Kit Reviews

McDonnell F-4B Phantom II VF-111 Sundowners Review

1-48-McDonnell-F-4B-Phantom-II-VF-111-Sundowners-Review

McDonnell F-4B Phantom II VF-111 Sundowners Review

Academy | No. 12232| 1:48

Prototype: In 1953, the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation began to revise their F3H Demon fighter. The US Navy proposed a Super Demon in three versions: F3H-E with one Wright J67 engine, F3H-G with two Wright J65 engines and an F3H-H with two General Electric J79 engines. The aircraft was offered in versions with one or two crew members and various armaments. The US Navy showed interest in the F3H-G / H and ordered a demonstration model for an attack aircraft, as the Grumman F9F Panther and the Chance-Vought F8U Crusader were already intended as fighters.

On October 18, 1954, the US Navy signed a contract with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation to develop a two-seat attack aircraft called the AH-1. In 1955, the specifications were changed so that a long-range interceptor for fleet defense should now be developed, this was now referred to as the F4H-1 since the role of the attack aircraft was to be filled by the Douglas A4D Skyhawk and that of the fighter by the F8U. With the standardization of the designation system for aircraft of the US armed forces in 1962, the designation of the aircraft changed from F4H to F-4.

The two-seat F4H-1 was to be powered by two General Electric J79 engines and equipped with an APQ-72 radar. Six AIM-7 Sparrow guided missiles were provided as armament.

On July 3, 1959, McDonnell celebrated its 20th anniversary, and the new F4H-1 was formally named the Phantom II, based on the earlier McDonnell FH-1 Phantom (first referred to as the FD-1). However, the FH-1 was only built in very small numbers and was only in use for a short time. The Phantom II soon became known throughout the world as the “Phantom” as well.

The F4H-1 had its maiden flight with test pilot Robert Little on May 27, 1958, from St. Louis, Missouri. The test flights showed a number of necessary improvements, such as the later characteristic position of the wingtips and the tail unit or the raising of the rear cockpit. On October 21, 1959, the first flight plane crashed. In 1960, the tests to determine the suitability for use on aircraft carriers were carried out and at the end of the year, the first unit, the VF-121 training squadron, received the first pre-series machines.

On November 22nd, 1961 one of Lt. Col. Bob Robinson of the US Marine Corps flown Phantom with 2585.425 km / h in “Operation Skyburner” a new absolute speed record. In 1962, the future astronaut John Young set two world climbing records with the Phantom, which the MiG-E 266 only broke ten years later.

Series production of the Phantom II began in 1961 with the F-4B (first flight on March 25, 1961) for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps. As the first squadrons, the VF-74 and VF-114 squadrons converted to the Phantom II. The F-4B (originally F4H-1) was an interceptor with two J79-8 engines. The VF-74 “Be-defilers” squadron received the Phantom II on July 8, 1961, and was first used on USS Forrestal in August 1962. VMFA-314 “Black Knights” was the first squadron of the Marines to receive the F-4B from June 1962. For air refueling, the F-4B received the necessary probe for the “probe and funnel system” used by the Navy and Marines. 649 aircraft were built.
Extract from Wiki F-4 Phantom II

Kit: At last year’s toy fair, Academy surprised everyone with the announcement of the F-4B on a 1/48 scale. This year the good piece could already be admired in all its glory. The large, attractively designed box defends itself a little before you can open it. The enclosed cardboard has a negative effect here … damn physics. When you finally have the box open, you can see said granny, which is printed with a nice photo of the built model.

Below you will find the injection molded parts in white, gray and black in the carton that is not grafted to the edge. With a model of this complexity class, I find this rather unpleasant, because most of the built models will certainly also be painted – but this will probably only be a fraction of the models sold. So I’m not that enthusiastic about it and would rather have a monochrome kit. Well, let’s turn to the parts.

Academy offers the finest surface details here. Almost every sprue has at least one insert (aka slide mold) to get parts out of a mold if possible and to avoid gluing and the associated glue seams. The trunk, air intakes and rump are certainly most noticeable here. On the one-piece fuselage, you have to smooth the contact points of the molded parts a little with steel wool, but that’s not a problem.

The detailing in the cockpit is okay, even if the accessory manufacturer still has some leeway here to have for their product range. There are two seated pilots for the cockpit and one standing. The latter somehow has something of a different (musical) Korean export and somehow one expects it to jump right away …

The kit also contains some parts that are not required for this version. However, these are not marked separately in the building instructions. It is therefore important to follow the assembly instructions so as not to accidentally use the wrong part.

The ventilation inlets must be constructed in several parts, but at least the inlets do not end on a wall. If you don’t feel like it, Alleycat can help you. The addition of weapons for the Phantom is extensive. Sidewinder, Sparrow, Mk.82 bombs, etc. are available in greater numbers (both sprues doubled). Four armament variants are shown on a separate sheet. The inner wing pylon is only available with launch rails and MER or TER. Aerobonus offers a remedy here if this is not desired.

Decals are included for a colorful F-4B of the VF-111 “Sundowners”.

F-4B BuNo. 6151000 “200” Pilot: CDR. Dan Petersen

Nevertheless, the maintenance instructions make up a good two-thirds of the A4 decal sheet. The back of the A3 leaflet for the decal placement is then just enough to see the position of the markings on the top and bottom. There is really a lot of work waiting here. The decals are again printed by Cartograf and are of excellent quality. They can be read down to the smallest detail – but that’s where my eyes reach their limits.

Conclusion: Overall, this is not a kit for in between and you have to plan a few days of modeling. On the other hand, the kit in the box looks like a lot of tinkering fun. The price is not entirely without but is within the framework of what is usual for such a kit.

Available in many stores and online at hobbyzero.com

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Kit: Academy McDonnell F-4B Phantom II VF-111 Sundowners
Scale: 1/48
Price: $64.99
Manufacturer: Academy

McDonnell F-4B Phantom II VF-111 Sundowners Cover
McDonnell F-4B Phantom II VF-111 Sundowners Back Cover
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