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1/72 F-84B Conversion of Heller F-84G Kit

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Hello everyone.


Since my last WIP I've been very busy, both modeling and whatever else you call the rest of the time  (NOT-modeling, I suppose!)


In any event, I've been working on some old projects, completing my F8U-1 (or F-8A) early Crusader  conversion, and Col George E.Laven's colorful F-104C.  Finally, I have time for a small WIP, an F-84B conversion of the Heller F-84G Thunderjet.


Why the Heller kit and not the more detailed Tamiya? you might ask. Basically four reasons: 1) The Tamiya kit wants to have it's gun door left open, and that's not what I'm after on this build;  2) The Heller kit has the option for the early 4-hole air brake, which the Tamiya does not; 3) The Tamiya canopy is too thin to sand off all the F-84G  canopy reinforcement, while the Heller has enough plastic to do so, and 4) The Heller kit is available for less money at auction!


There are several things required to backdate an F-84G to an F-84B version:


(1)  The fuse has to be shortened by one scale foot (4mm), just ahead of the wing. Technically, you should also remove three scale inches from behind the wing as well, but as the fuse slopes dramatically in that area, and the 3" equals 1 mm, I ain't goin' there!


(2) As mentioned above the canopy has to revert to the old, non-reinforced model, as well as needing to be shortened that same 1 scale foot or 4mm.


(3) The refueling door outline at the leading edge of the wing, next to the fuse, on the left wing, needs to be removed


(4) The auxiliary air inlet doors ahead of each wing need to be filled


(5)  The multi-holed later style air-brake needs to replaced by the aforementioned 4-holer.


(6) The trim tabs on both ailerons and the rudder need to be modified.


(7) The pitot tube needs to be relocated to the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer.


(8) Earlier style ejection seat. There is some difference of opinion here, with some experts saying that the first few B models had no ejection seat, while others say that the seats were there, just that the pilots were NOT authorized to use them.... must have been a bit dodgy there!  Let's see "should I pull the handle and get the heck out of here before I die, or do I slide back the canopy, unhook the seat harness, roll the aircraft over and hope I fall out and miss the tail.... Sorry sir, I must have been out of my mind when I pulled that handle..."


Anyway, I began by sawing the fuse in half on both sides, right at the panel line in front of the wing, removing one scale foot on each side with a razor saw. Then, I glued both pieces of each half together, taping the fuse parts together temporarily as needed, to align everything:




As usual for me, the fit was not perfect, and requires a small shim of plastic card on the right side (arrow) to line things up. Figure "A" shows parts of the kit read decking that I removed, and figure "B" is the slice (4 mm wide) that I removed from each side of the fuselage. Below the arrow is where the auxiliary intake doors where filled.


Next, we see some modifications needed on the wings:




Figure "A" shows the trim tabs that need to be removed from both wings. Figure "B" shows the type and location of scribed trim tab that needs to be added to the right wing. Figure "C" shows removing the fin on the fuel tank, which was not on the "B" version; and figure "R" shows the refilling doors that need to be sanded out. Both wings should then be asymmetrically similar.


Next, we have the cockpit:



Figure "A" is the Heller instrument panel, and figure "B" is the Heller cockpit. I will use a resin copy of the Tamiya cockpit, (bottom), which will be sawed off at points "C" and "D". Point "C" so that the cockpit can be installed one scale foot further forward than on the original Heller fuse half, and "D" must be shortened anyway, or a scratch built replacement made, as this one is too long. I will, however, use the Heller instrument panel, because (1) it will fit, and (2) I am lazy.


However, the next item will require some work, and is the thing that usually puts modelers off from trying this conversion, yet it's "Duck Soup" if done properly. That is to desecrate and remodel the canopy:




First off, we have the canopy, with the reinforcing frame sanded off, using both sides of the 220/320 nail sanding stick shown above. The four-gritted stick (bottom) will be used later, thru each of it's four successive grits, from rougher to smoother. It is important NOT to skip a grit!  Oh, and the grey thing is just a bit of neutral grey card, used for white balance when shooting the photo, but in this case, it was also to be used to set the canopy upon, to make it stand out a little better.


Below, a closer shot, showing the reinforcing strips having been wet-sanded off, with the 220, then the 320 grit stick:




followed by a shot after wet-sanding with the #1 grit (blue quarter) of the lower sanding stick. Then two shots showing the #2 and #3 grit progression from this stick:




Then, after wet-sanding with the #4 grit:




Probably, most rational people would have polished the canopy AFTER sawing off the extra 4mm. I didn't, because the existing front canopy frame was a little thicker than the rest of the canopy, and I felt that it might help resist inadvertent shattering of the plastic while sanding, etc. In the end, I had no problems, so I'll chalk that up as a brilliant decision by Ed!


