163rd FBS, 122nd FBG, Indiana ANG
If one loves aircraft, there are some iconic designs that made life long impressions on the individual. The Republic F-84F was one of those characteristic looking designs that caught my eye from the first moment I beheld it coursing through the air. It literally reminded me of an aeronautical race car: sleek with those angled wings and empennage units; compact so a pilot almost wore the plane instead of flying it. Then, upon closer inspection, those anhedral wings (wings with a few degrees bend downward from the fuselage), as opposed to the usual dihedral wings (bend upward of a few degrees, to aid lift) on virtually all other aircraft.
What messed up the natural look of the F-84F were those relatively huge fuel tanks hugging the fuselage, and often times an extra pair were carried on outer pylons. Talk about ruining all the positive attributes of a fighter (even though it was termed a fighter bomber). Those extra tanks were needed for any amount of extended range, as those early jet engines were pure gas guzzlers.
images below to see larger images
The Kinetic moldings are heavy on the depth of recessed panel lines; some claim the recesses are small depressions if one scales them to the real aircraft. I can tolerate this excess, as it saves on black washes; the recesses richly stand out without any enhancement.
I had a straightforward build. The parts were crisp with little flash. The glossy instruction booklet was clear and the parts were properly numbered. The fit was exceptional, with minimal putty required at joints. The cockpit was very adequate, with detail that only needed paint and a little weathering to appreciate; with the raised cockpit instrument panel dial gages, all I used was a white pastel pencil to outline the round
What was especially considerate were two metal balls included, for weight allowing the finished jet to rest on its tricycle gear. The balls furthermore were designed for internal fuselage pockets where they would not interfere with part fit. Be sure to use both balls, though; the nose of the plane may refuse to come down on the front landing gear using only one, especially if one adds the large drop tanks under the wings.
A second nice inclusion was the nose gun cum control boxes molded part, with separate cover piece. I felt I should show this seldom seen detail by opening the gun bay compartment. Rare color photos help with painting the various contacts on the control boxes.
I did not use any black wash for recessed panel lines, for reason stated above. I was also struck by the super clean look of these aircraft in photos; only the natural aluminum skin tended to fade to a uniform matt finish over time. Speaking of the bare metal look, I used both buffing chrome silver and aluminum plate spray paint, along with selected application of matte and high gloss chrome Bare Metal Foil (builder's choice for location). The plate spray paint allowed me to selectively polish sections with a higher gloss than other areas; the more one rubs, the more shiny the appearance gets.
As for the yellow piping, sealant around the canopy, I masked, then painted the width around the canopy with yellow paint. I tried using an all-yellow decal sheet, cutting widths to scale size, but the decal literally crumbled into pieces when it separated from the backing sheet. I pitched the remaining sheet of yellow colored decal.
I decided to add the outer two fuel tank pylons, but not include the outer tanks - that only made the aircraft look pregnant in my opinion. Photos of this plane showed about an equal number of outer pylons with tanks as those without, but nearly always the two inner tanks were attached. If the outer tanks weren't used, it wasn't unusual to remove the pylons from the wing to save weight and improve range considerations.
I used an Aero Master aftermarket decal sheet, along with the kit decals, for my build. As a Hoosier for over half a century, I had to build a replica of a F-84F that flew with the 163rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron out of the ANG base in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in the 1950s. The kit decals contained the full array of stencils; the aftermarket sheet mainly had the characteristic unit markings.