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Wolfpack Phantom - 8th TFW F-4C


John1
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Disclaimer - this is going to be a very long project.  I've got other irons in the fire and limited modeling time.   This is just my introduction to the upcoming build.    Of course I'll be using the Tamiya 32nd F-4C/D kit, along with a (surprisingly) large amount of aftermarket bits.

 

First off - my subject.   I have never much interest in the Phantom from a modeling standpoint and zero interest in the F-4C version.   The C just seemed "dull" compared to the colorful Navy jets and the later, more sophisticated Airforce D and E models.  That changed when I happened to take a look at Fundekals downloadable instructions for their latest release - F-4C MiG Hunters - Operation Bolo and Beyond.  As with all of their decals, the instructions are absolutely amazing.   They really qualify as a reference booklet, much more than just "Apply decal X here" that most aftermarket outfits provide.   I highly recommend you grab a cup of coffee or your favorite adult beverage and give them a read.  They can be found here:   

 

https://www.hobbyzone.biz/fundekals/docs/fun_32011.pdf

 

Once I read through the instructions, I became fascinated with these jets.   Aside from their history (and that of the 8th TFW "Wolfpack" and their legendary wing commander, Col. Robin Olds), what really blew me away was the absolutely insane variations in markings, paint jobs and weathering on these Phantoms.    From a modelling standpoint, I am drawn towards unusual, non-standard subjects.   

 

The majority of the jets in the Fundekals set were early F-4C's, which started life in the USN standard light gull grey over gloss white.  Once losses started to mount in SEA, there was a crash program to camouflage all tactical jets in the now famous SEA scheme.   These early jets were mostly painted at repair depots in the Philippines.  These early paint jobs weren't exactly per the USAF specification.   The gloss white undersides, with all the Navy stenciling, were left alone (the AF spec requires FS36622 camouflage grey undersides).  On many of these jets, the existing large underwing national insignia and "USAF" were just lightly sprayed over with white, allowing them to still be faintly seen.  The topsides were done roughly in accordance to the prescribed pattern but it seems that no two jets were painted exactly the same.   The paints used also seemed to weather quite severely in the tropical conditions of SEA. Lastly, the jets changed markings quite frequently and the old markings were painted over using whatever paint was available.  Often a dark olive brown was used.   These non-standard paints were also used for touching up the rapidly fading tan/dark green/medium green paint job.   Some of the bright yellow rescue markings were also lightly overpainted to tone them down, while many of the large tail codes were done in some unknown shade of light grey, presumably for the same reason.  

 

Here are a few examples of some interesting paintjobs:

  z8SjPZ8.jpeg

 

Between all three jets, we've got "50 shades of tan":

A3wt4SC.jpg

 

Worst looking F-4 ever:

aYzhOnF.jpg

 

SEA scheme with a gull grey canopy frame and gloss white AC intake.  In addition to those "features", we have probably a dozen shades of paint (some just randomly applied), grey and white squadron codes and toned-down (overpainted) yellow rescue markings.   Puts late war Luftwaffe aircraft to shame! 

7dljomE.jpg

 

So to wrap up this longwinded intro, here is what I'm tentatively planning to replicate (profile taken from the Fundekals instructions):

2ZStsqc.jpg

 

 

More about 589 in my next post.   Thanks for looking! 

Edited by John1
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This is for sure going to be a wonderful build.....long term you say...have you seen how long it's taking me with my Brit one?  Haha I bet you still beat me.

 

Great project indeed and great to have another Phantom build happening.  Dont forget @Ali62 canopy sets!  Must have, and no I am not on commission LOL

 

Cheers Anthony

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In my best Bruce Willis voice, “Welcome to the party Pal!” Always good to have another Phantom build going on…and yes anything in SEAsia tended to be beat to heck. Have seen some atrociously weathered Scooters and Crusaders from the older Essex class carriers and the corrosive exhaust gasses.  Looking forward to more!

-Peter

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Looking forward to this - great project John! :thumbsup:

 

Hmmm - I may just have to get a copy of that sheet.

 

Iain

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  • 2 weeks later...

Been thinking about how to jazz up the cockpit a bit.  It's not one of T's best efforts.   Then I came across this picture:

 

210721100944583061.jpg

 

Hmmm....   I may have to go over to the dark side.

 

EDIT - to my chagrin, these are actually 48th scale for the new Tamiya F-4B.   That being said, Quinta is supposed to be working on 32nd F-4C cockpit bits as well.   If they are anything like the ones above, they will be mind-blowing!

Edited by John1
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Does the lower right front IP decal, where the caution and warning lights are, come with the green and yellow annunciations like shown in those photos?  That doesn’t look right.  The photo of the set on the Red Fox page don’t show them lit.

 

https://www.rfstudio.hu/termek/187

 

Also, for anyone in the US wanting a source, Andy’s Hobby HQ is now carrying the line.  They are priced a bit higher than on the RF page, though.

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11 hours ago, John1 said:

Been thinking about how to jazz up the cockpit a bit.  It's not one of T's best efforts.   Then I came across this picture:

 

210721100944583061.jpg

 

Hmmm....   I may have to go over to the dark side.

