Detail & Scale Header
Digital Publications Link
Aviation Photo Section Link
Scale Modeling Section Link
Aviatin Artwork Link
Furball Aero Design / Detail & Scale Decals
About Us Link
Contact Us Link
Home Page Link

Detail & Scale Books

Quick Links to Available Detail & Scale Series Publications.


Detail & Scale Series


F3H Demon in
Detail & Scale
**********F2H Banshee in
Detail & Scale, Pt. 1

**********
SBD Dauntless in
Detail & Scale

**********

F-102 Delta Dagger in Detail & Scale
**********

F4F & FM Wildcat in Detail & Scale
**********

F-8 & RF-8 Crusader in Detail & Scale

**********

Military Aviation Websites:
Click Here

——————

Scale Modeling Websites:
Click Here



BOOK REVIEW


Zoukei-mura Concept Note IX: McDonnell Douglas
F-4J/S Phantom II
Yoshitaka Tsukakosi, Editor (2016)

Zoukei-mura



The F-4 Phantom II was one of the most iconic jets of the 20th century, and has been one of the most popular subjects for scale model kit manufacturers and builders for decades.  The Zoukei-mura F-4J and F-4S kits are quite possibly the best engineered and most accurate F-4s produced in 1:48 scale (see our reviews HERE and HERE.  As Zoukei-mura does for their Super Wings series, they produced and released a book to accompany the kit that is part walk-around reference and part scale modeling guide.  Let’s take a look.

(Return to top of page)

Zoukei-mura Concept Note No. IX covers the F-4J and F-4S Phantom II.  The book is 64 pages long and is printed in full color on high-quality paper.  The entire text and all photo captions are fully bilingual, written both in Japanese and English.  Overall production quality is excellent and visually engaging.  It features excellent graphic design, layout, and image quality.  The text, while brief, appears to be factually accurate.  While there are what I might consider to be a few small omissions (see below), there are no mistakes to speak of.

The book is divided into four chapters.  There’s also short foreword written by the president of Zoukei-mura, Hideyuki Shigeta, and a short afterword by editor Yoshitaka Tsukakoshi. The first chapter, “Examining the F-4J/S,” is the longest.  It systemically covers the history, external airframe details, cockpit, landing gear, engines, and weapon systems of the F-4J and F-4S.  This section is very well illustrated with archival images of these Navy and Marine Corps Phantoms during their operational lives.  Those photos are complemented with walk-around photography of the two preserved F-4S airframes that the Zoukei-mura design team studied inch-by-inch as part of their research at NAF Atsugi and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  Rounding out the reference material are several line drawings and reproductions of the cockpit diagrams from the original NATOPS flight manuals.  The text for this section really represents an overview, and does not go into any particular depth.

In Chapter 1, differences between the F-4J and F-4S variants are also described.  Good views of the Sierra-model’s leading edge slats and their actuators are provided.  Also, photos of the gear, gear wells, and associated plumbing are really valuable, as the photographic coverage of the J79 powerplant is (while only the left side of the engine is provided, it’s still very useful image).

Subsequent chapters feature builds of test shots of the Zoukei-mura F-4J by three prominent scale modelers.  Chapter 2, titled “F-4 Assembly Advice,” is a step-by-step construction guide by Zoukei-mura’s in-house master modeler, Naokoi Kobayashi.  It’s a 100% out-of-the-box build, and he shares his various observations on the construction process, painting, and kit-supplied decals.  Overall, his informative chapter guides readers in a very clean build of the kit.  He reports it to be very smooth and nearly trouble free, and this observation is consistent with the comments of several people I’ve talked to who have also built the kit.  Precise fitting of the intakes appears to be the one tricky spot and it requires some test fitting to ensure a perfect fit.  Kobayashi’s various construction and painting techniques are very nicely illustrated via great photography.  His painting also shows what one can achieve with the kit ejection seats – they are just beautiful.  The techniques Kobayashi demonstrates are not just useful for this kit but for scale modeling in general.  Also, the construction techniques only use the “Seven Tools of the Old Man,” referring to the product line and core modeling tools used by Zoukei-mura’s founder, Mr. Shigeta.  Finally, Kobayashi’s painting and finish is very impressive, from his subtle and instructively executed use of pre-shading to decal application.  The VF-96 jet seen in the final product is exquisite.

