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FJ-4B Fury
Three-Way Comparison


Grand Phoenix

by Fotios Rouch

Grand Phoenix 1/48 scale FJ-4B Fury is available online from Squadron.com




For a long time now (since 1981) those who wanted a 1/48 scale FJ-4 had the Matchbox FJ-4B as their only choice.

The Collect-Aire FJ-4B came out in January 2003. Five months after that the Grand Phoenix kit released their version and all of a sudden we have three models of the same aircraft.

I purchased two Collect-Aire kits last January and built both of them soon afterwards.



I also purchased one Grand Phoenix kit at the Squadron Scalefest. I always had two Matchbox Furies but I gave one to a friend once the Collect-Aire kits came out.

So now I have three FJ-4Bs and a comparison became inevitable. First of all let's lay down the ground rules and the necessary disclaimers.

I am not the expert of all experts. I never say the "last word". This comparison is in the name of fun and information transfer. Lastly, I like to go with the facts if and when I have them. I will make it known when I am not certain. I am not going to compare every single part. I will compare all the major parts and soon after I finish my Grand Phoenix kit I will do another photo shoot.

To make it easier I will try to show the differences and the similarities in three way comparisons. In some frames you will notice that I have sprayed the Collect-Aire kit with gray primer for the details to show better.



Length: 11.09meters or 36.4 feet translating to 23.1cm or 9.1 inches Width: 11.9 meters or 39.11 feet translating to 24.8cm or 9.7inches I tried as best as I could to measure the fuselages of all three aircraft.

First of all, a straight comparison between the fuselage parts reveals the Collect-Aire kit to be the largest, Matchbox to be in the middle and the Grand Phoenix kit to be the smallest of them all.



I am not so sure as to how the original aircraft was measured. Note that the tail fin goes further back than the tail cone. I have seen different numbers when dimensions are taken (for example nose pitot probe included or not in total fuselage length for some aircraft). In any case I cannot conclude with any certainty what the real story is with the correct length dimensions.

Collect-Aire Kit Details

The Collect-Aire kit has more fuselage detail as far as engraving and vent holes are concerned. It offers the side speed brakes in the open position. It has open ammo panels on both sides. It has better proportioned gun ports and includes the circular venting hole present between the gun ports. It provides wing flaps that can be posed in the lowered position. There is an option for the tail hook to be shown in the retracted or extended position.

I like the option of the buddy refueling tanks as well as the two other types of tanks all done with very nice engraved panel details. Lastly the wings can be posed up or down.

The cockpit is adequate and the ejection seat is okay. I had to grind the bottom of the ejection seat as well as the cockpit floor so that the seat would leave enough canopy clearance.

The deck underneath the canopy has adequate detail and it needs it since it is very visible under the canopy.



The canopy is vac-formed and you will have to cut it very carefully so it will look ok on its metal frame. Future application is mandatory. The landing gear is metal and it will support the weight of the model comfortably.

The resin is of great quality and demonstrates minimum shrinkage.

The decals are for 3 FJ-4Bs and one FJ-4. Be careful on your choices because all need a little work and corrections to look right.

Grand Phoenix Kit Details

The Grand Phoenix kit's plastic is not of the same grade quality as the one used on the Firefly. This is not the end of the world since it will not be visible after painting.

The surface detail is good and the panel lines are okay.

The vent holes are missing and are represented by sometimes uneven scribing instead. The gun ports do not look perfect but have the vertical ribbing detail that the Collect-Aire kit lacks and is so difficult to reproduce. There is an option for the tail hook to be shown in the retracted or extended position. The fuel vents are properly molded at main wing trailing edges. The Collect-Aire kit missed this detail and I did not catch it early in the game.

There is only one choice of wing tanks for this kit and they do not have any surface detail. GP included the tail skid that I had to scratch build for my Collect-Aire kits.



The speed brakes are molded closed and that is okay. I just personally like the busier look of everything hanging out.



The cockpit detail is excellent and the instrument panel looks great in photoetch. The ejection seat is very nice with lots of detail (Aires). The canopy is a little thick and will distort light even after a Future treatment. The deck underneath the canopy is just a flat resin surface and you will need to scratch build the details.

The landing gear is good in detail and I hope that the resin components will be strong enough for supporting the weight of the model.



The decals are for 2 FJ-4s and one FJ-4B. Careful here because the painted profiles all show FJ-4Bs. FJ-4s do not have the bottom speed brakes and they do not have the bulge present just behind the front wheel well.


Matchbox Kit Details

The Matchbox kit was released in 1981 and it looks it. One of its biggest problems is the shape and size of the tailplanes.



There are some other shape problems but I do not care to be mean to such an old kit so I stop here!

I will probably give my last one away or sell it to a collector.


General Comments

Some general notes. It appears that Collect-Aire has gotten the fuselage shapes a bit better especially around the hump area just behind the cockpit and the way it flows to the tail. This is just my opinion as I look at my pictures of the one I photographed at the nearby museum.





In summary, the Collect-Aire kit reflects its higher pedigree.

The Grand Phoenix kit is good too and it comes at half the price of the resin kit. I will certainly build mine and have already decided on a scheme I like. I expect some construction problems because I did some dry fitting already. Do not forget that the resin parts where not done in house. It has to be expected that there will be some discrepancies between resin and plastic.

The Collect-Aire kit on the other hand was done by one person so it should fit better.

By the way this specific maker I like so much DOES build his own kits instead of throwing them over the fence for the modeler to figure out.

When I complete the GP kit I will be able to compare it properly with the Collect-Aire kit.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Text and Images Copyright 2003 by Fotios Rouch
Page Created 02 June, 2003
Last updated 15 August, 2003

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