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
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
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
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
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
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.