The McDonnell Douglas F-4A Phantom II entered service with the United States Navy in December 1960, replacing both the McDonnell F3H Demon and Douglas F4D Skyray, which had served as the Navy’s all-weather missile interceptors since the mid-1950s. The F-4B was the second in the Phantom II series and featured the more powerful General Electric J79-GE-8 engines (16,950-lb/75.4kN thrust), a raised and enlarged cockpit to allow the backseater better visibility, and a more bulbous nose section to accommodate the Westinghouse APQ-72 radar.
The F-4B possessed a top speed in excess of Mach 2.2 and set many performance records in the late 1950s. It could carry up to 18,000 lbs of ordnance on nine external weapons stations. Four stations were located on the wings, referred to as inner and outer stations, which could carry external fuel tanks (inner stations only), bombs, or missiles. A centerline station typically carried an external fuel tank although it could, but rarely did carry the Mk-4 20 mm gun pod. Four additional stations were recessed on the aircraft’s lower fuselage to house the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow III missile. Unlike other fighter aircraft of the day, the F-4B did not have a gun, but relied on its long-range missiles for defense. Most missions saw the F-4B armed with at least two AIM-9 infrared Sidewinders and two Sparrow IIIs.
The Phantom II was crewed by a pilot and a Radar Intercept Officer (RIO – Navy) or Weapon System Officer (WSO - Marines). The RIO/WSO in the aft cockpit assisted with navigation, communication, and operated the long-range APQ-7 radar. The RIO/WSO proved extremely valuable in combat, providing a second set of eyes for locating enemy aircraft or surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).
F-4Bs began entering U.S. Navy fleet service in July 1961 with VF-74 Bedevilers, an Atlantic Fleet fighter squadron based at NAS Oceana, Virginia, and shortly thereafter by VF-114 Aardvarks, a Pacific based squadron at NAS Miramar, California.
The Phantom II was used extensively during the Vietnam War by all three United States air services as a fighter-bomber.
However, the F-4B was used solely by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. When U.S. involvement in the war began in August 1965, 13 of the Navy’s 31 fleet fighter squadrons had already transitioned to the F-4B. Indeed, two F-4B squadrons, VFA-142 Ghost Riders and VFA-143 Pukin’ Dogs, were deployed aboard USS Constellation with Carrier Air Wing 14 and took part in the opening U.S. air strikes against North Vietnam as part of Operation Pierce Arrow, which retaliated for the attacks against U.S. surface ships in the Tonkin Gulf. The Navy made a total of 51 F-4B squadron deployments during the war, with the
F-4B accounting for 22 of the service’s MiG kills and two An-2 kills. Five F-4Bs were lost in air-to-air combat.
The Marine Corps also operated the F-4B, taking initial deliveries of the aircraft in late 1962. VMFA-531 Gray Ghosts were the first to fly the Phantom II and eventually took the F-4B to Vietnam. F-4B’s of Marine Air Group (MAG) 11 flew ground support missions out of Da Nang and Nam Phong, South Vietnam, while MAG-13 operated out of Chu Lai. Twelve USMC squadrons flew the F-4B, eight of which served in Vietnam at some point during the war. The USMC also operated a tactical reconnaissance version designated as the RF-4B, which served into the late 1980s with VMCJ and VMFP squadrons.
Although designed as an interceptor, F-4Bs served well in air-to-ground and fighter roles, flying close air support (CAS), flak suppression, MiG Combat Air Patrol (MIGCAP), Barrier CAP (BARCAP), and Target CAP (TARCAP) missions. The latter three
missions protected strike packages against North Vietnamese MiG attacks. Marine F-4Bs flew more air-to-ground missions.
