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Phabulous Red Devil Phantom - 1/48th Monogram F-4J Phantom II

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Here is another of my 1/48th Monogram F-4J Phantom II kit builds. First released back in the 80s it is still a respectable kit. It has the typical Monogram features of nicely appointed, raised cockpit detail (although not correct in the rear pit for a J), correct overall shape, finely raised panel lines, and an affordable price. The fit in some places may be less than stellar, however I had this kit in the stash from way back and after opening it up to have a look, I was inspired to have another go at it, despite its age.

Notable Kit Features:

  • Nicely molded (and mostly correct) cockpit

  • Nicely detailed ejection seats (partly molded into the pit)

  • Good overall shape and dimensions

  • Finely done raised panel lines

  • Nicely done landing gear

  • Multi-piece glass canopy can be positioned open or closed

  • Separate ailerons and speed brakes which can be positioned

  • TERs are included (molded onto inboard pylons)

  • Basic Air-Air armament (AIM-7 and AIM-9) come with the kit as well as bombs and Wing /Centre-line tanks

Build Inspiration:

For this build, my Monogram Phantom II was constructed in the markings of USMC VMFA-232 "Red Devils" as I had markings left over from an VMFA-333 Shamrocks decal sheet which featured a couple of other squadron aircraft as well. A little modification to the markings was necessary as I wanted a red tail version (as opposed to the "white tail")... into the spares for a rescue. This was also to be a "sister" aircraft to a build up of a VMFA-232 FJ-4B showing the progressive aircraft of this squadron.

Heads-Up Report:

  • Although this represents a J model Phantom the rear cockpit has Airforce type consoles instead of Navy sidewall panels

  • Ejection seats are partly molded into the pit

  • Panel lines for Air Force refueling probe is still on spine and should be removed - Navy refueling door could be scribed on right side of nose

  • Fit of the engine intakes is a minor problem (across the F-4 series)

  • Underside wing fit with aircraft nose requires careful fitting and possibly some filler work to join smoothly

  • Raised panel lines and detail make sanding seams problematic as detail is removed in the process (or you could completely sand off the panel lines)

  • Speed brake actuators are molded into the well

  • Horizontal stabilizer fit will require trimming as they sit too far off the fuselage

  • Air Force "arrowheads" are present on stabilizers and should be removed for Navy "J"

  • Outboard wing tanks are molded onto pylons

  • Glass fit is OK but not great (can be positioned open or closed)

  • TER are molded onto inboard pylons, basic Air-Air armament (sink marks are often present in the Sparrows) come with the kit as well as bombs and a center-line tank

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • Removed panel lines for Air Force refueling probe

  • Trimmed horizontal stabilizers tab to fit close to the fuselage

  • Removed Air Force "arrowheads" present on stabilizers

  • Used (modified) third-party decals for VMFA-232 markings


The paint scheme for this aircraft is the standard USN finish of the time, consisting of Gull Grey (FS 26440) over White (FS 17875). Weathering was kept minimal as these VMFA-232 aircraft were kept in good appearance, although a matt finish was used for topcoat to portray a "used" look.

The After-Build Report:

Better F-4J kits are now available on the 1/48th scale market, however the Monogram Phantom II kits still produce a good result, that definitely looks the part, at a very reasonable cost. I still recommend and build these old classics when I can pick them up at a good price.

Completed build #229 - December 2019 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5805 kit.

Feel free to ask any questions or comment on the article - Keep on building what you want, how you want and enjoy the process - Cheers

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