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1/72 FineMolds RF-4C


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I decided to start on some of the planes I worked on during my first 8 years in active duty. The first up will be the RF-4Cs. There will be 2 from Tan Son Nhut AB in Viet Nan, 67/68 time frame and 1 from  RAF Alconbury from the 68 to 70 time frame. I know the header says FineMolds RF-4C build, and befor anyone gets their knickers in a twist and says they don't do a RF. Stop and take a deep breath. If yoou take one of their F-4C or D kits and you look around real hard and dig around a bit, there is a very nice RF in the box. Hold on to your shoe laces and I wil explain.

 

When the F-4E came out, Speedy01 and I started talking about the possibility of cutting the nose off and converting it to a short nose bird. He and I have been kicking F-4 stuff aroun for a number of years now and he was already way ahead of me. He said it could be done using either Monogram and or Hasegawa partrs, but it would not be an easy conversion. we were also talking about the Bs and the RFs. Still doable but more involved. Long story short, the FM C, D and J kits came out and that ended the conversion talks.

 

In the meantime, we had discouvered a host of 3D parts that were available which would make a good Phantom build a lot better. Some of these parts included Burner Cans, Tail Hooks, Gear Struts ,Wheels , intake for the Non FM builds, parts to visually back date the seat and even some new or better weapons. As time passed we even found other items in other scales that we could rescale to 1/72 and print them as well. I will get more into these items as this build progresses.

 

For now here we go. First thing I started lokimg at the FM kit and also at the Hasegawa RF kit.  Thinking back to our conversations about grafting parts between kits, the one thing that I wasn't comfortable with was loosing some of the intake detail from the FM kit by grafting the Hasegawa nose to the FM aft Fuselage and Intakes. After looking at the kits and some of detail drawings of the tqo types it hit me that for the most part, all the changes were from a comon point on the fuselage and the belly area. I found that common panel line and went from there. 

 

To do this, you will need 3 parts from a Hasegawa kit, and then remove 3 small bits from the FM kit. 

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The parts on the left are from the  Hasegawa kit. Theree are a few small bit that go with these parts also, but all you need to with them is glue them in place. The 3 parts on the right are from the FM kit. The areas covered in yellow tape are removed and not used. With the exception of the part on the botttom of the wing, all the cuts are on existing panel lines, so you already have a ready made cut  lines in place. For the Hasegawa Nose parts, Start the cut at the bottom and go up to the panel line that goes back under the windshield to the canopy sill. Work slow and stay on the panel lines and you should have no problems. On the FM nose, just find the same panel line and make a cut from the bottom to the top, again, work slowly and stay on the panel line. For the Belly pan insert on the FM wing, match up the leading edge. If you notice the diaginal panel lines, the cuts do not follow them, but go straight back. The cross cut line is just behind the panel line. Match up the cut lines as close as you can. 

 

Assemble the cockpit to your desired amount following the FM instructions. The exception is that the front alignment holes are no longer available. I cut them off the discarded FM parts and glued them to the cockpit tub. I then filed the outside edges down till I could see the tub post starting to show. When I was ready to attach the Hasegawa nose I trimmed the stubs to get a snug fit and when the nose was in place, I put a drop of cement on the tub posts to hold them in place. One note here, you will have to deside if you want to stay with the Hasegawa nose wheel well,  or use the FM wheelwell. If you are going to use the FM Part, remove the sides of the Hasegawa wheelwell down pretty much flush with the inside surface of the part. Then when you start installing your nose, you will see what material needs to be removed to make way for the FM part, and trim to fit. 

 

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The area along the bottom of the FM fuselage will need a little bit of putty to filll the slight gap where the fuselage meets the squaired off sides of the lower nose. The angled part of the nose will rest on the FM fuselage just like the kit nose section would have. It looks like there is a lot of putty on the noes, but it is really a lot less than it looks. Most of that is White primer. The Nose section is all glued up here and is just dry fit in place with the rear fuselage, wing and Intakes. When these parts are glued together, the seams will almost dissapear. As they sit here, there is no noticable mismatch with any of the parts.

