Italeri 1/48 F-84F Thunderstreak
|NOTES:||Rebox of Kinetic kit.|
I bought this kit retail. The rumor mill, I suspect
initiated by Italeri, classified this kit as "new tools" so I was anxious to add
it to my collection. When the kit arrived and was opened (28th July 2009) I was
frustrated to learn it is a reissue of the Kinetic kit. In retrospect, it
appears I was the last one to "get the picture" that this was not "new tools"
but rather the same-ol' Kinetic kit in a new Italeri cover.
The ten years commencing in 1944 saw vast changes in aircraft designs and performance capabilities. Though classified "P" for pursuit, during WW2 Republic's P-47 Thunderbolt proved to be the outstanding iteration of a ground attack aircraft. At the coming of the jet age, Republic was commissioned to develop their version of a pursuit jet (later revised to "F" for fighter under the US's new USAF military division). Initial studies by Republic included attempts to adapt the P-47 to jet power. Those studies failing, a clean sheet was put on the drawing board and the P-84, soon to be named Thunderjet and later redesignated F-84, resulted. With a clean tubular fuselage suitable for high speeds but with straight wings (hence the moniker "Plankwing") designed to limit maximum air speed, the Thunderjet was speed deficient. This was soon demonstrated in the Korean war where the Thunderjet simply could not reasonably engage the MiG-15 employed by North Koreans and, as has been proven, Chinese pilots. The F-86A and subsequent Sabre versions, with their swept wings, became the fighter de jure, and the Thunderjets, including F-84D, F-84E, and F-84G models, were delegated to ground attack duty. They excelled in this role, as did their P-47 predecessor, as they were a very stable ground attack platform as well as being able to carry a wide variety of ordinances. Korean War statistics show the Thunderjet flew more sorties during the Korean conflict than all other deployed aircraft combined. Notably, the Thunderjet was also used as a test-bed for numerous experimental programs undertaken during the learning-curve years of the early jet age. These included in-flight refueling development, Zero-length Launch and Mat Landing (ZELMAL), Fighter Conveyer proposals including Tip-Tow and FICON, non-visual instrument-only flight reference with periscope augmentation, and the Thunderjet was the first fighter aircraft fitted for nuclear bomb delivery.
The success of the swept wing jets, MiG-15 and F-86 Sabre being examples, led Republic to develop a swept wing version of the Thunderjet. Initially designated YF-96A, the prototype was modified from an F-84E S/N 49-2430 diverted from the production line. Swept wings and swept tail surfaces were fitted to the generally unmodified Thunderjet fuselage, and the F-84E engine was retained. Subsequent testing proved this prototype, initially called Thunderjet, but later named Thunderstreak, was wanting for performance. A larger engine was needed, but a suitable engine was too large to fit the Thunderjet fuselage. The original plan was to retain some 80% of the Thunderjet tooling for the Thunderstreak thus easing production transition and minimizing costs. Fitting the larger engine meant revising the fuselage. This was accomplished by deepening the forward 60% of the fuselage by seven inches and enlarging the aft fuselage to accommodate the larger exhaust tube.
The fore and aft fuselage modifications were blended at approximately the aft wing roots. The first few aircraft, by then designated F-84F, with the enlarge fuselage retained the fiberglass-braced Thunderjet canopy. All production Thunderstreaks were built with the clamshell canopy (and this canopy scheme was retained for the RF-84F Thunderflash). In final production, less than 10% of the Thunderjet tooling carried over to the Thunderstreak. Though now a substantially different aircraft, politics lead military planners to keep the F-84 series designation for the Thunderstreak and what was initially to be the F-96 was redesignated F-84F. Notably, YF-96A 49-2430 survives and is displayed at the Air Force museum at Dayton, Ohio as the YRF-84K FICON test bed.
As with the Thunderbolt and the Thunderjet, the Thunderstreak proved to be better in a ground attack role rather than as a fighter. It too was fitted to carry nuclear weapons, and also served in many experimental programs, plus continuing in Fighter Conveyer tests as Tom-Tom and active duty as RF-84K FICON.
For practical production and entry in to service, the Thunderstreak suffered from three major setbacks. First, the main wing spar was designed as a forging. Unfortunately, the only suitable forge press was dedicated to B-47 production. The F-84F production schedule was delayed while Republic redesigned the carry-through spar. Second, the F-84F initially suffered from stablity problems. Attempts to resolve these problems included aileron and rudder coupling (as used on the Ercoupe) then, later, by changing the traditional fixed-horizontal-stabilizer-with-elevator design to a flying-tail design. Also, the vertical tail was extended vertically to provide additional rudder area (thus the "short-tail" and the "long-tail" versions --- all RF-84F are "long-tail"). Third, a shortage of reliable engines resulted in numerous otherwise completed airframes languishing on the apron at the Republic factory. The combination of these delays plus the substantial redesign
and tooling lead to substantial cost overruns and a delay of some two years past the original intended date for entry into service.
Though the Thunderstreak was, in relative terms, late to the party, it served in front-line duty for a number of countries, final retirement came only in the late 1980's.
