Phantom Phollies: getting the F-4 to decals

I’m working on my F-4B Phantom II this week, and if I get the decals on her it’ll turn into a full-court press to completion (I’ll goof around on a build until the decals are on; then, it goes into overdrive until it’s all done). The plane I selected (okay, I actually let my wife pick it out) was the plane used by GarryWeigand and Bill Freckleton to shoot down a MiG-17 on March 6, 1972 (you can read about it – and see the plane as it exists today – here).

I had decals for that aircraft on an old SuperScale sheet, but my research revealed they were rather, er, SuperScaley. That is, the markings were a long way off from accurate and that’s led me to paint some of the markings in the model. The decal/painting integration may be tough, but it’ll be rewarding.

The sheet doesn’t include the sash that extends back from the rear cockpit sill to a point on the aircraft’s spine. I masked and painted red over the gull gray main color to replicate the sash; painting red trim is always a nerve-sharking experience. In my case, when I took the tape off the spine (a hard place to mask thanks to the little fairing behind the cockpit, another one of Hasegawa’s wonderfully over-engineered touches) there were some slightly frayed-looking edges. Not to worry – as my friend Ben Pada once showed me, such nasty edges are okay when your model’s trim has a cheat line. The Phantom has black cheat lines around its red trim, which I’ll replicate with strips of black decal; these will conveniently hide my ragged red edges.

Here’s something I did worry about: when I painted the red paint, I got red overspray on one of the wings outboard of the masking tape. Luckily, I missed the flaps, which are white; I was able to remove the overspray with a pencil eraser, believe it or not. The only sign of a problem is that those areas are now glossy, which won’t be a problem once the gloss coat goes on.

The next scary thing will be the tail; I really hope the Sundowners decal reaches out to the edges of the vertical fin. That’s a set of markings I do not want to paint.

I also get to paint a drop tank or two white, with a red nose. I know this will look great, and it looked great in real life… But boy, what a pain to paint. This kill was scored while in escort of an RA-5C, which will limit the load-out to AIM-9Ds (the plane’s radar was non-operative, so AIM-7s would be dead weight). But that’s a little down the road. First, I have to get all the decals on; I really can’t relax until the second gloss coat seals them down. Wish me luck.



  1. How about an in progress photo?

  2. Correction. I was the backseater on 6 March 1972 when we bagged the MiG-17.

    The correct names are pilot: Lt GARRY WEIGAND, RIO: LT(j.g.) BILL FRECKLETON

    Thanks for the interest and superb work.

    Bill Freckleton

    • Boy howdy, I can be a hammerhead sometimes. (I had Bill and Garry’s names reversed – they were with the wrong surnames, and have since been corrected. Oddly, I had them correct in the tags; clearly my brain is reaching the “memory full” stage). Thanks for noticing the work of we modelers; it’s really appreciated by those of us who see models as a way of preserving history!

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