Phabulous Warlord Phantoms: 1/48th ESCI F-4J Phantom II
Updated: May 18, 2021
The old ESCI/ERTL Phantoms do have some nice qualities about them, nicely scribed surface details and a correct shape however the cockpit is a comparative disaster with poorly fitting panels, decals for instruments (which aren't even correct) and ejection seats that don't come close to the real thing.
Notable Kit Features:
Proportionately scaled exterior dimensions and shape
Nicely scribed surface details
Poorly fitting cockpit with fictitious decals for instruments
Horrible ejection seats (buy replacements or build your own)
Nice glass fit is OK but not good
Exhausts are only OK (if you have spare - use them)
Sidewinders are questionable
Here is another scheme that has been a favourite of mine for quite some time so when I noticed that Cam Decals had a set of these Warlord decals I figured I best grab one while they lasted as I had an ERTL F-4J Phantom without any usable decals just waiting for an opportunity like this. As an added bonus the squadron has their Warlords emblem on the centerline tank - Got to love those colourful 50s-80s USN / USMC schemes.
You will need to do some work in the cockpit to have the panels meet the fuselage sides at least (or replace the whole thing) The rear cockpit is incorrect for a Navy Phantom (it should have sidewalls and not consoles)
The ejection seats need to be replaced as they aren't even close
There were some seams that needed filler along the spine and nose
There is a gap in the wing to fuselage join which has to be filled (preferably with some .020 sheet styrene)
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Replaced ejection seats with Wolfpack Martin Bakers
Replaced Exhausts with "J" burners from Hasegawa RAF Phantom II kit
Third-party "Warlords" decals from CamDecals.com (P48-005)
This kit is a toss-up, hard to recommend due to its deficiencies but with a replacement cockpit and exhaust (which some modelers seem to buy anyway) you can make a good replica with this base. Having said that there are better options out there nowadays. In a more expensive price bracket, but far better are the Zoukei Mura, Academy and Hasegawa F-4Js. Note: Italeri rereleased this ERTL/ESCI series with some rework to the molds (and included these VMFA-451 markings) in the mid-2000 improving but not fixing all of the deficiencies however I have not built his iteration, so cannot comment on it as yet.
Completed build #230 - December 2019 using the 1/48th scale ESCI #8459 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building what you want, how you want - Cheers