|1/72 F-4 C/D Phantom II - Robin Olds|
|Kit Number: 0410|
|Reviewed by Clare Wentzel, IPMS# 1096|
What do I need to say about the McDonnell Phantom II? Great cold war era fighter, designed for the US Navy and Marines, added to the Air Force inventory and the workhorse of Vietnam. Over 5000 units were built and the Phantom II served in at least eleven other countries. The Phantom II continues to serve in some of these countries, some 50 years after it first started in production. Truly, this is one of the classic aircraft of all time.
This new release from Accurate Miniatures represents the F-4C/D. The box top illustration represents the aircraft that Col. Robin Olds flew while leading Operation Bolo. This was a mission where 56 Phantoms were configured to emulate the radar signature of a flight of F-105s. The North Vietnamese MiG-21 pilots expected the more vulnerable Thuds but instead found the Phantoms loaded for bear. Seven MiG-21s were destroyed with no US losses. A resin QRC-160 ECM pod is included to properly represent the ordnance loads carried on this mission.
Markings are also included for the F-4C that Col. Olds flew while gaining his third and forth kills. In addition, markings are included for a Bicentennial bird is SEA camouflage, an overall gray Phantom flown by Col. Chuck Yeager when he was CO of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing and finally, five variants of the Michigan Air National Guard Phantoms from the 1982 William Tell Meet.
The kit comes with a separate card stock profile print of Col. Olds airplane. This is well done and suitable for framing.
This kit is based on the original Monogram F-4C/D kit and as a result, the parts feature very fine, raised panel lines. Beyond this, the kit is a very good depiction of the F-4 C/D. The cockpit is well detailed, as are the landing gear, gear doors and wheels. The jet exhaust cans feature separate afterburner flame holders mounted inside the cans to avoid a blank or open exhaust appearance. Wing flaps are provided as separate parts and can be mounted in a deflected position. Two different canopies are provided, allowing the modeler to display the model with the canopies open or closed. A very comprehensive set of ordnance is provided. Finally, the decal sheet is provided by Cartograf. It is spectacular and does not reflect the old, thick Monogram decals.
Construction is straightforward with this kit. Follow the direction steps and it will go together readily. I encountered a few fit problems however. The most difficult area was the fit of the air intakes. They consist of two parts and mount to the fuselage and to the top of the lower wing. Lots of filler and sanding was required to make them look halfway decent. The joint at the front of the wing to the fuselage also required some filler, as did the cooling ducts at the nose. Finally, there were some sink marks on the top of the fuselage that required some filler. Another fit problem related to the windshield. I chose to build my model with the canopies open and found that the separate windshield part did not fit well onto the fuselage. I checked the closed canopy part and found that the windshield area fit well. I used my trusty saw from John Vojtech of UMM/USA to cut off this portion. After painting, it fit well. Finally, there is not a real good means of locating the beautiful exhaust cans. They slide into the opening at the rear of the fuselage/wing assembly but need to be carefully aligned by eyeball.
As mentioned above, the kit offers nine different marking schemes. As much as I liked the idea of reproducing Robin Olds' famous Phantom, I instead chose to build one of the Michigan birds. Several companies have produced decals for the Michigan birds but no one has offered the "Patience My A$$" buzzard nose art. I had to build that one. Unfortunately, this choice caused me to uncover a number of problems with the instruction sheet of this kit.
The first problem that I found was the color call-out. The directions specify FS 36622, the SEA scheme undersurface. In fact, ANG planes during this timeframe were painted FS 16473, Air Defense Command Gray. Also, the directions did not call for the anti-glare panel to be painted.
When it came to applying the decals, I wish the person who designed the decal sheet had been involved in the preparation of the instruction sheet. First, the position of decals on the wings of the MIANG bird was not provided. I had to check photos and other decal sheets to find out where to mount the national insignia and the USAF marking. The directions showed most of the basic side view decals but a check of photos showed a number of additional markings around the cockpit. Surprisingly enough, most of these markings were included on the decal sheet but not mentioned in the directions. These include nose gear door emblems; some black "step here" stripes and some yellow markings.
On the negative side, the decal sheet did not include any of the "wingwalk" stripes plus the decals for "U.S. Air Force" markings on the fuselage appear to be too small and located too high. Another minor problem was that the white armament plaque on the intake should have a red outline on some of the Michigan birds. Finally, I was not satisfied with the color of the formation lights. They looked too gray on the decal sheet. I used the MicroScale sheet 72-484 for the wingwalks, Detail & Scale sheet 0372 for the formation light panels and Cutting Edge sheet CED72015 for some added details.
I hope that I don't sound too negative about this kit. I am sure that I would not have noticed most of the marking problems if I had built one of Robin Olds' birds. Overall, I was pleased with the final appearance of the model. I feel that the raised panel lines are not a detriment in this scale and the detail molded into such items as the wheels, landing gears, gear doors and exhaust cans is equivalent or better then most contemporary kits. The kit remains accurate and easy to build.
The kit can be well recommended, particularly to those who want to build Robin Olds' airplanes (or Michigan ANG birds with the corrections as noted). The included print will make a good-looking addition to the modeler's wall. I would like to thank Accurate Miniatures for providing this interesting kit for review.
The kit instructions provide a bibliography of several books or articles for reference with this kit. I used the following additional references;