Beautiful 1:48 Scale JASDF Phantom II by Steve Evans
JASDF Phantom II: From 1968, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) purchased a total of 140 F-4EJ Phantom IIs without aerial refueling, AGM-12 Bullpup missile system, nuclear control system, or ground attack capabilities. Mitsubishi built 138 under license in Japan and 14 unarmed reconnaissance RF-4Es were imported.
One of the aircraft (17-8440) was the last of the 5,195 F-4 Phantom IIs to be produced. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on 21 May 1981. “The Final Phantom” served with 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron and was later transferred to the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Steve Evans on the F-4EJ: There have just recently (Jan 2021) been quite a few new Phantom II kits in 1/48; in fact, we’re pretty much spoilt for choice. Go back a few years and things looked surprisingly different with only one truly standout kit; the mighty Hasegawa F-4 family.
This particular boxing started life way back in 1983 (that’s 38 years in old money!) and it’s been the king of the block ever since then. The whole family began in 1982, with the F-4J and it was raised panel lines and about as good as it could get back then. It didn’t take long for Hasegawa to update the kits and by the time this box came around it was a ‘hybrid’ of new fuselage and wings, with recessed panels, and old sprues for the interior, tanks and tail. To make an “E” out of it, they gave you a new longer nose section, with gun and gas vents moulded into place.
The plastic now came on 7 sprues of light grey plastic and a single sprue of clear parts. Even back then Hasegawa was pretty good at getting the moulds right and there is very little wrong at first glance. The plastic is hard, shiny and a little brittle by today’s standards but there is the minimum of shrinkage or warped bits. The transparencies are nicely done too, with good clarity and well-defined canopy frames.
This box also comes with a very impressive decal sheet with two main options, in very different schemes, as well as another 4 options just by changing some numbers and the tail badge, so well done Hasegawa where that is concerned.
However, it’s not all good and the lack of detail compared to most modern kits is the real tell-tale about its age. Things like the Sidewinders and wing tanks are almost devoid of any kind of surface detail work, whilst the exterior has very little rivet detail. That’s not a huge problem as it’s definitely better to have less than for it to be covered in massive divots. The instrument panels however, even though they are on the older sprues, are beautifully moulded with very nice surface detail.
It’s a pity I was going to totally trash that detail because I’ve got the Eduard pre-printed interior etched set for this one (set no: 49 231). This set contains the main panels, some side-wall detail and a few bits and pieces for the exterior and undercarriage bays.
The instructions are typical of Hasegawa and it’s interesting to see that they’re still using the same style to this very day. They are well drawn, with very good paint and marking guides and even a full colour print of the finished kit, which really dates the kit as they don’t do that anymore.
You can see why Hasegawa has been at the top of the modelling tree for so long just by looking at their Phantom family. It’s beautifully shaped, easy to build and comes in a dazzling array of versions. It’s only over the last few years that other manufacturers have really knocked it off the top spot. First it was Academy, then Zoukei-Mura and now Tamiya, all with far more modern and better, detailed kits. But these Hasegawa boxes are still holding their own in the market and if you have any of them in your stash (I have another 2) then get them out and build them. With only the smallest additions and careful building you can still make one of the true icons of aviation look great.
Author/Builder Steve Evans was born in 1963 in Cardiff, South Wales, UK. “I’ve had a love of aircraft for as long as I can remember. I trained as an Aircraft Fitter and spent 22 years in the Ministry Of Defence working on all kinds of military aircraft, including Phantom IIs, Canberra’s and even Spitfires for the BoB Memorial Flight.“
“Luckily, I’ve also had a separate career in journalism, pursuing my love of model making, writing for Scale Aviation Modeler International (SAMi), Fine Scale Modeler, and now for Valiant Wing Publishing. Steve is semi-retired and loves taking the dog for walks and takes pleasure in, generally, being a “grumpy old man… what more to life is there?”
The Scale Model section of The Florida Pilot is a new one. There are so many talented modelers out there that put thousands of hours of work into these masterpieces, I think I have an obligation as a journalist to bring some light to their efforts.
The historic value and research value that goes into a build like this one, and others, make these kinds of story features a win-win-win. Please contact me if you’d like to feature a model in this section. Many thanks go out to Steve Evans for his cooperation in helping me put this together. I think there’s a good chance you will be seeing more from Steve.
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