Tamiya, during my early modeling days of the early 1970's, had a substantial line of 1/100 modern jets and helicopters, the 1/100 Scale Mini-Jet Series. As the standard for scales sorted itself out, 1/100 fell to the onslaught of 1/72. However, Tamiya's line were quite impressive for the time, featuring predominately recessed panel lines and the good fit Tamiya would be known for. The scale is about 30% smaller than 1/72, compact yet generally able to retain as much detail as 1/72 offers. The scale goes well with ship modelers' 1/96 and railroading TT (1/100 through 1/120) scales. It converts easily in both metric and Imperial system. But this scale never really took off to the extent that it was envisaged, probably more due to the fact that 1/72 had by that time taken a stranglehold on the hobby. Subject availability is not very high, though Accurate Miniatures, Revell, Takara, Faller, et al.,have some excellent 1/100 kits.
The need to replace obsolescent DeHavilland Sea Vixens aboard English aircraft carriers brought the Royal Navy to choose the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. Designated by the Royal Navy as the Phantom FG Mk.1, the F-4K was an enhanced U.S. Navy F-4J re-engined with the British Rolls Royce RB.168-15R Spey 201 turbofans. The first FG Mk.1 went operational aboard HMS Ark Royal in June of 1970 as air-to-air interceptors. They served until 1979 when the Royal Navy could no longer afford carriers big enough to operate the big jets.
The RAF also bought R.R. Spey Phantoms to replace obsolete Hawker Hunters and supplement the magnificent BAC Lightning. The F-4M became operational as the RAF’s FGR.Mk 2 in 1969 with No. 6 Squadron. England’s Phantoms served until 1992.
Referred to as the ‘biggest, fattest, noisiest, most powerful yet slowest and lowest’ of the Phantoms, the powerful Spey F-4s required a reworking of the airframe but produced superior performance at low altitudes and provided a slight increase in combat radius. However, the turbofans produced poorer high altitude performance, with a lower maximum speed and ceiling than everyone else's J-79 powered Phantoms.
Tamiya's F-4K/M is comprised of a clear canopy and display stand, and 44 light gray parts. Parts are provided to build it gear-up or down. With the exception of the burlier fuselage for the Speys, I do not know of any exterior difference between the American F-4J and the British versions. Perhaps it would not be a problem to build a USN F-4J, N, or S?
The model seems to be based on the RN FG Mk.1 (F-4K), with slotted stabilators and longer nose leg, which the FGR.Mk 2 lacked. However, the RAF inherited the naval Phantoms after the RN retired their Phantom-capable aircraft carriers, so perhaps this will not be a problem for rivet-counters.
The surface detail is recessed panel lines. The wing detail stands out well, but some of the fuselage lines are so fine that the paint almost obscures them. Perhaps proper for what would be noticeable on an F-4 from such a relative distance?
No detail enhances the wheel wells. Crude ejection seats are the only cockpit embellishments. The gear doors are thick and detail less.
Detailed parts are crisp. Many of the parts are thick, and the sprue attachments are pretty sturdy.
Only the slightest hint of flash mars the outer wing tips, and I did not find sinkholes. Mold marks mar the inside of the main gear wells and the hidden side of the Martel Air-to-Surface Missiles. The only noticeable seam lines are along the six AIM-7 Sparrow missiles.
The single-piece canopy is very clear and with light relief framing.
This is not today’s Tamiya fall-together fit but the fit is good. No filling was used between the fuselage and wing except behind the nose gear, and where the vertical stabilizer (molded whole on one fuselage half) joins the other fuselage piece. Pretty impressive for a model molded in 1972!
You are provided with a pair of Martel ASMs for ground-pounding.
The decals appear thicker than most of today’s, but are almost perfectly registered. Tamiya provided options for four aircraft:
RN FG Mk.1 XT859, Farnborough Airshow, 1968
RN FG Mk.1 XT859 in the 892th Sqd, which set a speed record between London and New York in 1969
RN FG Mk.1 XT873 of No. 767 Sqd
RAF FGR.Mk 2 XT852.
My experience with two other original Tamiya 30 year-old decals has been outstanding; these have a slight yellowing though.
These are delightful little kits. I have yet to build a new 1/144 aeroplane so I can not compare them, but these are as nice as many pre-CAD 1/72 kits. However, this is one of the rarer Tamiya Mini-Jet Series, and not re-issued.
Highs: Satisfying scale, recessed panel lines, four decal options.Lows: Limited weapons load, thick gear doors, no interior detail.Verdict: A respectable kit of an excellent fighter in a unique scale.
About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...