|PRICE:||$29.98 MSRP in 2003|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Tough not to be repetitive when talking about famous aircraft and the F-4 certainly fits into that category. Let's just say that back in the late 1950s, the US Navy had McDonnell aircraft develop what started to be a twin engine, two seat Demon and it progressively became the superb Phantom II. So good was this aircraft at the time (setting a plethora of performance records) that the USAF was pretty well forced into purchasing the aircraft as there was nothing coming that would beat it. The TFX, which was in development was not a fighter but a bomber. The Air Force needed the Phantom II and eventually out-purchased the Navy at least three if not four to one.
Back before the end of 1962, when all the Navy aircraft type numbers were changed to be brought in line with USAF numbering systems, the Phantom II was to be the F-110A Spectre. Since the basically identical USAF version of the F-4B was not going to be ready for a few years, the USAF was given a batch of Navy planes on which they could start training pilots and maintenance types. The first two planes, as well as the rest of the batch, were delivered in Navy colors of light gull grey over white and used the USN serial numbers minus the first digit (a 1).
One of the first two planes was decorated with 'F-110A' and photographed quite a bit. The second plane did not have this logo, but both had standard USAF TAC markings complete with buzz numbers. Less than a year later, the F-110A went into the history books and became the F-4C. Eventually, the USAF got their own Phantoms and returned what they didn't crash back to the Navy for fleet use.
Here is another Hasegawa classic and still the finest 1/72 F-4 Phantom II on the market. It is the third molding of the F-4 done by Hasegawa. The first was a very crude and basic F-4J, festooned with rivets and sporting landing gear molded in the extended position. This was greatly improved upon by a later series of Phantoms that is still a bit crude by today's standards, but did the job and looked a lot better. It is still being sold so if you see a really inexpensive Hasegawa F-4 being sold, this is that kit.
In the 1990s, this new mold Phantom appeared. It is very much the modern model kit with sprues galore and enough inserts and optional bits to allow every one of the Phantom Family to be done, simply by switching around sprue trees. Typical of Hasegawa, you only get the sprues containing parts to make the version being boxed. in this case, it is an F-4B/N. Not to say you won't have extras, but they will be bits for the spares box as the only variant you can make is the aforementioned one.
The kit parts are very nicely molded with Hasegawa's typical crisp panel lines and detailing. The cockpit relies on decals for instruments and while the seats are OK, the best thing one can do to spruce things up is fork over the funds for some resin or metal aftermarket versions. Hasegawa does attempt providing a proper USN back seat, but it isn't totally accurate. Good luck filling the hole for the rear control stick.
The proper flat topped wing, skinny wheels and non-bulged gear doors are provided as well. A number of optional fin tips are supplied, but use the one that matches the box art as these planes had no ECM at this time. There are parts for the N version as well, but then, why buy a special boxing if one isn't going to do the version contained?
You get standard F-4B/N instructions along with an addendum sheet to cover the F-110A markings. The only additional work needed will be to remove the reinforcement triangles from the stabilators, and you do get the correct unslotted ones used on all early/mid-production F-4Bs. The decal sheet is old school but if you use hot water, it will provide no problem. Hasegawa did goof up and only gave one FJ-405 buzz number decal, accidentally printing the second as FJ-406. A little judicious snipping and stripe decal should fix this. You can mold either 49405 with the F-110A nose markings or 49506 which has different size U.S. Air Force and Buzz Number decals. A myriad of data decals are also included and the instructions is very good determining placement.
If one is doing a P-1 to F-117A fighter collection, you'll need this one to fit into the F-110A slot. It also makes for an interesting difference from the norm when it comes to Phantoms. I know that the kit will be a bit fussy to build, but the results will be more than worth it.
I bought this one back in 2004 from North American Hobbies because it was just priced right.