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1/32 Tamiya F-4S Phantom VF-301

by Anthony Cox


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I saw this aircraft in a book and just had to do one. The first one I built was in 1/48 scale by converting a Hasegawa F-4J kit. When Tamiya released their 1/32 F-4J I knew I had to do it again!  With some great help from Jan Jacobs at Smoke trails, who happily photo copied an out of print article of this very plane, and sent it to me no charge (that's great spirit!). And some very gracious help from a man I know only as Mike who sent me several slide photos of VF-301 at the hangar, and again no charge (I think he is now curator at the Hawaiian museum of aviation). Plus a ton of books on the Phantom, I think I have about 10 or more, plus magazines.

I had to make several modifications to this Tamiya kit. We all know how bad a job Tamiya did with the intakes, so this was the first area to tackle.  I found that by removing the part of the intake fixed to the fuselage and gluing it to the intake parts, I was able to smooth out the seems much easier. Then I pre-positioned the intake back into the fuselage, taped the intake cover in place and tacked the whole thing together. Now I was able to remove the tape and parts from the body and putty the heck out of the join between the intake and the intake cover. Lots of sanding, priming and more sanding!!!! Also the engine exhausts are very undersized and just not well detailed. I chose the CAM replacement for this and I'm quite pleased with the turn out. The cockpit is good for this kit but, if I'm going to all this trouble of fixing this to look right I just had to use the Blackbox F-4J kit. This kit is an absolute jewel in itself!! I also needed to use Cutting Edge F-4S conversion for the outer wings and the inner slats. This was a bit of a chore to get to fit right and next time I will use the simpler set from CAM.  Decals are from CAM. And last but not least, I used the Eduard photo etch set for the F-4J, they really got the canopy sills bang on right!

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When the F-4J started to rack up the flying hours the navy and marines decided to extend the life of them just the same as they did with the F-4B. One of the things most needed was to fix the wing, and so they added a strap to the bottom extending from wing fold to wing fold. This zero timed the wings and also added some extra weight. The radios and radar were also upgraded along with the wiring.

In most of the photos I've seen, the Phantom is carrying a pod for luggage or aircraft logs maybe? I made mine from an old fuel tank.  On the other side of the wing usually there is a sidewinder practice round, that's so the airforce guys can't jump you totally defenceless!

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All and all this conversion went very smoothly,  redoing the avionics cooling vents under the nose, was kind of fun, but sanding all the over thick plating was a drag. What was Tamiya thinking? I love the paint scheme for this Phantom and I chose the Extra colours from England to spray it with. I like the gloss finish you get with them. I tried to give the colours a mottled look by adding some white or black to each shade of grey. Plus I washed the panel lines a bit with some umber and black oils. Not to much weathering was done to this one, it was stationed at Miramar NAS and they don't get the same abuse as when they are at sea. With out a doubt this is my phaforite Phantom of a long line of kits that I have built. My next Phantom is going to be a F-4J with VMFA 333 markings, and all the extras like this one. One a year is all I can afford! 


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Photos and text by Anthony Cox a Phantom Phreek


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