Next we prepare for the surgery:




The canopy has been marked with a piece of tape 4mm (1 scale foot) back from the leading edge. MY next step will be to make one very perfect pass along the edge of the tape with the razor knife. This helps guide the scriber (bottom) with which  I will make a couple of passes to make a line to guide the razor saw while it saws off the unneeded front. Results shown below:




Then after a little cleanup with the sanding file on the cut edge, one coat, then another dip into the Future or PMF or whatever it is by the time you read this, drying between dips:




And we now have a usable F-84B canopy.


More next time,



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Hi folks,


Just a small update today.


I scrounged through the spares box to find a suitable candidate seat to turn into an approximation of the early P-84 type ejection seat, as depicted on page 7 of Squadron's "F-84 Thunderjet in action" book, as well as other pics found on-line.  Here, I out-smarted myself, because the plain old Heller kit seat would have been an even better starting point, but I never checked! Sort of akin to tearing the car apart, looking for a problem, when it was a blown fuse all along  (I've done THAT too!).


Anyway, the donor seat with a few bits of card and sprue added:




And a couple of the almost finished effort (needs a wash applied yet):




I'll probably forego the foot stirrups, because of height problems.


Next, I've added a few grams of weight in the nose, wherever possible, and added the painted cockpit and instrument panel, and glued the fuse halves together, and added the wings:




Figure "A" above, represents the tabs that most be removed from both wings. (there also one of these on each elevator that must be removed). Figure "B" is the scribed tab on the aileron that is kept, and also must be added to the right wing (above and below). Figure "C" is the new, scratch-built, shorter "package deck" added behind the cockpit, showing the canopy track, and "D" is the Heller gun sight, which you could replace with a scale K-14B sight, if you have one laying about. Please forgive the rather poor picture, as these are normally taken in haste, without setting up the photo booth.


Next, the underside:



The arrow points to the tiny gear door opening that must be filled, as it did not exist on the "B" model.  Note the white sliver of plastic card shim, used to join the right fuselage pieces together.




Figure "A" above shows the Parafilm "M" mask over the cockpit area, which will remain in place until the painting is done. Figure "B" shows the two applications of Perfect Plastic Putty, which I put on with a finger, and then wiped down with a wet paper towel to remove the excess and smooth the filler. No sanding was required on these joints.


A little masking, and she'll be ready to start the journey through the paint booth.









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Hi all,


A little paint shop work:




Here, the red areas have been masked off with Parafilm M (PM). All the now red areas were first painted Alclad II Primer White, followed by MM Classic White (Gloss), followed by MM Insignia Red FS 31136. In addition the arrow points to the tape masking strips that cover the areas on the tail that are to remain white.




Next the tail has been unwrapped, showing the red and white stripes. The nose red band has been masked with PM again. The olive drab anti-glare panels have been masked, first with Tamiya tape, and the PM on the fuse and inner wings, to shield against overspray.




The masking for the anti-glare panels has been removed.


Next, all the painted areas are re-masked, using PM, in preparation for the natural metal finish:




Next the natural metal areas have been painted. First with Alclad II glassy black base coat, where a couple of areas had to be re-done twice due to shiny scratches. Next, I sprayed o a coat of Alclad II Aircraft Aluminum, which turned out to be way too shiny for this particular aircraft, so I attempted to tone down the finish a bit, first with Alclad II White Aluminum, shot as a mist coat from about a foot away with high pressure, then a coat of semi-flat Alclad II aluminum, applied the same way:




I didn't really like the olive drab panels, so I re-masked over everything else and resprayed that part only. Again, for masking over  Aclad II metal finishes, I just love Parafilm M!


All the PM takes care of  the overspray nicely:




Next, all masking is removed, and the rear cockpit shelf and gunsight have been installed:




She's coming along now, but progress will slow just a bit, as I have to create some artwork and the print some custom decals -- and, I have a bit of vacation coming in the next few days. I expect to complete this build more or less around the end of this month. Meanwhile, check back in a couple of days...







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Hi all,


Another short update.


