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F-4J Phantom II

by David W. Aungst


F-4J Phantom II


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This posting completes my "Seven Phantoms in Seven Months". I have an eight Phantom in construction (an RF-4) right now, but there is little chance of that one getting done in time to be an eight Phantom for next month. I hope you have enjoyed all my Phantoms. Maybe next month I will do a Bf 109 ...



The day after a model club meeting, I was talking with my friend Skip concerning how nice the (then) new re-tooled Hasegawa F-4J Phantom kit was. He decided to make me put my money where my mouth was and challenged me to complete the kit in one month, in time for our club's next meeting and the annual club competition. I accepted the challenge, and this model was the result which I finished one month later. Not only did I complete it in the alloted timeframe, but I won first place in the category at the club competition.

Of course, I have since topped this performance by completing three Hasegawa F-4 Phantoms in one month. They really are great kits.



In all honesty, though, the model was not as completed as it should have been when I competed it at my model club. The airframe was finished and complete, but the model as I wanted it to be done was unfinished, missing its weapons. After the club meeting, I found I had lost interest in completing the model, even though the weapons were already half done. So, I placed the model on my display shelves, stashed the weapons in my workroom, and forgot about the whole thing for the last thirteen years. Recently, I decided I wanted the model truely done. I wanted to complete the model with all the weapons I still had squirreled away in my workroom, put away in just the state they were left thirteen years ago. I also wanted to correct some markings issues and fix pieces that were broken after thirteen years on my display shelves.

So, that is what I did.

Skip, the friend that originally dared me to build this model, has an affinity for naming models (his, mine, or anyone's), even if the model does not display any name or artwork. He named this model "Rudolph". It is a natural for anyone knowing the story about the red-nosed reindeer. Who was I to argue? Over the years I have corresponded with some unit personnel from VMFA-235, and they informed me that the red nosed aircraft were known in the unit as "Bozo-Noses". I guess that works too.





This is Hasegawa's 1/48th scale F-4J Phantom II. It is the second release of the F-4J kit that came out with VF-96 markings and fully engraved panel lines. In my opinion, this kit (and the F-4S kit which is basically the same with slatted wings) are the best of the Hasegawa Phantom kits. Not that any of the Hasegawa Phantom kits are bad, but I feel this (and the F-4S) stand above the others just a bit.

I'm not going to say much here on the kit since it has been around for quite some time and reviewed in detail in other postings. Suffice to say it is a great kit and produces a very nice model right out of the box. This was the fourth Hasegawa F-4 I built. By this point, I was getting quite comfortable with the kit and was not afraid to get adventuresome in the construction. Hence, I did not build it out-of-the-box, although none of my modifications were very extensive. High-Tech Hasgawa Phantom Items

  • I incorporated all of Hasegawa's high grade Phantom details, except for the reinforcing strap that goes over the lower wing. These details include the following (an image of the details is here to the right).

    • Etched metal cockpit and canopy etchings.

    • Etched metal blade antennae.

    • White metal landing gear. I adding plumbing and electrical lines to the white metal pieces.

    • White metal wheel hubs with vinyl tires. This is the only time I have used these vinyl tires. They are starting to decompose a bit after thirteen years on my display shelves. I have noted small oily spots on the shelf in the places where the wheels sit. In all later builds of Hasegawa Phantom kits, I have replaced these vinyl tires with either resin wheels or just the kit's plastic wheels.

  • I scratch-built the wiring details between and behind the cockpits.

  • I scratch-built various instrumentation on the top of the front instrument hood.

  • I replaced the kit ejection seats with Verlinden products. I've since decided that I like the True Details seats better. A close inspection of the Verlinden seats will show they are not complete and represent seats that are being maintenanced. The upper harnesses that should connect to the top of the seat are just dangled over the parachute pack and not attached to anything. This is being picky, I know, but modeling is a picky, detail-oriented pastime.



  • I added the pitots inside the engine intakes.

