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Monogram's 1/48 scale
F-84F Thunderstreak

by Wayne Hui


Republic F-84F Thunderstreak


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The Suez Canal was opened in 1869, having been financed by France and the Egyptian government. Later, the Egyptian government's share was bought by the British; British banks and business held a 44% stake. The canal was of strategic importance, being the link between Britain and its Indian Empire, and the area as a whole was strategic to North Africa and the Middle East. The importance of the Canal was shown during both World wars.

In the summer of 1956, Egyptian President Nasser (Formerly Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser), in his nationalistic effort to reform his country and re-established Arab pride, nationalized the Franco-British Suez Canal Company. This greatly angered Britain and France as this deprived them of the estimated $25 million dollar annual profit from commercial ocean traffic through the canal.

Britain and France held a secret meeting with Israel outside Paris to organize an invasion of Egypt to take back control of the canal. Israel was amenable to the pact as any effort to weaken their strongest Arab enemy, which at that time was Egypt, was welcomed. Britain and France, being a partner in NATO, did not inform the United States of their plan.

The three Allies were concerned about the strength of the Egyptian Air Force (EAF), the fighting capability of its aircrew, the newly purchased MIG 15, the Illusion 28 Bombers, the heavy Stalin Tanks, the self-propelled SU-100 guns in addition to other unknown types of Russian and Czech arms, but especially the preparedness of Czech and Soviet 'advisers' to fight alongside the Egyptians. To counter these threats, large air forces had been deployed to Cyprus and Malta by the Britain and France and many aircraft carriers were deployed. One of the French Air Force (Armee de l'Air), 201 Fighter Squadron (Ramat David), deployed 18 Republic F-84F Thunderstreak with 25 pilots to operate from Cyprus and Israel.

Operation Kadesh

On October 29, 1956, Israeli troops invaded the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and quickly overcame opposition as they raced for Suez. The next day, Britain and France, following their part of the script, offered to temporarily occupy the Canal Zone and suggested a 10 mile buffer on either side which would separate the Egyptian forces from the Israelis. Nasser of course refused, and on October 31, Egypt was attacked and invaded by the military forces of Britain and France.

Operation Musketeer - initially called Hamilcar

The Anglo-French air operations against Egypt to retake the canal began with attacks on twelve Egyptian airfields in the Canal Zone and the Nile Delta. The first phase of the assault, between October 31 and November 1, was designed to destroy or neutralize the Egyptian Air Force.

De Havilland Venoms of the RAF and Arm é e de l'Air Thunderstreaks from Cyprus pounced on canal zone airfields. Royal Navy Hawker Sea Hawks and de Havilland Sea Venoms from the carriers Eagle, Bulwark and Albion swooped on three fields in the Cairo area. The flak was light, and all the attackers returned. By early afternoon, the carriers were 50 miles offshore and launching a fresh sortie every few minutes. On Cyprus, planes were taking off or landing at the rate of one a minute. The jets were joined by turboprop Westland Wyverns from the British flattops and propeller-driven Vought F4U Corsairs from the French carrier Arromanches, which was accompanied by Lafayette, carrying Grumman TBM Avengers and helicopters.

The air operation was so effective that the EAF was destroyed in a day. Egyptian air fields were later secured by the Anglo-French airborne forces as a preliminary to a major sea borne assault with the aim of gaining control of the Suez Canal.

The hostile take over of the canal caused international condemnation at the UN. The Soviet Union threatened to intervene on Egypt's behalf with all manner of modern weapons. At the same time, the Soviet Union had an anti-Communist uprising in Hungary to deal with. The United States was deep in the Cold War with Soviet Union and fearing escalation of the conflict pressured Britain, France and Israel into agreeing to a cease-fire and withdrawal from Egypt.

The war itself lasted for only a week, and invading forces were withdrawn within the month. Egypt suffered great losses to its armed forces but did not lose the objective. After this conflict, Egypt firmly aligned itself with the Soviet Union, which armed Egypt and other Arab nations for the continuing struggle against Israel. The British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden resigned in January 1957 as a result of the Suez fiasco. The result of the conflict symbolically marked the end of the British Empire. This event prominently demonstrated the influence of the two Superpowers which drove Geopolitics at that time. Other partners such as Britain and France could no longer “go at it” by themselves without buy-in and support from the NATO partners, especially the United States. Their “gun-boat” diplomacy from the 19 th Century was dead.


French Thunderstreaks 

The F-84F was supplied in large numbers to NATO air forces by the United States via the MAP (Military Assistance Program). Out of the 2711 Thunderstreaks built, 1301 were transferred to Europe for service with the air forces of allied nations.



The Armee de l'Air received its first Thunderstreaks in 1955. They equipped the the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 11 th Escadres. It was in French service that the Thunderstreak saw its only actual combat during the Suez Crisis. 36 French Thunderstreaks from the 1st Escadre flew to the Israeli base at Lyddia and at the same time F-84Fs from the 3rd Escadre moved to Akrotiri on Cyprus. The 3rd Escadre later also operated out of Israel. The French Thunderstreaks at Lydda supported the Israeli forces that invaded Sinai on October 29. Cyprus-based units began direct attacks on Egyptian airfields on November 1. Twenty Egyptian Ilyushin Il-28 bombers were destroyed on the ground and one Il-28 was shot down by these Lydda-based units. These operations were concluded on November 6, and only one F-84F was lost. The French F-84Fs were flown for over 10 years until replaced by Mirage IIIE in the mid 1960s.



The Model


Monogram and Heller both produced a model kit for a 1/48 scale F-84F. Both kits have raised panel lines. A quick summary of both kits is follows.

