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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

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Greetings all,

Let me start by saying...I LOVE the Phantom! This was THE plane of my youth. I lived near MacDill AFB and would see the big, three color birds roaring overhead all the time. When I was in the Civil Air Patrol we would be allowed on base. I would see the big planes (probably F-4Es) lined up in the tarmac, and if we were lucky, see them taking off or landing. I even saw one of the last Thunderbird's shows before they transitioned to the T-38. I built many models of this airplane as a kid before I began building armor. The release of the Academy kit sparked this love again...

Time for Phantom number two, with the intent of creating a Marine Corps F-4J from the Academy F-4D kit. This versatile kit has almost all of the parts you will need to make this Phantom mark. The F-4B kit cannot be used, as it lacks the "thick wing" parts. (You can build an F-4N from the B kit tho!) I will be going through this build following the steps in the kit's instructions, so it should be easy to follow. It will be a companion kit for my F-4B model,which can be seen here:


My link

First...an intro!

I used the ROKAF F-4D kit for this project, although the USAF F-4C kit can also be used. The kits are identical except for decals and the inclusion of photo etch "slime lights" in the D kit. The D kit is apparently made for the "local" market in Korea, but is readily available through E-Bay or other overseas sources. The only things lacking for a Navy version are the wing pylons, which are the USAF style.


The kit, complete with beat up box from Korea!


The sprues, complete with the multiple colors...ugh.


I also picked up many accessories, including True Details F-4J resin cockpit, a real bargain! Also, Eduard's F-4J wheels and Mk82 snakeeye bombs...awesome. The pit and wheels are designed for different kits, so will require some modding.


Along with these, I also have Eduard's canopy masks, Aerobonus (Aires) Navy pylons, Master brass pitots, and Steel Beach's wing reinforcements. Also pictured are Quickboosts' F-4 pilots, but I think I'll save these for another project.


Furball's decals for Marine Rhinos will be used to mark this beast...these are wonderful and were used on my F-4B.


This is the selected scheme for the Rhino.


A late addition was Aires 4578, Auxiliary intake resin parts, as the kit only has bare open spaces. A nice addition.


Last, but certainly not least, is Daco Publication's US Navy Q/F4B/J/N/S Phantom book. An ABSOLUTE neccesity!!


Next post...Step One!


Vince Pedulla

ModelerV Studios


Edited by Vince Pedulla
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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Step One A

So...Step one involves the cockpit, and the F-4D kit properly depicts an Air Force version, which is markedly different from the Navy version. It might be possible to modify the kit parts to create an F-4J pit, as most of the Navy parts are there, but I decided to use the True Details F-4J resin parts. This is a former KMC kit, and while not as sharp as, say, Aires, is still very nice and a real bargain! It was made for the old Monogram kit, so will require some modding.

I started by assembling the kit parts to use as a reference. The kit cockpit has the top of the nose gear bay molded into it, and features a large step. The resin is flat.


The wheel well details molded to the bottom of the kit's parts


The two pits side by side...the resin has much nicer details.


Kit parts have a large step to fit the wheel well...


...while the resin does not.

I knew I would have to cut away part of the resin pit. I started by using a spare cockpit from one of my other Academy Phantoms and cutting away the floor. I thinned the plastic as much as I dared. I assembled the nose gear bay and topped it off with the bottom of the cockpit. The wheel well features a center section with a very delicate arm part, which I had broken off during my F-4B build, so I left this part off for now.


Cut away and thinned plastic part.

Now to the resin, and I used a belt sander and Dremel bits to cut away the resin to allow the TD parts to fit the wheel well. Work very slowly!


Resin cut away and fit to the well.

I replaced the cockpit floor with sheet plastic and glued on the resin center console parts.


Test fitting was constant, and I finally got a decent fit. If you are using the resin cockpit, you need to cut away part of the upper fuselage.



Stay tuned for part 1B!


