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
**********F9F Cougar in Detail & Scale
Revised Edition

**********
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



KIT REVIEW


REVELL 5994 F-4G Phantom II – Wild Weasel
1:32 Scale

Scale modelers have enjoyed a lot of great F-4 kits over the years, especially with the Tamiya and Revell F-4 kit families in 1:32 scale.  Yet, the iconic F-4G Wild Weasel was never one of them.  While Cutting Edge produced a complex pair of conversion sets in 2000 to turn Tamiya’s F-4C/D into a -G, it’s been long out of production and virtually impossible to find today.  More recently, Sierra Hotel Models released a far more straightforward conversion set for the Revell F-4E/F.  Then, Revell previewed a new injection molded 1:32 F-4G Wild Weasel at the 2014 IPMS/USA Nationals in Hampton Roads, Virginia.  It landed in hobby shops in 2015.  Here, we’ll take a look at this big Phantom.

(Return to top of page)

Of all the variants of the legendary F-4 Phantom II, the F-4G was one of the most distinguished.  In the 1970s, the F-4G became the latest in a line of dedicated Wild Weasel aircraft that emerged during the Vietnam conflict.  Beginning with the F-100F, F-4C, and F-105G, a rapid maturation of tactics and air-to-ground missiles started to counter the surface-to-air (SAM) missile threat.  One could imagine fewer more perilous yet important missions.

In SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) work, the idea is to purposely lure enemy air defenses to target friendly aircraft, quickly identify the location of the targeting radar, and then send a high-speed missile to the source of those radar emissions – all before the enemy tries to kill you with equal or greater urgency.  Crews actively expose themselves unique forms of mortal danger.  The Wild Weasel community’s motto “YGBSM!” is certainly appropriate.

The F-4G was modified from existing F-4E airframes.  The first one flew in 1975, and initial operational capability was reached in 1978.  A total of 134 low-time F-4Es were converted to -Gs at the Air Defense Logistics Center depot at Hill AFB, Utah.  The principle modification to these late-production F-4Es involved replacement of the gun with new avionics installed under the chin.  A new instrument panel was also fitted into the back seat.  Finally, some 52 antennas were distributed around the airframe to provide a 360-degree view of the threat environment.

Initial deployments saw F-4Gs assigned to Clark AFB (Philippines), Spangdalhem AB (Germany), and George AFB (California).  In 1991, the F-4G went to war in Operation Desert Storm and it wreaked havoc upon Iraqi air defenses and radar sites.  Without the F-4G’s contributions, the air war would surely have lasted longer and cost more lives.  In the Cold War force drawdown, F-4Gs redeployed to bases in the continental United States, with the last of the Wild Weasel Phantoms concentrated at Nellis AFB and with the Idaho Air National Guard in Boise.  The type was retired in 1996, with the Block 50 F-16CJ taking over SEAD duties for the USAF.

(Return to top of page)

Revell’s F-4G is based on the molds and tooling of their 1:32 F-4E kit.  A quick side-by-side comparison of the two kits makes this clear.  This is appropriate on several levels, since the F-4G shares extensive commonality with the F-4E including the slatted wings and slatted stabilizers (though the kit comes with both slatted and unslatted stabs, use only the slatted ones for a –G).  The Revell F-4E is also a good kit overall, with fine recessed panel lines, screw and rivet details, and comes with various external stores.

What’s different in this boxing is a new tool F-4G parts sprue and new decals.  The new parts include: (1) the front and back seat instrument consoles; (2) one AGM-78 Standard ARM missile (nicknamed the ‘Starm’); (3) two AGM-45 Shrike missiles; (4) pylons for the missiles; (5) the chin pod containing the APR-38/47 Fwd/Beam Receiver antenna; (6) the High/Mid Band antenna atop the vertical tail, and; (6) what looks like a single APR-38 low band antenna.  Also, the new decal sheet provides markings for two mid-1990s F-4Gs including the Nellis retirement scheme.

Strengths: the very fact that this is a 1:32 scale F-4G stands out as a fundamental strong point.  Phantom phanatics and others can finally do their big Wild Weasel Phantom.  Looking at my reference photos of AGM-78s and -45s on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Revell’s missiles appear to get the shapes and proportions generally correct.  The ALQ-119 ECM pod parts and pylon are already present in the F-4E sprues.