Chapter 3, “Flight Over the Breathtaking Phantom II Details,” highlights a build by Milan Mitev of a Zoukei-mura F-4J of VF-92.  It’s nice to see a Silver Kings jet, as these are not often built by scale modelers.  In this chapter, Mitev also provides his step-by-step descriptions of the build.  He also finds that the intake can be a bit tricky.  He argues that the afterburner nozzles are the only part of the kit that could be improved by a resin or photoetched replacement, and I concur.  Overall, Mitev’s build gives me ideas for the time when I build my kit.  However, it also features a few inaccuracies that should not be emulated.  The addition of extra wires in region of the cockpit sidewalls (Figure 05) strikes me as erroneous and the fabricated shoulder restraints miss the mark – particularly in the way the belts are looped up and behind the face curtain ejection handles. That’s not just dangerous, but I’m not sure the belts could even reach that high on the real seat.  The weathering of the finish is also a little excessive for my tastes.

Chapter 4, “VMFA-232 F-4J the Red Devils” presents a build by Sampson W.S. Yu of an F-4J in the colors of VMFA-232 Red Devils.  Yu also describes his build of the test shot of the kit, and it’s impeccable work.  The majority of the chapter’s photos and narrative demonstrate Yu’s exceptional painting skills and weathering.  I was very impressed with the subtlety and detail in the finish.  I spent some time studying how his combinations of simulated corrosion control spot painting, shading, filters, and oil washes contributed to the overall finish.  It’s probably one of the best and most inspiring Phantom finishes I’ve ever seen.     

There are very few identifiable weaknesses to this book.  My principal critique is in fact a back-handed compliment:  I wish this book was longer and that there could have been more content.  Of course, there’s always a balance that has to be found between length, cost of production, and retail price.  For what is present, this book certainty does deliver and it is quite affordable.

The walk-around details are very good and will be among the references I use in my build of the kit, but they could have been a bit more systematic.  For instance, there’s only one picture of the J79 engine (only left side illustrated).  The two or three views of the nose gear are adequate, but for me, a standard four-view look (front, back, left, and right sides) would have been more valuable.  Some more detail and better description of the belly strap on the F-4S would have been a nice addition to the narrative on F-4J and F-4S differences, too.  Again, I think all of this reflects length vs. cost considerations, but all the basics are there – for example, the reader does get a representational visual understanding of the gear.  In a few places, the English translations from the Japanese is a little awkward (I say this from an understanding of someone who has done various professional translations; it’s not easy, and this book does a great job with its bilingual text).  Fortunately, there is no loss of meaning where these small wording glitches occur in the English narrative.    

(Return to top of page)

Concept Note SWS No. IX is a useful and excellent companion for your build of the Zoukei-mura 1:48 scale F-4J or F-4S kit.  The walk-around component of this volume will provide key information regarding aircraft details, configurations, and painting.  The three chapters detailing construction of the kit have great tips and serve to inspire one’s own work.  When I build my Zoukei-mura Phantoms, this book will be there on my bench.    

My sincere thanks are owed to Mr. Hideyuki Shigeta, the president of Zoukei-mura and Carmine Napolitano (also of Zoukei-mura) for providing this sample.  You can find out more about them at http://www.zoukeimura.co.jp/en and follow Mr. Shigeta's blog at http://www.zoukeimura.com.co.jp/en/sentiment/oyajiblog 093.html, which is a good way to follow development of their kits and their other activities.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale


(Return to top of page)


** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


 
     

 

(Return to top of page)

Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
*********

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
*********


Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

********


Colors & Markings Series



Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
********


Colors & Markings of the F-102
Delta Dagger

**********


Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
Coast Squadrons

**********