F-4E/F Phantom II

Published on
February 3, 2020
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The McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom II needs no introduction, so I’ll skip over the history of this famous aircraft and simply specify that the F-4E has an extended nose to house an internal M-61 Vulcan cannon. The “E” was the most built variant, with almost 1400 units completed. F-4Es, in addition to use by the USAF, were sold to Germany (as the F-4F), Greece, Iran, Israel, South Korea, and Turkey

Minicraft’s F-4E comes in a small, sturdy, top-opening box. The cover illustration is of an F-4E from the USAF 57 FIS, Keflavik, Iceland. Inside are three sprues, two in light gray, and one in clear. There are thirty-three light gray parts and one in clear. As would be expected with the low parts count, the instructions are simple and clear, with assembly broken into eight basic steps. Two large diagrams cover the paint and decal schemes. Model Master paints are called out.

The plastic itself was very cleanly molded with very little flash to be found. This is a re-issue of an older Crown kit, so the panel lines are raised. However, they are very fine and at this scale should not cause a large issue. The canopy is molded in one piece and is very clear.

Now to the build itself… The model can be built wheels up or wheels down. I chose the go with the in-flight mode. Construction begins by mating the two fuselage halves together. If you go with the wheels-down option, you will need to trap the nose wheel strut in between the fuselage halves, and then somehow avoid damaging it throughout the remainder of the build. There is no cockpit detail, but there is a decal that covers the opening and does a reasonable job of mimicking the view through the closed canopy. The instructions also specify adding weight to the nose, but do not indicate how much. I did have some seams to fill along the top of the fuselage, especially near the vertical stabilizer. Even though the cockpit is represented by a decal, the fuselage join there creates a rather bumpy seam that needed to be smoothed. One other callout here: the vertical stabilizer appears to be significantly thicker than it should be. Similar issues do not appear in other parts of the model, which makes this one that much more perplexing.

The wing is a single piece that fits fairly nicely into place. I did have to smooth and fill the seams where it meets the fuselage, especially at the front. There is a full weapons and fuel tank compliment included with the kit. The holes for these are pre-molded into the lower wing. If you want to build your Phantom “clean” you will need to fill them. Included are three fuel tanks, four Sidewinders (which mount on a pair of pylons) and four fuselage-mounted Sparrows. Note that the German F-4F was not Sparrow capable, so these missiles should not be added to the Luftwaffe version (the instructions do not call this out). The Sparrows look nice but the Sidewinders have a very flat nose. I tried to fix this by sanding the noses to more of a point. Landing gear is simple with wheels molded with the struts. Gear doors are separate pieces. Since I was going for the in-flight look, I glued the gear doors closed. The fit was satisfactory.

The exhaust was the only real problem had with the kit. There are a couple issues: 1) they are molded like a flat-bottomed can, and the sides are extremely thick (See picture). This would be difficult to fix because of the small size and surface detail. 2) When mounted, they point too far down instead of straight back. This might be able to be cured by a combination of shims and sanding the base, but would be difficult to get them even.

After masking the canopy with Parafilm, I chose to go with the overall gray markings (with black nose and anti-reflection panel) that match the box art. Following a coat of Future, the decals went on smoothly (as we have come to expect from Cartograf). Once dry and sealed, I shot a clear flat over the entire model to finish it up.

Marking Options:

  1. USAF F-4E, 57 FIS, Keflavik, Iceland, 1980
  2. German Luftwafe F-4F, Holloman AFB, 1995

On the positive side, the Cartograf decal are excellent and cockpit decal in lieu of interior detail works well and there is a complete weapons and fuel load out while maintaining simple construction. On the down side, the exhaust has thickness and direction issues and the Sidewinders look too blunt. The vertical stabilizer will need sanded due to its thickness. For some the raised panel lines may not be to their taste..

Recommended: this is a nice kit, which despite a couple small issues, goes together easily and looks good when complete.

Thanks to Minicraft and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this neat little kit.


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