Hasegawa 1/72 RF-4C Phantom II
|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/72 RF-4C Phantom II|
|PRICE:||$27.50 at great models|
|DECALS:||Five 10 TRW aircraft|
The RF-4C (Model 98DF) was the unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the USAF's F-4C. The armament and radar of the fighter version was removed and replaced with equipment specialized for photographic reconnaissance.
The RF-4C had three camera stations in the nose. The Forward camera station (situated just behind the radar) could carry a single forward oblique or vertical KS-87 camera. Behind that, in the number 2 or "Low Altitude" station, a KA-56 low-altitude camera could be carried, although this could be replaced by a trio of vertical, left, and right oblique KS-87 cameras. Alternatively, a left or right oblique KS-87 could be carried in this station. A vertical KA-1 could be carried in the low-altitude station instead of the KS-87, or a KS-72 could replace a KS-87 in the 30-degree oblique position. The third station (the "High Altitude" station) was just ahead of the cockpit under the nose, and normally carried a single KA-55A or KA-91 high-altitude panoramic camera in a stabilized mount. Alternatively, two split vertical KS-87 cameras could be carried there, or KC-1 or T-11 mapping cameras could be installed. The High Altitude station could also house an AN/AVD-2 laser reconnaissance set, but this was later withdrawn from use.
An AN/AAD-5 or AN/AAS-18 infrared detection set was installed just aft of the nose wheel bay. The RF-4C is also fitted with a Goodyear AN/APQ-102 side-looking mapping radar, with antennae on either side of the lower nose just aft of the optical reconnaissance bay
Initially, the RF-4C carried no weapons, but in later years, RF-4Cs were armed with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles carried on the inner underwing pylon for self-defense. Provision was also made for carrying an electronic countermeasures pod on the inboard pylon underneath the starboard wing.
How comes that a modeler whose main interest is 1/48 fighters from the WWII Pacific-CBI theatre builds a RF-4C from USAFE based in England? Well, mostly by chance or mistake.
Inside the box of a Hasegawa F-111D/F bought second hand unexpectedly came a Xtradecals sheet (X010-72) which contained decals for, besides the Lybian raiders, an Euro I camouflaged RF-4C. Then, in a big order of PE sets, an Eduard set (SS265) appeared in the same fashion. Well, even me can tell a sign when he sees one, and I ordered a Hasegawa kit. I had some experience from my younger years building Fujimi’s and Esci’s Phantom kits (not to speak of the Revell –the ancient Revell- one), and regarded the former highly. Hasegawa’s follows the general layout of both (as does the equally modern and praised Revell Germany kit, which by the way costs less than half), but it is a bit better: it has more and better surface details, good seats in an otherwise bare interior, a cunningly designed arrangement for the splitter plates that allows you to install them after painting, and a noticeably slimmer nose and upper fuselage (comparable to the Revell’s, so I think the proportions are correct). Its main con is the separated outer wing panels, whose join is very weak and a pain to obtain the correct dihedral, and the total lack or armament (hardly a problem in a RF-4C) However, I wanted to hang some stores from my Phantom, so I summoned an Airwaves AN/ALQ-119 (a resin piece intended I think for the Jaguar) and a AIM-9L Sidewinder, from the Hasegawa no. 5 Weapons Set. Being aware that the ejection seat is the single item that most enhances a modern cockpit; I got a couple of Quickboost QB 72-011 chairs. To dress up the canopies, I purchased an Airwaves set AW2023.
The cockpit tub got dressed up quickly and wonderfully with the Eduard set, but nothing is provided in the way of sidewalls. I mimicked some structural detail and much after (actually after closing the fuselage halves) I decided they still looked bare and added some boxes following some assorted Phantom pictures (none of them though of a RF-4C!) I closed the unsightly gap left by the mountings for the intakes with some Plasticard which does not look tidy at all, but works. The areas behind the seats’ headrests, a maze of cables and fittings, were dressed up with bits of plastic and wire. The rear seat was raised a bit with chunks of plastic; while this had the wanted effect, the side consoles were left much too low. The HUD I thought it was too wide, so I sliced it off in the middle.
