1/72 Italeri F-4D Phantom II

Gallery Article by Carl Jarosz on Nov 22 2019



F-4D Phantom II North Dakota Centennial 1889-1989

This Phantom was simply a 'build-a-model-to-show-off-a-unique-decal' endeavor.  A number of years ago I stumbled upon a French-made (Syhart) decal sheet at a model show, depicting the 100th anniversary of the State of North Dakota achieving statehood. From the attached photos, you'll see that happened in 1989, exactly thirty years ago. I'd have made this model, and used the decal, sooner had I been aware of the decal sheet when it was released.

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As said above, this model was made to show off the decal that captured the stunning layout of the commemorative painting on a N. Dakota ANG F-4D then in service. I had to build an F-4D Phantom II, but I didn't want to detract attention from the decal, so I chose a very basic model on the market, an Italeri release that yielded a F-4D in shape and scale, but didn't have the extra details found on other model brands available. I did, though, dress up the cockpit seats with scratch-made seat belts, as the seats are the largest detail in the cockpit able to be seen. Although the Italeri kit allowed for open canopies, the resultant look would have been simplistic, and, again, I didn't want one to fawn over the interior details: it was the decal that stole the show for me.

It's just too bad that the centennial decoration was so large and intricate that it had to be painted on the underside of the chosen F-4D (fewer curves, as opposed to the top side). The full flavor of the decoration could thus only be had when the aircraft was in flight, with the landing gear tucked in, and the covers - with part of the decoration - adding to the full scene. But as I wanted to show it parked, the gear covers had to break the decoration scene, yet still contain those pieces of the scene.

Speaking of the one-of-a-kind decal, I'm convinced that Syhart hired an unemployed master jigsaw puzzle designer to create the decal sheet for them! Instead of making a two or three piece decal, for example, someone at Syhart felt it needed (ready for this?) no less than 24 different decal pieces to create the commemorative design on the model underside. I spent three days working with the decal sections, ensuring their flush and straight placement on the model. I also quickly appreciated that, before applying even the first piece, I needed to fill in the aft pair of fuselage recesses intended for the air-to-air missiles, or else the decal width would have been altered, affecting mating with other decal sections. On the actual Phantom, there are filler inserts that crewmen use to cover over the recesses, to improve airflow characteristics in flight when missiles aren't employed.

Finally, I didn't add any externals, like pylons or missiles, as this aircraft was only used to fly around the state, proudly showing the citizens of North Dakota of their making it to 100 years as part of the USA. Also note that the actual Phantom didn't even have the usual USAF star-and-bar markings. The aircraft only had the serial number on the vertical tail to identify it as owned by the US Air Force.
Carl Jarosz

Photos and text by Carl Jarosz