Made for the long-nosed versions of the F-4 Phantom II, Master Model has created a beautiful set of metal probes for your 1/72 build. This set includes the nose-mounted pitot tube, side-mounted Angle of Attack (AOA) probe, and vertical stabilizer-mounted Ram Air Inlet tube. As with previous Master products, the detail and quality of the parts are exceptional, especially considering these are extremely minute parts in 1/72 scale!
Hasegawa’s newer-tool F-4E was chosen to receive these fine detail parts. A great kit in its own right, you can easily see how much of an improvement these metal replacement parts are compared to the injection molded plastic ones included in the kit.
Hasegawa’s Phantom features a two-piece nose. Once assembled, there is a shallow hole for the kit’s pitot tube. This is a bit too shallow for Master’s part and will need to be drilled out to accommodate the piece. The instructions call out metric diameters for each mounting hole in .5 and .6mm sizes, which equate to roughly #76 and #73 bits, respectively. I found these bits to be pretty close, and with a touch of CA glue, the Master parts all held firm.
Moving on to the very slender AOA probe, you’ll find a very small dome of plastic on the side of the forward fuselage representing it on the kit. Simply clip the dome off, and drill the mounting hole for the Master AOA probe where it was located. You’ll want to ensure that the hole is smooth and free of any sort of lip created from the drilling process. Installation is as simple as carefully pressing the AOA probe in place. You should use very light force – the part is metal but remains fragile. After it wouldn’t fit for me on the first try, I gently used the same drill bit to ever so slightly ream out the sides, after which it slid in perfectly and was held firm with CA glue.
The final part, the ram air inlet, mounts on the vertical stabilizer. The Hasegawa kit offers several areas to watch out for due to the nature of kit. First, there are two probes molded onto the tail. The uppermost probe represents the pitot probe found on short-nosed Phantoms. It was moved to the nose on long-nosed Phantoms like the E model represented here. This “error” is a byproduct of Hasegawa using components of the same mold to make multiple versions of the F-4. This is great for modelers and the resulting variety of kits available, but makes it imperative that you check your references during a build. Thus, the probe you’re actually replacing is the lower of the two on the tail, the ram air inlet.
The other tricky part of the install is that the existing inlet is molded into one half of the two-part tail/fuselage. One side of the tail has the raised inlet shaft, the other side has a cavity to mate with it. On my particular kit, the cavity was very thin at the leading edge of the tail and had left a small hole that extended through the stabilizer’s side. It was tough to tell if this was by design, broken in shipping, or had been short-shot in the mold. Nonetheless, it helped prove the installation more challenging by design.
After looking at the existing kit inlet, I decided that simply mating the two halves of the tail together and trying to drill out the inlet would be very tough. Instead, I used a hobby knife to remove the existing inlet and slowly create a cavity on that half of the tail to match the existing one on the other side. Working slowly and test-fisting the two halves, the Master inlet worked great. Once the two halves were together with the inlet in place, the broken out-hole on one half of the stabilizer was easily filled with a drop of CA glue and some sanding.
Master parts have struck me previously as a true upgrade for your build and not just another add-on. They continue to deliver with these long-nosed F-4 Phantom parts. Being careful and patient in the fitting of the parts is the key to good results. They are metal, but small and delicate. Too much pressure can launch them across the room or easily bend them. The addition of sizes for the mounting holes on the instruction sheet has made the fitting of these parts that much easier, as there is no guesswork in drilling them. This is a highly recommended product and, in 1/72, it adds a welcome level of fineness that likely won't be represented by injection molding.
I’d like to thank Master Model for providing these detail parts and IPMS/USA for the chance to review them.