Italeri release is the Kinetic kit with (a) new box art and (b) outstanding
decal sheet. The box art depicts F-84F-51-GK 52-9075 as French AF 3-VS of EC 1/3
Ardennes, Suez Crisis, Akrotiri AFB, Cyprus, October 1956. The decal sheet
offers markings for five aircraft. They are:
F-84F-51-GK 52-9075 France 3-VS
EC 1/3 Aredennes, Suez Crisis, Akrotiri AFB Cyprus, October 1956
F-84F-50-RE 52-6834 USAF FS-834
81st FBW 91st FBS, RAF Bentwaters AFB, UK, 1958
F-84F-30-RE 51-1796 AMI 6-4
154 gruppo 6a Areobrigata, Ghedi AFB, Brescia, Italy (no date cited)
F-84F-81-RE 53-7206 Luftwaffe DB-110
1/JaboG 32 "Hammerhead Shark" 5th Fursenfeldbruck AFB, Germany, 1961
F-84F-50-RE 52-6890 Hellenic AF 690
347 Mira, 110 Combat Wing, Larissa AFB, Greece, 1972
The decal sheet is the "good news" for this kit. Strap in tightly, it is a steep dive-bomb hereafter.
In the box are five sprues, the decal sheet, and a 12-page instruction booklet (A4 size). Four sprues are medium gray, one is clear. At this point, it is appropriate to make clear that this kit, as originally from Kinetic, and unchanged in this Italeri iteration, is generally a direct copy of the Monogram cum Revell (hereinafter RevMon) kit of the early 1980's with the added "bonus" of a generally direct copy of the Tamiya Thunderjet weapons bay and access panel. That is to say, both the good and the bad of the RevMon kit are present in this kit. Please note, I'm not degrading the RevMon kit; it is, at this writing, the best 48th scale F-84F available. Unfortunately, the Kinetic cum Italeri kit (hereinafter Kinetic) is a degraded version of the RevMon. The RevMon is incorrect in profile at the ventral section in the aft wing root area. Also, it is neither "short-tail" nor "long-tail" being somewhere between. Otherwise, it is generally a good representation of the real deal. Yes, the RevMon has raised panel lines, but they are finely done and in little need for rescribing except by those with Advanced Modelers' Syndrome. The Kinetic has trench-sized engraved panel lines (only a slight exageration on my part --- they are certainly way out of scale). The Kinetic has "bonus" added panel lines that are correct for the RF-84F but not the F-84F. The RevMon has a polished surface out of the mold; in contrast, the Kinetic has a textured surface which will need fine sanding to be suitable for a natural metal finish. The RevMon has quite good details in cockpit and gear parts; the Kinetic "duplicates" these parts but with degraded detail crispness. The "bonus" addition of the weapons bay by copying the Tamiya Thunderjet details means the option is there for an open weapons bay; but again, the details are degraded by the copying process. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
THE REAL "KIT-KILLER" PRESENT IN THE Kinetic KIT IS THE INTAKE.
One significant detail Kinetic did not copy from the RevMon is the intake. The original Thunderjet had a round intake. The intake on the Thunderstreak was accomplished by inserting two seven-inch-long straight parts into the halved round Thunderjet intake. The result is two 180-degee arcs separated by two straight vertical segments. The engineers (note that I'm giving the benefit of the doubt with the use of the word "engineers") at Kinetic elected to make the intake "lemon" shaped which is grossly incorrect. No other F-84 kit ever released, notwithstanding their other "warts," has an incorrect intake shape. Even the Hawk "Thunderjet" 72nd scale YF-96A from the late 1950's, which has the incorrect F-84F intake in place of the round YF-96A intake, is still the correct shape for the F-84F.
To my way of thinking, I should praise work well done. Likewise, I feel am not doing modeler's a favor if I gild the pig. The decals are great, the kit is otherwise deficient. I am in favor of supporting kit manufacturers when their products are worth supporting. My collection of RevMonProMod and Tamiya F-84E/G and RevMon F-84F kits attest to that (I've lost count, but I have around 30 Thunderjet kits and 10 Thunderstreak kits --- that estimate does not include my stash of 48th scale releases by others from Hawk to Collect-Aire to Battle Axe, etc., plus several Heller/Fonderie F-84F and RF-84F kits --- and yes I have this kit and a Kinetic kit, sadly now only for review purposes).
Sometimes manufacturer's products are not worth supporting.
I have the hope that lack of sales of this kit will send the message to those
behind it that modelers will not support their shortcut efforts. My message to
kit producers: Tooling costs the same whether done from poorly
done or well done research. Do your homework and quit taking shortcuts. Every bit of information needed to make a correct model was available to you but you didn't do the research. Instead, you depended on ripping-off two other existing kits by other manufacturers. Shame on you. This could have been a great kit, but "could have been" doesn't cut it, and this is a substandard kit.
In short, no matter how this kit is inspected, it falls short of the much less expensive RevMon offering. I cannot recommend this kit whether as Kinetic or Italeri. My opinion is, stick with the RevMon which is better in every way than the Kinetic kit and is less expensive as well. Whether straight from the box or with aftermarket details (such as the AMS Resin detail sets and available PE frets and decals), the RevMon can be built into an outstanding representation of the Thunderstreak. Whether for Kinetic or Italeri releases of this kit, the value for price doesn't connect. Caveat emptor.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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