F-4J Phantom "VF-84 Jolly Rogers" Super Detail Limited Edition
Hasegawa has re-released their -J Phantom II as a “Super Detail” edition with markings from VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”. That skull and bones sure look great on the rudder. And you are even provided with a skull and bones patch to add to your own jacket!
The box has 8 grey sprues, one clear sprue (for a total of 132 pieces) and a photoetch fret, white metal parts and plastic rubber tires, plus one short run of a plastic rubber “hose”, for detailing.
Assembly is pretty straightforward starting with the cockpit. Appropriate raised detail is provided in the side consoles and instrument panel to accept dry-brushing. Overall, the detail in the cockpit is simple, but acceptable under a closed canopy. Note that this being a Navy model it has the blanking plate on the right side of the backseat. I was not able to fit it without doing some modification to the part. I just kept having interference between the instrument panel and the blanking piece. Eventually decided to trim off about 2mm of the part and then I got a perfect fit.
Once the cockpit was painted and detailed, I closed the fuselage. The instructions don’t call for any nose weight. However I decided to add a lead sinker in front of the cockpit just in case.
Work your way slowly in the top seam and it will pay off, as you can get it to be step-free. The bottom join might have a step, but it does not matter, as the lower wing will cover it.
When working on the air intakes, make sure you don’t glue parts D28 and D27 until after painting (the instructions will remind of you of that). Fit is excellent, so you can add the shock plates towards the end of the construction.
Moving towards the tail, I realized the tail planes should not be glued until after painting and decaling. Some decals need to be placed before the tail planes are glued in place. One of the tail fins is a good and tight fit, while the other was a bit loose. When gluing those two parts make sure you match the anhedral of the tail surfaces.
The wings were a straightforward affair, with a typical breakdown of a single lower part and two upper parts for the wings. At this point I joined the wing to the fuselage. I had a very minor gap in the wing-root area (very easy to fill and clean up) and a more significant gap between the lower wing area and the lower fuselage nose area. It was easily taken care of with putty, sanded and primed, but still, it needed care.
I was approaching the painting stage very fast, with only 6 hrs of total assembly time. Fit is excellent all around and I needed no filler at all, other than in the lower wing to lower fuselage nose area.
I tackled the ejection seats next. This being a “Super Detail” edition, it includes ejection seat buckles, but not belts. You are expected to provide the belts from paper and you are provided with a template to make your own belts. Note that the photoetch fret is made of a very hard metal (is it steel?). It was actually very difficult to remove the belt buckle from the fret and in a few cases the buckle was lightly damaged. Honestly, I was being frustrated by the lack of full seatbelts and the hardness of the photoetch fret and replaced them with seatbelts made out of Tamiya tape.
Given the simple cockpit detail, I decided to close the canopy. This boxing provides only the multi-piece clear parts. It would be nice to have the closed 1-piece canopy as an option. Also, the canopy frames are very delicate and lightly raised. That is great for scale effect but a bit challenging when trying to mask. Despite being named “super detail” no canopy mask set was provided in the box.
With the model fully assembled (except the tail surfaces and jet tail pipes), I’ve moved into the US Navy camouflage. I choose to paint the yellow wingtips and top of the rudder. You are given decals for them, but I choose to use paint. I also painted the nose and rudder with black at this time. After that I used Alclad Duraluminum for the leading edges and air intake edges. Model Master Insignia White and Light Sea Grey finished the main paint job, for lower and upper surfaces respectively.
After letting the paint fully cure and laying down a shiny coat of Future, I started decaling. That was both fun and lengthy. Fun because the decals behaved well, lengthy because they were so many stencils. But that is the way modern jets are. They have plenty of stencils.
Regarding the stencils, Hasegawa has done an interesting job with them. Multiple stencils are grouped into the same decal. That reduces the overall time for applying them, but at the same time makes some decals to be very large and to have very large clear areas, which could be problematic. Be sure to have a good shiny glossy coat in preparation for decals, or do as I did: In some of the large decals just trim the clear area and keep the stencil. I increased the overall time for decaling, but I often get better results (i.e, less risk of silvering).
Once the model was decaled I worked with the landing gear. Oh boy I was surprised there. The tires are made out of some sort of rubber material and they have significant ejection marks. Given the very prominent ejection marks, I actually decided to use the plastic wheels. I also decided to use the plastic landing gear, as it was not immediately clear to me if the white metal landing gear would work with the plastic wheels.
The plastic main gear struts are a butt joint with the wheel well. I wish there would have been some locator pin to make the joint stronger. Also I struggled with the retractor arms of the landing gear. It seemed to me that they were a tad short. Basically, if mounted as provided, (or as I understood) the landing gear sat at an inwards angle.
Weathering was kept simple, just a panel line wash, to highlight surface detail. After that, a satin coat finished the model.
In summary, this model has a few lows and several highs.
I was a disappointed for the quality of the rubber tires. Those ejector pins marks make them unusable. Also being provided the buckles but not the belts of the seatbelts seems to me to be unnecessary these days. The full seatbelt could have been provided. Finally, it would have been nice to be provided with a color photoetch fret, including an instrument panel, rather than a standard one.
On the plus side: this model is quite a treat. Fit is excellent and no fiddly or difficult parts were faced during construction. Only one gap was significant (lower wing to lower fuselage nose area). The number of decals (in particular stencils) is very high. I probably spent 1/3 of the work time devoted to decaling. I did not mind spending that much time decaling, but some other modeler might.
I would recommend this model to the intermediate experienced modeler, only because of the high number of decals to be applied, not because of any difficulties during assembly or finishing. And in my humble opinion, getting a 3rd party colored photoetch fret will make the model look better than the in-the-box fret.
I would like to thank Hobbico/Hasegawa and IPMS/USA for the review sample.