Thunder & Lightnings

McDonnell-Douglas/BAC F-4K/M Phantom II

Model Kits

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A brief rundown of the various model kits available of the British versions of the Phantom.

1/144

There appear to be no Spey engined Phantom model kits available in 1/144 or smaller scales.

1/72

Fujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom boxFujimi Phantom box

Fujimi Phantom F-4K/M/FG.1/FGR.2

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£18 (new, second hand or imported from Japan)

Released 1988 onwards

5 stars

The undisputed king of the British Phantom in this scale is the Fujimi kit. It features finely recessed panel lines, pretty good detail, good quality decals and captures most of the nuances of the F-4K/M airframe perfectly. The canopy is supplied both as a single piece 'closed' example and a four piece version so you can pose the canopies open. Vinyl wheels are supplied though most modellers choose to use the plastic versions. It has been released in a bewildering number of boxes with varying decals and each boxing usually correctly represents the particular airframes covered (e.g. with slotted stabilators or not, and different tail fins - with RWR or without). There are a few minor problems - the original release has the fuselage side auxiliary intake doors in the wrong place, and the belly aux intake doors can't be modelled open (both issues fixed in the later releases). The main intakes do not include trunking and end at a blank wall with no representation of the engine compressor face. The Sidewinders included are AIM-9Es which British Phantoms did not use. The cockpit is a little disappointing, with pretty decals providing generic detail. All these are really pretty minor issues though.

There were four kits issued originally (Firebirds, Shark Teeth, Silver Jubilee and Yellow Bird, all with a black band along the bottom of the box art), then two special editions with some white metal and etched brass parts to improve the cockpit - 25th Anniversary (raspberry ripple, with one of the options having the unusual radome fitted to the jet in question) and Alcock & Browne), then four re-issues of the original releases (same decals, new box art and various upgrades to the moulds - e.g. seperate flaps, corrected auxiliary inlet doors, better detailing on the jet pipes and so on). Those were followed by three limited editions, all using the upgraded moulds and new decals (Black Mike, Bye Bye Blue, Treble One). Most recently there have been re-issues of the Alcock & Browne and 25th Anniversary kits (but no metal parts this time, and mistakenly includes FG.1 nose gear and catapult attachment points).

The upgraded mould kits are obviously worth seeking out over the earlier releases but this is not to say you shouldn't pass up the opportunity to get any boxing, as the basic kit is excellent regardless of the improvements made to the later releases. Availability in the UK is patchy but Models for Sale and Relish Models have both had limited numbers for sale in recent years and they come up fairly steadily on eBay as second hand items. They can also be ordered from Japan for around the same price delivered.

Gemini Phantom box

Gemini Jets GARNS4001 to GARAF4005 FG.1/FGR.2

1/72

Diecast metal

Price ~£29.99 to 49.99 (RRP)

Released 2008 onwards

3 stars

Not a model kit but a diecast model, and on first glance doesn't appear to be a bad effort. However, the canopy sills are too small (so the canopies look oversized); the radome shape is a little off (similar to the Matchbox kit) and the rear ejection seat is mounted far too low. The exhausts are pretty crude (and far too fragile for their intended use as stand mounting points). Movable control surfaces are all very fragile. Common colour fault on all releases is the coaming under the windscreen (grey, should be black). There have been five releases so far:

If you can overlook the faults, they don't look so bad sat on the shelf - with the exception of the Modelzone special, which is just awful.

Matchbox Phantom boxMatchbox Phantom box

Matchbox PK-404 Phantom F-4M/K (FG1/FGR2)

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price £5 to 15+ (second hand)

Released 1980s

2 stars

Not one of Matchbox's best efforts, this. Released twice by Matchbox in different boxes with different marking options, it has since been reboxed by Revell too so is quite easy to get hold of. Alas, there's no real point in getting one - it has typically deep Matchbox recessed panel lines and is devoid of any detail in the areas of jetpipes, undercarriage and cockpit. The canopies cannot be shown open; Matchbox moulded the solid parts of them as part of the fuselage, then also moulded a line on the clear canopies. The result is most paint that bit and make the canopies look squashed; if you sand them down and then polish them back to clarity they don't look so bad but must be built closed. They are still a little too squashed looking though - the windscreen in particular. Stores supplied are possibly the worst Sidewinders ever produced in injection moulded plastic (with similarly poor quality pylons), drop tanks, belly tank, gun pod, recce pod and rocket pods. The nose radome is too large compared to the fuselage so needs a humungous sanding session to get it to match up; however as it's already deformed in shape, you're better off throwing it in the bin and sourcing a replacement. So, lots of work to get a good looking Phantom, and you need to buy some third party decals anyway.