The model requires a set of command stripes on the rear fuselage. To reduce the masking/reverse masking cycle repeated earlier, I decided to make these stripes out of decal:




The white decal was from a sheet meany for decal printing. The left side went on easily; the right side took several attempts!  Fortunately, I made a tape master on an old model first:




Figure "A"  above shows the tape master, which I could then peel off and re-use as needed. I could have used the new fuse before starting, but I had this old one laying about.  Figure "B" is a copy of the tape mask, that I could flip over and use to cut the correct angles on the red decal sheet stripes (figure "C"). These stripes were actually spaced correctly so that they could have been installed as one decal per side, but they had yellowed too much, so I had to trim them closely and install each red stripe individually, two per side.


The final product looks like this:




Two things to note below: 1) the red turbine warning stripe needs to be installed before the command stripes ( a great reason not to paint these stripes!) ans 2) the decals were cut a hair short, so I'll add tiny pieces of scrap to fill in, later on:




The next picture shows the rear cockpit deck, and the installed wind screen, which has been filled with PPP and will be touched up with olive drab later also.




Well, that's it for this time 'round.





Edited by TheRealMrEd
forgot picture
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Thanks Hakan!


Hi Matti64, that's why I'm posting this more to show how to do it than anything else. I' glad it might be of use to you in your own project(s).



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Hi all!


This will probably be the last update until close to the end of the month. The model is nearing completion, but I still have to create all the artwork for some custom decals. Meanwhile, another short update!


To begin, another "custom" decal that I will create from old, partially-used decal sheets from the spares box:




I am trying to create buzz number "PS-548-A" for this model. I have bits of several old letter/number decals going way back, but they are precious, and I fight like heck to not have to use them. In this case, I can get what I need from various parts of these two sheets (above). The "FS-648" decals above are very near to what I need, by just changing the "F" to a "P" and the "6"  to a "5", I'm almost there. The " - A" is on the other sheet, as is the number "8", from which I will take a top half, split that in two vertically, to make up the rest of the needed letter "P".


Judicious cutting of the various letters looks like this:





Installed on the model, the various parts look like so:





Above, the parts of the top of the number "8" have been added to the cut-back letter "F" to form the "P".  Note that the tiny cut-out parts of the decal are saved to square up the corners of the tops of the "5"'s. They have not yet been installed in the above photo.


After adding the cut-off bits (I waited until the above-shown decals had dried), "5"'s look like they're supposed to:




Next picture shows the landing gear having been installed, and the command stripes on the bottom of the fuse after touch-up:




Well that's all for now. I'll continue working, but because of the artwork and a trip I have to make, there probably won't be another update for about two weeks. Then of course, you never know! I may achieve an artistic breakthrough!





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Hello Mr Ed !

F-84B What a good idea !

I'm glad that I'm not alone in brewing such a realisation in my distorted mind !!

You did great on your ! Congrats !

For this while I'm turning a F-84G in a F-84E from the Tamiya kit !

I really like your Cold war collection !!



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Thanks, AW. Not sure that everyone knew how to do that, so I decided to post it.


CC, earlier this year, I converted a Tamiya G to an E, and had fits with the gun door. It wanted very badly to be shown open, and I wanted mine closed. Be wary, and good luck!



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  • 3 weeks later...



I'm finally back from some R&R and some art work creation over the past few days.  On the last episode of this model build, pretty much all the mechanical and paint part of the build had been done. All that remained was adding the pitot tube to the top front of the tail,  adding the control stick and ejection seat to the cockpit, putting on various light lenses, and lastly, installing the canopy onto the aircraft. These things were accomplished without difficulty.


The real "piece de resistance" for this model is the needed artwork, to make the decals needed, as they do not exist commercially.  Let me begin by showing you the aircraft I'm trying to portray -- one that I didn't even know existed until a couple of months ago -- the F-84B Thunderjet piloted by then Lt. Col George E. Laven, Jr -- he of the colorful aircraft fame. It looked like this:




Note the "Itsy-Bitsy III" on the nose below the anti-glare shield -- that's what gave it away when I spotted this picture, while researching schemes for an F-84B conversion. Note also the unique emblem above the wing. More on that later!


The other side looked like this:




This side sports the emblem of the 49th Fighter Squadron (at that time). This emblem was the easiest art work to  come by. A quick BING search (I don't use Google at all) resulted in the image, where all that was needed was a little work in Photoshop to arrive at this:




On the right, reduced to the actual size needed for 1/72 scale, are three copies, designed to be printed on white decal paper. I always make multiple copies of ink-jet printed decals, as they are fiddly.  Speaking of fiddly, there are also 4 copies of "Lt. Col. George Laven Jr.", as I  usually try to get all the white decal artwork and the clear decal artwork grouped together. Sometimes, that doesn't work out.


