The F-4E in the Hellenic Air Force Service (Part I)
The Hellenic Air Force received between 1974 and 1978 58 new F-4Es and 8 new RF-4Es. In 1991 30 more used F-4Es came from the Air National Guard, and finally 1994 27 ex-Luftwaffe RF-4Es were purchased to support the reconnaissance needs of the nation. Four squadrons were equipped with the F/RF-4Es: The 337 MPK (All Weather Squadron) “Fantasma” (Phantom) based today at Larissa AB (110 Combat Wing); the 338 MDB (Fighter Bomber Squadron) “Aris” (Mars); the 339 MPK (All Weather Squadron) “Aias” (Ajax) based at Andravida AB (117 Combat Wing); and the 348 MTA (Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron) “Matia” (Eyes) based also at Larissa AB (110 Combat Wing).
In 1997 the Hellenic Aerospace Industries, together with DASA, started an update program for the modernization of 39 F-4Es (all from the new F-4E batches) to make them flyable until 2010. This project was called Peace Icarus 2000 (I and II) and included a new radar (AN/APQ-65), new colored multi function cockpit screens, AMRAAM and AIM-9M capability, AFDS, friend/foe identification, and many more changes based on the Luftwaffe F-4F ICE program. The program will make the Peace Icarus Phantom a very dangerous adversary even for the newer and more advanced “electric” jets of today.
The paint schemes found on Hellenic Phantoms varied from the standard US SEA scheme to the new Ghost scheme.
Now let’s get to the model....
Since there’s so many Phantom kits out there, I won’t list all the F-4 kits in all scales. Instead I’ll write only about the big Phantoms in 1/32 scale.
There are two companies with 1/32 F-4s in the market. Revell/Monogram and Tamiya. Almost all versions of the mighty Phantom are available (the F-4E/F and RF-4C/E from Revell and the F-4C/D/J from Tamiya) except for the F/RF-4B/N and the British F-4K/M.
Both Revell and Tamiya Kits have their problems but all in all they are both very good kits and you can build masterpieces out of them.
For the F-4E I used the Revell kit, specifically the F-4F because the F-4E is hard to find in Europe (and especially in Germany!). On the other hand the F-4F kit offers very good seats but poorer instrument panels than the F-4E kit and it doesn’t have the slatted stabilators. So I had to order them from the States because it is very difficult to make them from scratch (many thanks to the Revell/Monogram guys!). One more problem is the wrong nose of the F-4E/F kit but I can live with it. Otherwise the kit is very good and offers almost everything to make a superb model out of it.
I used five kits to cover all aircraft types and all of the painting schemes that used by Hellenic Phantoms. Four F-4Fs (converted into F-4Es) and an RF-4C (converted into a RF-4E).
I’ll start from the middle! Greek Phantoms were flown back in the 70es in the SEA style scheme and had big light blue and white roundels in six positions. In the mid 80s the paint scheme that was already used by the Mirage F1 and the F-5A was also used by the F-4s. It was the Aegean Blue (FS 35164) in all upper surfaces and silver (FS 17178) on the under surfaces. The Aegean blue scheme was used until the recent days and it has been replaced with the new ghost scheme seen on the F-16s and F-5s.
There was a big misunderstanding about the right tone of the Aegean blue. Is it darker or lighter? Well, Greek F-4s are used many times a day and together with the Greek climatic conditions makes the amount of weathering very high. The right tone of the Aegean blue must be a much lighter one... but the right answer is very simple: If it looks right it is right!
As I wrote above, the instrument panels are 3D, but not as good as those in the F-4E kit (especially the front panel). I used the Eduard photoetched kits to make things better. The WSO panel was taken from the kit but I added some cables in the back and the shade for the radar screen.
The back cockpit is too deep, so I had to cut it and glue it 0.5cm higher. If you don’t change it, you’ll have to put the seat much higher...Otherwise the situation in the cockpit is OK.
The seats that I found in the F-4F kit are very good, but I changed them with resin ones from Paragon. I used only the face curtains handles from the kit.
One more problem came through here. The front landing gear is out of scale (toothin)! I had to make the whole thing from scratch (I used photos from the real thing and the same part from the Tamiya kit as a template). The main undercarriage is otherwise well done from Revell.
I wanted the access panel of the Vulcan cannon open so I put one breech of a Vulcan cannon left over from one of my many F-104 kits!
I used the original centerline tank (you have also the option for the F-15 style tank!) and the wing tanks from the Tamiya kit.
Painting & Decals
As I wrote above the Hellenic Phantoms were flown between mid 80s and 90s with the Aegean Blue scheme. This blue variation is some kind of tricky because everyone wants this color in more than one tone. Well the truth is that the FS 35164 is much lighter on the F-4 and together with the Greek sun, wind, and salt water you have to change this color to a gray-blue one!
One particular point of interest is that once the aircraft is went through repair and other service procedures, ground personal sprayed the panel lines with fresh (and darker) color. You have the effect that after some service time almost every panel line is darker than the rest.
I didn’t use a spray gun to paint the model. Everything was done by brush.
Some of the decals was made from the beginning by drawing and printing them on clear decal sheet. The Greek roundels are made in Greece from Plastimodelismo.
F-4 Phantom ( Kostas Dimitropoulos) (Costandinidis Publications)
Machitika Aeroskafi Polemikis Aeroporias (Combat Aircraft of the (Hellenic) Air Force) (in Greek) from the Model magazine „Modelling“
F-4 Phantom II in detail and scale (Part 2, 1, 3)(Bert Kinzey)
Modern Military Aircraft (Bill Gunston)
F-4 Phantom (Modern Combat Aircraft 1)(Bill Gunston)