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QF-4B Target Drone
Phantom II

by David W. Aungst

 

McDonnell-Douglas QF-4B Target Drone Phantom II

 

 

Description

 

I started working on this Phantom kit back in the middle 1980's when I was scratch-building an accurate cockpit for a US Navy F-4 Phantom. I recognized that there was plenty of room for improvement inside the cockpits of the Hasegawa F-4 Phantom kits long before Kendall Model Company starting releasing their F-4 Phantom II resin cockpit sets. After two years of on-and-off working on the model, I had pretty well finished the cockpit interior. It amazed me when Kendall released their F-4J cockpit in late 1996 to see how similar it was to my twelve year old scratch-built cockpit.

The extra work was not limited to the cockpits. I was also working on other items like the intakes and engine exhausts. The trouble was that with all the work I was investing in the model, I wanted to build just the "right" markings on the kit. My inability to decide on which markings eventually led to the kit returning to its box where it remained for a decade.

 

 

What sparked me back to working on the model was a request from one of the members of my model club for the club to build aircraft that had flown from the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) near where the club met. The long-serving NADC base (NAS Johnsville in Warminster, PA) was closing and they wanted to hold a party for the remaining employees. The models were to make a display at this party. Since "Great Pumpkin" had always been a model I wanted to build, and this club member had lots of photographic coverage of "Great Pumpkin", I decided to dig out the kit and complete it in those markings for this display. The "Great Pumpkin" was actually one of the markings options I had considered ten years prior.

The full list of things I did to the kit during construction is as follows.
  • I gutted the cockpit and rebuilt the entire interior. This involved doing the following:
    • I sanded off the kit provided side wall details and scratch-built new side wall details.
    • I sanded off the kit provided side instrument console details and scratch-built new side consoles.
    • I cut off the side sub-panels from the front main instrument panel and scratch-built new side sub-panels.
    • I scratch-built the entire rear main instrument panel.
    • I scratch-built the wiring details between and behind the cockpits.
    • I replaced the kit ejection seats with True Details products.
    • I incorporated Hasegawa's etched metal Phantom cockpit and canopy etchings set. These etchings come from the "high-grade" Phantom kits Hasegawa released in the late 1980's and early 1990's.
 

 

Click to Enlarge
Front Cockpit
 

Rear Cockpit
  • I scratch-built new detailing inside the kit engine exhausts using strip styrene.
  • I added the pitots inside the engine intakes and replaced the tail pitots with brass wire and styrene stock.
  • I replaced the plastic kit landing gear legs with Hasegawa's white metal landing gear, adding plumbing and electrical lines. These are other goodies that come from the Hasegawa "high-grade" Phantom kits.
  • I replaced the wheels with True Details products, but I sanded down the wheel bulges as I have yet to ever find a Phantom with flat tires.
  • I substituted unslotted horizontal tails from a Hasegawa F-4C/D kit.
  • I replaced all the blade antennas with etched metal antennas from the Hasegawa Phantom cockpit and canopy etchings set.
  • I scratch-built and added the nose antennas that are, themselves, the distinguishing features to the QF-4B target drone Phantom II (other than the orange paint).

For the paint scheme, I used Testors Model Master and Humbrol enamel paints. As the model predates the release of International Orange (F.S.12197) in the Model Master line, I needed to mix my own color. I mixed want turned out to be a very convincing International Orange using the following mixture.

  • 12 parts Insignia Yellow (F.S.33538)
  • 4 parts Fluorescent Red (F.S.28915)
  • 1 part Crimson Red (Humbrol #20)

The unit markings, as stated above, are specific to NADC. The "Great Pumpkin" is a real aircraft and not just one of my imaginary named models. I cut scotch tape masks and painted the tail markings as I could find no lettering decals to match the exact style of the writing. I also masked and painted the NADC badge on the tail. The "Great Pumpkin" writing on the nose is done with "N" scale railroad decals and applied one letter at a time. All the rest of the markings are standard Phantom data markings taken from Hasegawa's kit decals and various SuperScale decal sheets.

 

 

Weathering was done with thinned down enamel paint. I applied these in washes and by air brushing to highlight the panel lines and show general wear and tear on the airframe. The exhaust staining on the tail was slowly built up using the tined down paint mixture so that it would not look like it was painted on after I was done. A final pass with silver dry brushing rounded out the weathering.

 

Additional Images and Project Summary

 

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

27 November, 1994

Total Building Time:

118.8

Research:

10.6

Construction:

11.0

Painting:

41.4

Decals / Markings:

11.4

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

44.4

Models, Description and Images Copyright 2000 by David Aungst
Page Created 13 January, 2000
Last Updated 26 July, 2007

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