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A tribute to my Father-in-Law Republic F-84E Thunderjet, Korea 1952

My father-in-law, Jack Terhune of Springfield, Missouri, was a U.S. Air Force veteran. He joined in March of 1950, after turning down several scholarships to play college football. He always said he joined to see the world and never got out of Texas. During his service, he was a ground-crewman for the Republic Thunderjet. Jack passed away at age 86, on New Year’s Eve 2018, sleeping peacefully in his own bed at home. What a way to go, eh? 😊

After a three year hiatus, I’ve finally something new to show here. I started this model build around the first of this year, and right away considered it something of a tribute to Jack. Several times I mentioned to my wife, Jackie, how wished her Dad was here to advise and consult. I believe he would’ve enjoyed that, and hopefully, been pleased with the final result.

Jack, this one’s for you! I hope you approve ol' airman! 😀

The model is the F-84E. I bought it off a consignment table at Kings Hobby in Austin, Texas a few years back. The build was filled with snafus and problems, some caused by the clumsy builder, and some due to odd engineering choices in the kit’s design. I used a lot of the extensive kit decals, dated 2002, but they required a lot of work. First, I brushed a coat of Microscale decal film over those I intended to us. I kept a pan of water on an electric “hot-plate” on the work table, just under a simmer, and it took a long soak in that and then an even longer wait to get them off the paper. Even then, they were quite thick and required a good dose of Solvaset. Remarkably, only two split and even they could be salvaged.

My “go to” paint for NMF was always SnJ but my unopened bottle was old and proved unusable. As did my second choice, Floquil’s Bright Silver. In the end, I used Humbrol Meta Cote polished aluminum overall, with areas painted in several different combination of aluminum and various other colors. I painted the nose ring and the anti-glare panel as I didn’t trust the old decals for that. It was hair-raising (if I still had enough to raise, lol) getting the big decals on the vertical stab but I “endeavored to persevere” and pressed on.

I added a bit of detail to the cockpit and main gear. Painting the canopy was another adventure. Initially, I used an EZ Mask set but when removed, paint was pulled from almost every frame. Eventually I chose to do it similarly to the method used on the real bird. To replicate the fiberglass reinforcing strips glued to the real canopy, I painted clear decal film, then cut into thin strips of two different widths and applied over the canopy “frames”. It was nerve-wracking and tedious work spread out over several days to avoid lifting previously applied strips. Wow, was I glad to finish that step. 😉

I finished the model on June 5th and took her out to our municipal airport before sunrise yesterday for some airport pics in natural light. I really hope my modeling mojo is back; I’ve got several kits in line and another, started well before this one waiting on some home-made decals. I hope it can be finished this summer too.

So with all that said, here’s my tribute to Jack and also to the pilots and crews of the planes. You aren't forgotten by me. Cheers!

“Little Butch”
Republic -84-E-25-RE, 51-0478
9th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 49th Bomber Wing
Korea, 1952

14 additional images. Click to enlarge.

38 responses

  1. Very nice model. If fact, the last photo look's like a real F-84:

    I worked @Goddyear Aircraft Corporation [G.A.C.] during the Korean conflict.
    {1950-1954). I helped other workers make the rather long F-84 canopies. We started adding the "off-white colored". 1/16" thick x 2" wide fiberglass strips to the "inside & outside" of the canopies using a "resin-type" of liquid glue.

    When the "MIG" fighter's shot hole's into the clear elongated canopies, they more-or-less exploaded and came off the fuselage and in many cases, hit the tail-fin section of the fighter, making it almost useless to continue to fly.

    Once the fiberglass strips were installed, bullets would pass through the canopy but they would not destroy it, so the F-84's could keep on flying.


    • Thanks for this personal insight as to why and how these white strips were added... Now it makes a lot of sense. I have seen similar strips on the inside of the F9F Panther canopy as well. Now it all makes sense... Thanks Rodney. @f2g1d

    • Thank you Rodney! Yes, while researching the canopy details, I came across your description of how you had worked at the Goodyear plant applying those strips. It was your description and photos that encouraged me to proceed as I did. In fact, I even remember your recounting of buying that Cadillac! 🙂

      I'm afraid my meager skills and limitations prevented me from trying to add them to the inside of the canopy as well. I was doing good to get them on the outside! 🙂

    • Thanks much for the info the strips were on the outside as well as the inside, which means the way the kit is done is OK for "look" of this item. I once tried doing it on the inside only with decal strips and nearly drove myself over the "modeling cliff."

  2. Gary, handsome build tribute, and great shots, especially with the setting sun. I particularly like the scheme you chose.. it's very visually appealing. Hope to see you posting more soon!

    • Thanks so much Andrew! I'm glad you like the ol'bird; one note though, that is the "rising" sun we see here. I'm not usually that much of an early riser but hey, I made the effort to get up early yesterday and I'm glad I did! I think those pics were worth that, lol. My Tamiya Meteor Prototype Number One is almost done, just waiting on my busy son to CAD craft some replacement decals for her. I hope she can make an appearance here soon. Thanks again!

