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1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit

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

By Michael Benolkin

Date of First Look January 2016 Manufacturer Tanmodel
Subject RF-84F Thunderflash Scale 1/48
Kit Number 2201 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details and options Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $79.99

First Look

1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit
1/48 RF-84F Thunderflash Kit

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.

Here is a new kit from a relatively new model company: Tanmodel is based in Istanbul, Turkey and they've selected the RF-84F Thunderflash as their first subject in 1/48th scale. I've been following the development of this kit on Facebook and their CAD engineering is nicely done. Until now, the only options we've had for the RF-84F are the Heller and FM kits in 1/48th scale, or the Italeri kit in 1/72nd.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus two trees of clear parts. I'm rather impressed with the design choices they made with this kit as they provide some nice details and options but they avoid the complexity of multi-media materials like photo-etch (which I'm certain the aftermarket world will fulfill) and the over-engineering that makes many kits unsuitable for basic modelers.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed ejection seat
  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Choice of open or closed cockpit (see below)
  • Intake ducts to the engine compressor face
  • Tailpipe with engine turbine face
  • Detailed camera bay in the nose
  • Positionable camera bay doors
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • External stores options include inboard and outboard external fuel tanks
  • Interesting display base (see below)

There is some thoughtful engineering in this kit. Some observations:

  • The clear parts are really clear!
  • The canopy comes with two choices - 1) one-piece with windscreen, canopy, and rear transparency molded together for ease of assembly/alignment; or 2) three separate parts
  • The windscreen in both options have portions of the surrounding dorsal nose deck molded in the part to make gluing and filling easier without harming those very clear parts
  • While the lateral camera windows are molded as inserts into the fuselage halves, the forward window and nose cap are molded clear so again you can glue and fill the part without harming that camera window
  • The fuselage is molded with the camera bay doors closed. There are cut lines inside the fuselage halves should you want to pose the bay doors open and there are separately molded doors included. If you don't want the doors open, you don't have any fitting or filling to worry about
  • One weak point on the typical F-84 kit are the main landing gear struts where they curve around the wheel. This kit molds the lower gear door integral with that weak point which makes that point much stronger while the door would normally wrap around that section of strut anyway
  • We've seen kits that include a paper or card stock display base for the model, but this is the first time I've seen a display base as a mouse pad. The base look great to display this model upon, but if you're not into that sort of thing, you've got a nice large mouse pad instead. Nice touch!

Markings options include:

  • RF-84F-36-RE, 52-7450, 114 Filo, 1st AB, Turkish AF, 1956-1972
  • RF-84F-25-RE, 52-7292, 32 TRS, Spandahlem AB, USAFE, 1955-58
  • RF-84F-46-RE, 53-7668, Aufklaerungsgeschwader 51, Erding AB, Luftwaffe, 1959
  • RF-84F-31-RE, 52-7394, 132 Grupo/3 Aerobrigata, Villafranca AB, Italian AF, 1968
  • RF-84F-46-RE, 53-7621, ER 3/33, Cognac AB, French AF, 1956
  • RF-84F-26-RE, 52-7300, ER 4/33, RAF Akrotiri AB, French AF, 1956 (Suez Crisis)
  • RF-84F-36-RE, 52-8736, 338 Mira, Larissa AB, Hellenic AF, 1972
  • RF-84F-25-RE, 52-7367, 171 TRS/MI ANG, Detroit AFB, USAF, 1968
  • RF-84F-21-RE, 52-7233, 306 Recon Sqn, RAF Laarbuch AB, Netherlands AF, 1961

This is a very nice looking kit out of the box and I'm looking forward to getting this built soon. The only things we'll need will be photo-etched pilot restraints for the 'bang' seat and some AirScale instrument faces for the instrument panel. With that clear canopy, you'll want to detail up that instrument panel and while the kit provides an instrument panel decal, the AMS modeler will want to add some sharper instruments here.

This is a great first 1/48th scale kit from Tanmodel and I can't wait to see what they plan to do next! This kit is being imported into the North American market by Stevens International so you should have it available at your favorite hobby retailer by the time you read this.

For a look at this kit built-up, look here.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!