|PRICE:||$26.00 (used) shipping included|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Reboxed Kinetic kit from 2011|
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.
There are several aircraft types that I like and as such, have built more than one over the decades. The F-84F is one of those. Most of the planes I've built have been in 1/72 scale, but I have done the 1/48 Monogram kit and enjoyed the experience.
Released in 2006/7, the Kinetic kit has had some previous commentary that it is basically a modernized Monogram kit. So much so that parts are interchangeable. At least they used a good kit for a basis if this is the case. This kit has engraved panel lines that some may say are a bit overdone and the surface of the plastic is matte, though I'd not call it 'pebbly' as some have.
The cockpit is fairly well done, though I think that the one in the Monogram kit is better and there are aftermarket bits should you decide it isn't to your liking. The kit also has the option of an open gun bay, quite similar to the Tamiya F-84G and like the Tamiya kit, you have to cut off the hinge to have this feature closed. Personally, I am not all that fond of open stuff so would leave the gun bay off completely. This will also provide additional room for the 10 grams of nose weight that is required.
One feature that others have commented as to being more accurate is the position of the speed brakes. These can be posed open should you wish. Another item that can be posed like this is the canopy. When assembling the wings, you'll find that the inner gear doors are attached to the inner gear wall. These are put in place after the wings are assembled so you could leave this off until later in the build. F-84 kits all seem to have the largest main gear door molded in place with the gear leg and this kit is no exception. Other than making it more difficult to paint the inside of the door, it poses no real issues. Wing pylons with separate anti-sway arms are provided as are fuel tanks for all four pylons. However, in this boxing, the tanks are on the 'do not use' list along with the outer pylons, so you'll need to fill the holes in the lower wing for these.
Instructions are very well done with FS, Model Master, and Italeri paint references. There is a huge decal sheet for one of two planes flying with the Diavoli Rossi display team. The box art plane is the more complex of the two options with the large red flashes on the upper wings, upper tailplanes and fin. The upper fuselage gloss red will have to be painted. The other option is from a year later and does not have the red flashes. Instead, you are provided with silver markings which represent the removed USAF markings that are first placed before the display decals are provided. The decal sheet is superbly done and provided all the markings you need. The underwing markings have separate decals for the gear doors so that is a very nice touch considering the way the gear doors are designed.
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