Meng 1/48 F-4E Phantom II

KIT #: LS-017
PRICE: $70.00 delivered.
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2023 release. Includes canopy masks


.The F-4 is the west's most produced fighter with over 5,000 rolling off the assembly lines. Most nations have already retired theirs, but I believe that Turkey still operates the type, though they have been extensively reworked and are still valuable fighter-bomber assets. By far, the USAF was the largest operator with the F-4 being a mainstay of not only regular USAF units, but also the ANG and Reserves into the 1990s. Many of those survivors were used for many years after as target drones until replaced by the F-16C. While no longer in western skies, the F-4 can be found in museums around the world.


Several months ago, when I was showing our local IPMS chapter the Fine Molds 1/72 F-4 kit, one of the members commented that it looked like the same tooling as the Meng kit. Well, scale aside, I can tell you that it is not the case. The parts breakdown in some areas is similar, but in others it is quite different. One similarity is in the cockpit where the side consoles are inserts to deal with the differences in variants. Another is that part of the hot section is a separate insert which will help when it comes to painting. However, where Fine Molds has it as five pieces, the Meng kit molds all those pieces as one. Also molded as one piece is the upper fuselage from the tail to the nose cone. The lower fuselage incorporates the lower wings. In this case the wing outer section is trapped between the upper and lower wing sections.

Meng's kit is a late F-4E. This means that it has features not found on earlier versions. The biggest is that this one has the slatted wings, which have large, molded in slat extension housings on the underside of the wing. This wing upgrade was not only installed in new planes, but was retrofit into many of the older F-4Es. This all happened in the mid/late 1970s so if using aftermarket decals you need to do your research.

Like many newer kits, things like the wheel wells are built up of multiple pieces as it is easier to mold a bunch of flat bits than a detailed box. This kit also has a full intake up to the first compressor stage. Typical of these sorts of designs, there will be a seam that will be difficult to remove. The same is the case of the exhaust. The external intake design is quite similar to the FM kit so it will be interesting to see how the fit is on this.

With the fuselage together, the ailerons and flaps are installed. Check period photos for these as Meng allows you to have them either fully up or fully down. It was not uncommon for these to be partially deployed, but not always. The burner cans are built up of multiple segments. Not sure why this couldn't have been done with a single piece. Leading edge slats can be molded extended or retracted. Normally, they were retracted on the ground. Landing gear, speedbrakes and such are well done with quite a few parts, but if you have ever built a 1/48 F-4, this will all be pretty familiar. Note that there are no positive locators for the gear doors, which is fairly surprising for a new tool kit like this.

The instructions would then have you build up all the armament and pylons in the next steps. A full missile suite is provided along with an early jamming pod and a pair of LGBs and some Maverick missiles. Three fuel tanks are also provided with the centerline tank being the F-15 style. You do have lots of options on what to put under the wings/fuselage. Oddly, the cockpit in the last thing to build up and this includes the seats and the clear parts. All of the clear bits are separate, though you can pose the canopies open or closed. A boarding ladder is also provided. Finally, you are provided a metal nose probe if you wish to use it over the plastic one. 

Meng's instruction booklet is superbly done providing generic and AK color information. This is a bit of a pain if you depend on FS595 colors to paint your model. However, finding that info is not difficult with a bit of research and many of us know these instinctively. There are three markings options. One is the box art plane in Euro I with the 480th TFS based at Ramstein AB. The other two are in Hill Grey II. The first is the boss bird with the 3rd TFS based at Clark AFB with the other being a South Korean aircraft with the 152nd Squadron. The large decal sheet provides the appropriate number of stencils both for the aircraft and the weapons along with wing walk markings.


Modelers are certainly not lacking in 1/48 F-4 kits, that's for sure. This is the newest of the batch and produces a late F-4E right out of the box. It includes a goodly number of weapons and sufficient detail to please just about everyone. One thing about the kit is that it includes the ARN-101 antenna on the upper fuselage. This long antenna bulge was present on the last few year's worth of F-4Es, but it not present on earlier planes that were retrofit with the slatted wings. If you want to use aftermarket decals with this kit, something I've noticed is that regular USAF units had it while ANG and some Reserve aircraft did not. Basically from FY 1971 on had the antenna.

Many of you will be suffering from Sticker Shock and wondering if paying $70+ for a kit like this is worth it. Well, that is a decision you will need to make for yourself. The kit looks impressive in the box and I'd like to think it will make a very nice model.

October 2023

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