I just don't know. Seats are fairly well done though will benefit from more detailed aftermarket ones. You do get a pair of crewmen to inhabit those seats if you wish to use them.
The wings are the USAF F-4E slatted version which need the small wing fence cut away and replaced with the longer USN versions. You also get the proper shorter intake ECM antennas. Stabilators are the proper slatted ones, though you'll need to remove the USAF reinforcement triangles from them. Speaking of reinforcements, the Navy lower wing has some additional exterior beefing up and this is supplied in photo-etch. Unlike other Hasegawa jet kits, this one has Sidewinders and Sparrows as well as the proper Navy centerline tank and a pair of wing tanks. There are some additional outer wing pylons that are not used in case you wish to use them in concert with perhaps an ordnance load. This is all topped off with a multi-piece canopy and actuator arms to pose them in the open position.
Instructions are standard Hasegawa and use Gunze references. Speaking of Gunze, while it may no longer be importing their acrylic line, apparently their other line, which is a lacquer, can be imported and the LHS is slowly stocking up on those colors. Markings are for three grey planes. Two are from VF-161, the CAG and CO's planes. These are in overall 16440 light gull grey. The other is a line bird from VF-151 and is in the three shade tactical paint scheme of FS 35237/36320/36375. The large decal sheet includes not only standard markings but also instrument panel decals and the upper wing walk areas for the VF-161 planes.
As I mentioned above, this kit sells out very quickly when reissued. It is still the finest 1/48 Phantom II series around.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours today at your local hobby shop or on-line store.
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