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Are there decals available for this F-4E Phantom?


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Oh learned members!  I'm more of a WW2 guy, so I'm hoping you guys know more about this than I do.  Are there decals (either 1/48 or 1/72) for F-4E Phantoms that were used in Vietnam by the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron aka "Satan's Angels"?  I think I can find a few sets for the F-4C/D, but not for the E version.  The dad of a friend of mine was flying an F-4E (Bu.No. 69-0302) with the 433rd when he was shot down and killed.  I thought it would a nice thing to build his dad's plane for him.

 

Thanks!

 

Eric

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I'm not an expert on this era but my understanding is that the markings would have had little or no changes between the C/D and early F-4Es used by the same squadron, particularly if the wing and base assignment for the squadron didn't change when they upgraded.  Normal USAF practice is having the wing badge on the starboard side (intake flank in the Phantom's case) and squadron emblem to port.

 

Keep in mind at this time the tailcodes indicated both wing (first letter) and squadron (second letter) assignments, which I believe for the 433 TFS would have been "FG."  Tailcodes would have been white or FS36622 light gray, the serial presentations varied so see if you can find any photo from that timeframe to verify color of the AF/FY number and "last three" - sometimes these are black, others white/gray.

 

You probably already know from the serial (and combat loss), but 69-0302 would have been a hard wing (unslatted) bird, no TISEO or ARN-101. Gun muzzle "as delivered" was the early style, although the later Midas IV version was retrofitted starting in 1971 so a contemporary photo from the squadron would be helpful to confirm.

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Quixote74, thank you!  Like I mentioned, with me being more of a WW2 kinda guy, all this info is new to me.  I wasn't even exactly sure what the tail code was with great certainty.  I was figuring it was FG, but you helped solidify that information.  With me being able to find a bunch of pictures of the F-4C/Ds carrying the 433rd markings, I couldn't help but wonder if it all sort of carried over to the F-4Es.  

If I remember correctly, wasn't Robin Olds the CO of Satan's Angels?  I was wondering if I could just order a set of decals depicting his famous Phantom and at least use the squadron markings (tail codes, badges on the intakes) on an F-4E.  Do you think that would be feasible?

 

Again, thank you for sharing your knowledge.  I did not know that information about that particular plane being an unslatted hard wing plane nor did I even think about the varying gun muzzle.  For what it's worth, I know that he was shot down on July 12, 1972.

 

In either 1/72 or 1/48 scale, is there a kit manufacturer that best represents an F-4E from this era?

 

Thank you so much again,

 

Eric

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The 433TFS never had the F-4E assigned, only F-4C/D.
There are cases whereby units borrowed aircraft from another unit - one example being Ritchie&DeBellevue's  3rd + 4th kill which was done in an F-4E borrowed from the 58TFS. On this basis, the tail number 69-0302 is probably correct, but the unit not (Pilot belonged to 433TFS no doubt, but not the aircraft) 

 

Checking Scramble.nl, this page gives only that 69-0302 was assigned to the 8TFW - so was the 433TFS. Checking Joe Baugher's site, 69-0302 belonged to the 334TFS which was TDY from April -72 to March -73 at Ubon AB, Thailand. 

 

So what you need to look for is markings for 334TFS. As a unit deployed from Seymour Johnson AFB it would have carried "SA" tailcode, probably with 4TFW unit badge on the intakes as original "mother unit". Might have had 334TFS badge on left side as per this link: https://ww2fighters.blogspot.com/2012/07/profile-68-update-f-4e-phantom-as-flown_24.html

 

So what decals are out there? I belive there are F-4D markings using "SA" tailcodes from when the 334TFS flew the D-model. 334TFS and 4TFW badges can be sought from various sheets covering F-4E's from this unit. The rest of the numbers you have to piece together from various sheets. Don't know if 69-0302 carried any artwork as so many aircraft did, but you could always add these if later confirmed 😉

 

Good luck and keep us posted on the development of your model 🙂

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I looked through the photos I have of 4th TFW F-4Es taken at Ubon, but nothing of 0302. Photos dated May through August '72 show both SA and SJ tail codes, so they must have been changing over during that time. I have one pic with both SA and SJ jets on the ramp. The 4th TFW and 334th TFS badges were usually present, light blue fin cap, MIDAS gun muzzle, no crew names. Most had formation (slime) lights but a few still didn't. I've only found two 4th TFW F-4Es with nose art, one with "Black Sabbath" chalked on the starboard side of the nose and another that illegible. Finding the serial numbers of these two jets, along with finding Yeager's F-4D crew chief when he was with the 4th, are my research holy grail.

