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Republic RF-84F Thunderflash in Detail (Reprise)

n Photos and text  by Magnus Fridsell

The Thunderflash was the subject of an article on this site a few years ago with a detailed history and photos of a former  West-German Airforce aircraft (RF-84F at Hermeskeil). With the recent re-issue of the only available kit in 1/72 from Italeri, there sure is a need for even more details!

Being a dedicated photo-reconnaissance machine, a production run of over 700 airframes is quite impressing. Most of these served with the USAF but small batches were also exported to different NATO countries. Among those using the aircraft were Norway, Denmark, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Greece. The two latter countries bought their aircraft second-hand from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Greek Airforce flew its last sortie in the RF-84F in March 1991, not bad for a second-generation jet first flown in 1952!

This Thunderflash

The subject of this photo feature is a Belgian Airforce aircraft, now residing in the very good museum in Brussels, Koninklijk Legermuseum. Coded FR-28 in Belgian service, it is former 51-1945 of the USAF. All photos were taken on Sunday, September 15 2002. (Battle of Britain day with Manneken Pis dressed in RAF uniform!)

Other kinds of Thunder in the Belgian Airforce

The Belgian Airforce operated all three main variants of the F-84 series; the straight wing Thunderjet, the swept wing Thunderstreak and the very similar Thunderflash which is the subject of this article. All three types are represented at the museum in Brussels.

RF-84F Thunderflash in detail

The photos have been divided into three sections linked here. In this issue I have also included a short note on the subject of painting and markings of Belgian RF-84Fs.

Nose and camera installation

Intakes, landing gear, spoilers and air brakes

Canopy area and main airframe 

Thunderflash models and acessories

There is one big advantage when you feel the urge to build a Thunderflash; you don't have to spend that much time when picking your model! There are two available, one each in 1/72 and 1/48 scale! In the smaller scale, there is the recently re-released Italeri kit which is basic but a sound base for a good model. The Heller kit is equally basic but the only game in town as well!

The cockpit in the Italeri kit can be upgraded using the Aires kit for the Thunderjet, with a slight adjustment of the instrument panel to accommodate for the photo sight. Apart from that, some sanding and rescribing is needed. 

The Italeri kit in its latest, and very attractive, boxing.
Four decal options are included; USAF, Italian, West German and French.

Further Reading

There are few  books on the subject of the Thunderflash, two that I know are the following:

  • Republic F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak, & Thunderflash - A Photo Chronicle by David R. McLaren, Schiffer Publishing, 1998, ISBN 0-7643-0444-5
  • Republic F-84 (Swept-wing Variants) by Kevin Keaveney, Aerofax Minigraph 15, Aerofax, 1987, ISBN 0-942548-20-5

If I had  to pick one of them, I would go for the Minigraph since it gives a lot of information for a relatively low price. However, the Schiffer book is quite nice as well! If you are into Belgian aircraft, there is a nice book on the Thunderstreak which will be of great help even for Thunderflash modellers:

  • De Republic F-84F Thunderstreak in dienst bij de Belgische Luchtmacht by André van Haute, Uitgeverij De Krijger, 1999, ISBN 90-72547-41-1

This book contains good colour photos of all three paint schemes and also lots of other valuable information. Its only disadvantage is that it is in Flemish!

  Web resources 

On the World Wide Web, one of the must-visit web places for the Thunderflash enthusiast is f84thunderjet.com which, even if it is named after the first aircraft in the series, is a resource for any of the three main variants of the F-84!

Burkhard Domke has a good walkaround of a West German RF-84F at his website. Also, Robert Lundin has a walkaround of the same RF-84F as in this article at his Aircraft Walkaround  website.


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