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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Phabulous Warlord Phantoms: 1/48th ESCI F-4J Phantom II

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

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

Build Inspiration:

Here is another scheme that has been a favourite of mine for quite some time. When I noticed that Cam Decals had a set of these "Warlord" decals available, I figured I best buy one while they lasted. I had an ERTL F-4J Phantom without any usable decals, in the stash, just waiting for an opportunity like this. U.S. Marine Squadron VMFA-451 was not to be outdone when they designed and painted their F-4Js up for the bicentennial celebration in 1976. Complete with their Warlords centerline tank, this is one standout Phantom II - Got to appreciate those colourful 50s-80s USN / USMC schemes, especially now that most of the aircraft are sporting all gray finishes.

Heads-Up Report:

  • 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 (P48-005)

End Result:

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

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