To represent a/c 69-0298 (the Idaho ANG jet on the decal sheet), this kit includes a cool new part: the single piece windscreen.  In the late 1980s, McDonnell Douglas developed a one-piece windscreen for the F-4.  Based on their F-15 and F/A-18 windscreens, it could withstand bird strikes at twice the airspeed as the original windscreen design (good up to about 500 knots). Three F-4Gs and a handful of F-4Es and RF-4Cs got these new windscreens.  About 20 were produced in all.  If a modeler ever wanted to represent one of these jets, one cannot simply sand down and polish away the frame details.  The one-piece windscreen possessed a slightly different shape, and Revell seems to have captured its slightly taller cross-section.

Landing gear and wheel details are nicely represented, and the kit has both fully inflated and flattened tire options.  If one wishes to have slightly bulged tires with a fully loaded and gassed-up jet ready to go, no aftermarket parts are needed here.  There’s also a nice boarding ladder in this kit.

The decal sheet is great.  The markings are very thorough (but see below).  The two options are a/c 69-0298 (190th FS, Idaho ANG) and a/c 69-7295 (561st FS, Nellis AFB).  The latter carried the “Pharewell” retirement scheme at Nellis in 1996.  Print quality and colors are excellent.  Also, the precision with which the carrier film was laid down is truly impressive.  There’s no excess carrier film to speak of.  Airframe data stencils are also included.

Weaknesses:  There are a multiple shortcomings with Revell’s F-4G.  Fortunately, none of them are insurmountable, but they do represent a good deal of work to build an accurate F-4G. First, when comparing photos of the APR-38/47 Fwd/Beam Receiver Antenna assembly with the kit part, the kit part appears to be slightly foreshortened and overly bulbous.  This is unfortunate, since this is such a central visual element to the F-4G airframe.  Also, the two beam receiver arrays on the sides are slightly inaccurate.  The antenna has five circular silver-colored receivers in an “X” configuration.  Looking at Jake Melampy’s The Modern Phantom Guide, Revell should have positioned the top two slightly closer together so that they virtually touch the center antenna.  Also, five smaller black circular receivers are interspersed in a “V” configuration between the center and bottom silver receivers.  These details are completely absent.

The F-4G was an antenna farm, allowing the WSO in the back seat to see threats in front, to the sides, and behind.  The APR-38/47 omnidirectional antenna array did a lot of this work.  There were three of these small antennas on each side of the nose, one on the spine, and one on each side of the vertical stabilizer. Revell only seems to have included one of these low band antennas, and the instruction calls for its placement on the spine correctly positioned ahead of the TACAN antenna.  The nose and tail APR-38/47 antennas are not provided in the kit.  Photos in the Detail & Scale archives of a very early F-4G appear to show these antennas to be absent, but to my knowledge, the number and position of the nine APR-38/47 antennas were on the jet from the beginning and did not change in configuration even when the APR-47 upgrade occurred.  This would contrast with, for example, the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler – whose antenna configurations changed frequently throughout its lifetime.  Still, check your references to make sure this is the case with the early F-4G. 

Two problems are noted on the underside of the jet.  First, the aft Sparrow missile wells are misshapen and are just too long. Second, every F-4G was modified with a very large reinforcement plate, or “belly strap,” that went across the bottom of the wings and fuselage to reinforce the wings. This counteracted the new kinds of aerodynamic stresses and dynamic loading placed on the airframe by the leading edge slats.  The same “beef-up plate” was fitted to all F-4S and F-4E airframes prior to 71-0237.  This substantial external detail is missing from the underside of Revell’s F-4G.  However, a belly strap can be made from plastic sheet. Detail & Scale contributor Jim Rotramel provides a template for a 1:32 scale belly strap here:

http://www.arcforums.com/forums/air/index.php?showtopic=283723&st=140&gopid=2781813&#entry2781813.  GT Resin also makes one in resin, and that product can be found at their eBay webstore: http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-32-GT-Resin-Belly-Straps-for-Revell-F-4E-and-F-4G-Phantom-Kits-/262372634718

The kit’s ejection seats – holdovers from the earlier F-4E molds –are just plain wrong.  Besides being generally simplified to the point of inaccuracy, the seat’s face curtain ejection handles appear underscaled and misshapen for the Martin Baker Mk. 7.  They also have an additional crossbar connecting these ejection handles in the middle that should not be there.  The shoulder harnesses are low-relief molded onto the parachute pack and backpad and are depicted hanging in an unrealistic gravity-defying position, essentially suspended upside-down.  Lap belts and leg restraints are absent.