Vince Pedulla

ModelerV Studios


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Looking forward for more! In my opinion no other plane comes near these colorful F-4 when it comes to looks except perhaps the Viggen in splinter camo but in that case i plead guilty for being a little biased.


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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Step 1B

I decided to add a bit of wiring detail to the RIO's instrument panel and the area behind his seat, using the DACO book as reference and simple solder and electrical wires for the cabling. I later filled the gap between the parts there.



I also added a small ledge with plastic stock where the rear wall of the True Details cockpit lines up, for support.


A few more small resin details and the cockpit's construction was complete! The only plastic parts Iused were the rudder pedals, although the plastic cockpit is pretty decent.


It all lines up pretty nicely!


The final part was adding the front cockpit side walls with the supplied resin parts, and details to the RIO's left pit wall. The resin parts had to be cut and sanded down to fit, but look nice when in place. I added more cables and wiring the rear pit walls.



Final fit test...it all looks good!


Time to move on to Step Two!!

Edited by Vince Pedulla
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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Steps Two and Three

These steps involve the main landing gear wells and legs and wing parts. No major fit problems here, but the legs feature very delicate parts, so great care must be taken both in removal from sprues and when cleaning up.


I recommend gluing the wheel well parts together and then immediately gluing them to the inside of the lower wing. They are very fiddly, and it helps to align the parts by using the lower wings. Don't forget the air brake interiors. Odd, the plastic is a bit more "flashy" than I would expect from a new kit. Take care to inspect small open areas, like the speed brake mounts, for flash.


Don't forget to drill out the pylon and tank attachment holes, if you are hanging ordnance or fuel tanks from your Rhino. Let's face it, a Phantom with nothing hanging from the wings is...just wrong! :P/>/>/>

I was hoping that the landing gear could be left off during construction, but they are designed to slip in through the top of the well and would be difficult, to say the least, to place after the upper wing is attached. They are also very fiddly so take care to get the parts properly in place!

At the front of the lower wing part are four holes not called out in the instructions. Open these up, as they are the mounting holes for the ECM antennae used on the Navy bird. These were not on the USAF Phantoms, so are not mentioned in the instructions.



Gear in place...great care will have to be take not to damage these parts later!


Before I glued on the upper wing halves, I drilled a tiny hole right through the center of the gear mounting points. These will act as later guides for the reinforcement plates.



Steps Four and Five coming very soon! :smiley-transport008:/>/>

Edited by Vince Pedulla
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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Parts Four & Five

These steps mainly involve the intakes, fans, and afterburner cans and exhausts. Pretty straight forward with no major modifications, save one!! Use the long afterburner cans, parts O-6, not the short cans, parts O-3. The F-4J was equipped with the same engines and afterburners as the F-4E Phantom.


The intakes have little molding tabs on the interior edges, be sure to remove these!


Also, the mating surfaces between the wings and forward fuselage are...nearly non exisent. I added three small tabs with stryene stock. These really help with alignment and add strength.



I painted the intake fans, exhausts and afterburner cans with Alclad paints. I also painted and added the resin auxiliary intakes. Major improvement over the empty spaces provided by the kit! I did not bother attaching the afterburner cans at this point.



The completed step 5 assembly!


Part of Step 5 is the assembly of the ejection seats, which I skipped, as I was using the TD resin seats.

Next up...painting the cockpit and Steps 7 & 8, where she starts to look like a Phantom!

Edited by Vince Pedulla
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  • 3 weeks later...

Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Step Six

Here's where the bird starts to look like a Phantom. However, there are a few areas you need to be careful with.

There are very fine mold seam lines running the length of the upper fuselage, a relic of the slide molding process. They run from the nose section, through the cockpit ledges, and along the fuselage to about halfway between the top and intake bulges.



Not difficult to remove, and much easier than cleaning up a fuselage-half seam line. I used a curved X-Acto blade to carefully scrape along the length, followed by light sanding with a fine narrow sanding stick. A brush of liquid cement and it's gone. Take care not to damage the very fine rivet and panel lines in this area.


