Tanmodel 1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash
This is the first 1/48 model produced by Tanmodel of Turkey. Previous to this I can only find 1 other version of this kit in 1/48, from Heller in the 1990s. It’s been reissued a few times, but basically it’s been the only game in town until now.
The Republic F-84F Thunderstreak was an American-built swept-wing turbojet fighter-bomber. While an evolutionary development of the straight-wing F-84 Thunderjet, the F-84F was a new design. The RF-84F Thunderflash was a photo reconnaissance version and 715 were built. The second YF-84F prototype was completed with wing-root air intakes. These were not adopted for the fighter due to loss of thrust. However, this arrangement permitted placement of cameras in the nose and the design was adopted for the RF-84F Thunderflash reconnaissance version. The first YRF-84F was completed in February 1952. The aircraft retained an armament of four machine guns and could carry up to fifteen cameras. Innovations included computerized controls which adjusted camera settings for light, speed, and altitude, a periscope to give the pilot better visualization of the target, and a voice recorder to let the pilot narrate his observations. Being largely identical to the F-84F, the Thunderflash suffered from the same production delays and engine problems, delaying operational service until March 1954. The aircraft was retired from active duty in 1957, only to be reactivated in 1961, and finally retired from the ANG in 1972. Three Hellenic Air Force RF-84Fs that were retired in 1991 were the last operational F-84s.
The parcel arrived safely from Turkey and it took about two weeks to get to Western Canada. The model comes in a sturdy top opening box that is pretty much full to the brim. Inside the box the first thing I noticed was that every sprue was individually bagged and there were no loose parts.
- Four large sprues
- One small plastic sprue
- Two clear parts sprues
- Instructions over 63 steps and 16 colour A4/letter pages
- Smaller 16 page colour camouflage and markings guide, with a few reference photos as well.
- Large colour sheet showing the decal options
- Large decal sheet – larger than A4/legal
- Small correction decal sheet
- Mouse mat/display base
The instructions use CAD drawings throughout and, as you’d expect, are very clear and well identified. All the paints needed for the model are listed on the front page in Gunze and Humbrol callouts, but every page also lists the paints you will need for that particular page. One thing I like is the fact that it states on the front page there is no need for any nose weight in this model, as long as you build the model in the usual way and, I assume, fit the cameras into the nose. Looking at the instructions next, let’s ascertain the level of detail in the kit. The seat is made of seven parts and the cockpit tub as a whole is made up of 21 parts. There isn’t an engine, but you do get the full splitter intake from the front of the engine and a jet pipe so there is no chance of seeing through the model from front to back. The camera bay contains a lot of detail, 59 parts to be exact. The fuselage halves come with the camera bay doors moulded in place, but if you cut them out, doors for the open position are given on the sprues. I think this is a good way to do this as if you wanted to build it with the doors closed, getting the doors to fit flush could be a little fiddly. Then it’s simply a case of fitting the fuselage halves together with the internal components in place.
The wing root intakes are separate pieces and match up with the splitter intake fitted inside the fuselage. The undercarriage bays are separate parts that fit between the 2 halves of the wings, with the ailerons and air intake on the outsides. The rudder is in 2 parts and is positionable. The canopy comes as either a one piece closed item or a 3 piece item if you want to display it open. The clear parts have a good size piece of fuselage attached to them. The pair of wing strakes on each wing are molded separately and added later. The airbrakes can be modelled open or closed. The 3 wheels all come with separate hubs to make painting a little easier – no masks required. There are 4 underwing stations, each with a pair of sway braces. The final step would be adding 4 external fuel tanks before putting it on the mouse pad which can double as a display base.
Overall it looks like Tanmodel has kept the build relatively straightforward, despite there being over 180 parts. There are some nice touches and options and the camera bay could easily become a ighly detailed centre piece of the build.
The decal options are
- 7450, 114 Filo, 1st AB, Turkish AF, 1956-1972
- 52-7292, 32 TRS, Spangdahlem AB, USAFE, 1955-58
- 53-7668, Aufklarungsgeschwader 51, Erding AB, Luftwaffe, 1959
- 27394, 132 Grupo/3 Aerobrigata, Villafranca AB, Italian AF, 1968
- 37621, ER 3/33, Cognac AB, French AF, 1956
- 27300, ER 4/33, RAF Akrotiri, French AF, 1956 (Suez Crisis Stripes)
- 28736, 338 Mira, Larissa AB, Hellenic AF, 1972
- 52-7367, 171 TRS/MI ANG, Detroit AFB, USAF, 1968
- 51-27233, 306 Recon Sqn, RAF Laarbuch (Germany), Netherlands AF, 1961
The decals are in register and the colours are solid. The only thing I would say is you wil have to do some trimming on some of the decals to remove excess carrier film.
In the partial test build, I noticed that the sprue attachment points are on the mating surfaces of the parts and not on what will be the exterior surface. This is a nice touch as it means I can quickly remove the parts from the sprue and a quick swipe with a knife and/or sanding stick and we’re done. There’s little chance of you damaging the surface detail. The wings fit recessed into grooves in the fuselage halves, so there won’t be any gaps. The plastic sands and cuts nicely and is not too hard or brittle. The surface detail is nicely done and shows a lot of detail.
Tanmodel have done a very nice job with their first 1/48 kit. There is a lot to recommend the kit, thoughtful packaging, clear instructions, well thought out engineering behind the breakdown and fit of parts, varied decal options with good placement details and last, but not least, a nice display base/mouse mat. This kit is obviously the best 1/48 RF-84F on the market. I’m looking forward to seeing what Tanmodel comes up with next. I’m sure it won’t be long before the likes of Eduard have produced aftermarket items for the cockpit and the camera bay. This kit is highly recommended – you need to try one for yourself!
Price – around US$48, depending where you live.
Many thanks to Tanmodel for the review sample.