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Reviews : American : American post war Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2015 - 23:52:06

RF-84F Thunderflash. Italeri Kit 1108. 1/72nd
By Clarence Wentzel. IPMS USA
May 23, 2006, 02:12

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Very early in the life of the straight wing F-84 Thunderjet, Republic Aircraft chief engineer Alexander Kartveli and chief aerodynamicist Gus Pappas noted the success of the swept wing F-86 and initiated studies for their own swept wing fighter. This aircraft was initially designated the F-96 but ended up being funded as the F-84F Thunderstreak, a version of the basic Thunderjet.

The Thunderstreak became operational in 1953. The need for a high speed, state-of-the-art photo reconnaissance platform was recognized during the late 1940s and accordingly Republic developed such a proposal based on the Thunderstreak. The RF-84F Thunderflash featured a large solid nose to mount the various cameras and utilized wing-root mounted air intakes, a feature studied during the development of the F-84F.

The F-84F and RF-84F saw service in the USAF and various Air National Guard units as well as the Air Forces of Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Turkey and the Nationalist Chinese. As late as 1985, Greece was still operating RF-84Fs. Such wide usage provides the modeler with a great variety of markings for this aircraft.

In the early 1980s, Italeri (then called Italerei) issued kits of the F-84F and RF-84F. These kits featured a number of inter-changeable parts and represented the technology of the time raised panel lines and sparse cockpit detail. Italeri have recently re-released these kits in new boxing and with new decals including some spectacular U.S. markings. When John indicated that the RF-84F kit was available, I volunteered because I have always liked the looks of the RF model and I wanted to see if Italeri have improved the kit.

Upon opening the box, I found out that this was the same kit from the 80s but the detail remained crisp, the opening canopy was clear and the decals looked good. I decided to see if I was up to the challenge. Work started with the fuselage. The kit simply provided a pilot on a bench (see photo). Checking the aftermarket area, I found that CMK produce a resin interior set for the Tamiya F--84G. This includes a detailed cockpit tub, sidewalls, instrument panel and seat. I cleaned up the fuselage interior and found out that the CMK parts fit perfectly into the Italeri fuselage. On the exterior, I noted that the main portion of the fuselage is common with the F-84F kit and so, includes the blow-in doors needed for the fighter but not included on the recon model. Since these details are raised, they can easily be removed. The tail pipe is a separate part but the location is not too clear. I checked a local museum and glued the tailpipe in place so that it was nine scale inches forward of the back end of the fuselage. The side mounted dive brakes look to be too large but I chose to use the kit parts rather than try to perform a major modification.

Next I turned to the separate nose. Italeri provide clear plastic insert panes for all of the camera ports and tell you to paint the nose interior black. I decided to use Kristal Kleer for the panes and to add some camera details inside the nose. Using the drawing and photo from the Aerofax Minigraph, I adopted some plastic square sections and aluminum tubes to simulate cameras and mounted them into the nose along with whatever lead weight I could fit. I also closed the front and rear of the nose wheel well to improve appearance.

Next I turned to the wings. The design of the wings left the air intakes and wheel wells open to the wing interior. I added a curved panel to close off the wing air intakes and strips of plastic to fill in the wheel well sides.

I chose to depict the Italian aircraft because it was a colorful natural metal scheme. I painted the model overall with SNJ Aluminum and then picked out some individual panels and panel lines in darker shades as shown in photos etc. When completed, I gave the model a coat of future and proceeded to paint the colored areas and add the decals. The decals were on register, opaque and thin. They set down well. The only problem that I had with the decals was with the fuselage side warning borders, parts 4B and 5B. These did not fit the panels marked on the fuselage sides. I finally cut the decals apart and applied the individual borders to the appropriate doors on the fuselage.

Final assembly consisted of adding the landing gears, gear doors, drop tanks and canopy parts. The gear-mounting scheme of Italeri is excellent. Flat pads at the top of the struts fit into shaped recesses in the wings. I did have a minor problem with the main gear outboard auxiliary doors. They both had a major sink mark, which had to be filled. When mounting the main canopy, I found that I had removed the fuselage attaching provisions when I added the cockpit interior. I simply cut off the bottom of the canopy lift arms and mounted them to the cockpit sills.

I am pleased with the final result and thank Italeri for providing this kit again to modelers. Yes, it is built to an older technology but is fairly accurate and is the only 1/72 scale kit of this important cold war jet. I will admit that the CMK cockpit set is not exactly correct for the RF-84F but it does improve the looks of the very open interior. Maybe this re-release of the kit will cause some of the aftermarket manufacturers to produce some parts specifically for the RF-84F.

Aerofax Minigraph # 15 - Republic F-84 (Swept-wing Variants) by Kevin Keaveney
Koku Fan Famous Airplanes of the World # 61 Republic F-84F/RF-84F series
Aircam Aviation Series # 16 Republic F/RF-84F Thunderstreak/Thunderflash by Richard Ward
Profile Publications # 95 Republic F-84F Thunderstreak by Ray Wagner
Republic F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak & Thunderflash by David R. McLaren

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