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Great value for money kit that builds into a nice
This kit was tooled in 1979 and was my first Monogram kit and first time building a Phantom. With the age of the kit and the low price for the size of the kit, I wasn't expecting to be thrilled with it. Boy, was I wrong! Although it has raised rivet and panel line details, that most serious modelers dislike, sand off and re-scribe, they don't bother me. My argument with panel lines is; if you have a 0.5mm wide panel line on a 1/48 scale model, that equates to a 24mm wide gap between panels on the actual aircraft!! If that were the case, then the plane is not getting off the ground, or even past the quality control inspection during manufacture! Looking at photos of the actual aircraft that this model is based on, you cannot see panel lines, just smooth transitions from panel to panel and fading of paint from sun bleaching, wear and tear. Anyway, all that aside, this kit comes with a full load of weaponry; 4 AIM-7 Sparrow missiles, 4 AIM-9 Sidewinders, a Gun Pod, two choices of ECM (Electronics Countermeasures pods), 2 external drop/fuel tanks and the option for a camera mount. For the age of the kit, the cockpit is nicely detailed and comes complete with a Pilot to seat within the cockpit and a standing figure to pose outside of the aircraft. I was expecting poor fits and lots of filling and sanding, but the kit goes together extremely well, except for the two Air-Intake nozzles that have a shallower angle on the back edges that mate with the fuselage. This leaves a gap that requires filling and smoothing, but we're talking another 30 minutes of work added to your modeling time, which is nothing to grumble about. The horizontal stabilizers have tabs extending from them that locate inside the rear tail fin slots. On these tabs are steps that are intended to mate with each other, so that when glued, they allow the stabilizers to be rotated simultaneously. It doesn't work, because there isn't enough location surface area of the stepped down feature, and even using super-glue it still wasn't enough to create a strong bond. Therefore, I glued mine in a fixed position that I thought looked good. The decals are top notch and I give those 10 out of 10. they go on great, even the large dorsal striped decal on the fuselage goes down easy around the angled and contoured surfaces. They include striped decals for the wing-tips, but I chose to mask and paint my own stripes at these areas. Overall, this kit is exceptional value for money and even for an old kit, it can still compete with some of the newer Japanese offerings whose only difference for more than twice the cost are recessed panel lines and a few extra details within the cockpit and options for underwing stores. I highly recommend this kit for any modeler, both new or seasoned, either straight out of the box, or whether you want to spend extra on the after-market extras that are available. It's a great value for money kit that builds into a nice model!
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