The Hasegawa 1/48th scale F-4 Phantom II series were considered the best F-4 kits for many decades (for good reasons). This F-4B kit is the original vintage from the 1980s. It featured, good fitting parts, raised panel lines and was one of the few kits to get the thin wing of the B model correct.
Notable Kit Features:
Raised detailed cockpit with decent ejection seats & 2 seated pilot figures
Good fit requiring little if any filler
Correct wing for a B version
VF-51 F-4s sported one of the more flamboyant markings of USN squadrons during this "High-Visibility" paint scheme era (with their "Flying Can Opener" emblem). During the Vietnam war, "Screaming Eagle" Phantom crews shot down four MiG-17s and this CAG aircraft carries that scoreboard. On May 6, 1972 LCDR Jerry “Devil” Houston and LT Kevin Moore flying an F-4B, BuNo 150456, of VF-51 engaged and shot down a MiG-17 trying to shoot down an A-6 striking the Bai Thuong Airfield. Houston positioned himself behind the MiG as it maneuvered into firing position on the A-6. Houston could not shoot as long the A-6 was out in front, as he could not by sure which aircraft the Sidewinder was looking at. The CAG of CVW-15, CDR Rodger “Blinky” Sheets, piloted the Intruder this MiG decided to pick on. Sheets was a fighter pilot by trade and knew the MiG-17 had no hydraulic assisted flight controls. At the transonic speed of the A-6, the MiG driver could not pull the control stick hard enough to maneuver. “Having reached minimum Sidewinder launch range, Houston squeezed the trigger from 'dead six o'clock ', about 3000 feet behind the MiG.As Houston recounts, "the AIM-9G came off and went straight down, then straight up! And as we flew through the hump-backed smoke trail of the Sidewinder, it straightened out and headed for the MiG. Sheets saw the missile come off the rail and broke, having played the role of ultimate decoy to the end. The MiG couldn't break, and the Sidewinder flew up his tailpipe, blowing his tail off. We were so low that the explosion of the missile was followed immediately by the explosion the MiG made as it impacted the Karst ridge". From after action reports, it appears that the MiG pilot had given such complete attention to shooting down the A-6A that he was never aware of Houston's presence.
No throttles in front cockpit
Incorrect rear cockpit missing sidewall
Floor mount and hole for the rear control stick (which was not used on "B" Phantoms)
No intake ducts (which are also fairly shallow and only 7/8 blocked)
Raised panel lines
Missile rails lack details
Lacking air refueling panel lines by RIO
Hasegawa kit depicts the later (non "MiG Killer") CAG aircraft with serial number 3009
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Sanded off panel lines
Changed serial number of kit decals from 3009 to 0456
Corrected colour order of tail feathers to match photographic evidence of 0456*
(* 0456 tail feathers are Green Black Blue from the bottom up, whereas 3009 is Blue Black Green from the bottom up.)
This F-4B was painted in the standard 1960-70s USN Gull gray (FS 36440) over White finish, with white control surfaces. Tail and wingtip red was also painted on as well as the black anti-glare panel. Metal look paints were used for the exhaust area although more variation should have been used for a more realistic look. Weathering was kept minimal as this was a CAG bird and as such typically kept in pristine condition, even in war time. Kit decals were used although I did change the serial number to reflect the war time example as well as change the colour order of the bottom three tail feathers (by hand painting them) as the Hasegawa kit had these colours based on the 3009 airframe.
The After-Build Report:
The age of this kit is now showing and newer kits (including Hasegawa's) have better recessed surface detail as well improved cockpit accuracy. While you can build this old 1/48th Hasegawa kit into a nice F-4B, there are now other kits to build a better F-4B. The Tamiya kit is considered to be one of the best versions now, with outstanding detail. The Academy series also delivers a good option for model makers as well. Both kits have scribed panel lines, more accurate cockpits and full intake trunks. If you have this kit already it is certainly worth building into one of the many examples of Phabulous "B" Phantoms that existed over the years.