McDonnell Douglass F-4 Phantom II: FlightCraft #28
The F-4 Phantom II needs no introduction to serious aircraft modelers. Arguably one of the most important warplanes of the 20th century, over 5000 were built during a 23-year production period, and the Phantom was flown by all 3 U.S. air services (USMC, USN, and USAF) as well as the air forces of 11 foreign operators.
There are many great Phantom reference books on the market. Most focus on either actual aircraft pictures and reference material, or on a collection of models. As a Phantom enthusiast (I have 7 or 8 built models in my display cabinets and another 60+ in my stash), I have several of each type of book in my library, and this one is unique in that it is a combination of both.
The book is basically divided into three sections. The first section is a narrative of the development of the aircraft in concise descriptions of each version and by each operator, providing a nice compact outline of the differences between them – very useful for the modeler. Overall, there are over 90 photos of actual aircraft, most of them in this section. There are also paint color guidelines that accompany many (but not all) of the versions and schemes. It would be a tall order to provide a complete list, as the Phantom wore so many liveries with so many operators, including multitudes of celebratory and special markings. (One can only wish for such a resource!)
The third section consists of 13 model build articles, mostly of current manufacturers, and in the three main scales of military aircraft models (1/72, 1/48, 1/32). Some of these articles are more detailed than others, but there are another 163 pictures and in many cases additional paint and color guidelines. These are overall reviews – not detailed assessments of kit quality, build troubleshooting guidelines or intricate paint and weathering descriptions – but are nonetheless good references for the builder. There are a few gems, such as the description of the conversion of an F-4C kit to the EF-4C Wild Weasel (the first of the Weasels).
Sandwiched between these two sections are 24 nice color profiles of most of the versions and operators of the Phantom II.
This is not the only reference guide a Phantom modeler will want in their library, but for a builder new to the Phantom it is a great start, and as a veteran Phantom-builder, I am happy to add this to my collection. Sometimes what I need to get my modeling mojo up for the next project is some colorful photos of either the real thing, or a nicely finished project by another modeler, and this book is just that kind of inspiration.
Thanks to the team at Pen & Sword for another nice reference book, and to Casemate for the opportunity to review it.