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In-Box Review
F-4J Phantom II, 1/48
Inbox review of the new SWS F-4J kit in 1/48
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by: Milan Mitev [ THE-F-PLANES ]

The famous F-4J Phantom II is one of the newest aircrafts produced from the type, which indeed was about half a century ago.
Nowadays, this magnificent plane still brings its legacy in a unique and amazing way.
The Phantom II is noted as one of the most produced US jet fighters and that`s why it features so many versions, some with bigger differences, others with less noticeable differences.
The aircraft participated in a wide array of conflicts and especially the J type played a major role during the Vietnam War as a new, improved and unmatched aircraft.
The S version is an even better and newer version than the J plane, and features mostly invisible changes like renewed wiring systems and smokeless engines.
No matter your choice J or S version, you can make you own 1/48 scale miniature of this iconic plane out of this new F-4 Phantom II kit.

The Contents
The moderate size of the SWS F-4J box impresses with beautiful colorful scenes depicting the famous Showcase-100 Phantom II in the sky, as well as with small pictures of the finished model that dot the sides of the box.
Inside, there is nothing extraordinary like photo etch, resin, metal parts, etc., but that doesn`t even matter because it is the newest F-4 Phantom kit!
And as expected, it really represents plenty of new things which I will call later advantages, which put this SWS kit high on top of the list with the best Phantom II kits.
Take a look at what`s in the box:

Plastic parts :- They are packed in individual transparent bags and feature hundreds of parts some are larger, others are very small. The most vulnerable parts (like the leading edge slats and the nose cone) are protected via offset locations and extended sprue elements.

There is just one sheet with decals and it is packed in just one transparent bag along with a colorful scheme for the decals of the airframe, and with a rather big instruction manual.
The decals are of a very high quality and they include a set for only one airframe: 155800 from the VF-96 squadron. The instrument panels in the cockpit are very beautifully molded, but an even greater thing is that the decal sheet of this SWS kit also features all the instrument panels as small separate decals.
The decals. It is a beautiful and legendary 5800 airframe from the VF-96 squadron, but this is the only possible airframe that can be made with the decals provided in the kit.

The instruction manual is very interesting.
I see a SWS kit for the first time and the instruction manual impressed me quite a lot.
It shows the famous charm of the Zoukei-Mura kits with all their complex airframe designs and interior parts.
Well, this F-4J model has a rather typical construction, but its instruction manual looks like an encyclopedia. Dozens of pages will take you through the basic assembly steps and will show you how the sub-assemblies should look like before and after gluing.
There is a great in-depth overview of the most delicate steps, followed by useful tips, guidelines and highlights of the most important things like the correct dihedral of the outer wings.

Greatest advantages of the kit :- Quality of the plastic and quality of detailing. When it comes to the plastic itself it is very sophisticated and is rather hard, which makes it very easy for sanding like resin parts.
Whilst for the detailing of the parts it is exactly what you expect a better Phantom II.
The panel lines and the rivets are everywhere, and are very fine and subtle.
Just enough to take the wash and yet to avoid overwhelming the final look of the model.
I think that the riveting could be more, but that`s why a good riveter will get in use.
Other striking details of the plastic parts range from full size engines with nozzle actuators, oil tanks, fuel and afterburner fuel lines, canopy jettison handles, radar joysticks, levers and plenty of cables in the cockpit.
A thorough instruction manual.
It is not exactly the easiest manual to understand, but when you get used to the descriptive manner, you could easily take advantage of all the instructional pictures and schemes.
The manual offers a lot of useful and very important tips, great schematic presentations of the steps, and more.
A lot of optional elements For instance, the flaps and the slats are separate pieces, so they can be glued at any angle according to your display preferences.
There are also two sets of canopies for open and closed position.
Other options include open or closed APU doors, different fuel tanks and loadout settings, and more.
Not to mention that this kit features parts for the S version of the Phantom II, which may easily seduce you to make a conversion.
A myriad of nodes and sensors, as well as formation lights as separate pieces are only another few examples.
Along the sprue gates are hidden several squared plastic struts for making stands for the engines if you prefer an external display of the engines.
Thin trailing edges,this SWS F-4J is the first kit that I have seen that comes with transparent trailing edges on the control surfaces as they are OOB!
This has its own advantages and disadvantages, but the advantages are definitely more.
There is no need for overwhelming sanding, because they are transparent and thus they are very vulnerable to bents and indentations, but let`s face it: they are thin, just like in the real Phantom II.
Another great hint were the leading edges of the intakes, which need no thinning at all.
All the doors are sufficiently thin and even have thinner, kinda beveled edges, which one make easier the painting of the contrasting red color along the edges, and two they definitely look closer to the edges of the doors in the real plane.
The vertical stabilizer is one piece with the fuselage so there is no way that the vertical stabilizer can be glued asymmetrically.
There is a long piece that covers the fuselage spine and therefore there is no way to deal with a longitudinal seamline right between the two halves of the fuselage.
The larger elements fit so perfectly, that the need for filing/sanding is very minimal or at some places there is no need for sanding at all.
The fit of most of the parts is so perfect that the joint lines simply disappear by themselves.
A crystal-clear canopy, actually there are two canopies one is cut in four pieces as for open canopy settings and there is also another full length canopy.
The crystal-clear parts are very fine, thin and provide almost no distortion, which is very essential for the visibility if building a model with a closed canopy. And the lack of long seamlines in the middle of the canopies is just another great advantage.

