Fine Molds 1/72 F-4J "USS Midway 1978"
|PRICE:||4400 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is an American tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it entered service with the Navy in 1961 before it was adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s it had become a major part of their air arms. Phantom production ran from 1958 to 1981 with a total of 5,195 aircraft built, making it the most produced American supersonic military aircraft in history, and cementing its position as a signature combat aircraft of the Cold War.
The success of the Navy's F-4B ensured its continued operation by the USN. As with all modern or near modern aircraft, the airframe was improved over time. For the Navy it meant adopting more powerful engines, improved avionics and a change to wider, lower pressure tires as on USAF versions. It also meant the addition of DECM antennas on the sides of the intakes later in the type's development. This improved version was the F-4J which was later modified even more to the F-4S, the last USN variant. This kit is of the later F-4J (earlier ones did not have the DECM antennas) as operated from the USS Midway in 1978.
Fine Molds has turned their expertise to the F-4 Phantom II. Initial releases were of the Japanese F-4EJ and they have covered many of the USAF versions from the C to the early E models. I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before they tackle the others as the kit is quite modular.
Here are some of the interesting features. In the cockpit, the side consoles are separate inserts to take into account the various differences between variants. There is full intake trunking back to the first compressor stages. Not surprising is that the forward fuselage is separate. The main fuselage is a single piece with an upper deck insert so no worries about seams. There is also a detail piece for the engine aux intake doors.
Wings are a lower section that includes most of the lower fuselage with upper halves and separate wing tips. There is no folding wing option with this kit. This kit has the 'hard wing' that was typical of the variant. The wing underside has inserts for where the cat attachment points would be on the naval versions.
The metal portion of the rear fuselage is a separate item with an insert for the very aft portion. Again, to eliminate some of the usual seams one sees in other kits. You are provided only the fin that is appropriate to the J version. Horizontal stabs are interlocking to help with alignment. This kit provides an unreinforces slotted version that was installed late in F-4B production to improve low speed handling.
Inner main gear doors include a portion of the gear well so attaching these will be a breeze. You are provided missile pylons and three drop tanks. However, there are no weapons, those being offered in a separate weapons pack. Finally, you can do canopy open or closed with a separate closed canopy piece.
Instructions are in booklet form and are excellent, providing Gunze and FS 595 color references. Three options are provided, all of which are in the light gull grey over white scheme. As this is from 1978, all the shades are gloss, though the grey did weather to a semi-gloss. One aircraft is the box art plane from VF-161 and you'll need to paint the black areas. The other two are from VF-151 and are different only in the serial and nose numbers. Wing and stab tips will need to be painted yellow on these. The superbly printed decal sheet includes the expected mass of stencils and also has decals for the instrument and console panels.
As with many other kits, to build any of the options, you'll have to paint the fairly extensive black areas, but this is actually a good thing as getting a decal to properly conform over all the lumps and bumps would be a challenge to say the least. The end result will be a super model.
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