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QF-4B Target Drone
Phantom II

by David W. Aungst

 

QF-4B Target Drone
Phantom II

 


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Background

 

I started working on this Phantom kit back in the middle 1980's when I started scratch-building a new cockpit for the model, accurate for a US Navy F-4B Phantom. Long before Kendall Model Company starting releasing their F-4 Phantom II resin cockpit sets, I had recognized that there was plenty of room for improvement inside the cockpits of the Hasegawa F-4 Phantom kits. After two years of on-and-off working on the model, I had pretty well finished the cockpit interior. It was amazing to me when KMC released their F-4J cockpit in late 1996, just how much it was the same as my twelve year old scratch-built cockpit.

My working on the kit in the 1980's was not limited to the cockpits. I was also working on other items like the intakes and engine exhausts. The trouble was that with all the work I was investing in the model, I wanted to build just the "right" markings on the kit. My inability to decide on which markings lead to the eventual re-boxing of the kit. There it laid for ten years.

What sparked me back to working on the model was a request from one of the members of my model club, Ron Picciani. Ron asked for the club to build aircraft that had flown from the Naval Air Development Center (NADC) near where the club met. The base that had been NADC for many years (NAS Johnsville in Warminster, PA) was closing and they wanted to hold a party for the remaining employees. The models were to make a display at this party.

 

 

NADC was the conversion facility for all the early QF-4B Phantoms. I knew the QF-4B "Great Pumpkin" had flown from NADC. I had always wanted to build a model of it, someday, and Ron had lots of photographic coverage of "Great Pumpkin". I decided to dig out the kit and complete it in those markings for the base retirement party display. "Great Pumpkin" was even one of the markings options I had considered ten years prior for this very project.

 

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 Scale F-4B/N

 

This kit is the original release of the Hasegawa F-4B Phantom (stock P005). I was quick to buy it when it was first released. Getting bogged down in the cockpit and other details delayed its completion for many years.

The kit is an accurate representation of an F-4B/N Phantom, being the only 1/48th scale kit to provide the correct unbulged wings of the F-4B/N. Being one of the earliest Hasegawa Phantom releases, it has raised scribing. The tails in the kit are slotted, which is correct for many F-4B and all F-4N aircraft. The engine exhausts are the correct early style. Separate pieces are provided for the ECM fit on the intake shoulders of the F-4N. Two sets of main wheels are provided in the kit. The "common tree" provides the standard fat wheels of most F-4 variants. The special F-4B/N insert tree provides the needed thin wheels unique to these versions.

The kit's biggest downfall of the kit is the cockpit, which is mostly an Air Force F-4C cockpit. Tell-tale signs of this are all over the rear cockpit and include a control stick (Naval Phantoms have to rear-seat flight controls), a right side instrument panel (instead of a padded wall that covers the in flight refueling probe), and no boxes to clutter the left side wall. With both Aires and Black Box providing well-molded resin replacements for the F-4B/N cockpit, this downfall is not the big issue it was when I started building the kit in the middle 1980s.

 

 

As I mentioned at the start of this posting, I did quite a bit to upgrade the kit. The full list of things I did to the kit during construction is as follows.

  • I gutted the cockpit and scratch-built a new interior. This involved doing the following.
    • I sanded off the kit provided side wall details and scratch-built new side wall details.
    • I sanded off the kit provided side instrument console details in the front cockpit and scratch-built new side consoles.
    • I cut away the side instrument consoles in the rear cockpit and scratch-built a wall on the right sides and lots of avionics boxes on the left.
    • I cut off the side sub-panels from the front main instrument panel and scratch-built new side sub-panels.
    • I scratch-built the entire rear main instrument panel.
    • I scratch-built the wiring details between and behind the cockpits.
    • I replaced the kit ejection seats with True Details products.
    • I incorporated Hasegawa's etched metal Phantom cockpit and canopy etchings set. These etchings come from the "high-grade" Phantom kits Hasegawa released in the late 1980's and early 1990's.

