Tamiya 60306 McDonnell F-4 J Phantom II Kit 1:32

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About the McDonnell F-4J Phantom II


In May 1958, the McDonnell F4H-1 Phantom II prototype was rolled out of their
facility at Lambert Field, St. Louis, Missouri. It was a very large aircraft for
a fighter and it was not very pretty by aviation standards. It looked like some
giant had stepped on its nose and kicked it in the tail; however, it flew on the
27th of that month and is still flying today, 5,195 Phantoms later. From these
beginnings until well into the 1970's the F4 Phantom II would be the primary
fighter aircraft of the free world.


By 1982 the F4 had fought in 5 major conflicts, nine years in Southeast Asia,
twice in the desert of the Middle East and against each other at one time. It
was used in every role; Fighter interceptor, Fighterbomber, Reconnaissance,
Tanker and Drone. They specialized in attack roles as Wild Weasel defense
suppression and laser designator bombers. They also defeated the best aircraft
that the opposition could put against it. The only time it lost was when pitted
against another F4, during the Greek-Turkey conflict. With the U.S. Navy in the
headlines everyday with this new interceptor, the American Defense Department
ordered competitive tests be flown against the best aircraft in the U.S. Air
Force inventory. Convair's F-106 Delta Dart was selected to fly against the
Navy's Phantom II, and the Phantom easily won top speed, low-level speed,
altitude, plus the unrefueled range and radar range. Following this flyoff, much
to the disgust and embarrassment of the Air Force, it was decided that the next
Air Force fighter would be this U.S. Navy design. It would at first supplement,
then totally replace the Air Force F100; F102; F104 and F105 strike and
interceptor aircraft. Under the designation F110A, the Air Force Phantom II was
basically a Navy-4B airframe with changes made to meet Air Force requirements.
Following the F-4C, which was essentially the same aircraft as the designated
F110A, the F-4D version was more closely tailored to meet the requirements of
the Air Force. With these two versions, the Phantom II established its
unparalleled esteem in the U.S. Air Force.


The F-4's in the U.S. Navy had numerous variants through its career to fulfill
various requirements from the Navy as well. Following the F-4G, which was
developed as a trial, the next variant was designated the F-4J to avoid
confusion with the original F4H-1 The F-4J was designed as the follow-on to the
original F-4B, correcting some of the deficiencies which had become apparent in
service. Its maiden flight was made on 27th May 1966, and mass production
started shortly after. As the F-4J was developed for the U.S. Navy in parallel
with the F-4D of the Air Force, they had a few differences. The new J79-GE-10
powerplant was further improved from the previous J79-GE-8 to yield more power.
Internally, upgraded radar, with an improved fire-control system and a new
missile-control system, were fitted to earn even better interception and ground
attack abilities. In addition, a fixed inboard leading edge along with a slotted
tailplane contributed to better maneuverability at low speeds. Lift at low
speeds was further enhanced by furnishing 16.5� dropped ailerons. As a
consequence of these alternations, its approach speed was reduced by 20km/h. A
further noticeable difference from the previous variants was the bulged inner
wingfoot to accommodate the larger wheels employed to cope with its increased
weight. Armament was also bolstered. AIM-7 Sparrows and AIM-9 Sidewinders were
equipped as the main weapons for air-to-air combat, and a wide variety of bombs,
missiles, rockets and explosives could be fitted according to the mission. The
maximum load of armament was 5 tons which made the F-4J's attack capability
outstanding. Further changes were introduced during the course of production,
such as a provision of Sidewinder Expanded Acquisition Mode (SEAM) and addition
of various dogfight-capable computers.


It was in March 1967 when the F-4J's delivery to the corps started. U.S. forces
were in midst of the hard-fought conflict against North Vietnam. Back in 1961,
the U.S. government decided to send their troops to Vietnam to support the South
Vietnamese government, and the conflict kept spreading day by day. Under these
circumstances, the Phantom II played a main role in the sky. The Navy's Phantom
II's were flown from aircraft carriers, and the Phantom II's of the Air Force
and the Marines were flown from their bases in South Vietnam and Thailand to
engage in North Vietnameses's MiGs. It was the end of May 1968 when the F-4J's
carried on the aircraft carrier "America" first appeared over the Vietnamese
sky. On 21st July, an F-4J shot down a MiG 21, which was recorded as the first
kill by the F-4J. F-4J's streamed to the battle field, and achieved outstanding
military results against MiG's especially after resumption of the North Vietnam
bombing. The only "Ace" status in the U.S. Navy during this conflict was
attained by an F-4J on 10th May 1972. Lt. Randy Cunningham and Lt. William
Driscoll, who had already shot down a MiG 1 and MiG 17, gained three MiG 17's on
the day, making themselves the first aces. However, their "longest day" was not
concluded. Soon after their fifth kill, on their way back, their F-4J was tagged
by a missile from the ground and the pair ejected and were rescued at sea.


The mass production of the F-4J ceased in December 1972, recording 522 aircraft
as the total number produced. The F-4J proved its superb combat capability
mainly in the Vietnam conflict throughout its career, and contributed to
establishing the high reputation for the Phantom II series all around the world.
Seven F-4J's were slightly modified for use by the U.S. Navy's "Blue Angels"
flight demonstration team as well. These aircraft had oil and smoke injectors
added, and were beautifully painted in the team's attractive blue and gold
colors. Their acrobat demonstrations fully utilized their full potential at the
many air shows held for the public. Although being replaced gradually by the
F-14 Tomcat in the Navy and the F-15 Eagle in the Air force in recent years, the
Phantom II dominated the sky all over the world as a guardian for western
alignment till the 80's.

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