1/48 ESCI F-4J Blue Angels

Gallery Article by Gene DiGennaro Jr. on Dec 19 2013

 

 

It's the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom. Everyone knows the story. The USN Blue Angels operated the F-4 from 1969-1973. The kit I used was an old 1980's vintage ESCI model of a USAF F-4D. It has recessed panel lines and a nice overall shape. However, the interior leaves much to be desired, even for a 30 year old kit. I wasn't too worried about that as I would need to make an F-4J specific interior anyway. To make this bird into a Navy F-4J, I used a True Details resin F-4J cockpit set and an Eduard F-4J instrument panel set. While both of these were intended for a Hasegawa Phantom, they fit well in the ESCI model with little modification.

 

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The ESCI Phantom went together fairly easy with little filling needed. ESCI's F-4 does have some issues though. The intake trunks are shallow and not realistic looking. Once again True Details came to the rescue with seamless intakes. Intended for the Hasegawa model, these fit well with only minor surgery. ESCI also falls down in the exhaust nozzle department. Again the nozzle is too shallow. It does not give the impression there is a GE J-79 attached to that nozzle. To rectify that, I raided my spares box and used two Monogram F-4J tailpipes and nozzles. Unfortunately, I learned too late that the Blue Angels flew early F-4J's and as such they were equipped with F-4B style exhausts. Monogram F-4C exhausts would have been the better choice. Also the rear facing radar warning bump on the tail fin should have been removed. Oh well...

The model was initially rattle can painted with MM Blue Angel Blue enamel. However, the enamel never really seemed to dry. After two weeks it was still tacky after polishing. Back to the drawing board. MM acrylic Blue Angel Blue was then airbrushed on without an issue. The blue was then polished to a high sheen and given several hand brushed coats of Future. Time for decals. The CAM Blue Angels set looks very nice and well printed. All of the decal markings went on fine and kept their yellow color despite the blue background. However, I ran into a major problem with the decals that go on the Phantom's spine. These are the ones that look like the Nike Swoosh. The spine decal halves didn't fit! They were not large enough to cover the aircraft's spine. I was left with an almost 1/8'' gap between decal halves. I couldn't just mask off and spray a yellow swoosh for fear of lifting the existing decals. I wound up hand brushing the swoosh with MM Chrome Yellow acrylic cut with a paint retarder and flow agent. Several yellow coats later and more layers of Future, I got it to where it looks good from 5 ft away but don't get too close! In any case, I enjoyed the challenge and the model gets many compliments from my coworkers. FLY NAVY!

Gene DiGennaro Jr.

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Photos and text by Gene DiGennaro Jr.