  3. Gary, @garybrantley
    Just as mentioned above, this is a remarkable build. It looks very realistic, and the outdoors pictures look like the real thing. The very last photo is especially good...
    My Dad who was also a Korean War combat veteran, had a childhood friend who flew F-84's in Korea and he flew in the exact same unit that you have built your plane of.

    9th Fighter Bomber Squadron, 49th Bomber Wing

    His name was 1st LT. Mike Rebo

    He was shot down by a MIG-15 that was flown by a Soviet pilot, who also happened to be an "Ace".
    On November 10, 1951, while on a combat mission, his flight of 12 F-84E's was attacked by an enemy flight of 24 to 30 MIG-15s 30 miles southwest of Pyongyang, North Korea. His last radio transmission was that he was wounded and going down... His plane was serial number 51-549. If you happen to have any pictures of this plane please contact me. Thank you.

    Mike's body was never recovered and he was listed as Missing in Action for years. Finally a year or so ago his partial remains were repatriated from North Korea. His remains were confirmed through DNA obtained from his family. He finally was given a proper burial. Too bad my Dad didn't live to see this happen, but Mike's descendants now have some closure.

    In our upcoming Korean War group build, I plan on building a 1/48 scale F-84 E kit as you have done here, but it will have the serial number and large fuselage numbers of Mike's plane.

    Thanks for sharing this with us... Freedom is not free.

  4. Thanks for those kind words Louis, and for the very interesting history as well! I will be looking forward to seeing your Thunderjet soon. 🙂

  5. Beautiful build and a great tribute Gary @garybrantley. Well done!

  6. Gary: Your Modeling Mojo License is hereby reinstated. 🙂

    This looks as good as that F-80 you did a few years ago, and once again the photography makes it "look real."

  7. Wow - some of those pics could pass for the real deal! A wonderful build - you just gotta love those old classic jets.

    • Thanks Greg! Wonderful comments man, much appreciated too! Yeah, I just love those old jets too, probably has a lot to do with my age since I'm a 1952 model myself, lol. My Korean War "gallery" is getting crowded; with six models now and four in NMF. That makes for a shiny collection. 🙂

  8. Excellent build and photography.

  9. Top notch work! That sepia photo does fools one thinking it’s the real thing

  10. This is a wonderful build, Gary, excellent in every way.
    Your presentation photos stand out too.
    Being it a tribute to a loving person who worked with it makes it really special.

  11. A beautiful build and tribute!

  12. Your modelling mojo is definitely back, Gary.
    A real great build, sure your father in law would have loved it.

    • Thank you John! I'm touched by your kind words, much appreciated. 🍻 Jackie (my wife of 43 years) has said she was sure her Dad would love the model. He was an artist as well, and likely would've painted a rendition for me knowing him as I did. 😊 I do hope that mojo is back, even Jackie has encouraged me to start another soon to keep the momentum going!

  13. A great build and wonderful tribute to your father in law !

  14. Well done Gary, and a fitting tribute to your father in law as well. Really nice pics which represent your fine work on your F-84. I just have to ask, does anyone notice or ask what in god's name are you doing as you probably lay prone on the concrete shooting pics of your model? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Tom, much obliged for those kind words. Thanks! 😀 I got a good chuckle out of those last comments too. No, I'm much too out of shape and old to lay out prone on tha tarmac. 😁 Here's what I do. I have a standard folding-leg card table upon which I place my mock runway/tarmac. It's a piece of thin Masonite painted to represent the real thing. The "tar strips" are drafting tape and I masked and painted the yellow stripes. I have my camera on a tripod, lowered to the table top height. I sit on my butt to compose the photo and even that is getting harder as I age. 😉

      By manipulating the position of the model, the placement of the background, distance from the lens, and angle and height of the camera, one can achieve quite a variety of poses and attitudes. Using the natural light helps me as I really do struggle with indoor pics. And of course, the airport setting is a natural one as well and really makes the models look better than they are I think. I am so fortunate to be able to easily access the airport for my needs. It's less than five minutes from our house. Usually the only issue is the wind and on really windy days, those models are in jeopardy of actually taking off! 😮 Tail-draggers are the worst in that regard. Models with tricycle gear usually have enough ballast (spent bullets usually) packed into them that the wind isn't a problem.

      I hope that helps! I've been picturing myself out there, prone on the concrete and envisioning someone rushing up to see if I had fallen out and died! 😁

      • Thanks for the information Gary. I've come to the realization that I'm getting old when I discovered when I sit my butt on the floor I then have trouble getting back up. Glad to hear you're not prone on the ground or dead for that matter.

        • You're welcome Tom! Yep, that's one of the first signs, lol. I'm still steppin', just not as high these days! As the "world's slowest modeler", I figure I'll only need to live another 200 years to get through my stash. I hope my eyes and hands can hold out... 🙂

  15. Excellent build Gary! I love the early jet subjects that also carry what look like WWII bombs. Great mix of eras coming together, and your subject does it proud. I also recently completed a tribute build for my Father. Makes the effort a little more special for sure.

  16. Excellent build and excellent photography - I actually questioned myself if all the tarmac photos of the actual aircraft. Great tribute to your father-in-law.

  17. Amazing work and an Incredible tribute, well done.

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