Tuesday, March 16

In-boxed: F-4EJ Kai "8th Squadron" from: Fine Molds in 1/72nd scale

Andy King was like a lot of us when he saw that Finemolds were bringing out a 72nd scale F-4EJ "Kai" Phantom in Japanese markings of  the "8th Tactical Fighter Squadron". What would the detail look like? Andy looks inside the box to let us know in his review...

In-boxed: F-4EJ Kai "8th Squadron"
From: Fine Molds 
1/72nd scale
Kit number FP 40,
Product Link on the FineMolds Website
The F-4 Phantom II has been around for a long time. The origins of the aircraft started in the early 1950's and it was developed as an all-weather, long range supersonic fighter for the US Navy initially with further orders placed soon after by the US Marine Corps and US Air Force.
The F-4H-1 entered US Navy service in 1961 (subsequently renamed F-4A) of which 45 were built but used mainly as test aircraft or training aircraft, these were followed by the F-4B for the navy and F-4C for the air force. The Phantom then went on in US Navy, US Marine Corps and USAF service for many years along with a large amount of other countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Australia, Germany, Iran, South Korea, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom (although these were modified to accept Rolls Royce Spey engines as General Electric J79's were not inter-operable with any UK military aircraft), Spain, Israel and Japan.
The F-4 was eventually retired from US service as late as 2016 with the USAF QF-4 Phantoms that were converted to drones and operated from Holloman Air Force Base. Other countries followed suit as the airframes aged with Japan probably being the last user of the type in 2020 although some still fly in a test capacity with the Air Development and Test Wing in Gifu Prefecture.
Kit review;
A year or so ago Fine Molds of Japan announced a new-tool 1/72 F-4EJ Phantom with the first kits arriving in 2020 and reports about them were very favourable as up until recently, Academy, Hasegawa, Revell and (to a point) Fujimi were still considered the best ones available with the Academy kit being the youngest of the lot. Later last year I saw an advert for a Fine Molds F-4EJ in a striking two-tone blue scheme and fell in love with it immediately, so much so I put one on pre-order with Plaza Japan. It turned up soon after release so I thought I would do an in-box review and share it here.
Kit features
- Overall length about 266 mm, total width about 164 mm, total height about 69 mm
- Number of parts 156 points + decals
- Camouflage schemes of the aircraft of in the offshore camouflage.
- Markings are included for 4 machines (5 types).
- The form is three-dimensional based on extensive research.
- The central part of the fuselage is made with slide moulds.
- Fine panel lines are engraved and rivets are recessed.
- The inside of the cockpit and other details are precisely reproduced by laser engraving.
- The small holes lined up in the splitter vanes are also reproduced by engraving.
- The inside of the afterburners and the inside of the leg storage are precisely reproduced.
- The canopy can be opened and closed. The closed canopy is a separate part.
- The horizontal stabilizer is designed so that the mounting angle can be accurately fixed.
- The heat-resistant plate on the tail is a separate part so it can be assembled after painting.
In the box you get seven sprues moulded in grey polystyrene , one clear sprue and a decal sheet. The moulding quality is very good with any mould pin marks in hard to see areas and very little flash present. Surface detail is superb with very nicely recessed panel lines, the cockpit has optional parts for raised detail you paint yourself or smooth parts for the decals that are included, the Martin-Baker Mk.7 ejection seats are pretty well done but require belts as these are not supplied even in decal form. The wheel bays and doors also feature some really nice detail that after painting and a wash will look really good.

Hard to see here, but the whole fuselage is covered with fine panel line sand even finer rivets that will show up nicely under paint and wash.
The rear wheels are not weighted, but they would not need much more than a scrape with a sanding stick in this scale to appear weighted.
Fine rivet details on the nose wheels are a positive...
There are some ejector marks on the floor of the cockpit, these are covered by seats. However on the plus side the wired in the wheel wells are a standout in detail...
A selection of three types of droptank are included in this kit...
Unlike most F-4 kits, the air intakes have ducts (rather than flat faces or a hollow fuselage) which lead to nicely rendered turbine blades and again these will look good after painting and washing
The jet pipes are quite nicely detailed, the only nit pick here is the ridge on the inside of the exhausts however they should clean up OK
Going back to the surface detail the following photo's show just how good it is - especially for a 72nd scale kit...
The four vanes on either side of the fuselage are good to see as I think most other F-4 kits have missed these even in 1/48.
The underside of the fuselage;
The transparencies are nice and clear;
Attached markings are attached for 4 machines (5 types)  
● Aircraft number 57-8354 
* July 2003 Air Self-Defense Force tactical competition participation aircraft (with championship mark) 
* With score mark during bomb drop training in Guam / Corp North
● Aircraft number 47-8328 * July 2003 Air Self-Defense Force tactical competition participation machine (with winning mark) 
● Machine number 27-8305
● Machine number 47-8331
I'm not sure who did the decal sheet but it is very well printed, in register and you don't really need an after-market one in my opinion. You get an awful lot of stencils too;
This looks to be a superb model and as you can see in the pictures the surface detail is really nicely rendered. My only real criticism is the lack of external stores as apart from the fuel tanks that are included, you will have to source weapons from elsewhere. Unsurprisingly Fine Molds do a set of JASDF 1/72 weapons (Fine Molds FP39) so you will need this if you want a fully armed Japanese F-4, personally I'll be raiding the Hasegawa weapon sets I have in the stash.

No doubt the after-market people are preparing resin and etch goodies as I type but apart from the lack of seat belts (easily made with masking tape in this scale) the kit is good enough straight out of the box. The biggest challenge will be applying all those tiny stencils but they will keep you quiet for a few nights and I would suggest doing small areas at a time rather than apply them all in one go.

Of course the real test of how good a kit is will be to actually build it. I have a fair few things on the bench at the moment but I can see this one muscling its way to the front of the queue very soon so look for a build review in the near future.

History via Wikipedia, and thanks to my ever-suffering debit card for the purchase of the kit.

Andy King

You can see more about Fine Molds kits on their website
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