Thursday, November 21, 2013

Latest Member of the Academy F-4 Phantom "Phamily" is a Winner!

Academy 1/48 F-4C Phantom II

Price:  $74.99

Stock Number:  3008-12294

This is the second release in a series of new F-4 kits from Academy.  It comes less than a year after the release of the F-4B which is considered among the best Phantom kits in any scale.  The new offering is essentially the same kit except for different stock number, box art, decals, and thicker upper wing parts.

The kit comes in a sturdy box with attractive box art.  The box painting portrays Colonel Robin Olds shooting down one of four MiGs he destroyed during the Vietnam War.  The kit decal sheet includes markings only for this aircraft.  It is F-4C-24-MC serial number 64-829 and carries the name Scat XXVII.  Olds destroyed two MiGs in this aircraft on one mission on 20 May 1967.  All of Colonel Olds aircraft carried the name "Scat" going back to his first P-38 in World War II. Scat XXVII  was the last in the line to fly in combat.  Like the decals in the previous F-4B, Cartograf produced these decals for Academy.  The set also includes complete technical stencils for the F-4C.  It should only take about two weeks to apply them all!

As noted earlier, this is pretty much the same kit as the earlier F-4B.  The major difference is the upper wing surfaces which include inboard bulges to accommodate larger landing gear components.  Air Force and later Navy F-4s had this feature.  Academy also includes extra parts in the box and not referred to in the instructions from which a knowledgeable modeler could build an F-4D.  One would need to scare up F-4D decals for appropriate markings, but the parts are there.  Parts M4, M5, N3, and G37 are respectively F-4D front instrument panel, rear instrument panel, front panel combing/gun-sight mount, and tail fin.  The kit also features Martin Baker Mk.VII ejection seats appropriate to most F-4Ds (more on this shortly), and a LORAN "towel rack" antenna commonly seen on F-4Ds.

The kit also offers multiple under wing stores options.  Air to air weapons include AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, and five different versions of the AIM-9 Sidewinder.  Two under wing drop tanks, and one center-line drop tank are also included.  Twelve Mk.82 low drag bombs, two triple ejector racks (TER) and two multiple ejector racks (MER) are provided if you want to depict a ground attack load configuration.  Other options include one ALQ-119 ECM jamming pod, one SUU-23 gun pod, and four Chaff dispensers for the back ends of the inboard weapon pylons.  If you are using kit decals and want to be historically accurate, you can use AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9B Sidewinder, Mk.82 bombs, and drop tanks.  The other Sidewinder options are Navy versions or later Air Force versions, and are not appropriate for this particular aircraft.  The ALQ-119, the SUU-23, and the chaff dispensers were not used in 1967 when this aircraft was in service.  The extra items will be useful, however for the spares box or an alternate build.  Also note that the instructions have you mounting the chaff dispensers (parts F13,15,16,17,18,33,34) in step 13.  Again, they were not found on Scat XXVII in 1967.  Kit instructions additionally have you use AIM-9E Sidewinders.  AIM-9Bs are accurate for the kit markings.  Use parts P2, 8, 12 instead of those called out.

There are a couple of other small issues with this kit.  The instrument panel parts are nicely produced but they do not include any instrument face detail either cast in the part or on the decal sheet.  They are visible in scale and I would like to see them included.  An addition to the decal sheet with instrument faces would be more than adequate to solve this.  I will solve this as I did on the previous F-4B kit by purchasing an Eduard color photo-etch interior detail set when it becomes available for the F-4C.  The Eduard F-4B set also included cockpit sill and canopy interior detail which really improves the look of this area.  The other small problem with the kit is that Academy provides the wrong ejection seats for Scat XXVII.  The kit comes with Martin Baker Mk.7 seats.  Photos of the aircraft indicate that Scat XXVII needs Martin Baker Mk.5 seats.  F-4s built before mid 1967 were equipped with Mk.5s.  F-4s built after that came equipped with Mk.7s and earlier airframes were refitted with them.  Quickboost makes Mk.5 seats in 1/48 scale for the F-8 Crusader (Stock number QB48501).  I will purchase two to solve this issue.  Please feel free to invite me to get a life!

Having noted the above minor and addressable issues, I have to acknowledge again that this new 1/48 F-4 series from Academy is producing some of the best Phantom kits in any scale.  Overall accuracy and multiple stores options make these kits very appealing.  The new F-4C Air Force version is particularly so to me.  I really like the markings option as I've read a lot about Robin Olds over many years.  This kit is definitely on my Christmas list.  I'll also look forward to seeing what's next for this "Phabulous" Phantom series. 

Brad Perry 



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