 

EDIT - to my chagrin, these are actually 48th scale for the new Tamiya F-4B.   That being said, Quinta is supposed to be working on 32nd F-4C cockpit bits as well.   If they are anything like the ones above, they will be mind-blowing!


Who’s set is that for the F-4B?

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2 hours ago, Dave Williams said:

Does the lower right front IP decal, where the caution and warning lights are, come with the green and yellow annunciations like shown in those photos?  That doesn’t look right.  The photo of the set on the Red Fox page don’t show them lit.

Agreed.  The panel should be dark with no lights during flight.

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So not a great deal of progress worth sharing.   The little time I've had available has been spent sanding off the horrible Battle Damage Repair (BDR) patches that cover the kit's fuselage.   More on that later, suffice to say, it is a thoroughly unenjoyable activity.   I get that this kit is 20 years old but still, what the heck was Tamiya thinking?

 

Anyway, a quick blurb on 589.    The wonderful Fundekals profile I posted above shows her in all of her weather-beaten glory in August of '67.   Just 8 months earlier, she had a much different appearance.   Again taken from the Fundekals instruction PDF (Jennings, if you have any issues with me posting your work, please let me know and I'll take those pics down):

 

 s1DkvVR.jpg

Definitely a different looking aircraft.   The paint is in much better shape, though it still has a few oddities - such as the OD on the fin cap used to paint out a previous squadron color and a similar patch of color used to overpaint the early serial numbers on the tail.  Aside from that, she's got the early non-standard SEA paintjob with slightly unique topside patterns and the gloss white Navy undersides.    Also note that these early jets had the area immediately above the horizontal stabilizers camouflaged.  Later jets had this area unpainted and they also a very non-standard light grey color for the codes and "last three" of the serial number.

 

From a hardware standpoint, the early 589 does not have any radar warning equipment fitted.   As losses mounted to SAM's, the AF instituted a crash program in early/mid-'67 to outfit it's jets with RHAW equipment.  This gear detected enemy SAM and AAA tracking radars and just as importantly, informed the pilot when a SAM has locked onto his aircraft.  "Late" 589 has this gear fitted.  A final hardware note, the early jet has the straight edged USN style inboard pylons.   Later that year, these were replaced with the standard USAF curved pylons.  An interesting note on these pylons - for the early portion of the war, these pylons could not mount both air to ground bombs and Sidewinders.   It was either / or.   Later, the AF introduced modified AIM-9 launcher rails to provide sufficient clearance to finally mount bombs and Sidewinders.    

 

Last (I promise) note on the early jet - it's not 100% certain that it had the "donkey d***" undernose fairing installed or not.   In typical Fundekals manner, an alternative profile of the early jet is provided.

Ev4dOSg.jpg

 

I personally like this profile better.  Anyway, that's it for now.  Gotta get back to sanding and re-scribing. 

Edited by John1
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Hi John -

I know it's a lot of "unknowns" for the nose/radome configuration on the actual Bolo flight. Note that even the standard radome with the IR sensor fairing (aka the donkey dick), prior to the APR-25 RHAW installation, was fitted with a short, dummy (empty) IR-sensor cap, which was 2"-3" shorter than what became the standard RHAW antenna fairing for all USAF Cs and Ds after 1967. When the RHAW was installed, that round cap was an extended version of the factory blank cap installed where the Navy IR sensor was meant to be mounted.

 

Jennings's first illustration, "B," has the short cap (and a smooth vertical tail surface above the rudder); while the later, "Aug '67" illustration "L" from your earlier post, has the longer RHAW cap, as well as the acorn antenna above the rudder on the trailing edge of the vertical tail.


We really have no way of knowing how 7589 was configured on 2 Jan 67, during the Bolo mission. It reasonably could have been any one of those three nose radome options. The 8 TFW seems to have been using "slick" radomes without the IR sensor fairing as temporary replacements for aircraft that needed their original radome repaired or replaced; and potentially while the primary radome was getting fitted with the APR-25 RHAW antennas. Any photo on one day showing a slick nose could have been instantly out-of-date on the next day, when the radome was replaced with the new RHAW system...it seems that those configurations were changing that fast.

 

When looking at August '67, however, those configurations were more stable, and nearly every F-4C in Thailand and Vietnam (Cam Ranh Bay and Da Nang) had been fitted with the RHAW radome by then, as well as the USAF-standard "curved" inboard pylons with the MAU-12 munitions rack.

 

Note also that by Aug '67, the 8 TFW was quickly re-equipping its squadrons with F-4Ds, and the remaining C-model airframes were shuffling through the 497 and 433 TFS (the last two squadrons to convert to the D) and getting transferred to the 12 TFW at Cam Ranh Bay, or back to stateside units. I think by late Nov/early Dec '67, all the Wolfpack's C-models had been transferred out, and they had established four squadrons with F-4Ds: the 555 TFS, 435 TFS, 497 TFS, and the 433 TFS. The 12 TFW at Cam Ranh Bay, tasked primarily with CAS missions within South Vietnam (and later, interdiction missions over Laos and Cambodia), stayed equipped with F-4Cs through at least 1970, while the 366 TFW Gunfighters at Da Nang re-equipped with F-4Ds at the same time the 8 TFW Wolfpack did, at Ubon.

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