  • I replaced the tail pitots with brass wire and styrene stock.

  • I wanted this Phantom to be armed to the teeth, so I incorporated lots of weapons from the various Hasegawa Weapons Sets. The original plan had six LAU-10 rocket pods, but over the years, two of the pods were outsourced and used on an OV-10A model, so only four were left for the Phantom. I also had orinally planned twelve 500lb bombs to be mounted on the outboard weapons pylons with Multiple Ejector Racks (MERs), but over the years, six of these were used with their accompanying MER on a Skyhawk model, so I changed to a centerline mount of the remaining six bombs. This change then effected the fuel loading from a single 600 gallon centerline tank to two 370 gallon wing tanks. The final weapons selection includes the following.

    • Four AIM-7E Sparrow Missiles

    • Four AIM-9D Sidewinder Missiles

    • Six Mk 82 500lb High Drag "Snakeye" bombs mounted on a centerline MER

    • Four LAU-10 Zuni rocket pods mounted on two Triple Ejector Racks (TERs)

    • Two wing fuel tanks as provided in the basic kit



Painting and Markings


VMFA-235 Unit BadgeI used all Testors Model Master enamel paints for the camouflage. The camouflage is the standard Light Gull Gray (F.S.36440) over White. The natural metal tail surfaces are done with various name brands of Metalizer paints (five shades, interspersed to give the effect of separate panels).

For the aircraft's markings, VMFA-235 "Death Angels" was one option of about a dozen different F-4J's that I wanted to build. Skip wanted me to build this one, requesting it as part of the inital dare. I started the project looking to build exactly what he dared me to, no problem. Halfway through the project, though, I started to think of other options and almost did build a different unit. To lock in the decision, I quickly painted the nose red. That stopped the other options from being considered.

The decals initially came from SuperScale sheet #48-086. A detailed review of the VMFA-235 portion of this SuperScale decal sheet follows.





    This is "old" SuperScale, back when instructions were a little on the limited side. Of course, current SuperScale is not much different. For being the least expensive portion of the contents in the decal package, you would think they could give just a little bit more information in the instructions. Only one side-view of each aircraft provided in the decals is on the instructions, in black and white, with very limited notes about the aircraft.

  • The decal sheet provides white stars as separate decals to plaster the nose. The provided stars are much smaller than the ones I have seen in pictures, so I replaced the stars with larger ones found on a W.W.II US armor decal sheet.
  • The nose numbers "9" are squared (not leaning). This is subjective, but the images I have seen show a slight lean to the numbers toward the back of the aircraft.
  • The BuNo provided by SuperScale is 153907. I have never been able to confirm this BuNo was with VMFA-235. All the pictures I have found of the number "9" aircraft show a BuNo of 153879. I guess I should trust SuperScale and their research that showed this BuNo on this aircraft, but then I have found lots of errors in other decal sheets that just make me wonder. In the end, I could not live with the "wrong" BuNo (see below).
  • The "VMFA-235" writing on the aircraft spine is in a strange font that I have never found on any aircraft. Not wanting to use the provided decals in that weird font, I replaced them with some markings I pieced together from another sheet using the standard US Navy block font. This looked better to me and matched pictures I have of VMFA-235 aircraft.
  • The Death Angel for the rudder is provided. This apparently is not a personal marking, but is actually a part of the full unit markings. I found a picture of two VMFA-235 aircraft parked on a carrier deck and both carry the Death Angel on the rudder (and neither aircraft is modex number 9).

Eventually, in time, other decal companies released decals for VMFA-235 aircraft. When Meteor Productions released VMFA-235 markings in their Yellow Hammer decal line, I was quick to pick up a set. The following highlights the details of the set, YH48-017, and contrasts this decal set with the SuperScale sheet.




