The Israeli Air Force was the largest user of the F-4E and RF-4E Phantom II, either in new planes or Air Force cast-offs. The planes were prized for their heavy bomb loads, superior ECMs and the two-man crew: a second pair of eyes proved decisive on more than one occasion in the crowded skies above the Suez Canal or over the Golan Heights. Nicknamed "Kurnass" (Sledgehammer), and "Orev" (Raven) for the RF-4E, the Phantom was politically controversial; the US State Department did not want to upset the balance of power in the Middle East by selling the US's latest fighter-bomber to Israel. And the Pentagon opposed the sale at first, fearing one of the planes could be downed by Egypt or Syria's air forces and end up in Moscow.
The sale was approved, first by President Johnson and later confirmed by President Nixon, and first deliveries were in 1969 in time for the "War of Attrition" that Egypt hoped would wear down Israel and allow Nasser's forces to retake the Sinai (lost in the Six Day War). Needless to say, the Israeliís prevailed, but at a high cost in aircraft. Not long thereafter, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in what came to be known as the Yom Kippur War (YKW).
For modelers intent on replicating the Kurnass, IsraDecal
offers decal options for a variety of Israeli aircraft. After having built an F-4J Phantom II from the Viet Nam era
, I decided I would give a go at the F-4E Kurnass in 1/32nd scale. With kits that large, stenciling becomes essential, and helps to create a more-realistic build. I was able to purchase IsraDecal
set IAF-40 on sale.
Inside a quart-sized Ziploc baggie are:
- 3 sheets of finely-printed waterslide decals
- 4-page placement guide (in sections)
- smaller 4-page overall placement guide
The Israeli Air Force (technically the IDF/AF) was so eager to get the Phantom II that it took delivery on both re-purposed USAF jets and those built especially for export. The planes arrived from the St. Louis McDonnell-Douglas factory in IDF/AF four-tone camouflage, but the stenciling was in English. Eventually, Israel began converting the stenciling to Hebrew, but modelers intent on recreating an early Kurnass would best avoid decal sets entirely in Hebrew.
Eventually the F-4E Phantom II was upgraded with leading edge slats and other improvements as part of the Kurnass 2000 campaign that kept Israel's Phantoms flying until the last one was taken out of service in 2004. For these later versions, Hebrew stenciling is entirely appropriate.
In addition to the stencils one finds in other sets (including those supplied with the Tamiya kit #60310), this set also has panel numbers, something missing from most other decal offerings in 1/32nd scale.
The placement guide is ingeniously divided into two parts: an overall map of the aircraft flecked with numbered sections. Once the modeler locates the section, the second guide shows which stencils belong there. For some, this is too much detail. But for those of us who love big kits, the additional detailing will set your build apart from others.
The clarity of the printing, the abundance of decals and the obvious care & research that have gone into this set makes it a "must have" for Phantom Phreaks who want to recreate this important aircraft in the wars of the Middle East.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE