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Republic F-105D Thunderchief

by Fred List


Republic F-105 Thunderchief
"Bireme Imperator"



Revell/Monogram's 1/48 scale F-105D Thunderchief is available online 
from Squadron.com® for less than USD$12





This is the Monogram F-105D kit in 1/48th scale. 

Aftermarket additions include the Black Box F-105D Cockpit set and the Teknics F-105 Brass Landing gear. Decals were custom made by Mike Grant Decals and were supplied to me by the pilot of "Bireme Imperator", fellow Hyperscaler, friend and all-around good guy Rick Ellis. 



Rick flew with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron out of Takhli RTAFB Thailand 1964-66. During his two tours, he shot down two MiGs and shared credit for a third - an impressive accomplishment given the fact that the Thunderchief's primary role was as a bomber. Captain Ellis flew 182.5 missions before being downed by N. Vietnamese AAA. Captured for a time, Capt. Ellis incredibly, managed to escape before his limousine to "the Hilton" arrived, and he eventually made it back to friendly territory. After the war, he stayed in the Air Force Reserve flying A-7D Corsairs, F-15D Eagles and RF-4C Phantoms. 

In 1991 he flew the RF-4C with the 106 Recon Sqdn., Alabama ANG in the 1991 Gulf War with Iraq. One hell of a career!





As with every other aircraft kit I've ever built, I started with the cockpit. 

The Black Box F-105D resin cockpit I used was, for the most part cleanly done, with sharp details and virtually no flash or pinholes to be found anywhere. On close inspection the ejection seat was just beautiful, with molded harnesses and fine rivet and wiring detail. The main instrument panel too, was a work of art. 



Strangely, the side instrument panels seemed to have been slightly less well done, with the alignment of the individual panels and switches being somewhat irregular. The coaming (the section under the forward windscreen), also seemed slightly less sharply defined than the e-seat or the main panel. With those very small complaints out of the way, I still very much liked the set and the clear directions that came with it. 

The first step was to sand off all the cockpit wall detail on the kit fuselage halves as well as the instrumentation on the coaming. This was accomplished using Flexi-file sanding sticks. 

One very useful exercise I found, was to assemble the resin cockpit as much as possible with small bits of tape and repeatedly test fit it into the fuselage. Doing this saved me from any fit problems with cockpit tub and instrument panel. The coaming piece however, proved to be too tall when test fitted to allow the windscreen to fit. The resin piece and the area it fit over must be sanded very thin to clear the windscreen. Be very careful when sanding the area forward of the main instrument panel, not to alter the contours where the windscreen will be glued. 



The cockpit was airbrushed with Dark Ghost Grey and the panels and instruments were later brush-painted on. Once this was dry, a wash of burnt umber tinted future was applied, followed by a flat coat and drop of Future on each gauge to simulate glass.

In previous reviews the Monogram F-105D kit has been justifiably recognized as an excellent rendering of this cold-war era fighter. I certainly saw nothing to alter that judgement. The raised panel lines were something new to me, but I found they didn't require any major adjustment of my usual building techniques. During seam filling any of the raised detail that was lost due to sanding was simply re-scribed in the same way I do for recessed panel lines and wasn't noticeably different.

Due to the fact the model was based on later model F-105Gs there are a number of antennas, lights etc. that appear on the F-105D kit that shouldn't be on a mid 60's era SEA theater aircraft. The following corrections to the kit come from Rick Ellis.

  • Remove the 4 triangular shaped antennas from the nose just aft of the nose cone. 

  • Remove the the RHAW antenna from the leading edge of the wings just outboard of the slats. 

  • Remove the the warning antenna at the wing tip and smooth out to follow the original tip curve both in plan and elevation views. 

  • For a Vietnam era bird, remove the anti collision lights on the spine and belly. 

  • The strike camera under the nose was not always carried all the time so it can be removed at your discretion. Just the vertical triangular piece not the horizontal one that tapers into the fuselage, that was an antenna for the later ILS systems and retrofitted to most a/c. 

  • Remove the wing stiffener plates on top of the wing above the main landing gear.

Even armed with these guidelines I somehow forgot to remove the wing stiffener plates just above the main gear. 

Fit of the model was uniformly good and Testors putty filler was only used on the wing root area because of my sloppy work in removing the upper wing halves from the sprue. The sprue attaches to the wing at the root joint, so care in removal of these parts is needed to prevent damage. 

Following some tips seen here on HyperScale, all minor seam filling along the fuselage halves was done with Liquid Paper. I found this to work just great, and it was not as difficult to sand as gap-filling CA. I saw no evidence of the Liquid Paper pulling off under masking. It behaved kind of like a thicker version of Mr. Surfacer, and dried very quickly. 