The Heller kit appears to have a more accurate rear fuselage. The speed brake is located closer to the wing fairing and the rear fuselage proportion is correctly shaped when compared to line drawings. The cockpit and ejection seat is very basic and do not have much details. The wheel wells are bare without details.

The Monogram kit’s rear fuselage portion is not properly shaped in that the height appears to be short. Also, the speed brake is positioned a bit far from the wing fairing. The cockpit is classic Monogram in its finest. It is rich in details and even the ejection seat is correct and can be used as is. The landing gear wheel wells are richly detailed and do not require additional work. Despite the minor shortfall, it is by far the better kit.

I choose the Monogram kit despite its dimensional faults but more than made up with far better details.


The Model Subject  

Most decals for the F-84F are for US aircrafts. I wanted to do a scheme that not many people would do. I wanted it to be spectacular and off the beaten track. When I saw the photos of the French F-84F used in the Suez Conflict in the November issue of Wing Master, I knew I found exactly what I was looking for. The aircraft I modeled is an aircraft 52-9012, Coded “1-NL” from the Armee de l'Air, 1 st Escadre, 1st Squadron. This squadron operated from the Israeli base at Lyddia. I can not read all French words, but it appears that aircraft 1-NL was later handed over to Israel and the Israeli just over painted French insignia with the Star of David and changed 1-NL to 1-NX.





I begin the project by dry fitting the major parts. Everything goes together very well except for the wing to fuselage joint and the fit of the clear parts to the fuselage.

The model goes together in accordance to the kit instruction sheet with no major problems. This model is a tail sitter. Instead of using the ugly clear leg (crutch) that the instruction sheet tells me to use, I added a few lead fishing anchors into the nose section to weigh down the front end before I seal the two fuselage halves together. The nose gear on this model is most delicate. To prevent the nose gear from breaking, I made sure I added just enough weights to keep the nose down and no more.

The Monogram cockpit details are excellent right out of the box. From reference photos I saw that there not too much improvement I can add. The seat is the correct later style seat; the early seats were the ones used by the F-84E and G. I removed the molded on seat belts and hoses and replaced them. The seat belts were made from lead foils from wine bottles and the hoses were made from fine copper wires by wrapping it around the same type of fine wire. A round bar was added to the back of the seat as per photo details.



The instrument panel and side panels have tremendous amount of details. To bring the details out, I use my 7 steps painting process. I first spray paint them with flat white then followed up with a coat of Future. Then I spray on a mix of dark grey Model Master enamel paint. When that dried, fine raised details from the instruments are brought out by carefully wiped off with a fine tip brush wet with enamel paint thinner. Again the whole thing is recoated with Future to seal the previous work in preparation to added other washes and colour. This method is far better than dry brushing method typically used by most modelers.

The wind shield and rear windows do not fit well to the fuselage. To eliminate the unsightly gaps I attached these parts to the fuselage, after painting all the cockpit parts, with liquid cement. The gaps are filled in with Tamyia putty and wet sanded.



The canopy comes with parts for the forward arm fitting and inside frame details. All that is needed is just some careful painting and adding a yellow handle to the front of the right hand side frame. A photoedge mirror was added to complete the details for the canopy.

The landing gears provided is beautiful. It wheels have so much details as is. With just a light wash, the details just popped out.

Building the rest of the kit is very straight forward by just following the kit instruction sheet. Everything fit reasonably well and required only minor amount of putty at the wing to fuselage joint.

The main wheel bays were painted with green zinc chromate and detailed before they are put together.  



Painting and Markings


To prepare for painting a natural metal finish, all exterior surfaces were wet sanded with fine grit wet sanding paper to remove as much scratches as possible. This is followed up by buffing with a plastic polishing compound.

The model was painted with the Alclad grey primer and the Alclad II Aluminum paint system. Selected panels were painted with Polished Aluminum, Dark Aluminum, and Matt Aluminum. The red stripes were carefully masked off and painted with Model Master Guard Red. The identification bands were masked off and painted with Gunze paint. The mask was created for each aircraft code letters and painted with Gunze flat black paint.

Decals for the French F-84F in the Suez conflict is hard to find. Carpena is only one that I know of that made the markings for the aircraft I want to do. I special ordered the decals in and had great hopes. This was quickly dashed as I dip in my first test decal and it disintegrated into many tiny pieces! I dipped another test piece in and it also disintegrated. Even if I can’t use other parts of the decal sheet, I must be able to make use of the two squadron badges for SPA 69 (Rencontre de chat) and SPA 88 (serpent). I sprayed the decal sheet with a coat of Gunze gloss clear in hope the clear coat will hold the decals together long enough for me to apply to the model. This worked. I only used the squadron badges from the sheet. The small text on the sheet is totally illegible and the panel marking stripes were so wide that it would have been laughable if used.



Much thanks to Bruce Kennedy and Uncle Rick of our GOMBs Model Group who gave me their French national insignias without which I could not finish this model.





I rate this F-84F kit as the best Monogram kit I have ever built. It fits together well and is so well detailed right out of the box. Although I could have done one of the several US aircraft with the decals from SuperScale, I am glad I went off the beaten track and modeled a French aircraft that actually saw action. It was a challenge to get the markings and masking all the stripes. It is not a perfect model by any means, but it was worth the effort and I am happy with the finished results.

Wayne Hui






1. Wilfred P. Deac and originally published in Military History Magazine in April 2001



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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2005 by Wayne Hui
Page Created 11 February, 2005
Last Updated 11 February, 2005

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