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KIT REVIEW


Revell Phantom FGR.2 -- 1:48 Scale



While the F-4 Phantom II was one of the most enduring icons of Cold War and Vietnam-era U.S. airpower, it was also exported to many other NATO partner and allied nations.  One of the key overseas operators of the F-4 was the United Kingdom in squadrons of both the Fleet Air Aim (FAA) and Royal Air Force (RAF).  England operated F-4s as one of its frontline combat aircraft from the 1960s to the early 1990s in air defense, close air support, strike, and reconnaissance roles.  Here, we take a look at the recent Revell re-boxing of the venerable 1:48 scale Hasegawa Phantom FGR.2 kit in their British Legends 1918-2018 series.  

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In the 1960s, the British Ministry of Defense was facing a crisis.  The English Electric Lightning, Canberra, and Hawker Hunter were all aging designs, and the TSR-2 and P.1154 (a Harrier derivative) programs designed to replace them had been cancelled.  The General Dynamics F-111K was chosen to the long-range attack role but was also cancelled.  However, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was procured in two different version for the FAA and RAF.

Both U.K. variants were derived from the U.S. Navy’s F-4J.  The most significant change was the use of the larger and more powerful Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan powerplants.  While assembled in St. Louis, these Phantoms represented a specialized production run containing a significant range of British avionics (which eased pressure on the U.K. aerospace industry following the earlier project cancellations), and BAC redesigned and built the entire rear fuselage.  The Westinghouse AN/AWG-10 radar carried by the F-4J was replaced by a version built under license by Ferranti as the AN/AWG-11 for FAA aircraft and AN/AWG-12 for the RAF.  The changes to the aircraft led to the two variants being given their own separate designations, with the FAA version designated as the F-4K (Phantom FG.1) and the RAF version as the F-4M (Phantom FGR.2).  Deliveries commenced in 1966 and the last of the 118 airframes delivered to the RAF arrived in the U.K. in 1969. 

The Phantom FGR.2 served with distinction as the RAF's primary interceptor and ground attack aircraft for over a decade until the introduction of the Panavia Tornado.  The FGR.2 was vital in its role in NATO operations in Europe as well as participating in the Falklands campaign.  The end of the Cold War, naturally, hastened the RAF Phantom’s retirement.  The last flight of the FGR.2 was in November of 1992.  Subsequently, most of the fleet was scrapped.  

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Revell’s 1:48 FGR.2 is a re-boxing of the Hasegawa Phantom kit that contains a basic F-4J paired with the FGR.2 parts.  It contains 145 gray injection molded parts on seven sprues and 15 clear parts on one clear sprue.  The full-color instruction booklet guides the build over 43 steps.  The decals provide markings for three airplanes:   

Strengths:  The re-boxed Hasegawa kit inside the Revell 1:48 scale Phantom FGR 2 is a classic.  For a long time, the Hasegawa F-4s reigned as the best 1:48 scale F-4 kit available.  By my count, no less than 81 issues of the Hasegawa F-4 have seen the light of day, and the kit continues to serve the Hasegawa “Phantom Phamily” (and other manufacturers including Revell) quite well.  It’s a little hard to believe, but the 40th birthday of these molds is not too far off!  The last time Revell re-issued this particular kit was in 2004, and it’s really great to see it again.

The kit itself is based on tooling going back to 1982 with the inaugural 1:48 scale Phantom II – an F-4J.  While the Academy and Zoukei-mura kits are far more modern and overall better offerings, the Hasegawa parts still hold their own.  It is a generally accurate kit, though some details, such as wheel wells, are a bit simplified.  Furthermore, this is still the only 1:48 scale offering of a British Phantom FGR.2.    

The Hasegawa Phantom is a very well-known kit, but for those who may be unfamiliar, here’s the basic rundown:  it’s a fairly straightforward and uncomplicated kit. Parts breakdown is simple – left and right fuselage halves, upper and lower wing halves, and so on.  The kit fits pretty well, but I would recommend making a few of your own mounting tabs to reinforce the long seam along the spine of the jet.  Surface detail include delicately engraved panel lines, rivets, and fasteners.  The kit’s cockpit and ejection seat details were pretty impressive for 1982, and today, can still be the basis of a nice interior.  Yet, any of today’s aftermarket cockpit detail sets would really do the kit a high degree of justice.  You also get a pilot and WSO figure.  Other options include an open or closed canopy, open or closed speed brakes, separate and positionable outboard flaps, and open or closed chaff and flare dispensers.  The small auxiliary air intake doors on the bottom of the fuselage are molded open (but without engine surface detail behind them).

For the Phantom FGR.2, the kit includes a few specialized sprues. You’ll find the short Spey afterburner nozzles, vertical stabilizer tip fairing, an SUU-30/A external gun pod, and the very distinctive (and big!) EMI reconnaissance pod.  Other stores included are two underwing drop tanks.  Sprue K provides unslotted stabilizers.  Sparrow/Sky Flash missiles are provided on Sprue E, and a slick radome (no chin sensor) is provided on Sprue G.  It all looks very good.

One of the highlights of the kit are the markings options.  Revell usually provides two options, but here you get three.  There are two very colorful retirement schemes (including the all-blue XV408) and one standard camouflaged “line jet” as it appeared in 1974.  The decals were printed by Cartograf and appear to be technically outstanding in their print quality.

Weaknesses:  As noted before, the basic tooling was award-winning in 1982, but today, there’s stuff that would catch our eyes as “could-be-better.”  The gear wells are a bit simplified.  There’s no intake trunking and the intake stops in a blanking plate several scale feet ahead of where the engine faces would sit.  The Spey engines have decent exterior detail, but the inside surfaces of the engine nozzles are smooth and devoid of detail.  The kit also lacks AIM-9 Sidewinders. 

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Revell’s re-boxing of the 1:48 scale Hasegawa Phantom FGR.2 brings back the only kit of the FGR.2 in this scale.  On its own, it can build up into a very nice replica of this British Phantom II.  Of course, there’s a ton of aftermarket detail parts to recommend to help bring this older kit to the next level.  Jet modelers, Phantom phanatics, and builders of U.K. subject matter will want to get this kit, especially at this affordable price point.   

Sincere thanks are owed to Revell for the review sample.  You can find them on the web at http://www.revell.com/germany.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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