After repeated dryfitting, the cockpit was glued into one of the fuselage halves and about 12 grams (5 US Pennies) were epoxied into the area in front of the cockpit to prevent possible tail-dragging. When adding the nose weight, you have to be careful not to interfere with the fit of the nose gear wheel bay. The rest of the model assembly was a no-brainer. 

The Teknics brass landing gear are a favorite of mine. I've used them on 4 of my aircraft models to date and have nothing bad to say about them. On the Thunderchief however, they are more than just decoration. This is a BIG fighter, and I think the plastic kit gear would be very likely to break under the weight of this model. So, if the finished model will do any traveling, spring for the brass gear and save yourself a headache. One thing you will have to add on the brass landing gear are lights. While the nosegear have the two small lights right above the wheel, the two main gear on my sample do not. These lights will have to be cut off the kit landing gear and mounted on the brass gear.



Painting and Decals


Testors Model Master Enamels and Humbrol Metal-Cote paints were used to paint my Thunderchief. At this point I had the first major foul-up. I had finished painting the underside and the top-side base colors and was in the process of applying the Medium Green color when somehow while cleaning the airbrush with Easy Lift Off paint remover, I inadvertently oversprayed the model. I wasn't even aware that it had happened until about 5 minutes later when I noticed these dark green spots all over the model. (It reminded me of Shep Payne's diorama of the B-24 Assembly aircraft that was being painted like a clown with polka-dots all over the nose. But I wasn't laughing). I tried to rinse the paint remover off under the sink, but it was WAY too late. The dark green was the plastic color showing through and all the paint in the world wouldn't be able to cover those spots. After walking away from it for about 24 hours, I removed the rest of the paint using the ELO and started again. 

Luckily, the cockpit was entirely masked and wasn't harmed and most of the underside wasn't damaged either. Still, it was one of those days when the modelling Gods pee in your corn flakes and there isn't much you can do about it. 

Re-painting went pretty well, with no more disasters. The soft edge between the three camouflage colors was achieved using Jim's Masking Putty ( from jimshobbies.com ). If you are (like me) too clumsy to airbrush complicated camouflage schemes free-hand, this masking putty will be a great help to you. I've reviewed this putty elsewhere and pretty much swear by it for schemes with curved lines and/or feathered borders between colors. 



Two thin coats of Future were sprayed on after painting as a prep for decalling. Once the Future had dried, I used my Umber/grey tinted Future as a wash to highlight the panel lines. This was done using a thin liner brush drawn carefully along the panel lines to simulate the accumulated dirt that built-up there. The jet exhaust nozzle and petals were airbrushed with Humbrol Metal-Cote, Polished Steel. After drying, sections were polished carefully with a cotton swab. A second color, Testors Metalizer Burt Iron was then airbrushed on the burner petals after masking with low-tack masking tape.

Decals were a combination of kit decals and custom decals. The national insignia as well as the stenciling came from the Monogram kit decals and surprisingly went on just fine. The decals particular to Captain Ellis' aircraft were custom made for Rick by Mike Grant. http://www.cadvision.com/mikegrant/MikeGrantDecals/ The small decal sheet came with clear and detailed instructions as well as a short bio on Capt Ellis' air victories. This included two gun camera photos of his first kill, a MiG-17 in August of 64. A full color aircraft profile was also included to help with decal placement. The decals themselves went on perfectly and conformed to the contours of the raised panel lines with no problems whatsoever. The instructions suggest testing the use of decal softeners on an unused part of the sheet, but I had no trouble using Solva-Set to help the decals conform.



Finishing Touches


The weapons load-out was the one Rick told me was fairly typical for the time he was flying. This was the ALQ-87 Electronic Jamming Pod, 6 Mk 117 GP Bombs and a twin AIM-9B Sidewinder launch assembly for MiG threats. 

The twin launcher was made out of three 1mm thick pieces of plastic card sandwiched together then cut to a rectangular shape 2.5cm long by 12mm wide. The front and rear edges of the rectangle were sanded to get a knife-like leading and trailing edge. 

The launch rails from the Hasegawa Weapons Set B were cannibalized and glued to the center piece then it was mounted on the pylon that came with the kit. I found out subsequently that the pylon for the twin launcher was smaller than the one provided in the kit, but I didn't think the difference hurt the overall look. 

The ALQ-87 ECM pod from the Hasegawa Weapons Set C was used on the #5 Pylon.





Overall, I found this to be a great old kit and when completed really makes a striking model. I plan on doing at least two others at some point… as soon as I find room for them.

Many thanks to Mike Grant and Paul Osborne and especially to Rick Ellis.



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Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Fred List
Page Created 11 April, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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