Black Box | CS32004: RF-4E Conversion

Reviewed by Ben Brown

Black Box has released a conversion for those who wish to build a 1/32 reconnaissance Phantom, but prefer the Tamiya kits to Revell’s. This set is intended for the F-4E kit, but it looks like it can also be used to build an RF-4C using the F-4C/D kit. The set includes two massive castings for the nose and lower forward fuselage, two air-conditioning intakes, clear plastic sheet for camera windows, new instrument panel, and a new instrument panel coaming. My set also has two small parts that look like TACAN antennae but are not mentioned in the instructions. New nose gear doors are not provided since the flat doors from the C/D kit are still included in the E kit. All of the parts are cast in Black Box’s typical high quality, with only a few small flaws in the large nose casting. These can be easily removed with a couple of swipes from a sanding stick. The corners of the lower fuselage section also had a couple of small bubbles that can be easily fixed. The camera fairing under the nose is the early, angular version, and the overall shape of appears to be accurate. The instrument panel has nice, sharp detail and includes a cutout in the back so the kit clear parts can be used.

The instructions are fairly clear, with scale drawings to aid construction, but there are a few omissions:

The Total Air Temperature probe (Part B15 on the F-4C/D or L50 on the F-4E) needs to be moved to the upper starboard side of the forward nose gear door. It is sort of shown in the side view drawing, but not pointed out anywhere else.

The lower half of the plug on the nose piece should be removed or it will interfere with the new lower fuselage section.

To build an RF-4C using the F-4C/D kit, part of the forward fuselage will have to be removed, but this shouldn’t be a problem. You will also have to provide an F-4E-style pitot tube. If you don’t want to build one from scratch, Fine Molds produces a very nice metal pitot tube set for the Tamiya F-4E. These can be found at HobbyLink Japan. Finally, the RF-4C carried Navy-style inboard pylons, so if you want some on your model, you’ll need to rob them from a Tamiya F-4J kit or one of the Revell F-4s. The RF-4E’s pylons had the rounded leading edge found on Air Force Phantoms.

While this is an expensive addition to an already expensive model, this looks like the best way to build an accurate RF-4E (or RF-4C). Recommended!

Review sample courtesy of my wallet.

© Ben Brown 2005

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016