A total of 649 F-4Bs were built by McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri, during a production run lasting from mid-1961 through the end of 1966, when it began being replaced by the improved F-4J.
by Brad Elward
In the box
Eduard’s Good Morning Da Nang kit comes in a very large box holding the 14 light grey plastic sprues, in 8 bags. A clear plastic sprue has its own bag so damage will be minimal. The rest of the box holds a smaller Brassin box containing in three separate bags the resin parts for the exhaust, wheels and ejection seats. Another bag holds the two photo etch sheets, with yet another bag for the one fabric sheet for the harness’s, and a set of masks. Two decal sheets and a set of instructions complete the contents.
As usual with an Eduard re-boxed kit, at least a third of the plastic parts are either not used or heavily modified with the resin and P.E parts.
The Academy kit
Starting with the basic Academy kit of the Phantom, which in itself is a pretty decent kit, as built by Joel W here
, the exterior parts have some quite delicate recessed panel lines along the fuselage and wings. Rivet detail is very slight and also recessed, and could possibly disappear under a few coats of paint.
One nice touch is the inclusion of a air refuelling probe which can be deployed open or closed.
The fuselage is near enough one piece with the wings and lower forward cockpit/undercarriage bay attaching from the bottom.
The wings are made up of several parts, with the lower wing as one piece with two upper center parts to attach the wings then have a one piece end wing part that on the navy versions of the aircraft can be folded, but on this kit there isn’t that option. Positional speed brakes are also included.
Most of the plastic parts are not used for the cockpit, with the parts that are needed used as attachment points for the Photo etch. The ejector seats are completely replaced with resin parts.
Academy does supply two crew members for the cockpit as well as pilot/RIO in a standing position. Due to the inclusion of the resin seats the cockpit crew are not used.
The one let down of the kit is the undercarriage bays, which are a little simplistic, but Aires do a very detailed set to replace the kits failings, if you want to address this area. The only new part for the undercarriage is some resin wheels. The undercarriage legs are pretty nice with multiple parts making them up.
The air intake ducts end in a one piece moulded compressor fan. The intakes are split into two parts so clean up could be a bit of a pain.
The exhaust and afterburners are not used (unless you really want too of course) and are replaced with a resin and PE option.
Academy supply are full load out regarding the weapons, which is a nice bonus, as some manufacturers either only box a couple of stores or in the case of one manufacturer, who shall remain nameless, none at all, relying on you buying one or more weapon sets.
External stores supplied are -
• 4 x AIM-9B Sidewinder
• 4 x AIM-7D/E Sparrow
• 12 x Mk.82 Slicks
• 2 x 370 gallon wing tanks
• 1 x 600 gallon centerline tank
• 2 x triple ejector racks (TER)
• 2 x multiple ejector rack (MER)
The missiles have a one piece body with the fins needing to be attached. Bombs and fuel tanks are split into two halves, so some seam work will no doubt be needed.
The clear parts are faultless, with no scratches or blemishes. The canopies can be positioned open or closed.
The Eduard Brassin extras
Starting with the cockpit, pretty much everything other then the tub and one of the instrument panels are replaced with the pre-coloured Photo Etch sheet. Instrument panels, side instrument panels, rudder pedals, and cockpit tub panels are as already stated are PE and are multi part affairs, with a few parts to be folded, so the instructions will need to be followed carefully. Eduard hasn’t replaced the control column with a resin part, which does seem a little strange considering everything else gets replaced.
The ejector seats are resin but have numerous P.E parts to be attached along with a set of fabric harnesses.
The canopy framing/sills are replaced with PE parts, along with the HUD, with a film part replacing the kits clear plastic part.
Detail is exquisite and the finished cockpit should be jaw dropping.
The tyres and hubs are made up of one piece of resin and have very nice detail moulded onto them and are a lot more refined then the plastic offering. The tyres have a tread pattern, but due to the way the part has been cast you will lose a little bit of the tread detail when removing the pour block.
The exhaust system is comprised of a resin turbine, two PE turbine facings, one resin afterburner tunnel, and a resin afterburner nozzle.
Detail is very good with even the tunnel having detail moulded onto the inside of the tunnel. The afterburner nozzle has some very fine cast detail for the petals.
