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1/48 Hasegawa QF-4N Phantom
by Mark Dice

 

The F-4 Phantom is one of the most famous aircraft ever produced and has seen service with many countries in several wars and conflicts around the world since the 1960's when it was first introduced. The U.S. began phasing the F-4 out of service in the late 1970's. Many of these aircraft have ended up as drone aircraft serving their last days as targets for various anti-air missile tests and practice shots by Naval/Marine Corps aviators.

For many years these conversions of the F-4 to QF-4 drones was performed right here at the NADEP, Cherry Point. Recently this program was shut down due to budget cuts and the last QF-4's from Cherry Point were delivered to the Navy. I work with several mechanics that've spent many years working on these aircraft and not too long ago one of them expressed an interest in having a model built of one of the aircraft that he actually worked on… Ironically, Hasegawa produced the exact aircraft he was interested in, as a kit in 1/48th scale. It's out of production now but I offered to try and hunt one down and was pretty lucky in obtaining one on the "Plane Trading" page of Hyperscale.com.

The kit is one of Hasegawa's earlier kits (F-4 B/N) reboxed with new decals and an extra sheet of painting instructions and decal placement for a QF-4N. Kit quality was overall good with a few exceptions (this was not one of those shake & bake kits that Hasegawa is so famous for).

Except for the flight control surfaces all the panel lines are raised details, which will require a fair amount of rescribing, sanding, etc.

Cockpit detail is very nice, except for the lack of seat belt details on the ejection seats.
While the engine exhausts have nice details inside, the intakes are severely lacking in detail and would probably best be replaced with some seamless suckers or other such aftermarket item.

There are a good amount of weapons (sidewinders/sparrows) included which is good for your spares box cause the drones aren't normally armed with much past a couple of drop tanks. The kit provides a centerline and two outboard station drop tanks.
There are ejector pin marks/ mold lines on several of the detail pieces that will need to be fixed.

Assembly was straight forward and by the numbers, no modifications or aftermarket. The areas where the intakes meet the fuselage and the lower wing meet the fuselage required filling and sanding but otherwise fit was good. Most of the time and effort was devoted to rescribing/sanding the panel lines. The raised detail was very lightly done and it was easy to stray off course if you use these as guidelines for your scribe. The only area I left raised detail on was the metal area aft of the engine exhausts. Fit was generally good with only a medium amount of sanding needed to eliminate seams and such. Take care in assembling the landing gear. They're delicate and the main gear is difficult to get in exact position and will pigeon toe easily.

Painting was done with a combination of Tamiya acrylic, Model Master enamels and metalizers, and Alclad metalizers. I was again impressed by the Tamiya flat white and how well it covered, the MM International Orange went on beautiful (very smooth!!!), and the model master metalizers went down well too.

The Alclad metalizers (particularly what base coat to use) gave me some troubles but I figure this is because I rarely have used them (with experience, I'm sure I'll grow to like them).

I tried the wet newspaper method of masking for the MM metalizers and it worked great!! Quick and easy!

Gloss coat was Future, A LOT of Future! And I'm pretty sure I could've used maybe one more coat. The canopies were painted and then dipped in Future.

The decals went down okay but wrinkled a bit with the Solvaset solution (particularly the national emblems) and required several extra applications with some tense moments following… The shark mouth, Pt Mugu emblem, and aircrew names were left off, as these weren't on the bird when it left Cherry Point. A coat of Future to seal them down followed this.

The anti-glare area and cockpit were masked and airbrushed with Dullcoat. The tires were also given a brush coat of Dullcoat. No other weathering or panel line accentuating was done.

Final assembly of the clear parts, touch up paint, and one slight fix to the nonskid decals (repair of some damage caused by masking off the cockpits for the flat coat) on the intakes and I was happily finished with this kit.

I delivered the built up kit to it's new owner who was very happy with the results and received several nice comments on it's appearance, as well as one or two requests for similar kits to be built by other mechanics.

Overall, this is a kit I can recommend. It builds up into a very nice looking model of an important aircraft that even in its twilight years continues to serve performing an essential duty for our military.