I ordered this kit as soon as I could find it available, on December of 2020 with the intention of building it as a greek Phantom. Unfortunately, after a little research, I realized that this was not easy. This kit is of an “early” F-4E with different slats on the wings than the greek Phantoms (that are of the “late” variant). After this, I resigned myself of the idea of a greek Phantom and I decided to build it as pictured on the box (american, vietnam-era with the SEA camouglage patern). I even bought a set of SEA colours from Hataka for it.
I did not start it right away, as I had other kits on the bench at that time and it ended up staying on the self, unopened. This turned out for the best, as to months later, I saw a post on Facebook on a resin upgrade set, made specifically for the purpose of turning this Zukei-Mura F-4E to a greek F-4E AUP (avionics upgrade program) Phantom! I orderd it immediately but I did not start to build the kit as I was afraid that the conversion might be too difficult for me.
Now, let’s go fast forward a year later. After building two more Phantom kits (a Revell/Hasegawa FGR.2 and a Tamiya F-4B) I thought I would be able to pull this off.
I started with the cockpit. I replaced the instrument panels with the new resin ones and I also added new resin sidewalls. I added some cabling on the back side of the rear instrument panel (that would be visible behind the pilot seat). I used the kit ejection seats but I added PE seatbelts and ejection handles from Eduard. The resin sidewalls made the closing of the fuselage parts a bit difficult but with some additional sanding it was done.
The greek Phantoms have 2 mirrors on the outside of the rear canopy and thankfully these are included by Zukei-Mura (even though this is not mentioned in the instructions).
Next up was the nose. The resin upgrade kit included a whole new nose that would require me to saw off the original kit nose. However I did not feel comfortable to do this and besides liked the details of the Zukei-Mura parts.
In order to use the kit parts I would need the longer gun muzzle cover, an antenna below that and 4 IFF blade antennas on the top of the nose.
- The long muzzle cover is included in the Zukei-Mura kit (even though once again it is not mentioned in the instructions).
- I made myself the antenna that goes under the gun, using my 3D printer (it came out a bit rough but with some putty and sanding it turned OK).
- Finally, I bought a set of resin IFF antennas from KASL Hobby (normally for an F-16 but they work fine on the Phantom too). On a side note, I later realized that Z-M includes 2 IFF antennas in the sprues (without mentioning it in the instructions). But I needed 4 anyway so I did not feel bad for purchasing them.
After that, I proceeded with the engines and fuselage. I replaced the fintop of the vertical stabilizer with a resin part to include the correct antenna there and I added 2 small antennas on the tail parachute door using plastic rods. Finally, I added the two resin “DIAS” antennas on the top of the engine intakes.
The last part of the conversion were the wings. I added the 6 resin inner slat actuators. Instead of the kit outer wing parts I used the new resin ones that include the prominent outer slats of the “late” F-4Es.
Having finished the main assembly, it was time for the painting. I used Mr. Paint colours on top of Mr. Surfacer Primer 1500. I tried to simulate the wear and tear of the greek Phantoms using lighter and darker shades of the main colours to highlight the access panels. The engine exhausts and the area after them was painted using various tones of AK Xtreme Metal colors.
After the painting, it was time for the most arduous task: decals and stencils.
I used a set from Procal Decals for the roundels, squadron badge and numbers. Then, I used a set from Icarus Decals for the stencils. The Phantom have around 216135761527 stencils all over them and I took my time (over two weeks!) to put them all on. After I finally finished, I covered them with a very thin, almost transparent layer of the main camouflage colours to tone them down because I thought that you should be able to see them only if you go up close.
After the decals, I applied some more weathering by highlighting the panel lines with Tamiya Black Panel Liner and some pastels, applied with a soft brush over matt varnish.
The last thing to add were the weapons. In fact I did not put any!
Of course, I added the almost mandatory fuel tanks on the centerline and the outer wing pylons.
Then, I added a Litening pod in the front left missile well, as this is now standard for all the Greek AUP Phantoms. I did not use the pod provided with the resin kit as I had a slightly better one that came with a Kinetic F-16A MLU kit that I am slowly building together with my daughter.
Consulting the photos available online, I added a single Sidewinder rail under the left inner wing pylon. Perhaps I will one day add a Sidewinder acquisition round there, if I get around to making one.
On the right inner wing pylon, again, after consulting photos, I added an SUU-20 dispenser for training bombs and rockets, from Eduard.
Speaking of the inner wing pylons, I added the chaff & flare dispensers on them (provided by Zukei-Mura but, again, not mentioned in the instructions).
I finished the kit off by adding the kit-provided step-ladder for the crew.
The work in progress
The finished model
|Zukei-Mura F-4E Phantom “Early”||1/48||03943|
|F-4E AUP resin upgrade set for Zukei-Mura||1/48||N/A|
|Eduard F-4 seatbelts green STEEL||1/48||49111|
|Eduard MB ejection seat handles||1/48||49740|
|Eduard F-4B TFace Masks||1/48||EX803|
|Master Model F-4 Phantom II – Pitot tubes (long nose versions)||1/48||AM-48-050|
|KASL Hobby IFF antennas||1/48||K48064|
|Eduard SUU-20 dispenser w/ BDU-33 & Mk.76 bombs||1/48||648566|
|Procal Decals F-4E AUP Roundels and Numbers (338SQN/339SQN, HAF)||1/48||48-905|
|Icarus Decals F/RF-4E Stencil Data – Grey||1/48||48006|
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