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Decisions, decisions...57th FIS F-4E or JG 71 F-4F?

Guest Airfixer

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Guest Airfixer



The start of my 32nd scale F-86D being imminent, I'm already pondering over my next project.

I've built a good many of F-4s in both 72nd and 48th scale, but now I've got a notion it's highest time for a large scale Phantom II.


So far I've got a TAMIYA F-4E plus "tons" of aftermarket stuff from Cutting Edge, GT Resin, DMolds, Steel Beach, Master, Eduard/Brassin, Wingman Models et al.


I've always wanted to build a Keflavik-based 57th FIS F-4E in posh "ADC Grey" aka FS 16473 Aircraft Grey livery.

However, pretty much the same goes for a JG 71 "Richthofen" F-4F sporting the notorious experimental "Wolkenmaus" wrap-around scheme. Much to my regret, it's rather a matter of "either...or" than "both...and".


The "contenders" are...


57th FIS F-4E, Keflavik, Iceland, 1978:





JG 71 F-4F 37+51, Wittmund, 1976:




What do you think? Which of the two would be the one you'd fancy most?

I'm totally on the fence...seriously.




Edited by Airfixer
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Well, if you love building models of airplanes from a historical point of view too - then it would be an easy choice :) 

Otherwise they both are beautiful - F-4s, I`m not much of an expert and i don`t know the exact differences between the Phantoms, but these two look with the long noses, which always looked to me like Phantoms on steroids. I would build the first one. Yeah, the camouflage is interesting, but it`s probably not easy to make, while the first one - it`s USAF!

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57th FIS F-4E. I'm planning to build 66-300 from Keflavik as it was in 1978-1979, later this year.


Designed the decals for 66-300 in Corel and had them printed by Draw Decal but they were useless at conforming, the "digital silk" being appropriate for flat or gently curved surfaces only. I am intending to locate a printer who can do digital very short runs - i.e. 1-3 copies. If you know somebody who can do that from two layer art (printing white, then the others in one go on top -or- as a white background set and the colour and black layer separately) please advise as we can get two sets printed if you are interested. I based the art on info and pics supplied by Baldur Sveinsson and Gerry Asher (latter designed the lances etc).

The 57th FIS markings were applied locally 1977-1979 (later aircraft went to CASA Getafe in Spain for PDM) so the logos were black and stencil style, and the wing insignia the same size as the fuselage ones, so you can't use "regulation" USAF logos etc. from a Caracal set.


This jet:


(Baldur Sveinsson photo)


Hope that's of mutual help rather than a distraction or hindrance. And yes, the Luftwaffe one looks cool too!






edited to add pic

Edited by Tony T
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Guest Airfixer

First and foremost, happy birthday, Thierry.

(Bon anniversaire et toutes sortes de bonnes choses!)



That's exactly what makes the Keflavik E-models so attractive: they're unique. The deviation from applicable marking directives and regulations in particular. The F-4 is definitely not the kind of aircraft one might traditionally associate with a term like "elegance". Of course, the individual perception or concept of that therm per se is a highly subjective affair. IMHO, the 57th FIS F-4Es are THE epitome of "USAF F-4E Eleganza".


Markings/decals/paint masks:

If that's ok with you, I'd like to address that topic later.




Yeah, the camouflage is interesting, but it`s probably not easy to make, while the first one - it`s USAF!


Personally speaking, and in the present case, I'd rate the overall gloss grey finish to be more of a challenge than the German experimental wrap-around scheme. My personal goal is to replicate an ostensibly uniform finish in a not too uniform manner. Sounds conflicting, doesn't it? My goal would be to carefully incorporate really subtle, barely discernible tonal variations, only slightly breaking up the sheer uniformity.


What I enjoy most, is the entire process of painting my models. Assembling is only a more or less annoying step to eventually get there. :mental: ;)


F-4F JG 71:

What speaks in favour of the "Wolkenmaus" (literally "Cloud mouse"), is the very uniqueness of the camouflage scheme.

Just like Thierry has pointed out, it's rarely seen and I've always loved it. If my mind serves me well, I first saw a picture of the "Wolkenmaus" in a German aviation magazine back in 1978...at the age of nine. And it flew right into my memory...


It was a one-off experimental scheme inspired by the scheme below, applied to the second YF-16 prototype serialled 72-1568 in 1975:



Edited by Airfixer
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Thanks very much!


Well, there is still the poor man method: the good laser printer with white decals. However, this is a no go if you have to get very fine white letters or numbers...


As Jennings said this is is quite frustrating and the most exasperating part is the fact the Alps technology has been purchased by a large corporation to be added to high end expensive machines rather than extended to a larger market of relatively cheap printers.


Fortunately, the cases for which specific white lettering is required are not the most common ones.

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Guest Airfixer

Insignia, Markings and Stencils:


In either case, my plan was to use decals only for the stencilling/servicing & handling markings. I've got a couple of stencil sheets from Icarus Decals and AirDOC. Each model would require Individual Model designation/Serial Number and Fuel Requirement placards to be laser-printed on clear decal film.


Everything else, national insignia, serials, USAF titling, squadron markings, etc. are supposed to be airbrushed on, using self-adhesive paint masks cut from both Kabuki tape and really thin Oracal foil. Jennings already explained the problems of "Digital Silk Printing".


I already started to design the graphics using Adobe Illustrator. And quite apparently, Tony and me were sourcing our intel from the same individuals. A good friend of mine runs a graphic shop and has the tools and materials...Roland and Mimaki cutting plotters and a huge range of self-adhesive foils from various manufacturers...including said Kabuki tape. Basically, it's the same yellow stuff that's sold as Tamiya Masking Tape...less warping, virtually no shrinking, adheres properly, not too tacky and has extremely sharp contours after being cut.



Edited by Airfixer
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Remember that the 57th FIS black chequers had the corners very slightly cropped due to masking tape. Barely noticeable, but another "funny" with that scheme. The other is the outboard wing positioning of the USAF and Star/Bars on the underside, as apparently the commander said the wing tanks impinge on the lower markings in contravention of international law, or so the story went.


I may have sufficient decals for my own use so no problems. I too had some masks made but if I go for another bash at decal printing I may approach a ceramics digital decal printer (who unfortunately work from jpegs rather than vector art, but maybe is another avenue as they do ultrathin decals for fine china). There simply isn't sufficient demand to consider 7-9 layer silk screen printing by Fantasy or Cartograf.


Both Phantoms are excellent choices.


All the best



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