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Italeri 1/72 F-4E Phantom II – Turkish 2020 Terminator

Here’s the first finished model in my F-4 long-term project. I used the Italeri F-4 E/F/G kit, as it has been recommended as one of the better kits for depicting the wing slats and slotted stabs of later-variant E’s.

The aircraft
The Turkish 2020 Terminator is has been called the most capable and maneuverable Phantom on the planet, rivaled only by the Japanese F-4EJ Kai. From an article at this link:

“The fighters have had 20km of internal wiring replaced by lighter modern systems, reducing their weight by a phenomenal 750kg and thereby significantly enhancing the aircraft’s trust/weight ratio making it more manoeuvrable and better suited to air to air engagements. New attachment fittings allow the Turkish Phantoms to more effectively deploy modern weapons, while modern avionics including the Kaiser EL-OP HUD and HOTAS systems, an advanced EL/M-2032 pulse doppler radar and state of the art Israeli mission computers and navigation equipment have all been added. State of the art electronic warfare pods, targeting pods, and the ability to deploy modern munitions have made Turkey’s Phantoms viable as modern combat platforms.”

Israel had originally designed the upgrade, as it intended to upgrade it’s F-4 Kurnass fleet, but with acquisition of newer fighters and the reluctance of US defense industries to help, didn’t go through with it. They ended up using their expertise to upgrade the Turkish fleet instead.

In addition, the Turkish defense industry designed and created the SOM cruise missile – if I’m not mistaken creating the only cruise-missile-toting Phantom on the planet.

The build
I added some details to the cockpit, but not much, as with it being closed up it wasn’t going to be very visible. I did use PE face curtains and aftermarket pilots, as those are most visible next to the canopy glass.

I did a lot of rivet work – as much as I could without being able to get into corners. I made the mistake of adding the wings before I decided to rivet – next time I’ll rivet first so I can get further.

I had to do some modification to the tail to get the top of the fin and the additional sensors looking correct. The one below the fin is a bit large for scale, but close enough for me! Also added the correct blade aerials on the spine, and what appears to be a stiffener on each side of the vertical fin. I had read that the Terminator had longer strakes, but couldn’t find them in reference photos, so left the kit wing strakes as they were.

I couldn’t find any SOM missiles, so used a set of Taurus missiles out of a European Weapons set and modified it to look like the SOM – not perfect but darn close.

I’m still having trouble with my paint coat being too grainy, so I tried to sand it down a bit. Lost some paint and had to touch up, but that also gave me some nice effect on the raised panel details, so all was not lost. I did use the black-basing technique to get marbling beneath the grey scheme, and painted the wing walks. I realized the wing walks should have been a lighter grey than I used, but left it.

Having recently secured the Vajello Metal paints, I experimented trying to get a multi-hued effect on the metal work. My only disappointment is the “stripes” on the top of the stabs are too stark – I’ll try something else next time. Overall, I really enjoyed working with the Vajello metals.

It took me 3 sets of aftermarket decals to get everything I wanted. The 2020 Terminator set had most everything except that the rescue decals and rescue triangles beneath the cockpit were not low-viz, and there were no slime lights in the set. I used a MilSpec set of lights/wing walk decals to get the softer yellow lights I was after, and I luckily found another set of decals for a Turkish Phantom from a test unit that had the low-viz decals I needed. I did have to make some repairs of the shark mouth on the starboard side, as the decal tore during application. There was a second shark mouth set (different design) on the sheet, so I cut out some replacement teeth and then painted back in around them.

I also added sway braces to the pylons, and then a variety of weathering (AK pencils, Tamiya weathering sets, and the usual pastel chalks). I also lightened both of the grey colors of paint and thinned them down, then used a small brush to add the “panel line touch up,” per reference photos. One would have thought the touch up would have been darker paint, but in photos is shows up lighter (may be an optical illusion), so I went with the illusion!

I’ve already started the cockpits of my -EJ Kai and a Kurnass – so more Phantom Phun to come!

21 additional images. Click to enlarge.

20 responses to Italeri 1/72 F-4E Phantom II – Turkish 2020 Terminator

  1. Nicely done Greg! I REALLY like the Vallejo Metallics. They are so easy to use and cleanup afterwards. I also like the way they level when brushed on…can’t tell it wasn’t airbrushed.

  2. Nice work Greg. I think your paint finish turned out great!

  3. Nice work. Interesting result.

    The solution to “grainy” paint is to thin more – in 1/72, you should be doing at least 60-40 paint-thinner, and 50-50 will do even better.

    • @tcinla – Following the advice and experience of my club mentor, my ratios are always more thinner than paint!

      • Hello Greg, don’t get me wrong please: I don’t intend to teach anyone, because I don’t know much either, but, since you already use more thinner than paint, could it be air pressure? I always try to paint a little on an empty CD case (the paper absorbs and does not allow to have the correct notion of the result) and thus I can find the correct pressure for the paint / thinner ratio that I am using. And then, of course, a pair of light layers works better than a more consistent one.
        But one can see the beautiful work you did, going through all the necessary modifications on that absolutely fantastic aircraft.

        • @magrus That’s probably a good thought. I use a spreadsheet that matches PSI to paint/thinner ratio, along with distance of tip to subject, but I’m probably still to fearful of being too close to the subject to end up with runs, and my thought is I’m probably too far from subject and end up spraying “dry” paint on the model! It also may be that I need to adjust the spreadsheet, as the airbrush I use is different from the person who created the spreadsheet for his use. I’m learning as I go!

          • Yes @gkittinger, sometimes even the compressor can make some diference, but airbrush and needle tip size surely does.
            I don’t know what paint brand do you use but, from my experience, even in the same brand not every paint and thinner racio dilutes in the same way as there are differences in the color pigments.

          • @magrus Great points Manuel – I didn’t even think of paint differences, though I know that to be true! I should probably slow down and test each time on my paint mule to make sure I’ve got it dialed in each time.

  4. A Phabulously Phine Phantom, Greg! I hadn’t known about the Turkish updates, looks great on your signature stand design. Looking forward to the next one.

  5. That’s a beautiful model Greg, I like the realistic in flight pose you achieved, looks mean and menacing

  6. Sharp Greg! Interesting article on the upgrades. I think these Turkish F-4s are ex-New Jersey and Indiana ANG planes. They had a lot of life left in them when they were retired here in the 90s.

  7. Who doesn’t like the idea of a series of Phantoms spanning from the F4H to the Terminator?
    Now you are implementing it, starting from the last one, good!
    This Terminator turned out very well, thanks to your attention for details.
    I like your modelling style, keep it up!

  8. Very professional build, Greg. like your “wheels up and let’s get at ’em” builds, especially with the Kittinger patented display stand.

    The black basing has come out well – hard to get interest in all that grey but there’s some nice tonal variation in there.

    Eagerly await the next Phantom.



  9. A real Beauty Greg!

  10. Nice job,congratulation

  11. Greg, you mentioned a spreadsheet you use for your Paint/Thinner/Air Pressure mix. I’m always looking to learn and for new “tools”. Is it available or proprietary?

  12. Fantastic work, weathering on panels and between panels is great!

  13. A beautiful looking Phantom, and lots of interesting research and history make an excellent posting,definitely liked.

  14. Hi Greg,
    Excellent model and lots of (new) news for me. I read Air Forces Monthly, but I must have missed some chapters. Great news that the Turkish Air Force will be flying the F-4 for some years to come. Amazing what the weight of cables can be on just one fighter/bomber.
    Great model. The Americans brought some of their last examples to the scrapyard.

    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  15. Awesome Phantom, really nicely done!

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