 

 

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Depending of how close you make the cutout for the belly plug will determine how much work you will need to do here. If your cut is close enough at the back edge, you can insert the parts and I would reccomend that you glue that edge in place first. After it has set up, you can continue with the sides and fuselage/wing joint. Once all is glued in place and setup. do your paint work on the areas behind the intakes and on the Ramp areas and however far up inside the intake your chosen paint scheme is needed. From this point on, the construction will be per the FM instructions.  I almost forgot. You will also need the two plugs for the aft AIM 7 wells from the Hasegawa kit. Their fit is pretty good, but will require a little TLC to get them right.

 

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I will be back in a day or so with some more progerss reports and additional information on the 3D printed parts.

 

Till later, Have fun modeling,  By the way, this one will be finished in the Gray over White finish and was a plane flown by the 16TRS. When they first came over in 1965, The planes all had the TAC Patch on the tail. By mid 1966 the patch was gone but they were still Gray over White. Their normal flght configuration was with 3 external fuel tanks and no inboard pylons. Around the July/August time frame of 1967, they started going to the paint barn and coming back in war paint. That was also the time we started  seeing the RHAW antennas show up on the nose and tail. 

Edited by boomer46
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More progress on the RF-4C. The other day I mentioned the use of some 3D printed resin replacement parts. This post will deal mostly with some of those items. First up, to do an early AF F-4, you will need to backdate the seat to the Mk 5 variant. The seat guys can tell you all about the many things that were different, but in scale most of those things can't even be seen. The biggest tell is the metal shroud around the parachute container at the top of the seat. That little addition is all that is needed to portray the Mk 5 seat. One other thing, if you are modeling an AF F-4, cut a small notch in the lower left side of the back pad. There is a personal Oxygen bottle back there. On Navy seats, it is in the seat pack and there is a sighting hole in the fwd. part of the cousin under your leg.

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Another thing I hadn't paid much attention to in the past was the orientation of the man wheels to the gear strut. Most kits have the wheel directly centered under the strut. For the Thin wheeled birds (Bs) this is correct. For the Fat wing versions, the wheel is offset to the inside. The Strut is centered about 1/3 of the width of the wheel. Also most kit wheels do not have any tred depicted. The wheel-Strut on the left is the FM part. The one in the center is a resin printed strut for the F-4B, while the one on the right is one for the fat wing variants.  You can see the wheel alignment here. For those who are keeping score, there is a difference in the hubs between the Navy and AF birds. 

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Here you can see the Kit and resin strut. Notice the kit strut, on the back side is what I call a drag link. It is an add on part on the kit. The resin part it is printed as part of the strut. I added the small wire drag link. I don't know where the verticals lines are coming from, as they can't be seen looking at the part, the printing layers are all horizontal, and are .005 thick. At any rate, these parts fit directly in the kit attachment points. There is one plus here. Over the years, I an always getting gear struts breaking at the turn by the top of the wheel. These struts (main and nose) have hollow struts. I had to drill mine out just a bit, but I was able to insert a straights pin through the strut and down into the main tires. The space between the strut and wheel is so narrow, it is not visible. For the nose gear, the pin goes all the way down into the axel area. I now have an extra bit of support in a normally weak area.

 

 

The FM 370 gal. drop tanks are about 1mm too short and are too pointed. I have new resin printed noses for the tanks that fix that problem.   The one thing that needs to be done yet is to take some stretched sprue and glue it in the panel line around the tip. That should be a welded seam. 

 

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Another area that is often missed is the Aux Air doors on the belly. Anytime the Landing Gear Lever in in the Down position, those doors will be open. When the engines are running, they provide aux air to the engine bay area. When on the ground during maintenance periods, they provide access to all kinds of things for the ground types. A word of caution, we had a great deal of respect for those doors. With the engines running or under other times with various other types of power connected to the aircraft, those doors can close in a matter of about 2 seconds. You can't move that fast and if your hand is up there when it closes, you loose.