Hasegawa Phantom box

Hasegawa F-4K/M

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£5 (second hand)

Released 1970s

0 stars

This is not an F-4K/M, but is just an ancient reboxed F-4B with decals to cover British schemes. Avoid like the plague.

Revell Phantom box

Revell F-4K

1/72

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£5 (second hand)

Released 1960s

0 stars

This is also not an F-4K/M, but is once again an ancient reboxed F-4B with decals to cover British schemes. Avoid - you guessed it - like the plague.

1/48

Revell Phantom box

Revell Phantom FGR.2

1/48

Injection moulded plastic

Price ~£20 (RRP)

Released 2000s

5 stars

Not a new kit, but a reboxing of the Hasegawa 1/48 Phantom, which is no bad thing as it's a superb kit. Back in 2007 these were being dumped at about a tenner each, which was a real steal. The decals are far superior to those in the Hasegawa releases. On the negative side, none of the 'high grade' metal parts are included, and this includes the wheels, leaving only the inaccurate plastic wheels. Otherwise, all the comments on the Hasegawa kit below apply. Sadly they are now out of production once more and becoming difficult to find, particularly at a reasonable price - some sellers attempting to get rid of theirs at prices similar to buying one of the Hasegawa releases at the full current day price.

Hasegaw Phantom boxHasegaw Phantom boxHasegaw Phantom boxHasegaw Phantom box

Hasegawa Phantom FG.1 / FGR.2

1/48

Injection moulded plastic

Price £57.49 (RRP)

Released 1999

4 stars

Thankfully Hasegawa's 1/48 effort is actually a model of a British Phantom and not a reboxed American variant! This is an excellent kit, up to Hasegawa's modern day standards with finely recessed panel lines, good detailing and accurate shape. On the negative side the colours of the national markings on the decal sheet are too dark, there are no intake tunnels and the intakes end at a blank wall with no representation of the engine compressor face. Also, no Sidewinders are supplied (though drop tanks, a gun pod and Sparrows are). Parts breakdown is remarkably similar to the Fujimi 1/72 kit, with open aux intake doors, separate flaps, inserts for the catapult hooks and so on. The FG.1 and FGR.2 boxes contain basically the same parts, bar stabilisers which are supplied slotted or not as per the version in question. This was a "High Grade" release and added photo etched brass parts for cockpit details and white metal parts for the undercarriage, refuelling probe and ejector seats. As is common with Hasegawa, they have released numerous boxings with specific paint schemes e.g. 'Black Mike' and 'Tiger Squadron'. The fit of parts is a little off in places, so care - and filler and sanding - is needed with the radome, intakes and wings. Prices have climbed steadily as with all Hasegawa products, and the current ridiculously high price along with inferior decals means it loses a star compared to the Revell release.

1/32 and larger

None available that I know of. There has been one 1/32 resin conversion set, that from Meteor Productions/Wild Hare Association designed to convert the Tamiya 1/48 F-4J, but that was hugely expensive (~£275 back in 2008), produced in limited numbers (supposedly around 80), and the manufacturer folded in the middle of production after a death spiral of increasingly erratic online behaviour. Many who ordered had to instigate charge backs on their credit cards so it is highly unlikely that the full 80 sets were produced. Naturally with the original price being so high and the limited run, your chances of finding one for less than the price of a small car are minimal. You'll no doubt feel better if I mention that the reheat nozzles are overly simplified and the intake interiors are shaped wrongly. The initially impressive decal selection is lacking most of the stencils applied to British Phantoms - and that's a lot of stencils!