The one downside is all the resin parts have large pour plugs attached, which will need a razor saw to remove them.
Instructions, decals and markings
The instructions are printed in a glossy A4 size booklet.
The build sequence takes place over nine pages, and is relatively easy to follow. Any resin parts that need to be added are clearly marked with the Brassin symbol, and any Photo Etch parts that are added start with a PE letter then a number.
Parts that that need any detail removed are clearly marked in red with blue areas highlighting the contact areas for the glue for the resin and PE parts.
A set of masks are supplied for the canopies and tyres, and a mask guide is printed along the way of the build.
Four pages of the build are dedicated to the weapons load out and an amazing three pages for the stencil application guide.
The decal and paint markings for the aircraft are a full page each, in colour and in four profiles for the five aircraft that can be modelled. The five marking options are -
A - F-4B 151492, VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”, USS Independence, 1965
VF-84 was deployed for seven months as part of Carrier Air Wings 7´s contribution to the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign. During this time VF-84 would log 1507 combat sorties, while operating from Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin. For their outstanding performance in combat, the Jolly Rogers earned the Navy´s coveted "Battle E" award. It is during this time that the "Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club" badge became popular with many CVW-7 squadrons.
B - F-4B 152238,VMFA-542 “Bengals”, Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, 1966
“WH-1" served as the personal mount of the Bengals´ three squadron commanders AKA, "Tiger Leads" during the squadron´s 2 deployments to Da Nang Air Base between 1965 and 1966. Flown on over 100 missions, 152238 would eventually be transferred to VMFA-323 and lost to AAA fire in 1967. This forward deployed combat weary aircraft was heavily weathered, with numerous corrosion control touch-ups and hydraulic fluid stains present.
C - F-4B 152258, VMFA-323 “Death Rattlers”, Chu Lai Air Base, South Vietnam, 1967
The Death Rattlers were one of many front line forward deployed Marine Fighter/Attack squadrons to see service in the Vietnam conflict. Specializing in the close air support (CAS) mission, The Death Rattlers provided direct fire fo the Marines
on the ground. They would go on to complete 3 tours between 1966 and 1969, losing eleven Phantoms during that period. "WS-11" racked up an impressive mission tally and was a combat workhorse that would survive the war and eventually be converted to a QF-4N. The aircraft was moderately weathered with some corrosion control touch ups. 51492, VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”, USS Independence, 1965
D - F-4B 153020, VF-161 “Chargers”, USS Midway, May 1972
Lt Cdr Ronald McKeown and Lt John Ensch werw flying the squadron´s CAG jet when they shot down two MiG-17s on May 23, 1972. Three months later on August 25, 1972 Lt Ensch was again the Radar Intercept Officer assigned to "NF-100" when the aircraft was struck by a SAM over Nam Dinh. The pilot, Lt Cdr Michael Doyle was killed. Lt Ensch survived and was taken prisoner and held for the duration of the war.
E - F-4B 153019, VF-111 “Sundowners”, USS Coral Sea, March 1972
Lt Garry Weigand and Lt (JG) William Freckleton shot down a MiG-17 while piloting "NL 201" on March 6, 1972. A black MiG-17 silhouette was applied to both the left and right splitter plates to record the event. Assigned Straight from the factory to VF-213 in 1966, 153019 was flown by Lt David McCrea and Ens David Nichols on the night of December 20, 1966 when they would intercept and destroy an AN-2. They yellow star on the left and right splitter plates signifies this kill.
Two large sheets are supplied for the decals with one for the stencils for the aircraft and weapons. There are hundreds of stencils, and most of them are readable with the use of a magnifying glass.
The smaller sheet holds the decals for the unit markings for the five aircraft.
The profiles and the decals were designed by Furball Aero design, with the decals printed by Cartograph.
As with any Cartograph decals I have used there has never been any problems with their application, colour or register.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.