Tamiya 1:32 F-4C Phantom

Build Date:  Start Jan 24, 2018.

Col. Robin Olds, 433 FS, Satan’s Angels, Ubon, Thailand, 1967.

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This is a kit my best friend, Ricky, gave me.  Thank you, Ricky!  I’d try my best to do this kit justice.  For this model, I will be replicate Col. Robin Olds’ personal aircraft as shown above.

This Tamiya 1:32 F-4C/D model kit, issued in 1995, is one of those kits that every modeller wished to build in one time or another.    It was a state of the art kit at that time featuring a one-piece fuselage.  Much has been written about the good and bad of this kit over the years and, as such, I suggest a Google search would yield far better reviews than what I can rehash here in my blog.

I will be using just a few aftermarket parts to embellish this kit.  The most impactful upgrades are the Aires exhaust nozzles and the Quickboost seats.

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Challenges

There is a lot of good features of this kit, but there are a few well-known faults which I feel makes this kit a total pain-in-the-ass to build.  Click this link here to read this detailed listing at LSP in which Mr Thierry Laurent and Mr Ben Brown list all the fixes that one needs to rectify in order to make a good build of this kit

The fuselage has many raised panels that should never be there and I have to sand them all off and rescribe the panel lines back in.   I did this for Rick Chin’s F-4 model back in 2004 and so I know how to do it expeditiously.

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All the raised panels marked by “X” have to be sanded flush and new panel lines rescribed.

 

Seamless Intakes (or lack thereof)

The most troublesome fault is the horrible intake trunks inside the fuselage:  I have not seen intakes designed and fit up so poorly as they are in this model kit.   To illustrate this better, I borrowed a photo of Lee Kolosna’s photo of his F-4C from Modeling Madness to show how the intake look like if the large gap between the intake trunk and intakes are not addressed.

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I’m trying to decide whether I should jump in and perform a miracle to blend the trunks to the intake lips or just give up and make the FOD covers to cover up the intakes.  Let’s see how I feel tomorrow after a night sleep… Ahhhh!!!

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After analysing the problem of the large overlapping intake trunks inside the intakes, I decided the solution is to blend the intake trunk into each intake with filler strips and putty.   In 32nd scale, the intakes are very large and I can work a small sheet of sandpaper inside to sand the joints.  Hence, my solution is workable and I feel would yield a result identical to that of the aftermarket resin Seamless Intakes, but without the expensive cost.  Here’s how I did it.

Step 1.

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Use Tamiya putty and fill in gaps in each intake trunk first.  I use a Q-tip wet with fingernail remover solution to smooth out the putty during application. Sand smooth the putty with wet sandpaper.  Note how smooth mine look.

Step 2. 

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Dry fit each of the intake trunks into the fuselage along with the intake pieces (parts A1 and A2).  Hold the pieces together with tape so nothing moves.  Then, I drip liquid cement to glue only the intake trunk lip to the inside surface of the intake parts A1 and A2, respectively.  Insert and glue shims between the parts as necessary to secure the attachment angles.  The result is seen in below photo after I remove the parts from the dry fitting.

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Each intake trunks are glued to the inside surfaces of the intakes.

Step 3:

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Cut each of the mating intake trunk lips from the fuselage with a hacksaw.   Clean up the cuts and then glue these mating lips to the intakes.  When glueing, I made certain to press each of the intake trunk lips flush with the intakes to reduce the amount of overlaps I have to blend smoothly with putty.

Step 4:

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Apply lots of Tamiya putty to all the joints using a spatula.   Smooth out the putty with a Q-tip wet with Cutex fingernail remover solution.  This will help tremendously around the corner joints and help reduce the amount of sanding later.

Step 5: 

Sand smooth all the putties when they dried.  For sanding, I roll up a small sheet of wet sandpaper (100 grit) around a finger.  The space inside the trunk is large enough for my finger to slip through and do a decent job of sanding.  Repeat Step 4 and 5 until the putty joints are smooth enough.

