Released in 2003, the Grand Phoenix FJ-4B Fury was a short-run, multi-media kit of this later Fury aircraft series. Loaded up with nice details with the inclusion of resin, metal and photo-etch parts to boost the plastic base components, it was bound to better the much older 1/48th Matchbox kit and provide a viable option to the Collect-Aire Models version.
Notable Kit Features:
Excellent cockpit and ejection seat detail provided with resin and photo-etched parts
Fine surface detail with engraved panel lines.
Good fit of plastic parts (however mating the resin...)
Partial intake ducting
Very nice wheel well resin parts
Nice white metal nose gear (not on the main gear though)
Optional drop tanks and the in-flight re-fueling probe included
Once you have a F-86 Sabre series in the collection you feel obligated to balance things out for the Navy / Marine fans by including a parallel FJ Fury series. I got my chance when I came across this 1/48th Grand Phoenix kit at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum's model show at one of the re-sellers tables. I decided to do a buildup of a couple of USMC VMFA-232 aircraft and display this build alongside a similarly marked Phantom II.
Note: Neither the VMFA-232 nor VMFA-451 Decals are valid for this FJ-4B as these two squadrons flew the earlier FJ-4 version (I discovered this after I committed to a VMFA-232 duo, therefore I decided to try and backdate my kit)
The resin intake was a problem to fit so that it would blend with the plastic nose intake and took a bit of surgery to make this happen
The plastic wings and resin wheel wells had to be significantly sanded down (almost to the point of being transparent) to get the parts to fit within the wings
Some detail incorrect shape or missing (E.g. side scoops on fuselage, fuel dump)
The main landing gear is a bit flimsy (too bad they didn't provide metal gear here as was the case for the front gear, The port gear failed during the photo shoot!)
Apparently the front & main gear doors could be open or closed when on the ground (my photo references showed it closed so that is the direction I took)
The weighted tires are overdone (especially for a carrier based jet aircraft)
Glass canopies are a bit thick and needed a good coat of Klear / Future to become decent at least
Kit Additions / Modifications:
Backdated the kit to a FJ-4 - No antenna fairing on underside of nose gear door - No spoiler on upper flap surfaces, nor inboard pylons, nor aft speed brake
Cut off rear portion of resin intake and angled front end to blend with plastic parts
Added sufficient nose ballast to avoid a tail dragger syndrome
Drilled out 20mm guns in nose (for more depth)
The paint scheme on most of the FJ-4B aircraft was the typical USN Gray over white scheme with white control surfaces (except the rudder). The leading edges were painted aluminum (I just noticed I missed the black leading edge on the top of the vertical tail!) The decals were nicely done and conformed well (on a high-gloss finish) with the curved surfaces of the fuselage. Very little weathering was done on this aircraft as they appeared to be in highly maintained shape.
The After-Build Report:
This Grand Phoenix kit requires some experience and patience to complete. If you approach the kit with the expectations of a limited run, multi-media kit that will involve extra preparation time and much test fitting of parts, then you can produce a very nice display from the box contents. The Aires resin is vey nice as are the PE parts. Recommended for experienced limited run kit model makers.
The Collect-Aire Models 1/48th kit, released a year before this kit, may have been the definitive kit, however the high price point put it out of reach for a lot of modelers. Since then Hobby Boss has joined in with their version of the FJ-4B as well, albeit with some complaints of accuracy and fit. I would imagine the Hobby Boss kit to be an easier build.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers