Accurate Miniatures has reissued the underrated Monogram 1/72 scale Phantom. First of these is the U.S Air Force F-4C/D. The packaging is interesting because it provides sprues for both Air Force and Navy parts. These include alternate afterburner cans, inboard weapons pylons, cockpit panels, stabilizers, and main-wheel hubs. Also provided are optional ECM pods (a new one in resin made by Admiralty Model Works), a centerline fuel tank, a Vulcan gun pod, and a brace of 500-pound Mk.82 bombs.
These Phantoms offer details most 1/72 F-4s do not: separate outboard ailerons, separate speed brakes, and open ventral auxiliary engine air inlets. Panel lines are raised but are well executed.
The decal sheet is great. It is beautifully printed and features two combat-camouflaged Phantoms flown by Robin Olds; a wing commander's bird flown by Chuck Yeager; a Bicentennial Phantom; and markings for several Michigan Air National Guard jets that flew in the 1982 William Tell competition.
Instructions are based on the old Mono-gram illustrations, with new text and drawings of markings.
The cockpit interior has better detail than most other 1/72 scale Phantoms, but there are no throttles in either the front or rear office. The instructions suggest adding 1 gram of weight to the nose, but none is needed (or in any Phantom kit). All the kit's subjects are F-4Cs, but no mention is made of having to carve away the lower bump on the infrared "lip" on the radome that was peculiar to the D model.
Joining the upper and lower wing parts produces bad seams in the middle of the inboard flaps bottom surface. There are also large ejector-pin markings on the flaps. The wing fits well to the fuselage, though.
Perhaps the poorest detail in the old Monogram moldings was the rendition of the splitter-plate air-bleed holes. These tiny holes are nearly invisible on the real aircraft, but molded as large grates in the kit. I filled the depressions with gap-filling super glue and sanded them smooth. The intake parts didn't fit so well to the fuselage, so some filling and sanding was needed there, too.
The attachment of the horizontal stabilizers is tricky. The wedge-shaped tabs join each other inside the tail cone to provide proper alignment. But you have to "feel" for that while the cemented plastic is still soft.
To finish the model in the colorful Michigan ANG markings, I painted the airframe with Testors Model Master FS16473. The instructions don't have a color swatch for this, but incorrectly use the same tone for the bottom of the camouflaged aircraft (FS36622). Several other errors plague the markings diagrams. There are no right-side views (forcing modelers to scour references for the patterns) and no topside view of the Michigan jet. Also, Yeager's bird is missing its camouflage.
As beautiful as the decals are, they are not perfect. I found the "U.S. AIR FORCE" legends on the intakes to be much too small, so I replaced them with spares. The kit decals went down perfectly.
Photos of the Michigan jets show gray walkway markings on the fuselage and wings. But there are no painting instructions or decals for them on the sheet. The finishing touch was Bare-Metal Foil on the fuel-tank noses and the intake rims.
In the end, the kit produces a good-looking Phantom. The decals offer attractive schemes but require additional research for complete and accurate painting.
I spent 27 hours on my Phantom, but I would have needed more time had I gone with one of the camouflaged jets.
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