by: Darren Baker [ ]
Academy has released another 1/48th scale Phantom into their line up of F-4 Phantomís. This time around it is the F-4B/N variant of the Phantom, and that is a very big plus for fans of this aircraft lineage. Two very big pluses before even having to enter into the contents is that the Academy line of Phantom models has been used by Eduard for their very sort after offerings and so many of the Eduard upgrades you may wish to use will have been designed specifically for this models base offering. The second big plus about this is that many modellers talk about the beauty of the Hasegawa Phantoms, but this offering from Academy is superior due to the use of recessed panel lines unlike the B/N version from Hasegawa which are raised.
Starting this review with a quick look at the packaging of the model leaves me feeling positive about this offering from the very outset. The sprues are packaged in individual plastic bags for the most part except where duplicate sprues are supplied and this has presented damage to the parts; the only issue is that one piece of the canopy has broken free of the sprue but is undamaged. The instructions are well laid out and should not create any issues to trip up the modeller.
A look at the decal sheet shows a huge number of them that will need to be applied to the model when complete. Academy has provided a large double sided A3 sheet to guide you through this stage and they deserve recognition for taking that step. Another A3 double sided decal guide is provided for finishing the model as the Grey Ghosts aircraft; this sheet also covers the painting of the exterior of this aircraft and shows the top, bottom and both sides. A third A3 sheet provides details for two aircraft of the Black Knights unit and for weapons load out options.
The cockpit of the model is fairly simple in design due to a minimal parts count. The instrument panels are well laid out and should look pleasing when painted; the instrument panels on each side of the crew are also separate parts, and it is this approach that has allowed Academy to keep tooling costs down. The ejector seats each has a surprising number of parts but no harness detail; I believe this is due to aircrew figures being supplied for the seats, but you could always add resin ejector seats or just harness detail from the after market manufacturers. Going back to the instrument panels: Academy has provided a good painting guide for the panels, but again the after market is there if preferred. As I have mentioned the crew figures I will add that I feel they are of good quality for the scale and you are also presented with a third aircrew figure that is standing with a helmet under one arm, I will say that the figure has an Asian/Korean look.
The next area I looked at was the undercarriage of the model. The struts and wheels of the undercarriage have been well tackled in my opinion, the details present look good but resin legs would be an improvement if desired. The wheel bays are a little disappointing in one respect and pleasing in another. The portion of the bays that are on the underside of the cockpit and wings are very simple and so disappointing, but the side walls have been tackled as separate panels and so look so much better due to the increased amount of detail. The inner face of the doors does have some detail present to a level that will satisfy some, but again for others the after market providers are there.
Moving onto the engine intakes of the model; I am pleased to say that the intakes are a good depth into the models fuselage and with the nacelles added the depth is very good. With the intake being made of two halves there is a seam that will ideally be filled. This intake is finished with the first layer of the compressor fans which at the depth they are is good. The twin exhausts are excellent in my opinion due to their depth and great detail. I know that resin exhausts are available but I would not bother with this kit.
The fuselage and flight surfaces leave me very pleased for the most part. The panel lines are nicely recessed and of a good thinness, also scale wise I am happy as I have not heard complaints about the dimensions I have read on the Academy Phantoms. I do suspect that some panel lines may be missing, but again very few of us would be worried about that. The flight control surfaces are fixed with the exception of the main wing; this lets the model be displayed accurately when on the ground but limits your options. The airbrakes on the undersides of the wings are designed with the option of having them open or closed. I would have liked to see the option of more control surfaces being supplied with various positions.
The canopy of this model is the one area that disappoints me due to seam lines running down the centre of each clear part, these will all need to be polished out and that is a pain. On the plus side the canopy can be displayed open or closed.
We now get to the external stores supplied with the model, and this is one area where Academy excels and others are left in the dust.
8 sparrow missiles
5 styles of heat seeker missiles
2 sizes of external fuel tanks
A good selection of external mounting racks
I think this is an excellent offering depending on the price you can pick it up for, I would happily pay in the £40 range for the model and further consider investing in a resin cockpit or photo etch upgrade for the model. Looked at as a whole I feel that Academy has done a grand job of this model it should meet the expectations of most modellers and with some added extras it should also meet the expectations of everyone else. The moulding has been well tackled and the decals are comprehensive and reasonably thin. On the negative side I would have liked to see an option when it comes to harness detail. There is also the limited detail in some areas of the wheel bays, which is a shame.