The F-4 Phantom II needs no introduction. With over 5,000 Phantoms built, it is one of the most popular Western fighters since the Korean War. It served with the US Navy, the US Air Force and the US Marines, as well as 14 other air forces across the globe from Japan to Egypt to England. A number of them are still flying today in a variety of roles.
This set continues Eduard’s new lines of photo-etch seat belts and harnesses made out of photo-etched steel instead of brass. This set provides complete harnesses and ejection handles for four ejection seats, enough for two Phantoms. The F-4 was equipped with the Martin-Baker MK. H-7 ejection seat and the set’s instructions have a good depiction of the basic Mk. H-7 seat. Before you pick up a set, be sure to look at the seats you will be installing the set on, as many of the older F-4 kits have a very generic ejection seat that does not even resemble the actual seat. I used a seat from a Hasegawa F-4S kit as it has the correct configuration with the upper parachute container that is missing on many earlier kits. I assume that the new Academy kit seats are the correct shape as well, but I have not actually seen them yet. As Eduard produces this set in both green and grey, check your references to determine which set is appropriate for your model.
As the Hasegawa seats have no molded on harness detail, the first step is to assemble the three part seat. I painted the seat gloss black based on photographs in my F-4 reference books. The seat pan, back cushion, and parachute pack were then painted Tamiya Olive Green. As soon as you cut out the first part, you will notice the primary advantage and disadvantage of the steel belts compared to brass ones, the steel belts are very flexible. This allows them to be shaped or bent much easier than brass parts would be; however, this also means that care needs to be taken as they can be misshapen just as easily.
Like regular brass etch, they are attached with superglue. I used a gel superglue with a medium setting time to allow me to get the parts where I wanted them before it set up. I found it easiest to first tack down one end of the belt or harness then let it dry and harden before attempting to shape it. The straps that attach to the side of the headrest and then are bent down into the hole in the center of the parachute pack were difficult to get in the right place as I had a hard time getting the attachment point over the parachute pack and into the right position. I ended up bending the strap 90 degrees just beyond the attachment point which allowed me to get the attachment point where it belonged. After it had set it was pretty easy to then twist and bend the strap into the proper shape. The paint on the belts and harnesses held up well despite bending and I did not need to do any touchups.
I really enjoyed using this set and as shown in the photographs, it really dresses up the kit seat so that it looks like a real seat. My only gripe is that I wish Eduard had also included the lower ejection handle located at the front of the seat between the crewmember’s legs and the upper face-curtain ejection handles in the set as these are so prominent on this seat.
I hope Eduard continues to release more sets like this one as it is a phenomenal improvement to the kit seats. Judging by the number of Hasegawa F-4s in my to-build pile, I know I will be picking up quite a few more of this set. Highly recommended!
Thank you to Eduard for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.