Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson


F-84F-2.sq. BAF-FU51


One of my earliest interests once I discovered Photoshop was the restoration of derelict aircraft to a condition where they could be portrayed in flight – I chose the title of my series of articles with that intention specifically in mind. Pictures of aircraft on the internet come in many categories, and probably illustrated reviews of models, in scales from 1:144 to 1:24, make up by far the biggest group. I have therefore made many more model-derived images than junkyard-derived ones, including some that were made from my own collection of models.

The Initial Image

This photograph shows an F-84F of 2.Squadron of the Belgian Air Force, parked in the manner of a gate-guard, presumably at Florennes AFB some 20 miles south of Charleroi in southern Belgium. The airframe has some structural damage, but is far from being a junk-yard case. The big problem here is the graffiti, which has obliterated a big percentage of the fuselage camo, and partly obscured some of the panel details.

I discovered when I had nearly finished my restoration work that the photograph came originally from, which I used to consult regularly until they pulled the plug on me about a year ago.

My archive contains several other photos of this machine, many culled from, a very useful site. One or two of these show the plane after a re-paint job, but I'm not entirely happy with the result; so I decided to do the job myself, and finish with an in-flight image. Unfortunately, I have no photos of FU51 as it appeared when in service.

Treatment of the Image

Apart from putting the rudder back in place there was no structural work needed. I reset the tailplane to a more typical in-flight position. In addition, I put in the inner pylon under the wing, borrowing it from a photograph of a 1.Squadron aircraft.

Restoring the finish had two aspects. All the graffiti needed to be removed, of course, but I also needed to restore the faded colouring of the original finish, for example on the panel behind the main intake, which should be quite a vivid red. Therefore, the fuselage panel lines had to be largely put back in place.

An interesting detail of these aircraft in BAF service is that those that had the three-tone camo, which I take to be a Mediterranean theatre standard, had no roundel on the rear fuselage.

I decided to show the plane just after lift-off, so the undercarriage was selected, with the nose gear already partly retracted. My master image shows it still in its static display location, but now fully restored.


It's a pity I couldn’t find an in-service photograph of FU51. That left me with a few question-marks about its true appearance. These include the 2.Squadron logo of a red comet that I applied just below the rear of the cockpit – that was its regular position, but I'm not sure if it appeared on both sides of the fuselage, or on port side only. The re-paint that I mentioned above actually put a 1.Squadron emblem on the forward fuselage, which surely can't be right.

It's a pity also that I can't any longer contact the author/copyright holder of the downloaded image. Strictly speaking I need his permission to publish a copy of that image, though presumably not my final image, which is obviously drastically different.