Fabulous Phantom: F-4D Tamiya 1/32 scale

by  Giovanni Galvan 2000 Modeler Site


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Do you have desire to build one of the more "glamorous" kit ever produced? Are you able to preserve a 55 x 37 cm "baby" in your poor (but honest) home? Have you found somewhere Cutting Edge decals? If your response to these three questions (specially the least) are "yes", then you're ready to deal with the 1/32 Tamiya Phantom, which will not spare you strong emotions.


The "mammoth" Japanese box contains an industrial quantity of pieces (well 375) in light Grey plastic and transparent, with PVC tires, the landing gears in metal, some screws and a small screwdriver. It's not missing obviously the instruction book, big and well detailed, a decal sheet "Invisa Clear" by Microscale, about which we will talk further.

The composition of the kit is unusual, we think enough intelligent, with the upper part of the fuselage molded in one piece, sparing us long and complex operations of gluing and filling the dorsal zone, so visible. Is notable also the recessed detail of the surfaces and of the detail inside the cockpit and landing gear bays. 
The plates scattered everywhere on the fuselage and the wings represent reinforcements added on the '70s, and they must be deleted for a Vietnam era example. Tamiya has apparently taken as a model a Phantom preserved in a Museum (probably the famous Robin Olds' "The Scat") and copied with Japanese pedantry. 

But wanting to build a "real" F-4D operational in Vietnam in '60s, we eliminated all these patches with the abrasive diskette of a drill and various gradations of abrasive paper, from the 300 to the 800. We scribed with the Squadron scriber the paneling and the rivets blanked during this operation.

The assemblage of the cockpit, rich of detail, doesn't give problems, containing all the necessary pieces, including well executed seats. We recall that the lateral consoles are those of the version F-4D, while for the F-4C there are specific parts only for the instrument panels and the lateral consoles. 



No problem for us, having decided to build a F-4D. The instrument panels are composed of a transparent part with the face of the instruments fitting in the frontal part, giving a realistic effect; this solution remembers the Airfix kit in 1/24 scale. The seats are enough perfect and need only paper stripes as the seat belts. There is some problem only with the assemblage of the switch panel in the back cockpit, which requires the filling of the external panel, closing the receptacle for the Navy Phantom. 

The only things that the cockpit needs greatly are the cables, with which we have "exaggerated" behind the seats and above all in the zone in front of the back instrument panel.

f4d_01.jpg (67813 bytes)

In most part we used telephone wires, more or minus peeled, to simulate the wiring. Winding a wire of thin copper around to the point of a drill and passing a layer of vinilic glue, we made the oxygen pipes. 

The color of the interiors is the Dark Gull Gray FS 36231 (Gunze H317), with consoles and instruments in semi gloss Black and seats stuffing of various tones of Green.
Bad thing on the kit are the air intakes, separated in such way not allowing a clean link of their inside surfaces. In fact it's almost impossible line up the antecedent part and the back of the inside channel of the air, even if it's commendable that the front fan of the engines can be seen from outside. We could recommend the resin air intakes from Seamless Suckers, very difficult to be found but which surely should contribute to calm the model makers. Also externally the air intakes require a lot of attention and filler.

The closing of the upper fuselage with that lower is based mainly on the famous screws, for which it's better to use a screwdriver a few bigger and stronger than the Tamiya one. This solution has advantages and disadvantages. In fact, if the screw consents a firm fixing given the big bulks of plastics and the weakness of the glue based fixings, but reduces the possibilities of adjustment of the various gap that are opened. In effects these are few, but enough difficult from eliminate without deep abrasions over the beautiful detail. But it's the lower tail in Titanium, which has the greater difficulty of alignment. In fact it's molded in one piece, but it's narrower than the upper part. So we inserted a brass rod across the inner walls of the part. In spite of this we made airy filler and cianoacrlilate work, followed by an accurate re-scribing. Before you assemble this piece, you must insert the tail plane group. This is molded in one piece passing from a part to the other of the tail, allowing the perfect symmetrical inclination of the tail planes. The inside part of the exhaust contains all the details. This group of piece must be fixed to an inside hooker with a screw, but inserting the afterburner cans after the painting, will be definitely firmed.
The assemblage of the wing, based on screws too, doesn't present detail problems; in as the lower part is molded in one piece with the lower fuselage, while the upper parts adhere to the fuselage without filler. For eliminate the small gap that leaves this joint, we passed a brush with of the thinner, flexing up the wing tips with an adhesive tape stretched over the fuselage. The wing tips are apart and must be joined to the center section using the piece representing the interior of the wing fold. Some plasticard was inserted in the extremities to give a congruent thickness with that of the central section of the wing. As mobile parts were given only the flaperons which have the joints to be fixed open.

The landing gears have the leg in metal and have only a partial detail, instead present on the plastic plates to be glued on the sides. Very beautiful, even if hard-working, the result refined by the beautiful PVC wheels. We added the usual metal wires to make the brake piping. The wheel wells are well detailed, the interiors of the bays are deep, and necessitate only of the usual piping for the detail.
Completed the "vast" assemblage, we have checked and finished the model in sight of the painting. To this point, missing the Cutting Edge decals (sheets n.32-002 and n.32-004), we use the ones of the kit, allowing to make three subjects of the Vietnam era.



One is a F-4D of the 435th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, with a MiG Kill. Another is the famous F-4C, named "The Scat," of the mythical Robin Olds, Commander of the 8th Wing of based in Thailand, unit full of MiG Killers and hero of the famous Bolo operation.
Trying to do anything not too discounted, we chose the second subject, a F-4D of the 497th TFS, 8th TFW, named "Terrible Tyke," used for night interdiction with the dorsal LORAN. The scheme is the classic South East Asia, in Dark Green FS 34079 (Gunze H309), Green FS 34102 (Gunze H303) and Tan FS 30219 (Gunze H310). The undersurfaces are in Matt Black, while the Titanium parts on the tail were done with a background coat of Titanium Metalizer Testors, on which was rubbed SNJ powder to accentuate the brighter parts, and Matt Black with airbrush to render the smokes. Until here all went well enough, but when we used "Invisa Clear" decals, these literally exploded at the contact with the water, specially those monochrome (Black, Red, etc.). This way we lost the codes on the fin and the "owls" on the sides, but airbrushing the rest of the sheet with a coat of transparent enamel, we could re-create the film to hold the decals together. This way we could save the national insignia and some stencil, leaving them an half hour on the water, recovering them with the maximum care while were floating and applying them with a soft brush and a lot of caution.

For the rest we used the information technology, designing the codes with Corel Draw, and printing them on self-adhesive HP special paper to obtain painting masks. Other stencils were recovered from our spare decals box.
After have resolved these unexpected problems, anyway we made a little weathering, accentuating with the airbrush the upper panels with a darker color and those ventral with a Dark Grey. Some light brushing was done with oil based Brown in the critical points and with Titanium Metalizer Testors on the Black zones.
After the painting we added the open canopies, to which we added some details like hooks, lower garnishes and some little boxes. We concluded with adding the wing loads, really impressive, laboring to choose in the vast range offered. The weapon load we choose is that of interdiction role, with a ventral pylon with six Mk.82 bombs, two wing tanks (alas, the belly one is missing), two wing pylons each with a TER with three Mk.82 bombs "long fuse", four Sidewinders, three ventral Sparrows and an ALQ-87 pod in place of one of the Sparrows.
Certainly so loaded the Phantom doesn't not looks like a butterfly, but for good's sake, what a striking look!


Color Correspondences















Dark Green














Dark Gull Gray







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