Phantom, Smokey Joe, Spirit of Saint Louis, Rhino, Snoopy, Double Ugly, Old Smokey, Flying Anvil, Iron Pig and Air Defence Diesel was just some of the nicknames of the most iconic American fighter jet ever – the F-4. There were so many names /and those are not all!/ just because there were so many Phantom lovers and fans. F-4 gained the proud phrase during Vietnam War – The World’s Leading Distributor of MiG Parts. It was the T-rex of the skies there, and not only. At the time when F-4 was introduced to the modern aviation world, it was a leap forward in many aspects and quickly gained its fame as the World’s Best.
In 2016, F-4 is still in use and not for training or limited service, but in fully capable combat units. Little less than 5200 was built in total, making F-4 the most produced US supersonic jet fighter. Maybe someday we will see that number suppressed by F-16, which is at 4500+ now and still going, but it is not certain yet. Probably won’t happen.
Even 10 articles like this will not cover what is about to say for the Phantom. So, let’s put history aside and focus on the F-4 in scale, and more particularly: 48th. Back in 2012 Academy released a new tool F-4 B Phantom in that scale, trying to compete with well established, loved and respected Hasegawa kit which was first released as a tooling in 2003. Interestingly, they come pretty close in quality, but Academy couldn’t pull it off as they wished. There were some minor discrepancies and the rivet counters and devoted Phantom lovers still was more keen to buy Hasegawa instead. Then Eduard stepped up. Instead of making a whole new kit with tens of thousands of dollars invested, they made the clever choice to get the F-4 from Academy and turn it into a super kit. A super kit means, that a regular scale model kit is boxed with photo-etch, resin, masks, superior decals, metal parts and whatever a pro-modeler would like to have as an aftermarket for a regular kit. And Eduard are the producer of most of those things with great quality and great deal of respect among modelers.
So there you go, F-4. They released couple in limited edition, and they were a huge success. And in 2016, after a little break, they are giving us another one, which if you ask me, is with the best boxart ever. What we have in the box is well known: Academy kit. But we have more. Let’s start with the photo etch:
As you can see, there are mostly cockpit parts and some minor engine details. Usually this is enough for a regular modeler, but not for a real F-4 fan. Phantom has very distinctive look, and half of it comes from its engines and especially the nozzles. Eduard, being professional on very high level, gave us with this kit a wonderful, accurate and pleasant to work with resin set. And this comes from me, a guy who doesn’t like to work resin…
As you can see, that includes engines /not complete, but partial/ nozzles, seats and wheels. So far, we have every single piece of a super kit squeezed into Eduard’s new F-4 Phantom repack. But they didn’t stopped there.
There are two kinds of modelers in general. Those who love to build, super detail and add all sorts of small parts – aftermarket or scratch – into their models. And there are the painters. They prefer to elevate their kits with the help of painting, camo schemes, weathering techniques. And Eduard, as a leading producer of model kits thought for them both. So we got Cartograf decals, very well known as being the best on the market, and in not one or two, but five different camo schemes.
They, as you can see by yourself are very colorful. F-4 Phantom was a jet fighter of several decades, going through the different phases of exploiting aircraft camouflage. That means, that whatever you can think of, you will find it on an F-4. They have one, two-, three or four tone camo schemes, splinter camo, experimental gray camo. Whatever you might like. And since Eduard gave us a box with a piece sign made from flowers, this F-4 has all the popular Vietnamese schemes that you might wanna built.
It has blue, yellow, orange, red and even black. They are all NAVY and MARINES Phantoms, all of them based on aircraft carriers and used extensively throughout the war in South-East Asia. All are notable schemes, and I bet that F-4 lovers knows them by heart. I trust that the black scheme will be very popular, since it is very different from the others, and it is a challenge for a modeler.
They are all full with F-4 markings of every kind, and with whatever company besides Cartograf you are doomed if you have to finish this kit. The decal sheet itself is enourmous, full with all the squadron insignia, but Eduard didn’t stopped there. They put in a sheet with technical decals, and every single F-4 fan knows, that this is a nightmare. They are so many of those, that you might spend two weeks easily, decaling the Phantom alone. I personally consider this sheet the scariest part of the box contents:
Other that that little challenge /little, yeah right!/ the Phantom seems almost perfect. The interior is molded in a way that you can leave the photo-etch behind if you decide, and use only the seats. The options of using on or another are so many, that you literally have to sit down and make a plan what you gonna use and what not, which camo scheme, why and so on. It is a super F-4 kit – yes, but it is a project for a devoted modeler.
The sprues are clean, no excess of anything. The plastic is great /and no other way around it – Eduard and Academy both produce great scale models/. The fit, from what I’ve seen on the previous limited edition kits is superb. You might eventually encounter some troubles with the resin but its not mandatory. It tends to shrink with time, but this kit is rather new, so I doubt it. The detail is similar to the one we have in Hasegawa kits, and even out of the box , this F-4 is of great quality.
My conclusion is this F-4 is a highly recommended piece. Not because it is of such high quality. You probably have seen some of its versions already – Academy or Eduard. But because the combination in that particular set – Rockin’ Rhino – gives you the true soul of the carrier based Phantom. The very finest of camouflage schemes, and the specific idea behind that legend. The times that are represented here are the golden age of that plane. Not Arab-Israeli wars, no small conflicts, no single missions. Carrier based F-4s during Vietnam was what sits behind the legend called The Rhino. From a modeler’s stand point – Yes, get it! It is not an expensive kit, especially for what you get in the box. As a history piece – oh yes! No doubt about it. This is the Phantom. Nothing comes close.
Thunmbs up for Eduard! Their F-4 Phantom Limited Edition will be the first aircraft kit that I will get in 2016! Thank you for giving us such a great box full with goodies and many many decals….
You can get this kit here: Rockin’ Rhino F-4
The pictures are taken from Eduard’s wonderful website