|KIT #:||04109 (Ka9)|
|PRICE:||$29.95 when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Over the years, it was customary to produce a reconnaissance version of a top line fighter. This aircraft would be equipped with the best cameras available and have a high top speed so that it could evade enemy fighters and ground based A-A guns.
At the time, the Navy was using the RA-5C for its reconnaissance missions. This aircraft met the needs of having excellent cameras and a high speed. However, it was prodigiously expensive to maintain and it had a low availability rate. It was also fairly large and took up a lot of deck space. Yet it soldiered on until the mid 1970s as it was effective. The Marines also needed a fast recon plane and so they put forth a proposal for a version of the then-new F-4 to meet this need. Thus was born the RF-4B, based on the USN's F-4B. The basic package was also developed for the USAF, based on their F-4C variant.
The initial production of RF-4Bs used the F-4Bs thin wings and thin high-pressure tires. A later batch was produced with the wider, lower pressure tires of the F-4J so required 'bumps' on the upper wing and gear doors to clear them. With the retirement of the RF-4B and RF-4C, the US said goodbye to its last dedicated fst jet tactical reconnaissance aircraft. Future TACR was done with pods.
Hasegawa's Phantom series of kits are no strangers to most modelers of this aircraft in this scale. They were, and some feel still are, the best of these kits in 1/72. One thing is that they are quite modular so it not surprising that there are a lot of inserts. The fuselage, for instance, is divided into a front and a rear section with the front part generally being what changes between variant. This kit also includes both types of wing to deal with the early and later builds of the RF-4B.
Cockpit is fairly nicely done using decals for instruments and it comes with an acceptable four piece bang seat. Those wanting more detail will find it in resin aftermarket. The cockpit sits atop the upper nose gear well and this then fits into a lower forward fuselage piece. This is then trapped in the rest of the nose section. No nose weight is required in any Phantom II kit. The kit's camera windows are only the earlier, more angular version and the USMC RF-4s never got the later variant as used on several USAF RF-4C.
Rear fuselage section needs some holes/trimming dealt with and the appropriate fin tip needs to be added. This is then attached to the nose section followed by the intakes and tailplanes. Wings are a lower senter section with upper halves followed by the wing tips. Holes will need to be drilled in the lower wing piece for racks and the centerline tank. There are two sets of burner cans as the later build RF-4Bs are based on the F-4J. Canopy is four pieces and you can have the front and rear sections open if you wish.
Landing gear is well done and all the parts fit nicely as long as you are careful in your construction. This kit does not use the inner pylons so all you have for the underside are three fuel tanks. You also have blanking plates for the rear Sparrow wells as the RF-4B was unarmed.
Instructions are standard fare for Hasegawa with Gunze paint references. You have three options. THe box art plane is one of the retirement schemes for VMFP-3 and is a later RF-4B. The other two are earlier planes. One is another VMFP-3 plane in the tactical paint scheme and low viz markings while the second is a much earlier plane with VMCJ-3 and large red markings. Decals are old school Hasegawa with off white bits and are nearly 30 years old. However, I've used these older decals with no issues so give them a go if you want. I'm sure there are aftermarket if you want fresher decals.
I've built quite a few Hasegawa 1/72 F-4 kits and while they are a bit fiddly due to the inserts, are well worth the effort as they make into great models.
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