TanModels is a new company from Turkey and I believe this is their first model in 1/48 scale. They choose the RF-84 as the subject for their first boxing, an airplane often overlooked but that has a proud service history with several NATO air forces, which means many options for camouflage and decals.
Before opening the box you will find “Remove before construction” red stickers (keeping the box closed), which make for a fun experience. As soon as you open the box you find yourself looking at several sprues of very cleanly molded parts, with no flash anywhere to be found.
Let me be clear, this is not a “limited run” kit. This is a quality injection model kit. The clear parts are extremely clear and present virtually no distortion. They are individual bagged to prevent scratches during transportation. You also get a mouse pad that doubles as a hard-concrete runway to have a simple, yet effective, display base. The mouse pad includes the name of the model and manufacturer so basically you can only use it for this particular model.
Construction, as usual begins with the interior: The cockpit, the cameras and camera bay and the engine intakes. All these parts are very nicely detailed and the cockpit benefit of careful painting. No seatbelts are provided (not even as decals) and that is the only thing that is missing to get a nice looking front office going OOB.
The camera and camera bays are well detailed and you have the option to display them open. I personally don’t like to disturb the lines of an airplane so I choose to model this kit with the all the access panels closed. Still you have to assemble and mount several cameras which are visible through all the windows in the nose. Beware: If you misalign the position of the cameras, they might interfere with the camera windows. Make sure you test fit the camera window (clear pieces) before you glue the cameras in the nose.
Assembly of some of the cameras themselves was a bit tricky, as they were no positive alignment pins. Instructions are good showing “before”/”after” drawings that help you understand how to assemble all the vertical and lateral cameras. The instructions indicate that you don’t need weight if all internal parts are used. Still I choose to be “safe” and added some weight.
By then it was time to close the fuselage and no matter how hard I tried I was not able to properly align the fan trunk. I eventually added a scratchbuilt blanking piece of plastic card (painted black). If you don’t shine a flashlight down the air intakes you cannot really tell the fan trunk is missing.
After I decided not to have the fan trunk face inside the model, closing the fuselage was relatively simple. I had to work the forward bulkhead (in the camera bay) and the nose wheel bay until I got a decent fit, though.
You can add all the clear parts (camera windows) from the outside, helping a lot in the assembly, masking and painting process. Fit of the clear parts is excellent! (Again make sure you test fit the cameras and windows before you commit to glue). From internet pictures it seems like the camera windows had a tint to them. I sprayed the interior of the windows (clear parts) with Tamiya smoke as to obtain a tint similar to the one I saw in the online pictures.
Assembly of the wings is a straightforward matter and the engineering of the kit provides a solid and firm way to attach the wings to the fuselage at the proper angle. Great work there! The only surprise was that the ailerons and flaps had gaps of about 1 mm between them. I am not sure if the real airplane would have had those gaps (about 2-in in the real plane) in place.
Attaching the air intakes to the fuselage side/wingroot took me a bit of effort. I had to thin a few parts to make them fit in the slots and then I had to do some very minor filling between the air intake and the wing root. Nothing really difficult, just take a few minutes with a file and you will be fine.
The wing pylons (for the drop tanks) have a gap that needs some plastic shim and some filler. That is really the only area of the kit where the fit was bad. Luckily it is in the lower sides of the wings, therefore in a difficult to see area and the colorful drop tanks distract the eye away from the filled and sanded area.
Construction was moving fast to the painting stage and at that point you had to choose among 7 (seven!) different finishing options. All of them are very attractive, so I had a hard time choosing which one to use. I finally decided to go with West Germany in a Natural Metal Finishes with red tail and yellow nose/wingtips and yellow/turquoise drop tanks.
Natural Metal Finishes are difficult to execute right and let me tell you, this kit helps you a lot by providing you with good fit and a smooth surface. Note: It might not be smooth enough for a super-shiny model. But it is good enough for a model with a weathered aluminum look, as the one I wanted to get.
The other thing the manufacturer does for you is to have the connecting points of the sprue to be in the matting/gluing areas of the parts, meaning you will have virtually no surface damage at all in your kit, making an NMF finish to be easier to execute. I painted a few areas black and then I applied chrome silver all over the model. The contrast between panels is hard to see, probably because of the red tail and green antiglare panel overcomes the subtle difference between the metal shades. Next time I will go a bit lighter on the chrome silver paint.
Given that I used glossy paints, I decided to apply the decals directly on top of the cured glossy paint. They behaved OK, but they tended to stick to the first area of the kit where they were laid. Make sure you have plenty of water to float them in the proper spot. They did conform to all recessed panel lines and followed the contours of the airplane.
After a coat of Future (to seal the decals) I applied an acrylic wash to bring up all that nice panel line detail and I was in the home stretch.
The landing gear, the landing gear covers and the drop tanks presented no surprises and all of them have positive location pins. The only thing was that the fit between the wheel hubs and the tires (molded separately making painting a breeze) is super tight. Make sure you sand and test fit the part before you paint them (or you might end up scratching your paint job in the wheel hubs as I did and I had to re-spray them)
Finally I applied a flat coat overall, to tone down the bright silver finish and get a nice weathered aluminum color.
In summary: This kit has an overall good fit (the air intakes needed a bit of work, the wing pylons did need some more important work), the clear part are excellent and you are offered with 7 marking options plus a display base. On the cons side, I was not able to properly fit the fan trunk and the camera mounts were a bit challenging, as no positive alignment pins were provided.
I welcome TanModels to the hobby market and perhaps the best compliment I can make on their first kit is that I am looking forward to build subsequent models they will release.
I would highly recommend this kit to the modeler that has a few kits under his/her belt.
I want to thank TanModels and IPMS/USA for the review sample.