US Navy Spook Revisited

F-4J ‘Aardvarks’

FineMolds 1/72, Ref.FP43S

Let’s get it out right away, the F-4 Phantom II has never been my cup of tea. But if I were to build one, a US Navy F-4J in white and grey or in Blue Angels livery would the one I would go for.

It was therefore kind of exciting to open up the box of the recently released 1/72 F-4J kit from FineMolds… The boxing I got is a ‘special release’ edition with two small sprues as a bonus. Those carry the seated crew, normally available separately.

It’s got to be said that what is in the box appears to be top-quality stuff, not really a surprise considering it is FineMolds we are talking about, but still a shock on the system when one is more usual fare is made up of older kits from, say, Heller, Airfix, Arii, Matchbox,..

155 parts await you in this kit, most of them in a pleasant light grey plastic and 8 of them in clear plastic. The quality of the latter is extremely good, with options for closed up or opened up canopies.

The instructions are printed, black & white, onto a small A5-sized 24-page booklet with Japanese and English as language options. The build is divided into 37 stages, plus painting and decalling. Instructions appear to be easy to follow; a large part of the instructions cover the stencilling of the aircraft and decalling of the three options, each featuring the grey/white US Navy scheme with touches of colours here and there.

I am not an expert on the Phantom II but the kit seems to have all the right ‘bits’ for a F-4J, including the bulge on the top of the wings, the cans for the J79-10 engines, the slotted stabilators, the rear cockpit with only the left-hand console, larger tires, short ECM RHAW antennas on the main air intakes ..

Speaking of the intakes, those are with nicely molded-in bleed air slots (so often badly rendered in other Phantom II kits), neatly detailed variable ramp and intake trunking leading to the fan blades.

Cockpit detail as offered is probably sufficient for most of us; this includes instrument panels with slightly raised details or ‘flat’ ones to be adorned with decals and 5-part ejection seats to name but the most important bits.

Stores only include the 600-gallon centerline and 370-gallons wing-mounted fuel tanks. Sadly, the Sparrows missiles, and any other load, although shown in the instruction sheet, will need to be purchased separately (US Aircraft Missile Set Ref.FP44; US Aircraft Bomb Set, Ref.FP45). Pylons are included in the kit, though..

As mentioned earlier, the three schemes will please those like me who like the grey/white US Navy scheme: the first two options are for VF-114 aircraft aboard USS Kitty Hawk in May 1972, the third option being a VF-21 F-4J aboard USS Ranger in June 1970. However, there are out there many other options available to decorate or detail further this new kit.

Personally, I think this is a very nice kit, and I very much doubt the fit will bring in any trouble, this is FineMolds after all..! Certainly not the cheapest option if you want a F-4J Phantom II in your collection (particularly if you want a loaded up aircraft), but I may just need one on my work bench soon! This might one day be a real collector’s item, given the spelling mistake on the box (First edision bonus)..!

Review by Domi Jadoul; photos by FineMolds and Domi Jadoul

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