Meng 1/48 F-4E Phantom II
Scott Van Aken
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.
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
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.
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.
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