by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundThe F-4EJ was a version of the F-4E developed for the Nihon Koku Jieitai (Japanese Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF). Since the Japanese armed forces were at that time forbidden by treaty from having an offensive capability, the F-4EJ was optimized for the air defense role, with no provision for the carrying or delivery of air-to-ground weapons.
The F-4EJ was ordered on November 1, 1968. Two F-4EJs (JASDF serials 17-8301 and 17-8302) were built by McDonnell in St Louis and tested beginning on January 14, 1971. The next eleven (JASDF serials 27-8303/8307, 37-8307/8310, and 47-8311/8313) were built by McDonnell in kit form and were assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. The first Japanese-assembled aircraft (27-8303) flew on May 12, 1972. Subsequently, Mitsubishi built 127 F-4EJs under license, bringing the total to 140. The last example was delivered on May 20, 1981. This was the last Phantom built.
The kit Platz's F-4JE is packed in an end-opening box, which doubles as a colour guide with reference photos on the front and ends and the decals schemes on the rear. The kit contains a pair of separately bagged kits, each comprising:
23 x grey styrene parts
4 x clear parts
A display stand
Decals are provided for 2 colour schemes.
As you'd probably expect in this scale the kits are pretty simple and, while the instructions recommend the use of styrene cement, they are virtually snap-together models, as can be seen in the accompanying photo. The parts are quite cleanly moulded, with very neatly scribed panel detail. The slightly "soapy"-feeling grey styrene has a faintly textured surface, but polishes-up fine. On my kits there is a faint sink mark on the intake sides, but this could well be hidden by the national insignia.
Thanks to large locating pins on the main parts, the kit clips together very solidly and the fit is pretty good, although you'll probably want to run a bit of filler into the wing roots and nacelles. The "flying tailplanes" are separate and a tight enough fit to be left moveable, if you wish. There's a basic cockpit tub, with a pair of crew figures rather bizarrely moulded in clear styrene. The separate nose-cone is also transparent for some reason. The landing gear can be installed raised (with a 3-part stand provided) or lowered and the test-fitted model sits happily on its undercarriage, with no need for weight in the nose.
The one-piece canopy is thin and clear with sharply defined frames. Two drop tanks are provided, plus a centre-line pod and a pair of empty underwing pylons. Platz also market a separately-available weapons set and a load-out diagram is included for the various stores that carried.
Instructions and DecalsApart from a safety guide, the instructions are written in Japanese-only, but the assembly is almost self-explanatory. The nacelles are mislabelled "L" and "R" on the sprues, but they're handed and will only fit one way. Gunze Sangyo, Tamiya and ModelMaster painting matches are given.
The decal sheet provides markings for two aircraft:
1. F-4EJ Kai 37-8312, 3rd AW, 8th TFS in a spectacular 2007 anniversary scheme.
2. F-4EJ Kai 47-8324, 3rd AW, 8th TFS, flown by LTC. M. Kuroha in standard camouflage in 1998.
The quality of the Cartograf decals is quite superb. The thin glossy items are printed in perfect register and even tiny text like the intake markings is legible. Amazingly for this scale, each scheme features comprehensive stencils! This is achieved by printing them on large panels of crystal clear carrier film, so it will be crucial to apply them to a gloss finish to avoid silvering.
ConclusionPlatz's F-4JE is a neat little model, simple enough to be an ideal weekend build, but complete with some truly exceptional decals. It will make for a spectacular addition to any 1/144 scale collection of Phantoms or JASDF aircraft.
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