Why the title “The missing F-84 Thunderjet”? The F-84 Thunderjet (not to be confused with it’s later swept wing version, the F-84 Thunderstreak). Was actually quite an important aircraft during the early Cold War period.
It was the main jet fighter bomber for the following NATO Air Forces during that period; Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey and obviously the USA.
Therefore I seems quite puzzling that it is not represented very well by the main model companies.
A brief history of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet
The F-84 Thunderjet was a natural progression for Republic from their P-47 Thunderbolt fighter bomber of WWII fame. As Republic had already been plying with putting a jet engine in the P-47 and refining the design. So they were well placed in September 1944 when the USAAF released requirements for a new jet fighter to use Allison J35 jet engine.
The first flight of the YF-84 was on 4th January 1945. After the usual prototype testing and ironing out most of the bugs. The F-84 started leaving the production lines in 1947.
Entering service with the 14th Fighter Group in December 1947. Over the next few years, the B, C and D models all entered service in quite rapid succession as issues were ironed out.
In 1950 the more capable F-84E entered service and stayed in service with the USAF. The F-84E was in service until 1956 and with the ANG till 1959. The F-84E’s also served with many NATO Air Forces.
The final G version entered service in 1951 and became one of the main fighter bomber aircraft of the Korean war and of numerous NATO Air Forces.
Initially used as an escort fighter during the Korean war, until the arrival of the MiG-15. The Thunderjet was then switched to ground attack, which it proved to be very capable of. USAF statistics claim that the F-84 was responsible for 60% of all ground targets destroyed during the war.
Portugal was the Air Force that had the longest service from the F-84 Thunderjet, from 1953 to 1973!
The F-84 Thunderjet in 1/72 scale
If you check out the F-84 Thunderjet over on Scalemates you will see that there appears to be a good selection of kits. However when you dig a little deeper, you find that quite a few are re-issues of the Heller kit from 1978.
Inplast brought a new kit out in 1989, but it looks a very basic kit. Jump forward 10 years, and Tamiya come to the rescue with their release of a Thunderjet. But the issue is, these kits are not currently being produced by the above mentioned companies. Even the release by Academy in 2000 is not easy to find.
So this leaves us with the Hobbyboss F-84’s. Hobbyboss has released two kits of the F-84, the ‘E‘ and ‘G‘ versions. However, they are quite basic kits, more of a ‘quick build’. But at the moment really one of the few options for an F-84 in this scale.
In 2023 Bigmodel have been re-releasing an F-84G Thunderjet, which I think is the old Inplast kit. Bigmodel is a Polish company, and I’m not yet aware of any UK importer.
So unless you are lucky enough to come across a Tamiya version, there is not currently much about in 1/72 for a Thunderjet.
Other scales for the F-84 Thunderjet
Well things look just as dire for 1/48 scale. Lots of old kits no longer in circulation, as can be seen on Scalemates.
So come on mainstream model companies, is it not about time we had a new tool of the Republic F-84 Thunderjet? So many great schemes in the offering, and also so many Korean war schemes to choose from.
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