Next, the "Itsy-Bitsy III" artwork, which looks like this:




I couldn't find a type font on-line to match this lettering, so I had to make my own. Scaling from the photo, I decided that the lettering was about 8" tall in real life, so I loaded my trusty drafting program, in this case "DraftSight" by Dassault Systems, because it is free for registering (2D only), and because I am cheap.  After several hours of work, I created my own font (for these letters only):




on the right side is the final 1/72-sized artwork for the clear decal paper. I added the aircraft number, to save having to use my precious black 45-degree lettering sheets for another day.

Note that the "Itsy-Bitsy III" lettering should be shaded in white along the left-hand side of each letter, but lacking access to an ALPS printer, I have no way of printing that, so I left it off. (If anybody uses this artwork to print off a copy on an Alps in 1/72 scale, I'll supply the artwork -- or at least, I'll try, in exchange for a copy for me!


The decals printed earlier for "Lt. Col. George Laven Jr.) acted up (I use very thin decal paper), and I had to print a couple more. In any event here is the artwork, created in Photoshop, with an existing generic type font:




As before, a new 1/72-sized version is shown, designed to be printed on white decal paper and trimmed to needed size.


Now for the hard part, the mysterious emblem that no one seems to know the meaning, or name of. Another mystery is that while this emblem was on the left side of Laven's aircraft, all the other photos of planes in the unit have this emblem on the RIGHT side, and I can't find any photos to show what's on THEIR left sides!


In any event, since I couldn't find any real artists to attempt to duplicate this emblem, I decided to take a shot myself. I can be very determined at times...


Anyway, the next three views are what I had to work from, all copied from photos:




That's it; that's all!  Anyway, I went to the drafting program and drew the circle, the stovepipe and the missiles with that.  Then,  I printed out a few copies and took pencil, rules and compass on vacation, and eventually came up with the following finished drawing. Shown below is that uncolored first version, and then  partially-colored version:





Then, the final version, followed by the 1/72-sized white decal artwork"




I wasn't trying for dead accurate -- I didn't have the images to get there, but merely tried to get something that looked pretty reasonable in 1/72 scale (9mm high). Given my current state of artistic talent and my printer technology, this is the best I could do.  If anyone come up with better artwork, I'll try another -- such as anyone traveling to the Maine Air Museum...???


Anyway, here is a "teaser" picture,until I get get the other photos up on RFI: F-84B RFI



It is my hope to build at least one of each type of aircraft associated with Col. Laven. Some of my others have been shown in this forum, and more yet to come.


Anyway, I hope to see you at RFI, and thanks for looking in or tagging along.






Edited by TheRealMrEd
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Fascinating stuff. Thanks for the bit about the fuselage shortening. I was not aware of this and have ideas about building an XP-84 someday.

Regarding the canopy I tried sanding off the frames when I was using a Heller F84G fuselage to make the Thunderstreak prototype but found that there were residual traces of the frames even though the surface was apparently smooth. Did you find this? did I not remove enough of the top surface?

Regarding the fancy decal. Did you have cut out the white circle by hand?


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Hi John,


I think that probably, you did not remove enough material on the first sanding pass. I have done this mod twice and haven't had the problem you described:




As for the fancy decal, you are correct, and I forgot to mention that!


What I did was print out several copies (each emblem has a tiny black circle outline). Then I took my Flexifile compass cutter (though I would call it a beam cutter): Circle Cutter

and a metric ruler. I measured the black circle (9mm), set the beam cutter to 4.5 mm, then took the WORST printed example of the emblem, and by trial-and-error, located the exact center of the circle. I then cut out the decal (all the way through the backing), following the black circle. This took a few tries (hence the printing of several copies of the emblem). When I got the best one, I put it on the model. Most or all of the black circle was gone, of course.


All that being said, your bringing this to my attention, and my posting the photo of the XP-84, calls something into question, the "USAF" on the wing of the XP-84!  I think this first flew Feb 28, 1946 and there WAS NO USAF.  Even by "B" conversion  here doesn't have it, and it is circa 1947. That means that most of the XP-84 photos with the USAF on the wing are not "first flight" era, but later, 1947+.  You check your pics before building, because now I think I'm gonna have to correct mine!


Update I just found a video of the first flight, and indeed, the lower left wing had "PS-475" on the bottom side. Not sure yet what was on the right top wing, if anything.



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