The nozzles. They are, simply put: blank. According to me, the nozzles definitely need a PE or resin upgrade, because the oob nozzles just don`t match the rest of the kit`s impeccable quality.
For example, the edges of the turkey feathers are out of scale - way too thick.
Chance of gluing the stabilators and the outer wings at a wrong angle.
Although the immaculate fit of the parts, the gluing of exactly these 4 parts is very delicate and without a doubt it is essential for the right silhouette of the Phantom II.
These 4 large parts have large inserting tabs that provide a rather loose fit.
A great tip is to print/draw a template with the correct angles of these parts according to the fuselage, and to use it upon gluing the parts.
And don`t forget to constantly check out the reference schemes in the instruction manual as well.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on Aeroscale.
Highs: Amazing high level of detail and flawless fit of parts for a 1/48 scale Phantom II kit. This is a key feature for making your best and newest Phantom II model out of the box. T here are several unique features concerning the cockpit construction.
Lows: Only one decal option. Nozzles need an improvement or AM upgrades.Insufficient protection of the tip of the radome, the stabilators and the leading edge slats from possible bends/indentations.
Verdict: Highly recommended F-4 Phantom II kit that requires from intermediate and above skills, as well as offers the possibility of making an exceptionally accurate 1/48 scale model.
  Scale: 1:48
  Mfg. ID: SWS48-04
  PUBLISHED: Jan 13, 2017
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Milan Mitev (the-F-planes)

I like the US planes and mostly the F planes, well, with a few exceptions of course, such as the B-2 and the Space Shuttle, but they are from another dimension. And I like them in plastic models too. I recently discovered this great place to share my journey/reviews about the planes and the modeling...

Copyright 2021 text by Milan Mitev [ THE-F-PLANES ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I second your conclusion its a first rate kit. Knowing SWS they have a whole lot of kit upgrades planned.
JAN 13, 2017 - 08:06 AM
ZM "Upgrades" like extra decal sheets or even metal pitot tubes etc I "get".....but upgrades (if applicable) for things like replacing the exhaust nozzles on a kit of this price is not reasonable at all. Those kit exhaust parts look like something ESCI or Italeri back in the 1980's would have cranked out in their budget alternatives to buying the Hasegawa kits. IMHO it's just not acceptable in 2017 and especially so given the finesse of the rest of the kit which shows they (could) have done them much better had they wanted to. Then again, if it means those buying the kit then buy any "upgrade" nozzles if that proves to be the case, then all is pretty much explained. I mean, given the type of people - those who will want to 'gild the lily' - who will have bought this over the Academy offering in the first place, will probably pay even more $ to buy those as well. Gary
JAN 13, 2017 - 08:23 PM
I'm getting ready to finally ordering my ZM F-4J as it far exceeds the Academy offering, of which I built the B, and sold my other two kits waiting for the ZM offerings. The exhaust cans do look a little plain on the outside, but the detailing on the inside is far superior to the Academy's ones. As for their upgrade sets, I'm planning on purchasing the PE set, but not their tires/wheels, nor the strut set, or the complete paint set. I haven't seen any mention or picture of a replacement exhaust can set as yet Joel
JAN 13, 2017 - 10:23 PM
Hi Joel, I`m F`s are my faves from LSP Nice to meet you here too. There in my topic of the finished model, i posted some pics of the nozzle area and i basically edited them relatively easy - just adding rivets and "panel" lines to improve the capillary action, and thus more details to appear after painting. And the edges need a little thinning. It really was a time consuming editing, but it`s douable and it`s worth it.Cheerz! Milan!
JAN 14, 2017 - 01:19 AM
My thought about the metal landing gear set is more like "Woow". This is the first time when i see metal landing gears for a 1/48 scale model of a "normal" plane. It`s not such a heavy model to need metal landing gears. Indeed, the plastic ones fit very snugly and they keep the model very steady. Only the thin hydraulic actuators are not exactly sturdy, but if the main pylons are glued properly - all is impeccable.
JAN 14, 2017 - 01:24 AM
Milan, Nice to finally meet you. I've been a active member here for nearly 8 years. I'm really looking forward to getting the kit, but as usual, all my regular sources are out of stock. Like I said, no big rush as I have other builds in front of it. Joel
JAN 14, 2017 - 02:17 AM

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