The concept of the "Wild Weasel" was first developed during the Vietnam War when US Air Force found it was experiencing unacceptable losses to Soviet-supplied SAM missiles in sites clustered around the North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi. The Air Force developed a system of aircraft with special radars and Shrike or AMG-78 ARM Air-to-Ground missiles. The Wild Weasels would precede large scale "Rolling Thunder" strikes in order to identify SAM batteries and attack their radar directors with missiles. Then aircraft dropping conventional cluster bombs would be used to destroy the missiles and their launchers.
The most-famous airframe for the Wild Weasel concept was a modified F-4 Phantom II (the first & third Wild Weasels were the F-105). The F-4C proved unsuccessful at taking out the SAM sites, and was eventually superseded by modified F-4Es reclassified as F-4Gs. The chin gun pod was replaced with electronics, new radars designed to identify ground radar installations, and beefed up electronics in the rear portion of the cockpit helped to distinguish the Wild Weasels from run-of-the-mill F-4Es.
The F-4G served on long after the end of the war in Southeast Asia, right up through Operation Desert Storm and 1995 when the USAF retired the Phantom II from active service. Throughout its run, the Wild Weasel's goals remained the same: knock out SAM batteries so the fighters and fighter-bombers could go about their missions in relative safety.
has now brought out an updated version of an earlier F-4E kit from the mid-1990s that adds some sprues for the ECM pods and Air-to-Ground missiles from a Wild Weasel in the early 1990s/Desert Storm.
The best way literally to see what's inside the box is Jim Starkweather's expansive video review
. Jim's video includes a brief historic overview of the Phantom II's development.
28-page instructions & painting guide (with identification of every kit part)
I want to start out by addressing the "elephant in the room" by saying this is a flawed kit, but one worth buying if you are a fan of Wild Weasels. However, there is not getting around two facts: Revell
kits are not in the same quality range as the Tamiya 1/32nd Phantom II kits, though they sell for up to 1/3 of the Tamiya ones.
And secondly, the kit has some accuracy issues, yet help exists to solve them.
The F-4G is one of the first "post-Tamiya Phantoms" to come out, and there is much to recommend it, if nothing else, that it exists at all. The molding is overall crisp and clean, and the panel lines are subdued for those who prefer them that way. If you have built one of Tamiya's Phantoms, don't come to this kit with the same expectations of detail and accuracy. The fuselage is in two parts (Tamiya's are a single molding that avoids the seam lines that will need to be filled), the landing gear is plastic and not metal, and the cockpit detailing is soft and occasionally simplified.
I'm pointing this out, not to denigrate the Revell
kit, which is a very good buy for the money. And that is the fulcrum of our discussion about the two approaches to modeling: Revell
's philosophy in general is to offer a well-made kit at a reasonable price that super-detailers can improve on, while Tamiya's kits are extravagantly-detailed, and usually 2x-3x the Revell
prices. This kit's street cost is less than $50 while most of the Tamiya Phantoms are at least twice that and more.
Now that we've identified the TWO elephants in the room, let's go on to the strengths and weaknesses of the kit on its own terms.
As stated above, this is an F-4E kit with tooling from the mid-1990s that has some new sprues and decals for the G Wild Weasel components. Unfortunately, some of the new SAM-hunting electronics are wrong. The good news is: there are fixes that will correct the problems such as the one by GT Resin reviewed here on Aeroscale
The kit includes a lot of plastic, including the armaments sprues from the F-4E (with Sidewinders and other Air-to-Air missiles) you can add to the spares box. There are also ample fuel tanks, because Wild Weasels often had to endure long times over target (3 hours, for example, during the Vietnam War).
That having been said, the overall shape of the kit and its execution should not upset purists too much or frighten small children. Some areas that have drawn negative attention include the shape of the nose cone, but if you add the GT Resin correction set mentioned above, the new chin pod hides any problems with the cone, which otherwise is nicely-molded in a single piece.
Another area of concern on this and all Phantom II kits is the exhaust nozzles. Neither Tamiya nor Revell
have rendered them in particularly good shape, size or detail, so this is another area I would suggest going the AM resin route. There are several manufacturers of resin "burner cans" with their fans and detractors, including GT Resin
One feature I particularly like is how Revell
has called-out every kit part in the instructions. Yes, I know that's a pitot tube, but not every builder will have the reference books I have acquired on the "Double Ugly" in its various configurations. If nothing else, it helps when asking questions on forums like Aeroscale about a particular part, its function, color, etc.
The cockpit is similar to other Revell
large scale aircraft: simplified, but not excessively so. This is another area where an AM cockpit will do a lot to enhance the build (see the GT Resin cockpit reviewed here
Speaking of cockpits, the Wild Weasels had at least two varieties of canopy, and Revell
offers two. Unfortunately, they are poorly packed in the box, and rubbing together left scratch marks on the kits I've seen. The marks can be lessened or removed with polishers or Future, but the manufacturer gets low marks for not doing a better job in packaging their product.
The cockpit is a bit simplified, and given how important the electronics are to the aircraft, I recommend upgrading to the GT Resin Wild Weasel F-4G resin cockpit
. The kit is cheap enough you can invest in a whole series of improvements and not crack the price of a Tamiya Phantom II.
decals and painting
Camoflage options for late-90s US jets are somewhat limited to gunship gray uppers and neutral gray undersides. In terms of markings, the kit unfortunately only allows for two variants:
Boise, Idaho Air National Guard (ANG) with a frame-less windscreen option 69-0298/WW
561st FS, Nellis AFB, Nevada (AF69-7295) with "1963 Pharewell 1996" decals
It is sincerely hoped that after-market decal makers will offer some other options, including late Vietnam War. Extensive stenciling is also included, and much appreciated in a kit on this scale.
Modelers who won't confuse a Revell kit with a Tamiya one will be pleased by the amount of detailing, and the unusual subject matter.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on Aeroscale