Heller 1/72 F-84G Thunderjet
KIT #: 278
PRICE: I paid $2.00 for a started kit
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Raised panel lines


The Thunderjet had a distinguished record during the Korean War. Although the F-84B and F-84C could not be deployed because their J35 engines had a service life of only 40 hours, the F-84D and F-84E entered combat with 27th Fighter Escort Group on 7 December 1950. The aircraft were initially tasked with escorting the B-29 Superfortress bombers. The first Thunderjet air-to-air victory was scored on 21 January 1951 at the cost of two F-84s.The F-84 was a generation behind the swept-wing Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and outmatched, especially when the MiGs were flown by Soviet pilots, and the MiG counter-air mission was soon given to the F-86 Sabre. Like its famous predecessor, the P-47, the F-84 switched to the low-level interdiction role at which it excelled.

The F-84 flew a total of 86,408 missions, dropping 55,586 tons (50,427 metric tons) of bombs and 6,129 tons (5,560 metric tons) of napalm. The USAF claimed F-84s were responsible for 60% of all ground targets destroyed in the war. Notable F-84 operations included the 1952 attack on the Sui-ho Dam. During the war, the F-84 became the first USAF fighter to utilize aerial refueling. In aerial combat, F-84 pilots were credited with eight MiG-15 kills against a Soviet-claimed loss of 64 aircraft. The total losses were 335 F-84D, E and G models.


For a time in the mid-late 1970s, Heller was really a force with which to be reckoned. In addition to producing kits of some very esoteric (to most) French aircraft, they also produced a number of equally nice 1/72 kits of other planes. Many of these were those that saw some French service and such is the case with the F-84G. For many of us, this was the first decent 1/72 plank wing Thunderjet around.

It is very nicely molded with fine raised detail and that includes the cockpit. There is a reasonable intake that extends far enough back to please most. The two piece canopy allows one to display what is a well detailed for the time cockpit. The rather stalky nose landing gear is well formed and like many F-84 kits, the lower gear door is molded to the landing gear leg. One gets both the early slotted speed brake and the later perforated version. This was normally extended on the ground as the hydraulics bled off.

Wing tip tanks were molded on the upper wing so no worries about alignment. The only things under the fuselage are a pair of large drop tanks that nearly touch the ground. Fortunately, one does not have to use those and I, for one, would have liked actual ordnance.

As the kit I used for this was started, and parts layout diagrams were not in vogue at the time, I've used the construction view to show the bits. Yes, it is little more than an exploded view with an added detail diagram. Markings are for two planes. One is French with EC 1 in 1955. Color comes from orange tip tanks. The other is Norwegian with 331 Squadron in 1957. It seems like Heller decals of the time were made yellowed and so it is with this one. I doubt they'd be viable, but one never knows. Fortunately, aftermarket decals are not impossible to find.


Bit of a look back and despite how nice it is, the Academy Thunderjet is just more detailed and to modern standards. However, if you can get one of these for a buck or two (as did I), it may well be worth picking up.


 September 2011

Thanks to me for this one.

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