- Manufacturer: Zoukei-Mura
- Scale: 1:48
- Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II
- Markings: 497th TFS | ‘Night Owls’ | Ubon Air Base | 1970
- Aftermarket: Quickboost GBU-10 Paveway Is | Zoukei-Mura Wheels | Hypersonic outer pylons | GT Resin exhausts
- Paints: Mr Paint | Gunze Mr Hobby | Ammo | Kcolors
The Phantom is one of those curious cases in the modeling world where you have a subject that’s super-popular, but ignored in odd ways by kit manufacturers. Until a few years ago, Hasegawa was basically the go-to for 1/48 F-4s, but in the 2010s those kits are starting to show their age.
Academy seemed like they were going to sweep in to the rescue, but as usual, they turned in about an 80% effort, with a bunch of small annoyances in their engineering that, at minimum, turned me off of their kits. They also, annoyingly, decided to only focus on a few variants – namely the F-4B, F-4C/D, and F-4J.
The latest to vie for the F-4 throne is quirky Japanese kitmaker Zoukei-Mura. And in almost every respect, this is the kit to beat. The main gripe that everyone seems to have about it is a certain shape issue with the rear haunches just forward of the exhausts. Since pretty minor shape issues like that aren’t usually the thing to set me off, I don’t care about those, and the engineering is so much better thought out than the Academy kits, that I’ll almost certainly be building more of these.
I built the F-4D mainly because it was for a magazine with a “nightfighters” theme, and the Ds of the 497th wore black undersides in their early missions with laser-guided bombs. It’s one of the last times aircraft were specifically camoflaged for night missions, so there you have it.
Overall, the kit builds up extremely well, with a few minor annoyances. The first is the wingtips. Hasegawa managed to to mold these integrally to the wing in the 80s and 90s, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why no one else does, because hitting the angle while not having gaps is a pain point on literally every other Phantom.
The second is the wing control surfaces, which just don’t fit all that well. I had some crazy gaps on mine, so I had to literally build the forward portion in order to display it lowered.
Third? The canopy mounts and the weak-as-fuck-all hydraulic risers. They’re annoying enough that next time I may just go with a one-piece canopy and call it a day.
Check out all build photos over at SmugMug
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