This is the third part of the story about the F/RF-4E service in the Hellenic Air Force. This time we’ll take a look at the RF-4Es of the HAF. The Hellenic Air Force received eight new RF-4Es between 1976 and 1978. In 1993 27 ex-Luftwaffe RF-4Es came to support the reconnaissance needs of the Nation. All of the RF-4s are serving with the 348 MTA (Tactical Reconnaissance. Squadron.) “Matia” (Eyes) based in Larissa AB, as a part of the 110 Combat Wing. The Wing has three Squadrons: The 348 MTA with RF-4Es, the 337 MPK (all weather Sq.) with F-4Es and the 346 MA (Interceptor Sq.) with F-16 CG/DGs.
The first 8 “new” RF-4Es are from the later 66/67 blocks (serial Nr. 77-357 and 77358, and 77-1761 thru 77-1766) and have slated wings and the newer rounded camera nose. Those aircraft had all received the antennas of the DIAS protection system (made by Raytheon), AIM-9 fire capability and are all painted with the standard USAF-SEA colours.
The ex-Luftwaffe RF-4Es are from the first RF-4E production blocks and have no leading edge slats under the wings and also have the straight camera nose. They were delivered in their German colours with Greek roundels and tail pennant in light blue painted over the German Squadron badge and flag on the tail respectably. After some years of operation with the original German paint scheme, all of the RF-4Es are painted now in the SEA scheme just like their new delivered “brothers” from the 1970s.
The Model Situation
Well, once again, 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 the F/RF-4B and the British F-4K/M and I think it is time for those companies to do something about it!
For building the RF-4E I used the very good Revell RF-4C kit in 1/32 scale and did some changes to make it an “E”. The kit is very nice, with many details, and beautiful 3D instrument panels and consoles for the cockpit. A very nice surprise is that you have also the J79-17 nozzles and the USAF style inboard pylons in the box, so you can build the E-version almost straight out of the box, but you can only build the first block RF-4E with the straight camera nose and the non-slated wings. That was the reason why I could only build two ex Luftwaffe RF-4s with two different camouflage patterns: one with the standard German Norm 83B camouflage scheme, and one in the well known SEA colours, but still interesting.
The details in the cockpits are well done and you have beautiful 3D instrument panels and consoles for painting. The instrument panels are excellent and I used them for the Norm 83B RF, but for the SEA RF I used almost everything from Tamiya’s front instrument panel and side consoles. For the front panel I just removed the radar screen and replaced it with the two RF screens from the RF-4C kit. In the back cockpit I used the original panel from the RF kit and only the side consoles are from Tamiya.
The seats are not the good ones found in the F-4F kit and I had to change them with those of the F-4F kits. Those seats are well done, but I used the harnesses from the Eduard set 32-032 to make them better. The MB GH7 seats for the German Phantoms are something different from the USAF H7 seats. The parachute pack is not so high as the USAF seats. A big bravo goes out to Revell for noticing the difference.
I had to cut the upper region of the front cockpit panel (above the screens) and glue it higher. Once again the back cockpit is too deep and I had to rework it (see part II). The cockpit detail sets of Eduard (032-24 and 032-32) were used to show the high degree of details that you see on the Phantom in that region, and last but not least, I had to build the structure of the cover from the front panel with stretched plastic.
At this point I wish to make a proposal to the Revell/Monogram people:
“Dear Revell product manager, why don’t you put together, in one F-4E or RF-4C/E box, the really good seats from the F-4F kit, the right fin of the F-4E kit, the very good 3D instruments of the F-4E or RF-4C kit and you have an almost perfect F-4 or RF-4 kit (I’ll not mention the wrong nose of the “E/F”, but if you’ll correct that, well, then you have nothing to fear from the Japanese competition.)!”
The Camera Bay
It was very nice to find almost all cameras for the nose in the kit. They are pretty good together with their pylons inside the fuselage. It’s sad if you completely close the fuselage, so I decided to open at least the front camera door on the Norm 83 RF. The left and right side cameras are positioned a little bit too high in the fuselage and they must be much closer to their windows, but I didn’t change them (it was too late!).
I had to build the nose gear leg from scratch, because it is out of scale. The Norm 83 RF was one of my first Phantoms I built, and you can see some differences between the two Models in that region (see part I and II for further information). You have to cut of 0,5cm of the main gear legs, because the Model seats too “high” in its main gear. I had to drill a hole in the middle of each main wheel to make it look better; otherwise the main gear legs are done very nicely from Revell.
I wanted to have the slats and flaps in the down position by the Norm 83 RF. First, I cut off all control surfaces with a sharp knife and glued them together. Then, with some rod and plastic I closed the gap in the leading edge of the two-piece flaps. By using sheet styrene I glued them in the down position as you can see on the photos. The details in the open structure of the wing and fuselage were made from plastic sheet and painted red.
I left the parabrake door open in the Norm 83B RF-4. I had to drill the fuselage behind that door and build the room for the parabrake itself from plastic sheet.
Last but not least, I had to rescribe the panel lines of the photoflash cartridges bay in the back fuselage.
Painting and Decals
The Norm 83B RF-4E
The German camouflage pattern (Norm 83 A+B) has two greens (RAL 6003 olive green, FS 34079 forest green and black grey RAL 7021) in a wrap around scheme. I used FS 34102 (Humbrol 117) for the RAL6003, and it comes very closely to the right tone of that green. For the RAL7021 I used FS 36081 (Humbrol 32). Take a look at the following link to see the camouflage pattern.
The “Luftwaffe” aircraft were delivered strangely with the light blue Greek roundels (these are not officially in use today, and they have been replaced with dark blue ones in the mid 70s) and for that reason I used the decal sheet from Plastimodellismo made in Greece with the light blue decals (unfortunately no longer in production). I also used the myriad stencils from the original decal sheet of the Revell RF-4E kit (many thanks to the Revell-Germany guys for sending me that sheet).
The SEA-Camouflaged RF-4E
The well-known SEA camouflage scheme (two greens FS 34079/34102, a tan 30219 and a light grey FS 36622) is now standard on Greek RF-4Es. The pattern is principally the same as it seen before on other F-4s, but the borderline between the light grey and the other colours on the side of the fuselage is now in a wave form and absolutely sharp, so you don’t have to use a spray gun!
Big walkways can be seen on the fuselage and the wings on the standard places. To make them, I first masked those areas and painted them matt black. Then I put long strips of white decal sheet on their borderlines.
Well, once again, no more secrets, both kits painted without a spray gun and only by brush...
No, no, not yet! That’s not the end of the story! In Part IV we will take a last look on the HAF F-4Es with other paint schemes and more interior life!