 

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Other things that I have found to improve the look of the kit are replacement tail hook, inboard and outboard (AF and Navy) pylons and sway braces. Boarding ladders (front and aft). WinG fold hinges. Fuel Dump mast. 3 different burner nozzles. For non FM and Academy kits, seamless intakes. I have also found a host of replacement weapons that can be used on not only the F-4 but others as well.  I have even found some ejection seats, but unfortunately, no Mk5 or Mk7 for the F-4.

 

Some of these items are for the 1/72 scale models. Some for specific kits, others for general use. Some are for other scales. The 1/48 and 1/32 scale items normally scale down pretty nicely. The 1/144 scale items can get kind of clunky when they are scaled up. A lot of the items are there to share. A lot of times a simple thanks is all the maker asks in return. Other items you have to pay for the file.  So far the prices I have run across have all bee very reasonable.

 

Access to a resin type 3D printer is needed. If you shop around, you can find then for anywhere between $200 and $2000+, and you will need a wash station and a UV curing station. Some of the washing stations also have a UV curing function included as well. If you are interested, shop around. You don't need one with a big printing area if you are only going to be printing small items. The main thing to to do your homework, get one that suits your needs and then enjoy your new tool.

 

I am about ready to start the paint stages on this project, so more later and hopefully, pictures of the airplane in a day or two.

John

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This is some pretty awesome work. I wondered how FineMolds parts would fit the Hasegawa kits and vice versa. Still it's quite far from what You're doing.

It's a bit sad FM kit doesn't come with extended speedbrake options and the lower fuselage aux doors.

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Thadeus, Thanks for the comments. The FineMolds kits do have the open Aux Air doors.

It would be great to have the speed brake doors and LE Flap options. Aside from that, they are a step above the Hasegawa kits. It is too bad they are in such limited availability and do not have the Thin Wing variants or the RFs and G models.

 

 

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Being as there are no decals for this kit I started looking through my F-4 stash to see if I had any that would work. No luck, all the sheets I had were for aircraft that were used in later times and in other parts of the world. I could not find anything from the early years for the RF-4Cs. There were a few overall ADC Gray birds from the 1980s and later, but no Gray and White ones and nothing from the Viet Nam time period. I started with some leftover F-110 pieces and found about a half dozen tail numbers that I could do up with out much problem. When I started checking the serial number list, I found out that all of them were either combat losses and their crews were either MIA or KIA, or they were not assigned to the 16TRS in 1967.

      The search continued on and I finally settled on 64-1047.  This airplane went from the factory directly to the 16TRS at Shaw. In 1966 it was at Mt. Home AFB ID with the CCTW there, and in early 1967 it moved on to Tan Son Nhut and rejoined the 16TRS. I don't know when it left VN, but when it did, it flew  reconnaissance missions around the world, including Japan, Korea, Europe, Cuba, and the Middle East. It served with the Air Force and Air National Guard units and during Desert Shield/Desert Storm it flew a total of 172 missions, more than any other F-4 aircraft. 

 

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       By 1994/95 the Air Force had had retired all of the F-4s. When 1047 was flown to Wright Patterson AFB in May of 1994 to become part of the Air Force Museum's inventory it had  flown more than 7,300 hours. 

 

With the exception of some of the smaller decals like "No Step" and "Warnings and Cautions" The build is finished. It has been an interesting project, and shows that with just a little bit of careful cutting and a small bit of putty, you can take a FineMold F-4C and turn it into a very nice RF-4C. 

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The only places I had to use any putty was along the bottom of the nose between the intakes and the cooling air intakes. That joint had to be filled in because the fuselage sides go straight down. The other area that needed a little help was around the plugs that filled the Bridle Hook area and the new seams where belly plug was cut away and the Hasegawa part was used. 20230905_094230.thumb.jpg.6b8260fc3967cbfc6eae6be9afc05ea7.jpg

 

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Looking at the belly shot, you can also see how much better the drop tanks look with their new noses. The kit noses were just too pointed the tanks were about 2mm short.  I couldn't get a good picture of the centerline tank pylon, but when you are going to use the tank, you need to file the aft end down a bit. the object is to get the tips of the little fins on the tanks to the point where they almost touch the belly of the airplane. When it is mounted, it actually sits a little nose low.