In looking at the length of the seam between the left and right fuselage halves, I suspect it could be a little weak and poor at load bearing once the glue is dry.  I would consider reinforcing it with some thick Evergreen styrene tabs in the front, middle, and back so as to not unintentionally crack it while handling.

Some thoughts on loadouts: first, it’s puzzling as to why the kit did not include AGM-88 HARM missiles.  There aren’t many Wild Weasel things more iconic than an F-4G with four AGM-88s slung underneath.  In providing references for Revell to use during the development of this kit, Detail & Scale supplied photographs, a drawing, and complete dimensions for the AGM-88 so that it could be included.  Cost considerations may have contributed to the conspicuous absence of HARMs.

Second, the inclusion of the AGM-78 and AGM-45s means that you have an early to mid-life F-4G loadout in the box.  Yet, therein can be found a problem.  The decals are for very late-life/ final flight F-4Gs circa 1996, years after the Starm and Shrike had been retired from operational use.  Further, the ALQ-119 ECM pod is not correct for the F-4Gs on the decal sheet.  By the Desert Storm era, U. S. - based F-4Gs carried the ALQ-184, while the USAFE and PACAF F-4Gs carried the ALQ-131.

Third, the instructions describe a second external stores layout featuring two AIM-9Ls and two AIM-7Es.  This is an air superiority configuration.  While the F-4G retained the wiring and avionics to be able to shoot the same air-to-air missiles as the F-4E, Sparrows and Sidewinders were only rarely carried by the F-4G.  It appears that these, along with a quartet of even more inappropriate AMRAAMs, are leftovers from the previous releases of this kit as an F-4E/F.  Don’t use the AIM-120s. They were never cleared to fly on the F-4G.

Fourth, the underwing pylons on the F-4G are canted outboard slightly at approximately 7.5°.  This ensured the main gear doors would clear the missile fins.  The kit pylons appear to meet the wing at a right (90 degree) angle.  Building up the inboard side of each pylon with a little bit of stock styrene would be an easy way to correct this problem.

Regarding markings: the painting instructions seem to depict an F-4C, and the camouflage pattern appears to be somewhat incorrectly rendered – so check your references.  While the decal sheet is generally great, the wingtip strip lights were omitted and there are no decals for the borders of the walkways atop the fuselage.  While decals are provided for the AGM-78 and AGM-45 missiles, there are no decals for the AIM-7s or -9s.

This is an immensely buildable model, and it can be a good representation of the F-4G just out of the box. On other levels, there are quite a few oversights that are unfortunate. The focus on shortcomings above is done with the intention so as to provide scale modelers a sense of what they’ll need to do if they want to build their Revell F-4G into the most accurate replica possible.

When I build my Revell F-4G, I’ll swap out the kit nose pod with the more accurately shaped resin APR-38/47 Fwd/Beam Receiver antenna from the Sierra Hotel conversion set (http://sierrahotelmodels.webs.com/apps/webstore/products/show/4056912).  I will also use their full complement of resin APR-38 antennas.  It’s the simplest way to go.  Their set also includes a new resin radome that has a more accurate shape.  And, as an ejection seat geek, I plan to use Eduard’s Brassin set (http://store.spruebrothers.com/product_p/edu632001.htm) to replace the kit seats.  Jim Rotramel’s aforementioned belly strap templates will also be invaluable for this build.

Since I am interested in building a late-life F-4G, I’ll steal some HARMs out of another kit or my parts box, though CMK does offer a set of aftermarket resin AGM-88s that deserves consideration.  I’ll need to source some LAU-118s as well.  If, however, a change of heart were to occur and I felt the need to go with an earlier Shrike and Standard ARM loadout, Speed Hunter Graphic’s decal sheet SEAD Specialists: Phantom Hunter Killers (http://www.reidairpublishing.com/product-p/shg32005.htm) has a few grey and green lizard schemes from the mid-to-late 1980s that would open the door to that option.

Thanks are owed to Bert Kinzey and Jim Rotramel for their input and observations.

Many thanks also to Revell USA for the review sample, and you can find them on the web at revell.com and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/RevellUSA/?fref=ts.

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)

Our Most Recent Release!



F9F Cougar in Detail & Scale
Revised Edition

Detail & Scale Special Edition Books


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



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

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

**********