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I was given the Karo-AS vac kit by Ron Darcey of R&D Replicas a couple years ago with the challenge to build it. I wanted to do an F-84 plankwing, but couldn’t find the old Hawk kit (now I have two of them). So, I was excited about receiving the Karo-AS kit. Until I started to build it.
The instructions were very clear and helpful, yet they didn’t have enough info to build a good cockpit. The resin parts were not really usable. The seat was rather crude, but with a lot of work could be used. The side consoles were not very well done. The instrument panel wasn’t accurate. The resin wheels could be used, but were soft in detail.
The metal pieces, undercarriage, and nose gear were rough, and not all that close to the real thing. So, they were all tossed into the circular file, not even good enough for the spare parts box.
After doing the scribing , snapping and sanding ritual that all vacs go through, I measured the fuselage to accurate drawings. It was just a tad off in shape, the nose went in a straight line from the windscreen to the intake. It should have a gentle curve. Some of the panel lines were in the wrong place, not really noticeable, but for the A.R. people (I think I’m one) they needed to be rescribed. The cast-in panel lines were soft anyway.
I filled all of the panel lines on the fuselage with Zap-A-Gap, Then tried to rescribe the lines. It just couldn’t be done, the plastic was soft in some places and hard in others. The filled areas made it even harder. So, the fuselage doesn’t have panel lines to speak of. I was able to get the moving surfaces and a few access panels scribed. A F.O.D. cover was stretched formed over the nose. One for the tail cone was made also.
The wings seemed to have been done by a different mold maker, much sharper panel lines and much more accurate. I sanded the trailing surfaces to be as thin as possible. Then I ran into the problem with the wings, the top panel lines do not line up with the bottom lines. I glued them together, filled in the bottom lines and rescribed them. There aren’t many lines to scribe, so it worked fine. I boxed in the wheelwells, some thin styrene strips were placed into the well to represent ribbing. The tip tanks were glued up. A couple refueling probes were glued into holes drilled in the sides of the tanks. The tips came from Monogram F- 104s (donated by club members). They were then glued to the wings. I did something a bit different here, I filled the wings with A+B epoxy, then shoved a piece of sprue into the epoxy and let it dry. This made a very strong way of attaching the wing to the fuselage. The horizontal stabs were done the same way.
I borrowed (permanently) the cockpit, nose gear and gear well from a Monogram F-84F. The cockpit was modified as much as possible to match the photos of the version I was building. I had to scratchbuild a seat. Then followed painting, drybrushing, etc. I glued some strips of stryrene to the insides of the fuselage to align the cockpit (this took a while). The Monogram nose gear was cut down to fit into the smaller fuselage. It was glued to one side of the fuselage. The cockpit was glued in and the fuselage glued together.
The wings and stabs were glued up to the fuselage. A lot of sanding and filling came next. It was to be in natural metal, so it had to be SMOOTH. Alclad was used for the finish. “O” or basic was shot overall. Darker shades were used on sections that appeared to be that way in photos. I then “shadow” shaded all the panels using “Post It Notes” around each panel, then spraying mostly on the “Notes”. I used silver decal film for some of the smaller panel sections.
There were no decals for the Thunderjet at the time, so I went to my decal box. It wasn’t hard to find the basic markings. I used some (mostly stenciling) from an F-86 sheet. A few came from an F-84F sheet. The squadron markings were painted.
Monogram P-47 main gear struts were used, along with some True Details T-33 wheels. The nose gear from the Monogram kit was modified by cutting off the wheel and sanding off the mudguard. A fork was made and glued to the nose gear. All of this was shot with Alclad and washed with Tamiya black. The gear was glued to the fuselage. After painting, the wheels were glued to the gear.
The wheel well covers were scratched from sheet styrene, painted, washed and drybrushed. They were glued in place. Some R.R. jewels were glued to the doors.
The canopy was a bit of a problem, it wasn’t quite right in length or shape. Not a lot, but against plans it showed up. I sanded the front of the canopy as much as I could to make it shorter. It was still off a bit, but usable. It was polished and dipped into Future. After drying, masking and painting, I used thin strips of white decal for the canopy reinforcements. The round excess hole was the hardest to do.
The area under the canopy had to be scratched. After painting, washing, etc. It was glued to the fuselage. The canopy was white glued right on top of it. The seat was glued in. The dump tube and F.O.D. covers, were glued on.
I placed it in competition several times, including the Nats. It placed first in it’s class everytime. Now that the Tamiya kit is out, it will sit in my display case.
My recommendations for this kit; forget it.
For photos of this model, click here to go to the modeler's page.
Some references used;
F-84 Thunderjet in Action
Republic F-84 a Photo Chronicle by David R. McLaren
Several issues of Wings magazine
F-84 Detail in Scale
Scale Aviation Modeller International;
Vol.4 Issue 10
Vol.3 Issue 5
Happy modeling, Harold Offield