F-4B/N/J/S US Navy Pilot and Operator with Ejection Seats

Published: December 23rd, 2013     
Product Package
Product Package
Reviewed by: Bill Kluge - IPMS# 45849
Scale: 1/48
Company: Aerobonus
Price: $20.00
Product / Stock #: 480 070
Product provided by: Aires Hobby Models

Aerobonus, a new company (new to me, anyway) under the Aires umbrella, has come up with a novel approach for providing flight crew for modelers who want to add a little more life to their aircraft. In these new, very highly detailed sets, the ejection seats are molded with the pilots in them, eliminating the usually imperfect fit of trying to place pilots into empty seats.

In this set, two seats come with the pilot's torsos and legs molded in. The arms and heads are separate attachments, allowing for some variation with the positioning of each attachment. Each of the four arms is shaped slightly differently, as are the gloved hands. Three heads are included - two helmeted and one wearing a soft, fore-and-aft cover. Each of the two pilots (or three, if you include the "extra" head) is subtly different, in their bodies as well as their faces. The detailing of the g-suits and survival vests easily defines these garments as separate from the flight suits. All the belts, straps and buckles are minutely detailed, as well. The separate arms and heads allows you to more easily position them after the seats are installed in the cockpit, so that they're not interfering with the fit, and more realistically "flying" the aircraft. The one downside is that there are no oxygen masks to be seen...anywhere. Not on the pilot's faces, or attached to their vests. So, don't plan on using these guys for an in-flight model at high altitude.

Also included are the overhead ejection pull chords. One must exercise extreme care when removing these very thin parts from the carrier block, and removing the flash from inside the loop. After breaking two of the loops while trying to clean out the flash, I opted for substituting wire for these parts.

It should be noted that the seats appear to represent Martin Baker Mk 7 types, used in later model F-4Bs (as well as F-4Js and Ns) and are noticeably different from MB Mk 5s found in early model F-4Bs. They do mimic the seats that come with the Academy Phantom, however, and that's where the similarity stops. While the kit seats are passable, these Aerobonus seats are infinitely more detailed and realistic.

The only drawback with this whole approach is what might be expected. Painting around all this detail and close quarters presents some interesting challenges, not the least of which is being able to see (or not see) exactly where your paint brush will end up leaving paint. Unless you have the steadiest of hands, be prepared to do some re-painting, and re-re-painting in small areas until everything looks just right. Also, take the included painting instructions with a grain of salt and do a little research to get the proper colors for the crew's clothing and equipment colors. Even though most of the color call-outs could be correct (although I have yet to see a Naval Aviator with a blue soft cover, as shown in the instructions, and orange flight suits were rarely worn in combat zones), there are variations and other choices that would work just as well or better.

In the end, the painting challenges are a small price to pay if you like having pilots that look like they really belong in your model cockpits. Aerobonus has done an outstanding job of providing realistic crew and ejection seats for the Academy Phantom. Now, if they'll just make a 1/48th crew for my Gallery H-34...

Thanks to Aires Hobby Models and IPMS for providing the review samples.

  • Pilot parts 1
    Pilot parts 1
  • Pilot parts 2
    Pilot parts 2
  • Seat comparison
    Seat comparison
  • Finished pilots1
    Finished pilots1
  • Finished pilots 2
    Finished pilots 2
  • Finished pilots 3
    Finished pilots 3

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