Right Front Side Wall Left Front Side Wall    Left Rear Side Wall
Side Wall Details

  Front Cockpit
Front Cockpit
 
Rear Cockpit
Rear Cockpit
 
Disclaimer: I have to admit that when I did all of this cockpit work, I had no idea what changes in the cockpits were made to do the QF-4B conversion. Hence, I created a standard fleet F-4B aircraft cockpit. Ron was able to provide some diagrams of the QF-4B cockpit, but it was too late in the project to incorporate the changes by the time I got the new information. The most noticeable change was the deletion of the radar scopes in the cockpits. Other minor changes were done as well, including the replacement of the control stick and throttle grips in the front cockpit. Please accept my apologies that the cockpit is not a true QF-4B cockpit ... ;o)
  • I scratch-built new detailing inside the kit engine exhausts using strip styrene. There are 108 tiny pieces of strip styrene cut into the appropriate shapes and attached inside each engine exhaust cone. Aires resin engine exhausts would have been so much easier had I had them to use back then.
  • I added the pitots inside the engine intakes and replaced the tail pitots with brass wire and styrene stock.
  • I replaced the plastic kit landing gear legs with Hasegawa's white metal landing gear, adding plumbing and electrical lines. These are other goodies that come from the Hasegawa "high-grade" Phantom kits.
  • I replaced the wheels with True Details products, but I sanded down the molded tire bulges. The tires in all the True Details Phantom wheel sets look like they are flat, not just weighted. Removing most of the tire bulges improves the look of the tires.
  • I substituted unslotted horizontal tails from a Hasegawa F-4C/D kit. Images I received from Ron of "Great Pumpkin" showed it was never updated to have the slotted tails.
  • I filled the locating holes for the wing weapons pylons since I did not want to hang these on the model. This necessitated grinding off the pylon sway braces that Hasegawa has molded to the lower wing for stations 2 and 8.
  • I replaced all the blade antennas with etched metal antennas from the Hasegawa Phantom cockpit and canopy etchings set.
  • I scratch-built and added the nose antennas that are, themselves, the distinguishing features to the QF-4B target drone Phantom II (other than the orange paint).

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

"Great Pumpkin" was finished in overall International Orange (F.S.12197). With the permission of Ron, I have included scans of some of his images in this posting. Without a question, this is one of the "loudest" paint schemes I have ever completed. The following photos are by Ron Picciani:

 

Documentation Picture Documentation Picture
Documentation Picture Documentation Picture
Documentation Picture Documentation Picture

 

I used Testors Model Master and Humbrol enamel paints. As the model predates the release of International Orange (F.S.12197) in the Model Master line, I needed to mix my own color. I mixed want turned out to be a very convincing International Orange using the following mixture.

  • 12 parts Insignia Yellow (F.S.33538)
  • 4 parts Fluorescent Red (F.S.28915)
  • 1 part Crimson Red (Humbrol #20)

The unit markings, as stated above, are specific to NADC. The "Great Pumpkin" is a real aircraft and not just one of my imaginary named models. No manufacture has ever released markings for this aircraft in decal. As this model also predates my acquiring a home PC for creating custom decals, I had to piece this one together with decal scraps and use masks to create the tail markings.

 

 

I cut custom scotch tape masks and painted the tail markings since I could find no lettering decals to match the exact style of the writing. I also masked and painted the NADC badge on the tail. The "Great Pumpkin" writing on the nose is done with "N" scale railroad decals and applied one letter at a time. All the rest of the markings are standard Phantom data markings taken from Hasegawa's kit decals and various SuperScale decal sheets.

For weathering, I used my typical style of thinned down enamel paint washes and air brush shading. As the model has raised scribing, I could really only do the washes around the flight control surfaces. 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".

 

 

Conclusion

 

This qualifies as one of my longest builds ever, carrying over about a ten year stretch. Of course, I was not actively working on the model over much of this time span. I have a couple other uncompleted models in my work room right now that are actually longer than this time span, but until they are completed, this model will hold the title.

 

 

Additional Images and Project Summary

 

Click the thumbnails below to view images full-sized.
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Project Statistics

Completion Date:

27 November, 1994

Total Building Time:

118.8

Research:

10.6

Construction:

11.0

Painting:

41.4

Decals / Markings:

11.4

Extra Detailing / Conversion:

44.4
 

Model, Description and Images Copyright 2003 by David Aungst
Page Created 22 December, 2003
Last Updated 17 March, 2004

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