 

The only correct old-style 334th badges were found on the Afterburner Decals F-4 sheets. Microscale had a couple of sheets with 4th TFW F-4Es. They weren't very good, but you can rob them of the white SA or SJ codes. The 334th badge on one of them is useable if you repaint parts of it, since they got the colors wrong. Microscale currently list a couple of decals with 4th jets on their web site, but they both include Air Combat Command badges, among other horrific errors. They do include the SA tail codes, so there's that. 😐

 

HTH.

 

Ben

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Thanks to Niels and Ben for the corrections to my info, as noted this isn't my go-to era so it didn't occur to me that the airframe in question might be "borrowed." So from the above info, it looks like what Eric needs is as follows:

 

SA tailcodes (white/light gray)

AF 69  FY numbers (white/light gray)

302 serial (white/light gray)

1x 334th TFS badge*

1x 4th TFW shield*

2x Tactical Air Command shield*

 

*With the numerous errors Ben noted, the Microscale sheet that gets you (most of) what you need is Microscale 72-0049 (corresponding sheet also available in 1/48).

 

* Squadron badge has the top & bottom pennants in yellow vs correct blue. Text of Squadron and Wing badges are also questionable (missing "Tactical" - see below)

* As Ben noted, what should be TAC shields are given as Air Combat Command - the "winged sword" graphic is the same, but ACC is an anachronism by 20 years. When TAC was dissolved, the "Tactical" was dropped from all unit designations, and role designations usually went away (e.g. 4th TFW became 4th Wing). 

 

In 1/72, the text is barely legible, but it's frustrating that Microscale obviously cribbed digital artwork for the more modern unit names instead of doing things right.  If you really want the correct wing and squadron badges your best bet is probably older Microscale/Superscale sheets.  TAC badges should be available on sheets for almost any stateside fighter units post-WWII through 1992.

 

As for best kit(s), the consensus leader in 1/72 remains Hasegawa's "new" (circa 1990) Phantom phamily.  For an unslatted F-4E you should actually be able to use any F-4EJ boxing - just make sure to avoid the "first generation" tooling, still released occasionally.  Not as good but still decent kits are available from Fujimi and ESCI/AMT.  If you're in no hurry, Fine Molds has an F-4EJ scheduled for release around the end of this year that may blow away Hasegawa's for detail - but as yet the full package has not been seen, and it'll likely be a year before you could have one in hand. 

 

I'll let others advise re: 1/48 options.

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It's kind of hard to keep track of the F-4 situation in 1972! 😀  

 

I did a little more digging but found nothing on 0302. I forgot to post a link to this 334th TFS reunion site: 334th reunion  There are some great photos there, especially in "JoeD's Scrapbook." Unfortunately, that particular series of photos is hosted by Photobucket, so best of luck viewing them/downloading them. I was able to see them when I just went there, but that may change. There are still enough photos there to give you an idea of what the jets looked like at the time. The 4th rotated the 334th, 335th, and 336th through Ubon, attached to the 8th TFW. Back in 2012, I was able to contact many of the pilots from the 334th reunion, plus a few from the 335th and 336th, including MiG Killer Fred Sheffler. They gave me a lot of good info. According to several of the pilots, Robin Olds unsuccessfully tried to take their F-4Es and give the 4th his Cs and Ds, so the 4th was often relegated to chaff bombing roles, to keep them from hunting MiGs. You'll see in the photos on the reunion site that they carried smart bombs, too. 

 

It looks like the tail codes might have been white, instead of the light grey often seen on earlier F-4s.

 

Most of the photos show a jamming pod (ALQ-101?) in the forward port missile bay. 

 

As I mentioned earlier, Afterburner 48-040 (LINK) has the best-looking squadron and wing badges, but they're still not quite right for what Eric needs. The squadron badge should have "334th TFS in white on top and "Fighting Eagles" in white on the bottom. I don't think I've ever seen any like that. The TAC badges had the TAC script in yellow. I think some of the old Microscale/Superscale decal sheets had these.

 

The best 1/48 hard wing F-4E currently is the Hasegawa kit, also released by ProModeler. Zoukei-Mura is about to release their hard wing E very soon, if not already.

 

I'll keep looking, as 4th TFW F-4s are one of my favorite subjects.

 

Ben

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Posted (edited)

I cannot even begin to thank everyone here for contributing such wonderful information!  I love how much detail you guys know.  It boggles the mind and I love learning new things.  It isn't just for me either.  I'll be able to take your information and relay that to the two guys I know whose dad perrished back in July of '72.  The guys are twin brothers who were my best friends back when I was a kid.