    Let us start with the instructions. Yellowhammer has a full color instruction sheet. That is a good beginning. Unfortunately, that is where it ends. There is very limited information concerning the aircraft on the sheet. The big block of text is a unit history for VMFA-235. It would have been helpful to highlight some points like the positioning of the stars on the nose, but nothing is stated beyond basic camouflage, the red nose, the locations of the major markings, and that the death angel on the rudder was not always on the aircraft. The instructions completely miss the red wingtips.

  • The stars for the nose are better sized, larger than those provided by SuperScale, but providing only two sizes where there should be three. There are three more stars for the nose than needed, but extras are never a problem.

    For the record, the stars should come in three sizes. Theere are four bands of stars on the nose. The first band closest the nose tip uses six small stars. The second band uses seven medium stars. Both the rear-most bands use seven large stars. The stars are spaced evenly around the nose. The six stars in the first band have three stars on each side of the nose (none are on centerline). The second and fourth bands have centerline-top stars. The third band has a centerline-bottom star. The stars have their top points facing straight up, except for the centerline stars, which have ther top points facing forward. This is probably more than anyone wanted to know about the stars, but is the kind of information the decal instructions should provide.
  • The BuNo on the sheet is 153879. This is the BuNo shown in all the images of DB-9 I have found.
  • The nose numbers "9" are leaning as seen in images of DB-9.
  • "VMFA-235" is provided in standard US Navy block lettering.
  • The instructions note that at some period the angel was not present on the tail. What they do not mention is that during the period that the angel was missing, the wing walkways were D.Gull Gray, not black.

I guess I am being a little hard on this set of decals. In reality, the decals themselves are good in most all respects. If you can find some extra pictures of the aircraft in books to help clarify the markings, these are much better then the SuperScale decal set (IMHO).

Armed with these Yellow Hammer decals (mainly the BuNos is all I needed), I started renovating the old F-4J model. I found the old SuperScale decals were really well atached to the model, forcing me to gently scrape the old decals off the model with an X-acto knife. I touched up the L.Gull Gray paint with my air brush, then gloss coated the areas. The new decals went on with no difficulties, and I flat coated the model to finish up. I changed the BuNo on the aircraft, but I left the nose number as it was provided by SuperScale. The nose number slant was not that noticable, and there were too many other decals close by that I could have messed up while working on the nose numbers.

When I stopped work on the weapons thirteen years ago, they were mostly painted and ready for decals. I completed the painting, then applied decals. A little black-wash weathering and a flat coat finished them off. I drilled and pined the weapons into place using fine brass wire. See my "Attaching Ordnance" posting for more information regarding this technique.

I like detailed weapons, if I use any at all. I find too many modelers treat weapons as "window dressing" and skimp on detailing them to match the rest of the model. In total, I spent about 15 hours painting, decalling, and weathering just the weapons so that they would match the rest of the aircraft. The rocket pod and bomb decals came from the Hasegawa weapons set decal sheets. The Sparrow and Sidewinder missile decals came from the recent ProModeler release of the F-4E.

Aircraft Weapons Aircraft Weapons

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. I finished the weathering with some dry brushing to pop out the surface details. For a more complete discussion of what I do to weather my models, see my posting on "Weathering Aircraft".





Phantoms look much better with a lot of weapons hung underneath. This has always been the "ugly duckling" of my F-4 Phantom models.



With it not being really done and having no weapons, it just did not appeal to me. I am happy to have finally, after all these years, finished it.



Additional Images and Project Summary


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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

15 November, 1990

Total Building Time:






Painting (includes creation and printing of custom decals):


Decals / Markings (includes creating and printing custom decals):


Extra Detailing / Conversion:

Modelling the F-4 Phantom II
Osprey Modelling 3
Author: Geoff Coughlin, Neil Ashby

US Price: $17.95
UK Price: 12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: September 25, 2003
Details: 80 pages; ISBN: 1841767468
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Buy it from Osprey Publishing

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2004 by David Aungst

Page Created 30 March, 2004
Last Updated 28 March, 2005

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