June 2017

F-105D Thunderchief

F-4E Phantom II

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Republic F-105D Thunderchief “Memphis Belle II”

357 TFS, 355th TFW, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base,  Thailand, 1970.

FROG/Hasegawa 1/72 with Print Scale markings

Developed from the F-84 Thunderstreak, which in turn owes its heritage to Republic’s Thunderjet and Thunderbolt, the F-105 Thunderchief  entered service in 1958 as a fast (Mach 2) nuclear pentrator, in effect a one-shot weapon for a short “total war” against the Soviet Union.  

However it quickly found itself fighting a very different and limited conventional war, one of attrition and restricted engagements against North Vietnam.  Thunderchiefs  bore the brunt of the early bombing campaigns, flying from bases in Thailand to attack North Vietnamese targets, including Hanoi with its infamous SAM alley.  In the conventional role, theF-105 could carry a greater load than a WW2 B-24 or B-17 and over 20,000 combat sorties were flown, with 320 aircraft lost in combat.  

In view of the high level of attrition, the result of their intense use, rather than any fault in aircraft or pilots, F-105s began to be replaced in the bombing role  by F-4s in 1970.

Although not intended as fighters, USAF F-105s were also credited with 27.5 MiG kills over Vietnam.  

This kit came to me in a dirty bag of bits, purchased for only £1 at the Cosford model show. It had no instructions or decals and had been taped together some years ago with sellotape that had left a thick layer of adhesive on the plastic of the fuselage and wings.  Nothing that a bit of elbow grease couldn’t remove, with a set of Print Scale decals to finish.  Although I believe the origins of this one to be FROG, this is one of the many kits that were shared by FROG and Hasegawa in the 1970s, in this case starting off as an Hasegawa kit.  It is definitely not one of their best, with very crude details, a bare cockpit (but detailed pilot and seat?) and (to my mind) a rather over-large cockpit canopy.  

There were no real issues in building (except that my lead shot weights all came undone and fell out the tailpipe as I painted the kit!) .  I’m not sure I got the assembly of the seat and pilot right though and had to do a bit of surgery to get them to fit.  Sidewinders, ECM jammer, bomb load and MER pylon/rack came from various other kits and the decals are from Print Scale.  Paint is Humbrol enamel  applied by brush.  Painting all 3 colours on the upper surfaces and trying to blend their edges was “interesting”!  Although I am generally happy with the outcome, my light green is a little too vibrant and my tan probably a little too light.  


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Background Image: US Army Huey helicopter at the Helicopter Museum, Weston Super Mare

Have a look at my Friends and Allies pages for more USAF & Vietnam era aircraft.


McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II “Arkansas Traveller II”

469 TFS, 388th TFW, Royal Thai Air Base, Korat Thailand, 1969.

Hasegawa 1/72 OOB

For many people, the F-4 Phantom was the ultimate Western Cold War fighter.  Like the British Buccaneer and the present day Hornet, it was  originally designed as a multi-role naval fighter, but became the key equipment of many land-based air forces (and Navies) around the world.

With its angular shape and massive weapons load, it was a very distinctive aircraft, equally at home as an interceptor, dogfighter or bomber.  The F-4E variant was developed from the earlier USAF F-4C and D and drew heavily on Vietnam combat experience, with the F-4D introducing the navy’s Sidewinder missile to the Air Force in place of the less effective USAF Falcon, and incorporating an internal M61 Vulcan cannon in the nose for dogfighting.  

The F-4E was first deployed to  Vietnam in 1968, where it began to replace the F-105  in the bombing role and as the primary Air Superiority fighter.

This is yet another ”cheapy” buy, costing me £5 at the same time and in the same place as the Thunderchief.  This is the 2nd generation Hasegawa Phantom kit, still on sale, which is reasonably accurate, but quite simple in detail.  

That said, it builds fairly well, although not as precisely as I have come to expect from Hasegawa kits, even old ones.  The fit of the wings to the fuselage was disappointing, with gaps all round, especially between wing and upper fuselage sides.  This was addressed by inserting a spreader bar from sprue cut to the correct size.  

My issue of the kit came with a full weapon load (which is not included in the  more recent issues of this kit, which is also in the stash.  I modified it slightly from the kit instructions to reflect a more realistic 12x M-117 bomb load on two TERs and one MER, with two Sparrows on the after pylons.  

Pilots came from the spares box and were needed to address the very empty cockpits.  Ia lso did a little scratch modification to the ejector seat tops, including some delicate wire ejection handles, which promptly fell off once the canopy was attached ! .

The Commander of the 388th TFW, 13th Air Force was Colonel Paul Douglas, a WWII P-47 ace with 8 victories flying the "Arkansas Traveler".

In Vietnam F-4E 67-0288 "Arkansas Traveler II" became his personal aircraft and was adorned with the same 8 victory markings and nose art of a hillbilly riding a bomb that were on his P-47.

During the Vietnam War the F-4E was credited with 21 MiG victories and 17 of these were by the 469th TFS.  

Various shots of F-4s , above and F-4J at the Midland Air Museum, below Greek F-4Es at RIAT 2016