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Heller 1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer Heller
Subject RF-84F Thunderflash Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80417 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Neat subject Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The RF-84F Thunderflash was an outgrowth of the F-84F Thunderstreak program, with YF-84F #2 being built with wingroot intakes instead of the nose intake. While the initial wing root intakes did degrade thrust over the nose intake, this new configuration did leave the nose free for camera installations.

The Thunderflash experienced many of the same teething problems of the Thunderstreak including reliability issues with its J65 engine. It would ultimately have a short career in the active duty USAF and a few more years of service with the Air National Guard. On the other hand, the RF-84F would serve quite a while longer in NATO with the last Thunderstreaks retiring from the Hellenic Air Force in 1991.

While this kit is currently out of production, it was re-released by Fonderie Miniature (FM) complete with resin detail parts. Nevertheless, these are still easy kits to come by and with the recent release of AMS Resin's resin detail sets for 1/48 scale F-84s, including three sets just for this RF-84F from Heller, I thought it might be a good idea to take another look.

Inside the box, the kit is molded in silver styrene and presented on three parts trees, two more partial parts trees also in silver, and one tree of clear parts. This is older tooling, so the detailing on this kit is raised, not scribed.

Like the Kinetic 1/48 F-84F and Revell 1/48 F-84E kits, this is really a simple build. An AMS modeler will likely remove the raised details and rescribe the panels, add some resin in the cockpit (like the one of the previously mentioned AMS Resin sets) and take a look at the DACO markings and maintenance stencils that have been produced for USAF and NATO variants.

The one down side to this release is the one-piece canopy, but you could either carefully remove the windscreen and rear windows from the canopy (with a really good razor saw) or liberate the clear parts from your Monogram F-84F kit.


Markings are provided for two examples:

  • RF-84F, 33-CP, ERT 4/33, French Air Force, Operation Musketeer, Nov 1956
  • RF-84F, EA-305, AKG 51, German Air Force, 1959

Take another look at that airframe. This was Republic's first hard-nosed jet aircraft and the lessons learned from those wing root intakes would bring forth the next successful fighter design from their drawing boards - the F-105 Thunderchief.

This is a nice looking aircraft and unless Kinetic decides to tackle the RF-84F, this will remain the only model of the type in 1/48 scale. We're likely to see this kit reissued in the future, but these kits are still relatively easy to find at kit swaps and even eBay.