Academy's 1/48 scale
F-4B Phantom II
by John Trueblood
McDonnell-Douglas F-4B Phantom II
VF-111 Sundowners, USS Coral Sea
Markings of the F-4B Phantom by Academy represents a “CAG Bird” (Commander Air Group) of VF-111. CAG aircraft are usually more colorful than squadron mates and the aircraft number ends in 00.
The Academy kit features exquisite decals by Cartograf. These Italian made decals are thin but strong with perfect opacity; and there’s lots of them, (over 400 on the big sheet). Academy has included a large color markings foldout showing precise decal placement and most helpfully the decals are numbered and their placement follows a logical numerical sequence. This prevents the painful process of hunting down each decal and trying to determine its proper position. I speak from experience having previously built a Hasegawa Phantom and using a Microscale decal data sheet.
I replaced the kit exhaust with the Hobby 365 resin replacements #MA 48007. The bare metal panels on the stabilators and behind the tail feathers were painted using Vallejo Metallics.
In my opinion, the biggest kit shortcomings are the cockpits. Although, generally accurate there’re very much lacking in detail. I used the Eduard PE set 49982 for the cockpits and canopy detailing along with some scratch building to model the WSO’s control panel instrument case cluster and wiring which is clearly visible behind the pilot. To replicate the crew and seats I used the AEROBONUS USN pilot & operator w/ejection seats, #480070. I gave the pilot a “Sundowners” style helmet and crafted a helmet bag for the back seaters lap. Eduard mask EUEX 393 was used for the canopy painting.
The underwing ordinance along with tires and wheels utilized Eduard Brassin with the exception of the AIM 7 Sparrows. The resin missiles were a tiny bit (< 1mm) too large so I used the kit Sparrows. I modeled some “Gizmology” inside the auxiliary air belly Intakes to prevent a see through opening. I added detailing to the landing gear and wheel wells as the kit offerings are rather barren.
A few things to watch out for during the build are the somewhat fiddly landing gear and wheel wells. Time consuming but quite strong when complete as compared to other Phantom models. Masking them is not a worry since the gear and bays are painted white like the Phantom underside.
Be very careful when attaching the left and right outer wing sections as it’s easy to put them on upside down, (ask me how I know).
The Academy kit features a one piece upper fuselage similar to the 32nd scale Tamiya Phantoms. It solves the problem of a top seam but care is required when mating the top fuselage to the wing and belly. Careful fitting will prevent a bad join under the front and rear fuselage sections. I used sprue spreaders to ensure perfect alignment.
I added the interior intake sensors which were not included in the kit.
Some modelers have complained about the multi-colored plastic but I found it was easier to find parts when I knew that white stuff went on the bottom and gray parts on the top. Besides, the color variation disappeared under a primer coat of gray Mr. Surfacer 1500. To achieve a varied surface appearance I used a marbling technique with Tamiya flat white on the interior of panels along with dark gray panel line pre-shading.
Paints were mostly Gunze Acrylics along with an Abteilung oil wash and Tamiya pastel application for moderate weathering.
Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2021 by John Trueblood
Page Created 19 August, 2021
19 August, 2021
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