Airfix 1/72 F-84F Thunderstreak

KIT #: 3022
PRICE: $2.00 in a bag
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1974 tooling. No instructions or decals


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.


This kit was purchased from the dead kit table at the LHS and while the bag was still sealed, there were no instructions or decals. Not an issue for many of us and I do have an MPC boxing of this which supplied the required instructions.  Detail is raised and one will have some sink areas to fill and a bit of flash. 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 (with truncated lower legs) 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 with a blanking bit to fit in the end, preventing 'see-through'.

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. There is no well detail and you can see the embossed 'Airfix 1974' proudly proclaimed in one well. 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.

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.


I opened the bag and dumped the bits into a handy box. Then I started assembling sub-assemblies. In this case it was the large inner fuel tanks, the bombs and the exhaust sections. The interior bits were painted dark gull grey and all the wheel wells and inner gear doors got some yellow zinc chromate. I then assembled the nose gear well, attaching it to the forward cockpit bulkhead. The cavity in the well was filled with weight. The intake areas were painted with Alclad II aluminum.

The wings were assembled next and these proved to have large gaps around the lower wing insert. Several applications of super glue and sanding were required to eliminate these. The interior pieces were built up and the small quarter windows installed. These latter pieces are not a tight fit and those who want things flush will need to fill the areas with something clear then sand it down and polish it. I left it as is.

When done, the interior was installed. Purists will be aghast at the lack of a control column, but then this kit was designed to have the pilot figure fill the interior. With the interior done, the exhaust was glued in and the fuselage halves mated. Fit is as to be expected and I used a lot of filler. The piece that is supposed to attach to the canopy when it is open is a very poor fit, being too small for the opening. Once that was dealt with the tailplanes were glued on and then I attached the wings. 

The usual gaps were filled then the speed brakes were installed in the closed position. The gun sight glass was glued in and the clear bits masked. These do not fit well. The windscreen section is too narrow at the front and the canopy fits with a considerable number of gaps. The gaps were filled with clear paint, wheel wells were filled with silly putty and it was time for the first round of painting.


There seems to be a real dearth of 1/72 markings for the F-84F, which is somewhat surprising considering how many were built and how many served in USAF and ANG markings. However, the type was exported and so there are other options. For this build, I decided to go with Dutch Decals 72069 which includes a number of F-84F options. I wonder if DD is still around as they have not sent in any review samples for several years.

With the exception of two planes in overall RAL 7001, the fleet was painted dark green, extra dark sea grey and PRU blue. I first primered the entire airframe as I was going to use some acrylics on this one. The underside was painted with the PRU blue first using my remaining Aeromaster acrylic paint. That was masked off and the upper surface painted extra dark sea grey, also using Aeromaster acrylic. I had run out of my favorite RAF dark green so used Humbrol 30, which was specified on several Airfix RAF kits I have. It seems a tad light, but otherwise is fine. I must not have mixed this all that well as it stayed tacky for a couple of days before it dried enough to handle.

During the time, I also painted the large finned tanks, the bombs and the gear doors. All the inside of the doors and the wells were painted with yellow zinc chromate from the small Testors bottles. As you might guess, a considerable amount of time was spent masking. The task was made even more difficult by the painting instructions where the various shades are so close to each other as to make the demarcation between colors nearly impossible to determine. It would be great if, on camo diagrams, these schemes could be done in light grey shades so we can see where one color stops and the other starts. Better yet, provide scale drawings with the scheme  so we can use them as masks. Some companies do this from time to time and I think it would be great if this was standard. I'd pay a bit more for it.

Eventually all was painted and the Silly Putty removed from the wells and placed back in its 'egg'. If you have never tried using this for masking wells, I suggest you spend the tiny amount for it and give it go. You will be very pleased with the results. Best of all, it can be reused over and over again.

At that point the already painted landing gear was glued in place. This was followed by the pylons. I should mention that the pylons have issues with ejector marks. On some there are detents and on the other there are stubs, but all have at least two. This was also an issue with the inner gear doors as well as these parts having sink areas. There was considerable flash in the details of the main wheels as well, something difficult to clean up. After installing all but the outer main gear doors, I did some touch up painting and then gave the airframe a clear coat in preparation for the decals.

The Dutch Decals are quite thin, almost to the point of making them difficult to use. They come free of the backing within seconds of being immersed in water. The glue on the backing quickly dissipates, so you need to get them on the model or they will be difficult to remove from the backing. I used Microsol, my weakest setting solution on them and they worked well. The decals in some instances did not match up with the panel lines on the kit, making me think these were really designed for another. I also noticed that eight 'hook' markings are needed and only six are supplied. The sheet provides complete codes for three of the five camouflaged planes. One will have to cut the additional numbers from the Hunter section. I chose one of the ready to go markings, a plane of 311 Squadron. After several days of applying decals, most of these stencils, the airframe was given a more flat clear coat to seal them in.
Once that was done, it was a matter of simply adding the outer pylons, the fuel dump, the upper fuselage clear bit (which does not fit at all well), the fuel tanks, bombs, main wheels and the outer gear doors. A bit of touch-up/detail painting, the masking was removed and the kit was done.

I fully realize that not many people are going to build what is now a dinosaur in modeling years. I mean, 1974...were people even around back then? It is not a slap together kit and certainly not what model makers produce today, but then it isn't a terrible kit, just showing its age. I'm truly hoping that Hornby decides that this is worth doing as a modern mold. It would be a great addition to their line and they could design it so that the RF-84F could be done with most of the same tooling (as much as I dislike separate nose sections). If you like the type and stumble across one on the cheap as did I, pick it up and give it a go. Those who want a more detailed kit in this scale can seek out the very nice PJ Production resin version. 

May 2016

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


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