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Photo Flash: 1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

This old (1979) 1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash is a pretty basic kit lacking details and having raised panel lines. For a very long time it was the only RF-84F available in 1/48th scale, so if you wanted one, this was it.

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

Notable Kit Features:

  • Basic kit (but then this was the late 70's)

  • Limited cockpit detail

  • Raised panel lines

  • One-piece canopy

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

Build Inspiration:

The second YF-84F prototype was completed with wing-root air intakes, as opposed to the center body intake. Although this configuration was not adopted for the fighter, due to loss of thrust, this arrangement worked well for the placement of cameras in the nose for the RF-84F Thunderflash reconnaissance version. I came across this kit at my local hobby store shortly after getting interested in jets (way back when) and picked up this kit as well as a F-84E kit. My first impressions weren't great as compared to the Monogram kits I was use to, this plastic was somewhat lacking in details. (So I never developed into much of a Heller aircraft fan - although they did produce many types of French aircraft which may have been neglected by other manufacturers.)

RF-84F Thunderflash

Heads-Up Report:

  • Some ejector pin marks on the kit

  • No cameras or detail behind those clear recce windows

  • Raised panel lines

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

Kit Additions / Modifications:

  • I blacked out the camera windows, (from the inside) as a shortcut around the lack of interior detail

  • I used my own markings for this aircraft but did not have the squadron badge (so a bit fictitious in the area of markings)

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash


This was an early attempt at getting a Natural Metal Finish (NMF) on a model kit and a learning curve at that. Many different paints and techniques would be tried out over the years, looking for that scale realism that we model makers seek. Keep in mind this was the mid 80's so it wasn't just a matter of looking it up on the internet either... and I don't recall seeing Alclad metal finishes back then, (probably a bit pricy for my budget then too.) Much learning would be done, on finishes as well as other building aspects since this one was completed a long, long time ago.

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

The After-Build Report:

While not a bad kit for its time, there was nothing outstanding about the 1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash kit either (except that it was the only RF-84F kit available back then). The base plastic was re-released by Fonderie Miniature (in 2000) with resin detail parts to upgrade the overall model a bit. More recently, the relatively new Tanmodel, (from Turkey) produced their version of the RF-84F (in 2015) which looks rather nice and is getting good reviews. So, if I had to do it over and didn't mind spending some money to get a quality build, Tanmodel would be the route.

1/48th Heller RF-84F Thunderflash

Completed build #19 - May 1985 using the 1/48th scale Heller #556 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

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