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Tamiya F-4B Phantom Conversion (Finished! 25 Sep)

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After seeing multiple threads lamenting the lack of a 1/32 B model Phantom, I thought I'd start a WIP to show folks how to do it.


There’s several ways to tackle it, none as daunting as it seems.  I did a conversion back in the 2005 timeframe using the Tamiya F-4C kit. This go round, I’ll be using the F-4J kit, as I tend to think it’ll be easier in the long run.  Either way, you’ll need sprues from both kits to do it, plus some cutting of plastic to get the thin wing of the B variant.

If you go with the F-4C kit, you get the IR fairing and the correct burner cans. Everything else required for the Navy variant, you’ll have to source. Most all of it is on Sprue J that comes with the F-4J kit. These are the things I didn’t feel like making that I’d done previously. Not insurmountable mind you, you’ll just be working to convert the pylons and make the catapult attachment points, find a centerline drop tank etc. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to find sprues on Ebay, but I’ve never seen this sprue for sale.


You’ll also need Sprue H, (above on the left) which is the USN cockpit with the flat side walls. Obviously for a J, but I’ll show you the differences between the two. Won’t be 100 percent, but we’ll get it close enough. Plus there’ll be figures to cover up some of the detail (or lack thereof).


I purchased the F-4J Marine boxing, which gives me all the stuff required for Navy version, plus the outboard pylons, which I thought was key. On my previous build, I'd just sawed off the portion from the drop tanks and fettled about to make them that way. Off the top of my head, here’s the thing’s I’ll have to purchase/make.

-IR sensor on the nose

-Short J79 engine nozzles

-Thin wheels for the main mounts

I can buy the last 2 at Sprue Brothers, as they’re available/in stock. GT Resin has a conversion kit 32-059, but Sprue Brothers has been out of stock for some time. That set has everything you’d need... 


Ejection seats are going to be something I’ll tackle when the time comes. Early variants used the Martin Baker Mk H-5. The kit comes with the H-7 variant. The major difference is the horseshoe shaped parachute pack at the top of the seat. Earlier seats had a soft pack encased in a metal shroud.  The H-7 variant is fiberglass (it also added rockets underneath to give the seat a 0 airspeed capability). Most, if not all J’s came off the line with the new seat. F-4Bs were retrofitted and complete by 1970~ish. If you want to do an early Phantom, you’ve got to change the seats. Harold at AMS resin has some brilliant seats, but they’re currently out of stock…  maybe I’ll convert the kit seats. Again, we’ll cross that bridge when I get there. The Mk  H-5 variant is also very similar to that used in the A-6A as well as the F-8s.  I might see if I can score some that way and just ignore the minor differences. (Again, the GT Resin conversion kit has all of this)


Other things to think about: Look at the airframe and pictures of the aircraft you want to model. There were LOTS of changes early in Vietnam as losses mounted and they figured out what worked and what didn't. One of the other reasons I picked the J boxing is the addition of all the antennas. Easy enough to make from sprue, but easier when they’re in the kit!  Lots of changes to the stabilator as well. The J boxing comes w/ what I wanted—the F-4C boxing didn’t.


Of course there’s not a lot of markings for F-4Bs available in 1/32, although AOA has recently come out w/ Marine variants. Plus side is that lots of squadron markings didn’t change much after converting from F-4B’s to J’s. Just have to find the ones you’d like and go forward.  For me, I’m leaning heavily towards either VF-213 or VF-114. They flew from USS Kitty Hawk throughout the war. I love the Aardvarks audacious Orange markings. VF-213 was almost as bad in bright red…  Eons ago, CAM did markings for both squadrons as the F-4J. If I can score some of those, I’ll just use the stuff to make them into a B.


Of course, I can’t let a “simple” conversion be too simple.  I’ll make a scene with it. Either trapping or launching.  My previous B conversion is trapping, so I know I can do it.

IMG_4971 IMG_4975


Or like this. This was in 1/48th with the archaic monogram F-4C kit. Learned a lot, so know it’s achievable too. Unfortunately this model didn’t survive the last Navy move. I’d love to recreate it though.

