Special Hobby 1/72 F-84F Thunderstreak
|Scott Van Aken
The Republic F-84F Thunderstreak was an American swept-wing turbojet-powered fighter-bomber. The RF-84F Thunderflash was a photo reconnaissance version.
The design was originally intended to be a relatively simple upgrade to the F-84 Thunderjet to make it more competitive with the F-86 Sabre, differing largely in the use of a swept-wing and tail. Given the small number of changes, it was assigned the next model letter in the F-84 series, F. The prototypes demonstrated a number of performance and handling issues, which resulted in marginal improvement over the previous versions. Production was repeatedly delayed and another run of the straight-wing Thunderjets were completed as the G models.
Looking for a clear performance edge compared to the G models, the engine was upgraded to the much more powerful British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire built in the United States as the Wright J65. The larger engine required the fuselage to be stretched into an oval shape and the air intake to be modified. With these and other changes, the design was finally ready to enter production, but only a fraction of the original production systems could be used and the aircraft was effectively a new design. It finally entered service in November 1954, by which time the Sabre had also undergone many upgrades and the Thunderstreak was relegated to the fighter-bomber role. Its time as a front-line design was brief, it began to be moved to secondary roles as early as 1958. The type was operated by many NATO air arms.
Prior to this, the most often built injected plastic kits of the F-84F were those by Airfix and Italeri. Both of those are from the raised panel line era and while they still make into a nice model, it was time for a newer tooling.
It is fairly obvious from looking at the parts layout and all the crossed out bits that Special Hobby plans on multiple boxings to justify the expense of the new tooling. The engraved lines may be a bit large for some of us, but a coat of paint will reduce that impression.
As with most F-84F kits, the nose gear well is added to the splitter area of the intake. Atop this is room for a few grams of weight, which will be needed to keep it on its nose gear. Cockpit is nicely done with a five piece ejection seat and the kit offers a decal for the main instrument panel. A properly long exhaust pipe is provided with this along with the cockpit assembly and nose gear area being trapped between the fuselage halves.
The fuselage has a separate spine that is then added along with the fin. On the underside is a separate parabrake housing. Wings are upper and lower halves on both sides. Wheel well walls are a separate piece. Note that the instructions show chromate green primer when Republic used yellow primer. A first for any F-84F kit that I've seen is an optional open or closed refueling receptacle on the upper wing.
Once all the flight surfaces have been attached, the canopy area is next. SH offers both an open and closed canopy option with separate pieces for these. Note that Airfix has a somewhat narrow canopy while the Italeri kit has one that is much wider. This one seems to be the correct width. Landing gear is next with SH copying every other F-84F kit I've ever built by having the large main gear door molded onto the main gear legs. You are provided both inner and outer wing pylons along with the large wing tanks carried by the Thunderstreak due to its otherwise fairly short range. No bombs are provided and while there are rockets on the sprues, none are shown as being used.
Instructions are well done with a full color construction booklet. Paints are in Gunze references. All three options are in overall unpainted metal with OD anti-glare areas on the top of the fuselage. Three colorful options are give. The box art plane is the wing commander's plane with the 20FBW in 1956. Another wing commander's plane is provided from the 401FBW, also in 1956. This one has the checkerboard tail section. Finally a standard aircraft with the 511FBS/405FBW in 1955. To my eyes, the blue on the sheet is a bit too bright for this option as I believe it should be the much darker insignia blue, though I could be mistaken. If you have a color photo, I'd like to see it. Decals are nicely printed and provide all the stencils and stripes that you will need to complete the kit.
This should make into a very nice model. Thankfully there is no p.e. with the kit to slow construction. Hopefully this will stimulate some new F-84 decal sheets
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