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Special Hobby McDonnell FH-1 Phantom

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/72 scale aircraft kit with excellent surface detail
McDonnell’s first production aircraft was also the U.S. Navy’s first jet to operate from a carrier, the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt, on July 19, 1946. Just 60 Phantoms were made and served for only a few years, but the jet was the starting point for the larger F2H Banshee and a line of Navy fighters that culminated in the famous F-4 Phantom II. 

Special Hobby’s FH-1 is an all-new kit, not to be mistaken for its MPM ancestor from the 1990s. Fine exterior detail, accurate shapes, and excellent small parts have become the norm with this Czech manufacturer’s recent offerings. The color instructions are clearly illustrated with assembly directions and color recommendations. A bonus this time is an excellent Cartograf decal sheet with markings for four Phantoms. 

The finely detailed cockpit features a decal instrument panel and photo-etched (PE) seat harness. The cockpit floor serves as the ceiling of the nose gear bay with the addition of fore and aft bulkheads and walls. After adding lead weight to the nose, I installed the cockpit and nose bay but found the subassembly a bit too fat to allow the fuselage halves to close cleanly. I sanded the edges of the bulkheads. The two-part canopy is clear and fits well.

The main-gear bays are five-part affairs that are glued inside the one-part wing bottom. Next come the intake trunks with nice engine front fans. The trunks are shown glued to the wing bottom and against the inboard walls of the main-gear bays. The tops of the wings installed next, but the intake trunks prevented the fuselage from dropping cleanly onto the wing assembly. I ended up removing the trunks and sanded both the inboard and outboard sides to get them to move over enough and fit the fuselage. 

Special Hobby’s landing gear parts are beautifully detailed and cast, but shallow holes and short pins at attachment points make assembly of the three-part nose-gear strut difficult. Also, the shallow hole in the nose wheel is too small in diameter for the axle. I drilled a larger hole in the wheel for fit. The main wheels also have shallow square holes to fit short square pins on the main struts. Trust your glue here. 

The exhaust pipes did not fit cleanly into the openings in the trailing edge of the wings. Since I installed them after painting, I didn’t want to do any major filing of the openings in the painted wings. You may want to refine these areas before painting. 

Decals were the highlight of the build. Cartograf really nailed it, with excellent fit and opacity of the bright yellow markings for the “Marine Phantoms” air demonstration team jets. I used Mr. Color Blue Angel yellow on the nose then wing and tail tips to match the decals. The overall gloss is Testors Model Master sea blue. 
I spent 31 hours on this small jet, a bit more than usual because of having to refit the wing, fuselage, intake, and trunk assemblies. But I like the way the finished model looks, and it’s inspired me to follow up with a few Banshees!

Note: A version of this review appeared in the February 2019 issue.


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