They sent me a picture of the very plane their dad was flying when he and his back-seater was shot down.  I hope this sheds a bunch of light on the subject matter.

 

(Edit:  If there's a way to attach a picture without it being a file you have to click, I'm not sure how to do it.  I do apologize.)

 

F-4.pdf

Edited by echolmberg
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The tail codes back then would have been just like the tail numbers.  From the angle of the photo, looking at the nose, that is a most likely a "D" model instead of a "C".  If you liik closely just below the tip of the nose you can see the sensor sticking out.  The "E" model nose was more slender and a bit longer. 

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That's not right, Ikar. You're looking at the left wing tip obscuring the lower part of the nose. That is an E for sure. Note the "longer" burner cans of the later J79 (forgot the dash number) and only one probe on the leading edge of the fin. "Short nose" F-4C and F-4Ds had two probes. I think one was the pitot, replaced by the pitot tube on the "long nose" (gun nose) F-4E. Also note the recent addition of the "slime lights."

 

 

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Glad to help out, I think most of us enjoy researching a subject like this almost as much as the modeling aspect of the hobby 😊

 

Digging a bit more on the 1/72 decal options, I found what appear to be correct squadron and wing badges on a couple of Microscale sheets:

 

Microscale 72-327 (4th TFW top right):

il-570x-N-1515267288-iyss.jpg

 

Microscale 72-376 (334th TFS top right):

il-570x-N-1515339882-iobj.jpg

 

The bad news is these sheets are long OOP, but the good news is (judging from how often I've run across them in quantity), these sheets were never in high demand so availability should be above average for sheets of this vintage.  If you're not in a hurry your chances of finding copies in a decal bin at a model show are pretty good (or try a want ad on the buy/sell forum here).  If you need them right away, E-bay or Etsy are your best shots - just be wary of overpaying if you can't verify condition.

 

One thing I noticed in your photo of 69-0302 that Microscale got right on their newer sheet is the national insignia: the fuselage star & bar is the unusual "borderless" style that McAir used on some types.

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Posted (edited)

I wish you guys could hear how much I'm saying "thank you" to every single person who is writing in response.  Your depth of knowledge is jaw-dropping.  I thought I knew a lot about airplanes but I'm quickly learning that what I know isn't enough to fill a thimble compared to you guys.  It means a lot to me to build a kit of their dad's plane for them, but I think it's going to mean even more for them.

 

Eric

Edited by echolmberg
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20 minutes ago, ikar said:

The tail codes back then would have been just like the tail numbers.  From the angle of the photo, looking at the nose, that is a most likely a "D" model instead of a "C".  If you liik closely just below the tip of the nose you can see the sensor sticking out.  The "E" model nose was more slender and a bit longer. 

 

As the esteemed Mr. Boyer noted, the angle makes the nose seem distorted but this is unquestionably an F-4E - if for no other reason than the verified serial number (the 69 below the AF refers to the Fiscal Year for production - there were no FY 1969 F-4Ds).

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Posted (edited)

Great photo!! Thanks for posting it!

 

A few items of note:

  • It looks like it still mostly has the factory camouflage pattern. The giveaways are the way the tan goes up to the national insignia on the port side and the borderless national insignia itself, which seemed to have been a McDonnell "thing." The one under the wing still had the Insignia Blue border.
  • Some 4th jets had a diagonal break in the A, I assume from the way the stencil was cut. This one has a solid A.
  • Based on me spending far too much time studying pictures of 4th jets so I could pester decal companys to produce some decals, the F-4Es that were sent to Vietnam had black stencils. The white ones were applied sometime after they returned from SEA. 
  • The fin tip looks like it is lighter than the surrounding paint, so it's probably a safe bet that it was light blue. This is a jet from 1979, but the color was probably similar: 

f274b39be99266e1922b7a156441c63e.jpg

 

Ben

Edited by Ben Brown
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When looking again, it's not the wing tip, it's a illusion that combines the trailing edge of the wing and the light shining on the radome.  I never included the wing tip or year number when I examined the photo.  I was never in aircraft maint. like my wife was and never got into some of the details.  I just noticed what was necessary at the time and snuck photos when necessary.

 

I sit corrected.  Yours is the superior intellect,,,,for this one.

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F-4E started in FY66. First serial is 66-0284. (Most of the FY69 where converted to F-4G in the end) 

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The same aircraft can also be seen in the background here - the fin tip most definitely is blue:

 

13516665784_e5db5e42d0_b.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Great find, Kursad!

 

EDIT: BTW, that would be a great subject for a Caracal 4th TFW F-4 sheet....  😉

 

Ben

Edited by Ben Brown
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