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Tanmodel RF-84 Thunderflash

The plastic in Tanmodel’s RF-84 is gorgeous, with beautiful recessed panel lines, terrific detail, and no flash or ejector-pin marks that will be visible.

The instruction manual features CAD illustrations rather than black-and-white drawings. Large, red arrows indicate part placement, but the locations are sometimes vague, especially for parts without locators. There are also a few mistakes, such as mislabeled parts, so study the instructions before starting construction.

The build begins with the multipart ejection seat and detailed cockpit, followed by the engine intakes and exhaust; they presented no problems.

The nose recon bays are filled with cameras with clear lenses and film canisters that should be installed even if you choose to display the bays buttoned up. The instructions indicate the equipment keeps the nose grounded. I stuffed BBs into the film canisters as insurance against the model being a tail-sitter.

If you pose the camera-bay doors open, you’ll have to cut into the fuselage and fit separate doors. I left the bays closed because the camera mounts are weak. I used a lot of super glue securing them — it didn’t look pretty.

The fuselage halves fit around the internal assemblies without issue.

Next, I assembled the wings with their separate control surfaces, but left them off for painting. They slide over the intake trunks and into recesses on the fuselage. No spar is provided and the joint seems a little weak. Installing them before painting would likely make a sturdier connection.

The separate wing fences fit tightly. I had to sand them a little to install them.

Tanmodel provides crystal-clear open and closed canopies; I used the latter.

Optional parts provide open or closed speed brakes. The detail is terrific inside and out, but there’s no color information for the wells.

The glass for the camera ports needed a little sanding to fit.

The main landing gear doors are molded with the strut, but the wheels feature separate tires for ease of painting.

Finally, I prepped the fuel tanks and pylons. I enlarged the holes in the wings for a better fit.

Decals provide markings for nine Thunderflashes: Turkish, Italian, Dutch, two French, Greek, two American, and, the one I chose, German. The register was off on my sheet — especially noticeable on the German flags — and the images were a little soft.
Even over clear gloss, the decals didn’t want to stay put. There’s quite a bit of excess carrier film on each. I recommend trimming it, especially if the decal fits in a tight spot.

Tanmodel did a great job on the RF-84 — only its second kit — with construction and fit on par with kits from established manufacturers. The camera-bay and decal issues aren’t difficult to overcome, and the finished model looks every bit Republic’s Cold Warrior. I can’t wait to see what Tanmodel does next.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2016 issue.

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