Developed by the McDonnell Douglas Company, the F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two seat, all-weather, supersonic fighter-bomber. It is one of the most famous aircraft in military aviation history. The F-4 entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy but was also adopted by the USMC and USAF. The F-4 stayed in the service of the U.S. military until 1996, but other countries have kept it in use up to 2017 (Japan). The F-4E version, specifically developed for the USAF, adopted a M61 Vulcan cannon in the nose, and it could be armed with AIM-9 sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow air to air missiles to perform air-superiority missions. With two GE J-79 engines, the F-4E could reach the top speed of 1,240 knots (1426 mph). Speed, thrust, and reliability were the Phantom II strengths able to successfully counterbalance its reduced maneuverability due to its size.
Upon opening the box you are presented with 4 grey and 1 clear injected plastic sprues, a 12-page instruction book (which has some errors), and a large decal sheet. The grey plastic has recessed panel lines, but has a few pin marks and heavy mold seam lines. The clear parts look nice and are pretty thin, but one part has some distortion in it (be careful handling these!). The decal sheet is very nicely done with 4 options, plus all those glorious stencils and markings for the external tanks and ordnance. (if you like decaling a model…. the F-4 is the kit for you!) This is an Italeri kit, but it looks pretty close to the old ESCI kit though it’s been 30+ years since I built that one, so not totally sure about this.
A 7-step construction sequence starts with the 13 piece cockpit (8 of those are for the seats), fuselage, nose wheel bay, and intakes. These are all pretty basic. There are some minor fit issues with the intakes, but nothing a sanding stick will not cure. The worst part of this assembly is that the intakes are attached to the sprue on the top of it and there are molded in grooves that must be cleaned up. Next up are the wings, and there are no problems in constructing them, however, when attaching the wing assembly to the fuselage, you will find a fair sized gap at the front end of this that needs to be filled.
Step 5 is where the landing gear and afterburner nozzles are added, and this is all pretty easy. Step 6 is the nose's cone (Don’t forget to add the weight!), and canopy sections. Step 7 has you adding the external tanks and ordnance, but you really need to leave these off until after adding the decals.
I used Testors Enamels and Acrylics on this. I chose to do the USAF version, and the colors called for in the instructions show Flat Dark Green and Flat light Brown with the same FS number…. oops. I ended up using FS 34079 (Dark Green), 34102 (Medium Green) and 30219 (Dark Tan) over 36622 (Cammo Grey). The decals options are:
- A: USAFE, 2nd TFS, Stenberg AB, Netherland, 1970.
- B: JASDF, 501 Hikotai, Hyakuri AB, Japan, 2004.
- C: IAF, Tajeset 201 “The ONE”, 1969.
- E: RAAF, 1st SQN, Amberley AB, Australia, 1970.
The decals went on without a hitch and sat down nicely, and really do look great, however, there is a problem with the instructions for the underside stencils, and I contacted Italeri about this. They responded by sending me a correction sheet (Via-mail), and I have added this to the pictures for the review. Thank you Italeri, great customer service!!!
While it may be old and have some fit issues, it’s still a nice kit, and I recommend it to anyone wanting a less expensive F4-E. If you are looking for more detail and accuracy you will need aftermarket cockpit, afterburner cans, landing gear and probably a canopy.
I would like to thank Italeri & Hobbico for this kit, the review corps for letting me build it and all of you for reading this. Model on!!