 

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Here you can see a little of the extra detail on the resin printed burner, and the gap where hook the does not sit flush with the fuselage.

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Here you can see some of he extra hub detail on the resin wheel. It is also kind of hard to see, but the tread detail on the main tire really adds a lot the overall look of the gear.

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To sum it all up, I took an excellent FM F-4C kit. I removed about a half inch from the front of the nose and then cut the RF nose section away from a Hasegawa kit and using those 2 parts plus the Hasegawa nose bottom, a section of the belly and the aft missile bay plugs assembled the fuselage of an RF-4C.

 

By using 2 small 3D printed parts I was able to backdate the seats to the early Mk5 version. Then by replacing the gear struts and wheels, burner nozzles, fuel dump mast, tail hook, and noses on the wing tanks improved the looks even more. Then a couple of cuts with a fine blade saw, and droop the ailerons just a wee bit to give the plane the normal "Phantom droop" they all have after they sit for about 30 minutes after engine shut down. 

 

Next came some Gray and White paint and mixing and matching bits of decals I ended up with a 1967 version of an airplane I worked on 56 years ago. Now I just need to do this two more time and use war paint to dress them in and I will have models of planes I worked on in 1968 and 1969.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane and possibly picked up something you can use on one of your next projects. Remember, this is just a hobby and we are supposed to have fun and enjoy it. Thanks to all who have stopped by.

Boomer

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24 minutes ago, boomer46 said:

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane and possibly picked up something you can use on one of your next projects. Remember, this is just a hobby and we are supposed to have fun and enjoy it. Thanks to all who have stopped by.

 

 

Thank you Boomer for this thread. We can see you have a passion for the RF. Great details.

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4 hours ago, boomer46 said:

I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane and possibly picked up something you can use on one of your next projects. Remember, this is just a hobby and we are supposed to have fun and enjoy it. Thanks to all who have stopped by.

 

I retired from the Robins ALC C-17 modification center on December 31 2020 after about six years in the C-5 engine shop and another 15 years on the C-17. I wound up having significant health issues due to an automobile accident when I turned 18, nearly 50 years ago, and lost a lot of my mobility. At one time I had the run of the base and got to see a lot of cool stuff, soon after I got to work there, I heard the familiar sound of a J 79 engine compressor changing pitch. It turned out former F-4G drone controllers from Eglin would fly in to overnight at the Robins transit ramp, every former F-4 guy on the base would migrate out there to ogle those jets. I would scope them out too, but I never worked them. I worked around them at Shaw AFB from '79 to '82, I'd watch 363rd TRS RF-4Cs blast by while I worked itty-bitty O-2As...

 

...Superb work on that kit by the way.

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12 hours ago, UberDaveToo said:

 

..., every former F-4 guy on the base would migrate out there to ogle those jets.

There's definitely something special about that flying machine!

 

Sounds like you had a marvelous career!

 

Gene K

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2 hours ago, GeneK said:

There's definitely something special about that flying machine!

 

Sounds like you had a marvelous career!

 

Gene K

 

My career had its ups n downs. I made a bit of AF history by being a member of the very last USAF crew chief class for piston powered aircraft. After I separated from active duty, I got my A&P license and worked 5 years for Zantop Airlines on Lockheed Electras and the "Greasy 8." After being laid off, I had my sad sack period where I lost my car, my house, and had to move in with the parents. Then their house burnt down and I lost everything else I owned except what I happened to have on, including approximately 200 model kits I'd collected over the years, plastic burns really well. My dad, being the swell kinda guy he was paid for a new set of tools and I took off to various locations doing contract aviation work on about 12 different airplanes from Fokker F-27s to KC-10s. I finally went to Kelly to get the last 8 C-5s out after the 1998 BRAC shut it down, that bit of experience got me in the door at Robins and the rest is history. After the Air Force shot down the last F-4 drone they could get in the air, they began shooting down high time F-16s and the drone control birds stopped dropping in... 

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