Tamiya 1/100 F-4K/M
150 yen, but often $8 - 10 from the collectors.
Four aircraft:Generic RAF for F-4M; Three schemes for F-4K; Test Aircraft at Yeovilton, plus 892 and 767 Sq.
I could go on for a very long time talking about what is probably the most influential and important Western aircraft of the 1960s and 1970s. Built in large numbers; over 5,000 and operated by nearly two dozen air arms, the Phantom II was the epitome of fast, loud jets for a large number of people. Still being used in Japan, Germany, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Spain and maybe Egypt and Iran. In the US all are either German F-4Fs or have been converted to target drones.
Acclaimed as the most powerful, loudest, most expensive and slowest of the Phantoms, the British F-4K and M (later FG.1 and FGR.2), are basically F-4Js with Rolls Royce Speys in place of the J-79 of other versions. Many believe the increased size of the inlet makes this Phantom the best looking of the lot.
Tamiya released a number of aircraft kits to 1/100 scale in the late 60's and early 70's, including in thier repertoire a B-52, F-105, Mig-19, Buccaneer, and other jets and helicopters then in service around the world. All have engraved panel lines, very basic interiors, a good set of decals and some rather large slots and tabs for attachment of parts. Fit is relatively good, with some being superb and others being less than that. Probably the weakest part of this kit is the canopy area. It is too high in the rear and trying to fix this is more work than I am willing to do.
The Phantom is molded in a dark grey (probably to lessen the need to paint the upper surface color) and includes the option for raised or lowered landing gear as well as a nice weapons load. Included in that load is what appears to be a pair of Martel or Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles, which, if I am not mistaken, were never operationally used by the British Phantom. The other choice of weapons are Sparrows as well as centerline and wing fuel tanks. Surprisingly missing are the Sidewinders that were carried by virtually all F-4 variants.
Construction starts with the extremely minimal interior, which was painted black. Mostly to keep anyone from realizing how little detail there is inside! Fit of the fuselage, wings and intakes are the problem with this kit. I wasn't surprised by the need for filler around the intakes as that foible is endemic with Phantom kits of all kinds, as is the underside wing/fuselage join. As you can see by the image below, there is quite a bit of filler used. You can also see from the image how large the slots are in the one-piece wing for attachment of the wing fuel tanks and inboard pylons. In addition, you can see how exaggerated the upper wheel bumps are on the upper wing surface. One must also take into consideration that this is a 25-30 year old kit!!
Next step was to install the canopy. This was done with non-fogging super glue. Then the nose gear holes were filled with tissue and the underside of the aircraft was painted gloss white as were a number of other parts such as drop tanks, missiles, landing gear, doors, horizontal stabilizers.... While being very good about filling the holes in the bottom to prevent paint from getting in the inside of the canopy, I neglected to mask off the canopy and got a lot of overspray on it. DOH!! Once that was cleaned off and repolished, it was masked. Many of the parts suffer from ejector pin marks and thick molding lines as can be seen by the accompanying image. These all need cleaned up and filed or filled and filed. Some, like those in the gear wells are impossible to get to so were just left alone.
PAINT & DECALS
After fixing the glitch to the canopy, the underside of the aircraft, stabilizers, weapons, pylons, gear doors, were sprayed with Testors Model Master gloss white enamel; several times, as it takes a few coats to get good coverage. Once dry the underside was masked off as per the kit instructions and the upper side sprayed Extra Dark Sea Grey.....sort of. Actually, I used Engine Grey for two reasons. One is that it is a bit lighter than EDSG and secondly it is gloss, which fits in with the aircraft. Sure, EDSG fades rapidly and turns semi-matte when exposed to the rigors of operational use, but the paint scheme I chose is one early in its life, so the paint will not have had a chance to fade or become matte. Gunze acrylics were used for the dark grey
Once those were nice and dry, the rear hi temp section was painted Aluminum metallizer as were the insides of the horizontal stabilizers. The center panel of the horizontal stabs was painted steel. The reheat nozzles and center section of the hi temp area was then painted burnt iron. After these had dried, it was time to work on finishing the rest of the aircraft.
The landing gear had already been painted white. The main gear had the wheels as part of the assembly so the tires were painted a very dark grey. Once that was dry, the gear was glued into the proper holes. The one in the nose goes all the way up to the underside of the instrument glare shield so care needs to be taken when gluing it in place. The gear doors for the main gear were then glued in place and the nose radome was brush painted gloss black.
At this stage, the kit was able to sit on its gear and it was time to add the decals. The Tamiya decals had been in the box for well over 25 years and had yellowed. The options were to use the kit decals or to scrounge in the Modeldecal sheets for replacements. Being basically lazy, I tried a few of the Tamiya decals to see how they would look. Unfortunately, they were pretty yellow and not useable at all for the underside of the wing, which is white. However,I had little choice but to use the tail, spine and nose markings. The roundels and underwing serials were replaced using those items from various Modeldecal sheets. The decals were then subjected to Champ decal setting solution, to which they reacted favorably. Finally the airframe was given a spray of Future as the decals are pretty matte and needed to be gloss to match the rest of the airframe.
Final construction on the airframe consisted of nose gear doors, underwing and underfuselage fuel tanks, and the Sparrow missiles. Once all bits were put on, there were a few paint touchups and the kit was complete.
This 1/100 Tamiya kit built as well as the SH-3D I did about ten years ago. It is remarkable that the decals were useable as the date on the kit is 1970, making it a nearly 30 year old model. Of course, it does show its age in some inaccuracies in outline on various parts and in other areas, but it really was a lot of fun to build. Down side is a distinct lack of any aftermarket parts that might be used to enhance the kit. It is one of these kits that won't bring a lot of money on the rare kit market. If you have one in your collection, go ahead and build it.
There really are a lot of them out there, but the ones I used (albeit not very much) are:
F-4K and F-4M Phantom by Michael Burns, Osprey, 1984
F-4 Phantom by Bill Gunston, Scribners, 1977, $9.95
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