With 5.195 built the F-4 Phantom II is the most produced American jet fighter ever. Development began in 1953 and the aircraft made it's first flight in 1958. The phantom was designed as an interceptor and was fitted with a powerful radar but no gun. In the following years it was bought by more US defence parts and by the mid sixties it formed the backbone of the U.S. Air force, U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy air fleet. At the beginning of the Vietnam war it was thought that air to air combat between aircraft was fought solely via radars and missiles but this turned out to be a mistake and the Phantom II was equipped with a 20mm gatling gun. Needless to say the phantom II was capable of landing on an aircraft carrier. The Phantom was a popular export product as well and was used by air forces from: Germany, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Israel, South Korea, Japan, Spain and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom the Phantom was replaced by the tornado in the early nineties while other air forces are still using the Phantom up to today although replacement is on the way. More on the long history of this interesting fighter can be read on wikipedia and numerous other sources.
The first picture shows 4 American Phantoms, the second one 4 phantoms from the 'Thunderbirds' US Air Force stunt team (note the characteristic smoke trail behind the engines):
Phantoms in service with RAF:
A Greek, Japanese and German Phantom respectively:
Like it's real life counterpart, model phantoms are numerous too and many model kit manufactures have several phantoms in their in catalogue often in more then one scale. In 1/48th and 1/72th scale the choice is largest but in 1/144th scale there is less to choose from. I myself build 3 phantoms from 'ARII', known these days under the name 'MicroAce' available from Hobbylink Japan. At this moment they only produce packs of 3 aircraft but I bought what turned out to be the last of the kits produced under the ARII label. The benefit of having one model per box is of course the fact that you could choose many decal options. I don't really know how old the moulds are these models are from but I build several aircraft from this brand and I'm very pleased with the quality. These are build up from about 20 parts and sometimes include a simple cockpit which is also the case with there phantom. I only added seat belts.
MicroAce also produces two weapon sets for aircraft, weapon set A and B. These sets can be handy and at less then €2,00 per set not really expensive. The missiles and bombs are not as good as those delivered with the latest Revell and Dragon kits though!
Time for some photo's. I build an American, German and Japanese machine. For the American machine I used bombs from the weapon sets. For the Japanese Navy aircraft I used a the anti-ship missile from the weapon set. The decals where also very good, they are not extremely sharp in print but the adhere well to even mat painted surfaces. The German Phantom had most decals, since all 'no step' symbols are included.
These kits might be not as good as recent releases from other manufactures, this shows especially with parts from the exhaust, cockpit and wheel bays. Point is that the last two are hardly visible so although these bit are in the 'subtop' of model kits these days I still recommend them. Under the ARII label an extensive range of kits where produced and many are not availible under the MicroAce label. I hope they will produce all these aircraft in time.