MPC 1/72 F-84F 'Thunderchief' (sic)

KIT #: 2-0208
PRICE: I paid $12.50 for it still in the original shrink wrap
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  Airfix rebox


In 1949, a swept wing version of the F-84 was created with the hope of bringing performance to the level of the F-86. The last production F-84E was fitted with a swept tail, a new wing with 38.5 degrees of leading edge sweep and 3.5 degrees of anhedral, and a J35-A-25 engine producing 5,300 pound-force (23.58 kN) of thrust. The aircraft was designated XF-96A. It flew on 3 June 1950 with Otto P. Haas at the controls. Although the airplane was capable of 602 knots (693 mph, 1,115 km/h), the performance gain over the F-84E was considered minor. Nonetheless, it was ordered into production in July 1950 as the F-84F Thunderstreak. The F-84 designation was retained because the fighter was expected to be a low-cost improvement of the straight-wing Thunderjet with over 55 percent commonality in tooling.

In the meantime, the USAF, hoping for improved high-altitude performance from a more powerful engine, arranged for the British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet engine to be built in the United States as the Wright J65. To accommodate the larger engine, YF-84Fs with a British-built Sapphire as well as production F-84Fs with the J65 had a vertically stretched fuselage, with the air intake attaining an oval cross-section. Production delays with the F-84F forced the USAF to order a number of straight-wing F-84Gs as an interim measure.

Production quickly ran into problems. Although tooling commonality with the Thunderjet was supposed to be 55 percent, in reality only fifteen percent of tools could be reused. To make matters worse, the F-84F utilized press-forged wing spars and ribs. At the time, only three presses in the United States could manufacture these, and priority was given to the Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber over the F-84. The YJ65-W-1 engine was considered obsolete and the improved J65-W-3 did not become available until 1954. When the first production F-84F finally flew on 22 November 1952, it differed from the service test aircraft. It had a different canopy which opened up and back instead of sliding to the rear, as well as airbrakes on the sides of the fuselage instead of the bottom of the aircraft. The aircraft was considered not ready for operational deployment due to control and stability problems. The first 275 aircraft, equipped with conventional stabilizer-elevator tailplanes, suffered from accelerated stall pitch-up and poor turning ability at combat speeds. Beginning with Block 25, the problem was ameliorated by the introduction of a hydraulically powered one-piece stabilator. A number of aircraft were also retrofitted with spoilers for improved high-speed control. As a result, the F-84F was not declared operational until 12 May 1954.

Project Run In completed operational tests in November 1954 and found the aircraft to be to USAF satisfaction and considerably better than the F-84G. However, ongoing engine failures resulted in the entire fleet being grounded in early 1955. Also, the J65 engine continued to suffer from flameouts when flying through heavy rain or snow. As the result of the problems, the active duty phaseout began almost as soon as the F-84F entered service in 1954, and was completed by 1958. Increased tensions in Germany associated with construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 resulted in reactivation of the F-84F fleet. In 1962, the fleet was grounded due to the corrosion of control rods. A total of 1,800 man hours were expended to bring each aircraft to full operational capacity. Stress corrosion eventually forced the retirement of ANG F-84Fs in 1971.

In what is probably one of the very few air-to-air engagements involving the F-84F, two Turkish Air Force F-84F Thunderstreaks shot down two Iraqi Il-28 Beagle bombers that crossed the Turkish border by mistake during a bombing operation against Iraqi Kurdish insurgents. This engagement took place on 16 August 1962.

The F-84F was retired from active service in 1964, and replaced by the North American F-100 Super Sabre and relegated to duty in the Air National Guard. The last F-84F Thunderstreak retired from the ANG in 1971. Three Hellenic Air Force RF-84Fs that were retired in 1991 were the last operational F-84s.


 Back when I was a kid (yes, they had plastic kits back then, though we had to fight off the dinosaurs on the way to the toy store), you had two ways to get your Airfix kits in the US. One was in an Airfix box and the other was from MPC or perhaps USAirfix. The plastic was the same, but MPC included different decals and instructions. They also often included some additional figures, and so they did with this one.

Obviously research was a bit lax, but when you are only forking out a dollar or so for the kit, you really did not care all that much.

I am not a big fan of white plastic for things other than car bodies, but I will admit that it makes it easier to brush paint bright colors. The actual plastic in the kit is very nice with almost no flash and very few sink marks. There are ejector pin marks that will have to be dealt with, but again, we did not care in that regard.

The kit actually has a cockpit with seat, pilot and instrument panel. The kit actually looks very much like the Italeri kit in the way it deals with many things. The main difference, other than the shape of the cockpit area, is that the nose is integral with the rest of the fuselage. The intake section also houses the nose gear well and provides space for nose weight, though there is no indication that any is required. There is a bulkhead right after the intake section and one behind the cockpit that fit into slots in the fuselage. A reasonably long tail pipe is also provided.

Though the windscreen and canopy are separate, there is no mechanism to model the canopy open. Speed brakes can be modeled open or closed though one would be better off to do the closed bit as there is a rather large ejector stub on the inside of both brakes. Wings have an upper and lower half with long slots for wing pylons already provided in the lower section. You have fuel tanks for the inner pylons and bombs or fuel tanks for the outer.

Landing gear are also like the Italeri kit with the nose gear/wheel being one piece and the lower main gear door molded along with the main gear strut. You do have separate closed gear doors if you wish to put it on a display stand. There are four additional figures (the pilot is the fifth) so you can have some play quality with this one.

Instructions are well done with generic color information. The lone option is the rather complex Thunderbird scheme. The white parts of the tailplanes will need to be painted as will the red, white, and blue wing stripes and the red nose gear doors. Typical of MPC decals, these are printed on a single carrier so one has to cut out each marking. Though the sheet looks yellowed, that may well be the color of the backing paper as the white bits are still nice and white. Not sure how well decals from 40 years back will work, but due to a relatie paucity of 1/72 F-84F aftermarket options, it may be worth a go. Microscale did a sheet that was Thunderbirds which your editor used on an Italeri sheet and it is a very fetching looking scheme. See below


I am not sure if this one is on the list of Hornby's reissue or retool list, but it does make into a nice model despite its advanced age. I for one would like to see a new tool version, or even some aftermarket US sheets for it.




Thanks to me for picking this one up to share with you.


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