1/32 Tamiya F-4J Phantom II

by Miroslav Adamovic



After completing Tamiya's 1/32 F-4C for ARC Phantom group build in 2005, I got modeling fever and immediately started working on this F-4J.  Construction started with sanding off all "BDR patches" on the fuselage and riveting and rescribing new panels.  Somewhere in the middle of the process I lost interest and packed everything back into the box.  It wasn't until two years later that I went back to this kit and started building like a possessed man.  I quickly painted the beautiful Black Box resin cockpit and seats, and the set fitted like a glove, only minor adjustments and usual thinning of the kit's side walls were needed.  In meantime I obtained an Aires resin exhaust set and then newly released Cutting Edge fully ducted seamless intakes.  As everybody knows, intakes are probably the biggest shortfall of this kit, so the CE intake set was a must buy.  I tore into its package like a fat kid on a cake and after inspecting the parts, my first disappointment came.  No instructions whatsoever, I mean, nobody is stupid, right, I know where the intakes go, and just by using my common sense I knew where to make a cut, but still....  Also, intakes were missing a couple of panels (raised panels on the original, kit's intakes).  I pulled my scribing and riveting tools out of the draw and in no time I had new panels scribed and riveted.  After painting and installing a very nice Aires exhausts, I carved up the upper fuselage to accept Cutting Edge intakes.  No problems so far, I aligned them with the fuselage and moved on to assemble the bottom.  There was a problem, whatever I did, the front bottom section wouldn't close up, there was about 1-1.5mm gap.  It was obvious that the intakes were interfering, so I asked for help on the ARC Forums.  A couple of forum members answered promptly, and advised that I should've put spacers where the intakes meet the fuselage, but I wasn't too keen to rip everything apart, and the gap was filled with Tamiya two-part epoxy putty, sanded the excess off, and scribed new panel lines, and the build was a full steam ahead.  A few weekends later, it was ready for the paint shop, but that is where, for some unexplained reason I lost the interest for this build for a second time, so I put the kit on a backburner, waiting for another boost of inspiration.....

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In a meantime I built a couple of other models, and a few months ago I decided to go back to my big Phantom.  The "beast" was primed and pre-shaded with MM Gunship Grey, and the US Navy Gull Grey/White scheme followed.  First, I painted the vertical stab with Tamiya XF-2 Flat White, then moved on to the bottom surfaces which received a couple of coats of Tamiya AS-20 Insignia White from a spray can that was decanted in a jar, and shot through my Iwata Eclipse airbrush.  MM Flat Gull Gray was used to complete the paint job, with anti glare panel painted in Tamiya NATO Black.  And last, but not least was bare metal tail section.  It was primed with MrSurfacer 1200, polished with Micromesh cloths of various grit levels and sprayed with different shades of Alclad Lacquers and MM Metalizer paints.  I left the paint to cure for a week and followed up with four coats of Future Floor Polish to prepare the model for decaling. 

When I started work on this model, my intentions were to build it as a "Showtime 100", triple MiG killing bird that was flown by "Duke" Cunningham and RIO "Willie" Driscoll on 10 May 1972.  I think everybody knows which plane I am talking about, as it has been "modeled to death"...  But, during the last stint on this project, just before painting, I remembered a beautiful VMFA-212 Phantom built by "smithery" (his ARC forum name) for 2005 Phantom GB and that was it, I knew I wanted to do that particular plane.  So, I sourced an awesome Fox One decal sheet from Squadron online store.  Decals were very thin and reacted very well to MicroSet/MicroSol treatment.  Stencils were next, all 200+ small warning decals on a sheet provided by CAM.  I toughed it out over a weekend and the model was ready for the final coat of Future.  Oil wash of Raw Umber and Pines Grey mix was next followed by a flat clear coat.  The finishing touches were done with pastel chalks and Tamiya "make up" weathering set.  Armament came from the kit, with the exception of the Rockeye bombs which are made by CAM Resin.  I bought a set of six resin Mk20s and really struggled to get four usable examples out of them, as casting was less than impressive.  Sole AIM-7E Sparrow was decaled with Two Bobs missile markings set.  I forgot to mention that the model was post shaded with very thin mix of black and brown paint and also with MM Flat Gull Grey which was lightened with a few drops of white paint.

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VMFA-212 sailed to Vietnam aboard the USS Oriskany in April 1965, becoming the first US Marine jet equipped squadron to be deployed on an aircraft carrier in combat.  Flying F-8E Crusaders and operating from a Yankee Station, the Lancers flew missions against targets in South and North Vietnam.  In April of 1972, the squadron, now equipped with F-4J Phantom II, deployed to Vietnam theatre again, to Da Nang Air Base, in an effort to stop the North Vietnamese offensive towards South Vietnam.  WD14 was one of two VMFA-212 F-4Js lost during combat tour which lasted through June.  My model represents the plane flown on 12 May 1972 by Capt. Benjamin Tebault and RIO 1Lt. Mike Konow.  Two Mk82 bombs were inscribed accordingly to mark the coincidence of Ho Chi Minh's birthday and Mother's Day.  The plane was lost on 4 June 1972 and Capt. Tebault and RIO 1Lt. Konow were KIA.


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Photos and text by Miroslav Adamovic