DSC00149 50884858336_198ca4b7c7_b.jpg


That being said, I’ve already started marking out where to make the cuts on the wings, both upper and lower. On my previous build, I’d sanded those lower areas off. Frankly it obliterated most of that wonderful detail. I might try cutting it this time—PE razor saws weren’t a thing yet and I was pretty ham-fisted.  For the uppers, you can see how much of the wing will come off. Because I’ll have to drop both the leading and trailing edge flaps, I’ll cut and replace this section prior to that as it becomes fragile quick!






Truth in advertising: Sometimes I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to building. I’ll likely bounce back and forth between my Prowler and this as I see fit. May lead to some long periods in between as I pick and choose.


Hopefully more soon!


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Excellent Peter!

Great to see another big Phantom being 'chopped up' and converted!  I love the B's and N's and their schemes.  I will enjoy following along.  Bravo and great to have your build to keep me inspired too.


Great and interesting start/read


Cheers Anthony

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Thanks you guys. I stewed over this last night as I couldn’t sleep. Woke up and decided to get after it. Posted this and wouldn’t you know it, I got a sudden urge and started scribing the Prowler instead. Have been dreading that task, but better to do now before I attach the wings. But never fear, I’ve got the cuts marked out and can start getting to work on it. Hopefully will be easier than my last attempt.

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6 hours ago, vvwse4 said:

Yes another one!!!


I like the launch diorama, a lot of action there!!

Will have to see on that. The landing gear attachment to the wings is the weak point. And it's a HUGE moment arm pivoting at that point. At least w/ this kit you screw the mains into the wings--might not be strong enough. Also toying w/ the thought of doing a launch scene at the moment the catapult goes into tension before it's fired.  Similar to this maybe: 





The position of the helo in the above picture, is probably close to where this picture was taken. I can only imagine how LOUD it was... But you're right, that's a lot of action and fun to recreate.



For those who haven't seen the moment the bridle goes flying, here's the dynamic moment caught on film (but w/ an A-3). 




Imagine the skill of that photographers mate to have an old school camera and all the stops set up etc. to get those pics?! And then go process them in a dark room to see if you actually got the pics.


Anyway, these decisions are a bit down the road. Let's get the conversion going first and then we'll see what's in the realm of the possible.


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5 hours ago, Anthony in NZ said:

Peter, I really like the bridled up look.  I spent many an hour toying with the idea of doing mine on Ark Royal like that.


Either way it will be great


Nice to know that Kiwis are as insane as I am!


Wanted to show how easy it is to do this. Just spent 5 minutes with a razor saw and have eliminated the bulges. You can see here (also note that I left the sprues on to keep from damaging anything as I wrestle the part around).


Here’s the parts I cut off. Important to keep them, as we’ll use a bit of tape to transfer the profile over to styrene. You can also see my homemade PE saw that I used to cut it. Will have to trim down that piece in the middle to accommodate for the thinner upper wing when it comes time to glue everything together.


Next I’ll show the process of trimming the replacement pieces to the right profile.


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Thanks for sharing Jari!
The Coral Maru site is indeed fantastic! It’s truly one of the best and a treasure trove of pics and stories. The late Tom Brown (CAG-15 OpsO during Coral Sea’s 67 cruise) got me hooked on that site. He’s also the guy who pushed me hardest to publish my book. I don’t want to get bumped to the vendors area—if you’re interested in 60s NavAir you’ll like “Bloody Sixteen.” You can also check out Peter Fey-the Author on FB. I have close to a TB of photos charts etc these guys have given me over the years and I’ve been sharing them over there. Also check out “The US Navy in the Vietnam War” which is the Hampton Roads Naval Museum sharing stuff from their Vietnam exhibit. It’s brilliant. Personally I detest FB, but I’ve scrubbed my feed to the point the algorithm only shows me airplanes and history stuff :) 


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  • easixpedro changed the title to Tamiya F-4B Phantom Conversion (Finished! 25 Sep)

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