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Wolfpack Phantom - 8th TFW F-4C


John1

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4 hours ago, Jennings Heilig said:

Looking good!  When that photo of '680 was taken she had received an almost complete repaint since Olds flew her in Operation Bolo.  Note she also now has the full APR-25 RHAW mod (radome and tail stinger).  Her belly is still factory white with full stencils though.

 

Keep up the good work!

 Thanks Jennings.   As I mentioned at the start of this build, I had zero interest in early F-4C operations until I saw your decal instructions and read up on these aircraft.   Truly a fascinating subject and since I love oddball paint jobs, it's right up my alley.   

 

The other thing I found out while reading about this subject was that the USAF went through a few distinct cycles in the air war.    In the early days, 65-67, the AF still had a strong cadre of WW2 and Korea vets who knew air combat maneuvering tactics inside and out.  Given the limits of their ROE, tactics and weapons, these pilots (and the junior crew they mentored) still racked up a very impressive kill ratio against the NVAF.  As the war progressed, these old hands left.   The incoming pilots had pretty much zero A2A training.   Most had no idea how to even fly the F-4 to it's limits (as an example, at high Angle of Attack, you needed to roll the F-4 with it's rudder - if you used ailerons, you would depart the jet and probably end up ejecting).  They were trained pretty much exclusively for the nuclear strike role.   With the vets gone and the VNAF increasing in skill, during 68-70, at times, the AF's kill ratio was close to 1:1!  From '71 to war's end, things improved.   The AF started to refocus on A2A combat and also issued improved equipment (gun-equipped F-4E, the "dogfight" AIM-7E, Combat Tree, etc).  Coupled with improved coordination with airborne surveillance aircraft, all of this allowed the AF to close out the war with a much-improved kill ratio.   

 

Anyway, sorry to ramble on. 

Edited by John1
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So as mentioned previously, I suppose I'll start puttering with the cockpit.   Right now, aftermarket stuff is anticipated to be limited to the Quinta or Red Fox "decal" set and the AIMS Mark 5 seats, plus scratchbuilt details.  I'll probably start on the seats first.    Some background on the seats - the early Phantoms used the Martin-Baker Mk5 seat.  This was a rather primitive seat, which used an explosive charge to blow it out of the aircraft.  While considered to be very reliable, it didn't offer zero-zero capability and aircrews felt that the explosive charge resulted in a large number of back injuries.  By 1966, most of these seats were replaced by the Mk7 version, which used a rocket, in lieu of explosives.   Externally, the primary difference between seats is that the 5 had a softpack parachute mounted in the upper backrest/headrest, with metal covers on each side.  The 7 had a hardpack plastic container for the chute in the same position. 

 

Here's the Mk 5.  Note the black sheet metal on the side of the chute pack:

 jpLp6Pm.png

 

k7rLJ6j.png

 

Here's a good comparison.   

iGsosEf.jpg

Here's the Mk7 in the Phantom.  The vast majority of F-4 pictures will have these seat present. 

JUGsfto.jpg

 

Anyway, from a modeling standpoint, Harold of AIMS was nice enough to cast me a set of his very nice Mk5 seats.    See below:

tjw1dPw.jpg

 

I think I'll start on these seats and then work on adding some bits into the cockpit.   One note - as I understand it, there were some differences between the Mk5 used on AF Phantoms and the Mk5's used on Navy F-4's (and other types of jets as well).   For the color pictures of the Mk5 above, I have no idea if these are AF Phantom seats or not.   If anyone has further info, feel free to chime in.   Also, thanks to all the LSP'ers who helped with my questions on these seats, it's very much appreciated. 

 

That's it for now, thanks for looking. 

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4 hours ago, Maxim61 said:

Looking good. Harold's seats are beautiful but to be really accurate you may want to remove the SEAWAR units from the Koch fittings on the parachute risers as the Mk5 and Mk 7 seat didn't use them in Vietnam. They were introduced in the 80's

Any idea what these SEAWAR units look like?   Couldn’t find anything on Google.   I just finished the seats so not sure if I can make the change.    Regardless, thanks for the tip!

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34 minutes ago, John1 said:

Any idea what these SEAWAR units look like?   Couldn’t find anything on Google.   I just finished the seats so not sure if I can make the change.    Regardless, thanks for the tip!

SEAWARs are those cylindrical/rectangle shapes at the outside edge of the attachments (i.e. where the parachute straps connect to the torso harness). It's an explosive charge that fires when submerged and uncouples the fitting, in theory saving the aircrew from drowning when the parachute sinks. 

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On 12/5/2021 at 9:50 PM, John1 said:

Thanks Peter!

 

Making progress on the intakes.   Much sanding, followed by putty, followed by more sanding.  In the end, they came out "ok" and save me a decent amount of $, so it was worth it.  After completion, I painted the interior of the intakes a mix of flat white with a bit of Radome Tan and some grey.   Wanted to stay away from the shiny white look.   

I'm still not done, going to add some localized staining and see how some grey pastels look.   Speaking of painting the interiors, these early F-4's had a non-spec application of camouflage paint inside the intakes.  The standard called for the first three feet of the interior to be painted the matching camo color to what was on the outside.   However, these early jets only had approximately the first 6 inches or so painted.   On later jets, almost the entire vari-ramp was camouflaged.   Forgot to mention in my last update but on these ramps, the section aft is covered with indentations, representing rivets.   On the real thing, these rivets are nearly invisible, so I applied a skim coat of putty and sanding the surface smooth. 

