F-4G Phantom II
A Very Brief History the F-4G
As usual, I look to Wikipedia for some insight into the operation of Wild Weasels (as well as the entire F-4 family of aircraft), at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II
On 15 August 1990, 24 F-4G Wild Weasel Vs and six RF-4Cs were deployed to Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain, for Operation Desert Storm. The F-4G was the only aircraft in the USAF inventory equipped for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role, and was needed to protect coalition aircraft from Iraq's extensive air defense system. The RF-4C was the only aircraft equipped with the ultra-long-range KS-127 LOROP (long-range oblique photography) camera and was used for a variety of reconnaissance missions. Despite flying almost daily missions, only one RF-4C was lost in a fatal accident before the start of hostilities. One F-4G was lost when enemy fire damaged the fuel tanks, and the aircraft ran out of fuel near a friendly airbase. The last USAF Phantoms, F-4G Wild Weasel Vs from 561st Fighter Squadron, were retired on 26 March 1996. The last operational flight of the F-4G Wild Weasel was from the 190th Fighter Squadron, Idaho Air National Guard, in April 1996. The last operational USAF/ANG F-4 to land was flown by Maj Mike Webb and Maj Gary Leeder of the Idaho ANG.
Additionally, some of many online research references can be found at the:
- USAF Museum’s site
- Aviation Geeks
- a most interest article on U.S Navy’s testing and use of the F-4G
- the Defense Media site
- Joe Baugher’s excellent summary history about the F-4G including each of serial numbers of the 133 aircraft modified to the ‘G’ configuration
This is a very impressive kit and comes in a large, heavy box. Though I’ve built several Meng kits, most are of armored subjects and as I poured over the large number of sprue trees for this kit, I am initially drawn to the significant amount of surface and panel details. Clearly, someone has done their homework, both in terms of the kit’s engineering, fit and surface detail. This is a beautiful kit and yet reasonably easy one to build.
This kit instructions have 34 pages (in eight languages) and is comprised of 32 sprue sections, one photo etch section, a metal pitot tube (missing in my kit package), a painting mask, and a decal sheet with the individual markings for three aircraft. It is also interesting to note that Boeing claims this kit and the aircraft itself as a Boeing product.
Scalemates shows an updated kit (# LS 017) with new parts should be coming soon; and no, there is nothing indicating what these new parts may be. The box art teaser shows another camouflage scheme, though the Spangdahlem tail code and the 480th FS is still shown.
The F-4G build begins with the interior including the side console's cockpit tube. Panel #6 drawings, in my opinion, are incorrect and led me to remove the horizontal tail sections and then carefully reattach them. Panel #15 is where you first encounter pieces identifiable as specific to the ‘G’ version. The next ‘G’ panels start at Panel #25 and continue through #27 (covering the weapons.
While the kit instructions only include two pages dedicated to the pylons, ECM pods, fuel tanks and weapons—these are two very intensive details requiring a significant amount of painting detail and decal applications.
I did stray from the basic kit using the non-kit GT Resin F-4 Basic Intakes (specifically designed for all Meng 1/48th Phantom kits). I was not impressed with the resulting fit and finish and found his experiment not worth the effort.
Through my construction of this kit, I am reminded of the Weasel unofficial motto and phrase: YGBSM (meaning “You gotta be sh****n' me”). While seemingly humorous, this motto meant serious business and life or death to many of the Wild Weasel aircrews who fought and flew these hazardous missions over Vietnam, Germany, Iraq and other areas of conflict.
The paint references include only Meng acrylics, AK acrylics and Mr Hobby GSI Creos Acrysion colors.
I chose to use the newer Mr. Hobby Aqueous paints for this entire project, with the primary colors being dark Gray (H-22) and the lighter shade of gray, Aircraft Gray (H-57), and Tire Black (H-77). Smaller details were picked out using Mr. Color paints, including C-38 Olive Drab, C-18 Black Green, and C-304 Olive Drab. These colors were picked based on my ‘reading’ of the box art and while hardly unscientific, the system works for me as there are no FS (Fed Standard) color references which I could decern. My Mk 1 eyes got a real workout looking at the color box art and instruction sheet images.
The clear glass section windows were installed using Elmer’s Washable Clear Glue, which dries clear and can be leveled or cleaned up using tap water. I completed my dry brushings, using my old standby Winsor & Newton’s Artist Oil color Naples Yellow Light, No. 426.
The decals are quite nice, with no color issues visible. No off-registration issues nor were the decals thick and were able to be easily ‘buried’ with just one or two clear coats. I completed my model using Testors Dullcote Top Coat (# 1160X).
There are several separate decals; one from 57th TFW two tone gray scheme, and two from Spangdahlem marked a/c (one in a three-tone green and gray scheme). I chose the 23 TFS displaying both a color shark mouth and three-color vertical stabilizer tip. I saw this aircraft as a gate guard display at Spangdahlem AB, Germany several years ago which has stuck with me ever since. There was a very large number of individual markings including lots of small panel and missile markings, many of which I chose not to place on the completed kit, as they wouldn’t be visible (because the colors were so close in hue).
I strongly recommend this kit of the Meng F-4G Phantom. I really enjoyed building this kit. While I purchased this kit myself, it represents a significant place of the history of aerial combat history and in our modeling collection. Once again as modelers, I suspect many of us fail to realize just how significant the support SEAD activity has been. This Meng F-4G kit builds into a beautiful representation of a significant part of these conflicts and theaters, and aircraft in the 1/48th scales of this era.