The rest of the fuselage building was uneventful; there were steps all around the intakes and forward/rear fuselage joints, and the undernose pan, but nothing out of the ordinary. I dropped any crazy idea of doing something about the intake trunks. A small piece of plastic pushing from the inside of the lower fuselage helped align the central wing. The outer wing panels were very carefully glued and puttied and sanded trying (unsuccessfully) not to obliterate the folding wing detail in the process. The top of the fin (a separated piece to provide for the different antennae arrangements) is also very fragile, as are the pitot tubes (man, a lot of fragility in the kit of a modern aircraft!) The nose pitot needs to be carefully faired if you want to avoid the “pushed in plastic rod” look, but I should have fitted it after painting and decaling and weathering and all, the Black nose would have allowed me to apply putty, to sand and to paint it as a separate unit.
From the start I decided I would do something about the afterburner cans, other than buying the extremely expensive Aires replacement. I cut truncated triangles of Tamiya tape and fixed them to the insides mimicking the inside surface of the petals. After painting, though still rough, they give a better look than the bare kit’s items. The Sidewinder rails were also given a strip of stretched sprue and some pieces as detailing. The resin ECM pod was cleaned and a strip of plastic added on top; the Sidewinder itself is a superb little piece, I just drilled the exhaust and added a bit of putty to the two separated forward fins, and added small squares of Gunmetal-painted Tamiya tape to the back ones.
|COLORS AND MARKINGS|
A machine in Euro I camouflage is a dark thing. I used Xtracolor FS 36081 as a primer; on that I sprayed WEMM’s 34092 and 34102 (actually, from the Regia Aeronautica range!), all in my customary motley fashion, with the hardest of liquid masks (it looks good in this small scale). The NMF parts were painted in various Alclad shades. The anti-glare panel was painted by means of a mask patterned after the decal strip which would be its boundary. The fin top was painted a very dark Humbrol Blue. Tamiya Clear Blue was used for the windscreen, brushing it on the insides. Everything was given several coats of Xtracrylixs gloss varnish and the model went for decaling.
Weathering was mostly done by means of an oil wash and some airbrushing on the panel lines and randomly with the usual Brown/Black concoction. The White wheel wells were given a very light coat of Tamiya Clear Yellow to give them a dirty old look.
The ALQ pod was painted White; I understand that A-10As in Euro I carried a Dark Green painted one, but I wanted some contrast; the small triangle marking was made of painted Tamiya tape. The Yellow bands were hand painted, as were the Brown and Yellow ones in the Sidewinder, which was painted 36375 with a Tyre Black nose.
Well, this fairly old Xtradecal sheet contained that kind of milky glue-type decals. They were very user-unfriendly, folding down on themselves at the first opportunity; I managed to recover most to an acceptable degree. Once dried in place, however, they have a wonderful “painted-on look”. There were no specific directions regarding the nose band; it had no number on the sheet, and just a shade of it was shown in the instructions; I placed it as best as I could guess. Halfway I realized I had no stencils or walkways; the Xtradecal sheet obviously relies on the kit’s, but mine, depicting a 16440/17875 painted machine had a completely different pattern of the latter (I quickly seized the opportunity of foregoing with the former) I remember there was once a Superscale sheet with walkways, but it is not available any more; in the end I resorted to painting the wing walks, and nothing else. I had dropped the idea of decaling the Sidewinder, but thought it over, brushed some gloss varnish on the already glued in place item and applied the decals, which literally cover it up.
Man, they took weeks to gather on the model! It sat painted and decaled and seemingly finished for weeks while I glued an interminable queue of small parts and sundries. Among these were the Airwaves PE parts for the canopies and rails, which I got when the model was almost ready, and the splitter plates, which went in like a dream. And my model has almost no ordinance. That’s what modern aircraft modeling seems to be about…
Well, I was not a Phantom Phanatic, so I my Phantom Philes were pitifully small, and even smaller my experience with modern jets (I know, those words, applied to a Phantom, clearly reveal my age), but I enjoyed the build a lot, and certainly was left wanting for more: my intention was to build this almost as a cast-off, but now I can Phoresee quite a number of them.
- “Modelling the F-4 Phantom II”, Geoff Coughlin and Neil Ashby, Osprey Modelling, Osprey Publishing.
- Several websites (“Google is your friend”) including J. Baugher’s (wonderful historical and technical stuff)
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