 

Here's a nice example of the early intake paintwork.  Also note the bizarre looking external tank and its pylon.   Aside from that, this is actually one of better paint jobs on Wolfpack F-4C's during this time frame.  

9qZX10b.jpg

 

Here are my vari-ramps, still need to add some weathering and put a wash on the hinge areas.  

ZLLMyZK.jpg

 

Inside...

KBDRB9c.jpg

 

The intake with the ramp dry-fitted.  Still need to add the pitot tubes.

m9yLFcD.jpg

Hard to get a decent picture but it looks pretty good IMHO.

 

While I was at it, I painted the area of the fuselage that would be covered by the ramps.   It would be pretty hard to paint this area once the intakes are glued in place. 

fPypnCD.jpg

 

That's it for now, thanks for checking in. 

Damn nice job on those intakes!
 

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Thanks very much guys.  EA6Pedro, Appreciate the tip on those SEAWAR units.  I was able to get them removed.   So I've been plugging away on the seats.   I must have over a dozen colors so far.   I've got most of the seat painting done.   Still have to do the ejection pull handles but I want to hold off on them for a bit since they are extremely fragile.   If anyone has a trick to make it easier to paint the black and yellow warning stripes on them, please chime in! 

 

Here are the seats.   Still need to touch up a few details and then hit some areas with a wash.  Also have a couple of decals to apply.  Only additions I made so far were the manual  ripcord line that runs from the metallic handle on the left harness up through the harness and then is exposed as it runs to the parachute pack over the pilot's left shoulder.   Of course as I'm looking at the picture I posted, I then realized that the line is entering the top of the seat too high.   I'll have to fix it.   I also added a small green knob on the lower left side of the seat frame, this was the emergency O2 control knob.   I didn't worry about the linkage below the knob, once the seat is in the cockpit, it shouldn't be visible.   If it is, I'll add some bits.     So here they are.   Sorry for the worse than normal picture, it was a very gloomy, rainy day here in New England so I had to take the picture under a lamp.  It tends to make the colors look a bit harsher and glossier than they are in RL.   Since I have to relocate the ripcord anyway, I think I'll replace it with thinner wire.   It looks a bit too thick.   I'll also be touching up the black paint smudge on the headrest on the right hand seat.   It's amazing what you miss for issues until you see your work in a picture! 

 

aG9vgpg.jpg

 

That's it for the seats.   I'll try to provide an update on the cockpit a bit later on.  Thanks for looking! 

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Did some additional work on the seats.  Replaced the ripcords as mentioned above and touched up some mistakes.   

 

In looking at more pictures of the real thing, I need to change the color of the ripcords.   The color I used is much too blue.  Lastly, still need to hit the seats with a wash, add a few paint scratches, a couple of decals and the ejection pull rings.  Also need to add a dab of superglue to smooth in the joint between the ripcords and the harness.   LOL, the more I look at these pictures, the more things I find wrong.   We are getting there, slowly though!   

 

Alj5VHG.jpg

 

qhhTQlC.jpg

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While I'm finishing up the seats, I'm starting to plan the rest of the cockpit.  First off - I'm a big fan of cockpits that looked heavily used.  Immaculate 'pits have their place but not on combat aircraft that were flying at a high tempo.   Not going to see mud caked on the floorboards, but SEA was hot and dusty at times (other times it was hot and raining) and the jets were flying a very demanding schedule. Crew Chiefs took pride in their jets and made sure the canopy / windscreen were spotless but they weren't going to bother touching up scratches and wear marks after each mission.   Here's a great picture that shows two realistically beat up IP's.

 

98CAzmw.jpg

 

Here's another good shot I found while wandering the web.

gkrdgNG.png

Note the patina of dust and grunge, especially behind the panel.  

 

By the way, if anyone wants to checkout a very used F-4C cockpit, I highly suggest you go here:

 

http://www.nmusafvirtualtour.com/cockpits/SEAW_tour/SEAW-10.html   (front cockpit)

 

http://www.nmusafvirtualtour.com/cockpits/SEAW_tour/SEAW-11.html (WSO cockpit)

 

These are fantastic 3D "virtual cockpits".   You can move around and zoom to your heart's content.   They are from the F-4C that's in the USAF Museum.   The exterior of this jet was completely "restored" and re-painted but the interior looks like the pilots just shut her down for the last time a few minutes ago.    This will be a fantastic reference when I start to add details and weather the cockpit.    

 

Also - for the first time, I'll be using these: 

l96YwcY.jpg

 

That's it for now, thanks for looking. 

 

 

Edited by John1
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Seats are done, except for some tinkering with the paintwork as I'm apt to do.   Very happy with AIMS's product.   I think I spent more time on these seats than I used to on an entire kit when I was a kid.    Added the Tamiya seat decals, trimmed to fit around the lap belts.   Also added a couple of placards on the left side from the very useful Airscale placard decal set.  Did a bit of paint chipping with my handy silver artist's pencil and used a Flory wash.  Probably need to clean up a bit of it on some of those lapbelts.   I also used it to tone down the yellow on the ejection ring pull handles.  It's a major PITA to paint the yellow/black striping.   Depending on what the Quinta handles look like, I might end up using them instead. We'll see. 

 

Anyways, here are some pics.

 

Liy93RD.jpg

 

0oRQRzd.jpg

 

My5sPMb.jpg

 

0a2hO5y.jpg

 

That's it for now, thanks for looking! 

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