The finished result is shown in below photos.  When I view the joints at an angle to reflect the light off of the putty, I see a smooth intake ready for painting.   I don’t worry about the joints on the side of the intake where it glues to the fuselage as that part will be covered up by the intake splitter plate and thus cannot be seen later.

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After spray painting the intakes with Off-White enamel paint, the result is evident and well worth the effort.

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There are other methods to solve this problem.  Another method that was pointed out to me by another modeller (Duane Wood) is to glue a thin sheet of styrene inside the lip of the intake and have that piece of styrene overlap the protruding trunk lip.  That way when one look into the intake, after the model is completed, it gives the illusion of a seamless intake.

The last step before working on the cockpit is to attach the intake assembly to the fuselage.  The forward inside surfaces of the intakes are painted with the exterior colour as typical on all F-4.  I read that for the F-4C/D, approximately 3 feet of the intake were painted.   Note also that I cut off the variable intake ramp (also called splitter plate) from the kit part, leaving only the fixed ramp to be glued to the intake right now.  I do this to make it easier for me to paint the portion of the fuselage behind the splitter plate.

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Even on the Hasegawa F-4 kits, there were some minor misfitting of the fuselage intake piece to the main body of the fuselage and some sanding is generally required.  However, this kit’s intake fit up is the worst.  I won’t show the before picture as it does look pretty scary, but here’s what it looks like after filling the gaps with styrene strips and cyanoacrylate glue and then sanded smooth.

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Cockpit

The kit cockpit is generally accurate for an F-4C, however, embellishment with wires and a scratch built parts for the sidewalls are required.  I made the details to match the reference photos of an F-4C in “The Modern Phantom Guide” by Jake Melampy.    Other details were inferred from photos of an F-4B in the “US NAVY F-4B/J/N/S Phantom” by Daco Publishing.   Although the cockpit of the F-4 in 1:32 are fairly large, I noted that good portion of the cockpit side walls are hidden from view by the curvature of the fuselage.  Hence, I restrain myself from overworking the details by limiting my scratch building to only the most visible portions of the cockpit.

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Instead of making new side walls, I felt the most efficient method is to add internal ribs and parts directly to the kit’s side walls.

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Soft lead wires were used to simulate the electrical cables seen on the deck in front and behind the RIO’s cockpit.  Note I added canopy latching hardware with styrene as well as using Eduard photoedge cockpit side details.  When I put everything together for test fitting, the cockpit is starting to look reasonably busy and detailed.  Other smaller parts such as handles, levers and additional tubings will be added later after painting the cockpit and securing the cockpit tub to the fuselage.

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This is the last thing I would do with this kit for a while.  I found out the kit’s decal sheet has degraded so much over the years such that the decals would fragment into little pieces when they loosen in water.  I found replacement sheets on Hannants but the cost is about $55 Cdn, including shipping.  That’s too much for decals.  I’d shelf this away until I can find more economical choices.

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Tamiya 1:32 F-4C Phantom

Add yours

  1. One possible intake fix…

    I too wasn’t too thrilled about having to butcher the existing parts to add on aftermarket versions, and the kit intakes are crap.

    The solution was $2.00 worth of .010 sheet styrene cut to form the intake shroud from the leading edge to about 1.5″ back. This was then slightly warmed and formed in the inside of the existing part #s A1 and A2 with a slight conical taper towards the aft section. The inside leading edge of those parts were used a surface to glue the styrene to – only about 1/8″ of the leading edge was adhered to the parts – the rest was left free to slide inside the intake assemblies inside the fuselage. It was bit tricky getting them gently in there, but I was very happy with the end result. I can email you pics of the final result, if you like.

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    1. Duane, that sounds very interesting. Yes, I would like to see your photo of how you did that. I was about to cut out the small piece of the intake trunk that is moulded with the fuselage (shown above with my “cut” remark). I then glue that with the trunk and secure the assembly to the intake piece. Then I would blend in the huge gaps with styrene sheet and lots of putties.

      Like

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