There are seam lines that meet at the rear of the fuselage and continue to the very back. The lines after the rudder mounting point don't need to be cleaned as carefully, as they will be covered by the rudder.


I also thinned the interior ledges in the cockpit area, to allow the resin 'pit to fit better. This is not neccesary if you are using the stock cockpit parts. Also, delete part G20, the blanking plate for the naval aerial refueling probe cover. Use parts G18 & G19 for a stowed probe.

I painted up the resin cockpit and placed it on top of the nose gear well. This should have been added back in step five along with the intakes, but I needed to paint them. I left out the ejection seats at this time.



In step five the intakes are added, but I had held off on this while allowing them to be painted. When I placed them and tried to add the upper fuselage, I ran into problems. No matter what I did, the fuselage would not fit properly. I fell this is a combination of problems I had imposed on myslef, as my earlier F-4B, which was built pretty much OOTB, had no fit trouble here. It might be interference from the resin cockpit or the tabs I added to gain strength for the two lower fuselage parts. So I was faced with a choice...major mods to the parts...or cheating! As I was intending on creating a model of a bird on the ground with canopies open and no pilots, I decided to buy a set of Steel Beach resin intake FOD covers. Problem eliminated! Before adding the upper fuselage, I skipped a bit to step 7, assembled the intake parts, and attached them to the fuselage. A Note...if you are modelling a late F-4J, open the holes inside the intakes to later attach the "shoulder" ECM parts. This bird predates that modification, so the holes were left closed.

The intakes require carefull fitting and clamping, but only require a tiny fit of filler to smooth things out. You can also see the navy version refueling probe cover in place here.


See these little tabs on the top of the lower wings? These are helpful spreaders for the upper fuselage and virtually eliminate any seams or gaps along the wing to fuselage join...well done, Academy!


This last pic jumps ahead a little bit, but you can see the Rhino is coming together!


Next steps, we combine steps 7, 8 & 9.

Thanks for looking!

Edited by Vince Pedulla
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an excellent build blog. really enjoying following it.

I've also have a build blog going on the F4B 11. It's rather interesting comparing the differences and similarities of our builds.

Looking forward to your next update.


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Mine was exactly like that, I surly would have accepted a 2 piece fuselage than to have to deal with the tedious clean up of the parting lines, they seemed (at least in my issue) to have put them almost on top of the panel lines.

I did as you, and used a curved blade and steel wool.


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Personally, I much rather prefer the one piece fuselage. Clean up of those few very minor seams is nothing compared to the usual process of joining two fuselage halves, then getting them absolutely perfect with putty, CA glue, sanding, and finally polishing.


Edited by Joel_W
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Creating an Academy F-4J...The Build Log

Steps 7, 8 & 9

Now that the fuselage halves are attached, I combined steps 7, 8 & 9 into one big step.

I had already essentially finished part of step 7 when I attached the intakes to the fuselage before joining the halves. If you are modelling a late F-4J, or an F-4N or S, open the small holes inside the intakes to attach the "shoulder" ECM parts. They were not used for this project, but will be for my later F-4 N & S projects.

Onto the Rhino's nose...Use part G-33 & K-32, this is known as the "clean" nose. Part K-32 is the housing for the ALQ-51A DECM system.



Do not use the USAF refueling port, part G-5 is the correct Navy blanking plate. It leaves a bit of a gap and is a pain to fill, but I applaud Academy for giving us so many modular options.



Nose attached. The small intakes are fine out of the box unless doing an F-4S, in which case you'll need to add the small splitter plate to the port side. See the Daco bbok page 11.

Step 8 has no mods, but I left off these parts for painting later. I'd just break them anyway...

The last mod is in Step 9, the exhaust area. USe part G-7 for the Navy version parachute cover. I left off parts O1 and O-2, as these are titanium shades and better painted seperately and attached later. I also left off the arresting hook.


See? Piece of cake!

Next up...Step 10 (duh)

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