Academy 1/72nd F-84E/G KIT #1617 (FA175)

Review and photos by Bruce Craig

Price: $13.95 retail, bought at discount for $12.60

This Academy kit is from a new mold. Although it has many similarities to the Tamiya F-84G 1/72nd kit, it also has many differences. It is injection molded, and with decal sheets. There are no vac, resin, or photo etched parts included. The plastic parts are nearly perfect; I found only minor flash. Parts are funished to make either an F-84E or an F-84G. These include optional fuselage inserts, similar in concept to those in the ProModeler 1/48th scale kit (although the ProMod kit does not include the "E" inserts), optional ejectors (tailpipes), optional speed brakes, and optional canopies.

Unlike the Tamiya kit, this Academy kit does not include the option for an open nose gun bay installation, but there are more weapons options, as both rockets and bombs are included. The auxiliary tanks are separate parts rather than molded integrally with the wings as they are in the Tamiya kit. Also, the auxiliary tanks include the probe-and-drogue refueling probes. Regretably, there are no wing tip parts for a build without the auxiliary tanks. That is not a particular problem for most builds of the "E" or "G" but makes it harder to backdate to the "D" or earlier models, many of which did not have the auxiliary tanks installed at all times. However, that is probably not a concern of the vast majority of those who will build this model.

There are two canopies furnished, one without bracing tapes for the "E" and one with the bracing tapes for the "G" versions. As with the Tamiya kits (both 1/48th and 1/72nd) the canopy with the bracing tapes has the "too long" lengthwise center tape. As I recommend (elsewhere on this site) using decals to correctly represent the bracing tapes, it might be easier to use the canopy without the bracing tapes, and apply the decals to it rather than fight with removing the incorrect "tape" from the engraved canopy. Another concern with the non-taped canopy is the molded-in alignment tabs on the inside of the canopy that are for aligning the under-canopy equipment shelf. These tabs are covered if the bracing tapes are added, so they would not be as grossly obvious. However, for the non-taped versions, these tabs stick out like a sore thumb. I recommend removing them and polishing the inside of the canopy if you intend to build an "E" version sans the bracing tapes. Removing the tabs should not affect the installation and alignment of the under-canopy equipment shelf.

The ejectors furnished are so similar it is difficult to tell them apart in this scale. On the real aircraft, the "G" ejector is round with stacked formation lights, while the "E" ejector is slightly oval with lateral formation lights. The ejector parts for the "G" are correct, but the "E" ejector, although very slightly oval, still has the stacked formation lights. Both types of speed brakes are furnished, so either follow the instructions or reference photos of the aircraft your are modeling for the correct one to use. It is noteworthy that this kit provides for the speed brake to be posed either open or closed, while the Tamiya kit has only the closed option. The speed brake bay, unlike the ProModeler 1/48th scale kit, has the correct shape.

The details on the two kits are very similar. Both cockpits are generally equivalent for details, this kit having a decal for the instrument panel. Gear well details and fairings are generally the same. This kit has the nose gear and wheel molded in one piece, the Tamiya kit nose gear and wheel are five parts. The Academy wheel (nose and main) are correct for detail, but the Tamiya parts are not correct.

In general, both this Academy kit and the Tamiya kit are very similar in amount of engraving detail, with the differences being only in interpretation of panel line and rivet placement. Considering the scale, these differences are negligible, and the main parts of the two kits are so similar, it almost seems the parts could be interchanged in most cases. (I haven't tried this other than some quick dry-fitting, so don't take my comment "to the bank.") I did find that both kits have almost identical vertical tail shapes, and that both, like the Tamiya 1/48th kit, are incorrect. Again, at this scale, it is not noticeable. From the similarities, I conclude that both companies used the same source for their drawings and dimensions, etc.

The decals are generally very good, with a very slight misregister between insignia red and insignia blue, noticable only on the US national insignia. Decals are furnished for:
USAF F-84E 50-1191 FS-191, flown by Lt. Dolph Overton III, 8th FBS, 49th FBG, Taegu, Korea, 1951
USAF F-84G 52-3197 FS-197, 8th FBS, 49th FBG, Misawa, Japan, summer 1955
French AF F-84G 51-9875 -OD, no place or date given

Data decals are included for all the reasonably visible stenciling, given the scale of the model. The tail serial number for 52-3197 was inadvertently omitted from the main decal sheet, so a small "second" decal sheet is supplied to correct the omission. Also, aftermarket decals are already available for the Tamiya kit, including the sheet for Thunderbirds livery by Airway Graphics, and those decals should fit this kit without any problem. Also, I checked some of the other aftermarket 1/72nd decal sheets recommended for the Heller kit, and I believe they could be used with this kit with minor trimming.

In summary, this Academy offering is the latest of several 1/72nd scale Thunderjet kits to come to market, and is the only one that may be built "from the box" as either an "E" or a "G." It is pretty much a flip of the coin whether this or the Tamiya is the kit of choice. I would chose this model if I wanted to build an "E" Thunderjet or if I was going to build without the gun bay open. I would chose the Tamiya if I wanted to build with the gun bay open. There is always the option of using the correct landing gear from the Academy kit on the Tamiya kit if one wanted the more accurate details on a model with the gun bay open. And, there are the rockets. Or maybe not. Both kits are quite good, but overall, this Academy kit has the better options choices and is generally more correct on some minor details.

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Academy F-84E/G kit box art.

Outside of fuselage parts trees.

Inside of fuselage parts trees.

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Trees for clear parts and mounting stand.

Outside of wings parts trees.

Inside of wings parts trees.

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Main and correction decal sheets.

Inside of Academy and Tamiya fuselages.

Outside of Tamiya and Academy fuselages.

Go to page with large images of canopy fix and brace order.
NOTE: The page references the "fix" for the 1/48th scale kit, but the information is as well applicable to this 1/72nd scale kit.

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The Academy F-84E/G is moderately priced at $13.95. Given the quality and reasonable accuracy of the kit, it is currently equal to, and in some cases better than, the Tamiya kit. I rated it 9 of 10 because of some minor inaccuracies, but since it is slightly better than the Tamiya, I'll rate it a "real" 9.

Contents Copyright 1997-2000 Bruce Craig -- All Rights Reserved