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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fujimi McD-D Phantom FG1

Completions have not been frequent this spring, though I think that the dam is going to burst a bit here in the next couple of weeks, but I do have one to announce today. Remember back in the 1980s when it seemed that the only new models that anyone was producing was some variant of F-4? Well, some of you may not remember, but it was a common area of complaint that all we seemed to get were jets in general and F-4s in particular. Just in 1:72, we had infinite variations by Fujimi and Hasegawa, Revell/Italeri/Airfix. When they got to the Spey-engined UK models it was confirmed that F-4 Mania was truly running wild. The Speys actually require a retooled fuselage, since the engines are a bit wider, and of course they have different exhaust cans. The Fujimi kits, like all those from that era’s production by this company, were refined and beautiful to look at, as well as a dream to build. Admittedly, they did tend toward over-engineering, but that is how they accommodated all those F-4 variants.

I‘ve had a Fujimi F-4K boxing since it was first released all those years ago. I just don’t do F-4s very often. I’ve done a couple, mostly just to feed the display section of USN fighters. In Seattle, one generally leaves the production of 1:72 F-4s to Norm Filer, who at last count had upwards of 100 of the things finished.

Now F-4s do have the advantage of having been the one of the primary fighters during the golden age of colorful US naval markings. But it just isn’t an aircraft that lights my particular fuse. However, every so often someone produces a special color scheme that even I can’t ignore, and that’s what happened in this particular case.

Long time readers will know I am a great fan of Dickie Ward’s Modeldecals, as much for their educational value as for their excellent decals. When I ran across the scheme on set #72, I knew that someday I would produce a model of it. This is the 25th anniversary of F-4 special scheme that was unveiled at the 1983 International Air Tattoo. The event was held at RAF Greenham Common in July of that year. This plane’s actual designation is Phantom FG1, but a quick check with the fine fellows on Britmodeller confirmed that the FG1 and F-4K were externally the same. However, there was a curious little amendment to the actual aircraft used by the A&AEE at that time. The radome was flattened on the bottom and a little Doppler panel was attached there.

I figured I could sand the thing down a bit and then add some thin plastic or a decal, when I started an online conversation with Grant Matsuoka. At least I think it was Grant; now of course I can’t find the original emails. He had a copy of the Fujimi kit that they had produced specifically with this aircraft’s mods, but had used it for another purpose and still had the radome bits. In addition, he had a copy of the Fujimi decals. Grant was kind enough to send the bits to me so that I could use them on this model. After a bit of surgery to accommodate the new parts, I had a much more accurate shape.

The Modeldecals had yellowed a bit (well, they are 30+ years old now) and the Fujimi example were bright and sharp, so I used them. I think the biggest challenge on this model was the paint work. It was basically a raspberry ripple job, with a black radome and the usual NMF parts of the exhaust and tail. So, there was a lot of masking to be done. I started with an overall white, using that as a primer. Then I masked for the PO Red stripes and tail, and then for the Oxford Blue lower portion and underside. Then came the black radome, and finally the metallic bits. And then the inevitable cleanup. Some of the dimensions are a bit off in hindsight, particularly the red stripe width and location. But I was not going to remask after all that work.

Decals went on perfectly. They even snuggled down over the wing details without any setting solution at all. A matte coat, unmasking the canopy, and another one crosses the finish line. I had intended to display it with the Alcock and Brown special that I built a couple of decades back, but it needs some cleaning and repair before it gets camera time. So we’ll save that for a future session.

This is completed model #425 (#6 for the year), finished in April of 2013. 

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