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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Heller Republic F-84 G Thunderjet

A Heller 1/72 scale kit of a Republic F-84 G Thunderjet.

The aircraft depicted on the box lid was flown by the 1st Escadre de Chasse of the French Air Force in 1955. The kit also contains decal options for an aircraft of 331 Squadron of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay. If you would like to view the auction, please look here.

The prototype Republic F-84 first flew on the 28th February 1946 and officially entered service with the United States Air Force in December 1947, although due to numerous structural design and engine problems, the aircraft was not considered fully operational until the 1949 F-84D model.

The F-84G variant as featured in the Heller kit was introduced in 1951.

During the Korean War, the F-84 Thunderjet was the USAF's principal strike aircraft and flew over 86,000 combat missions and was credited with destroying 60% of all ground targets as well as eight Soviet-built MiG fighters. 335 Thunderjets were lost during the war.

In total 7,524 F-84's were produced and over half served with NATO air forces including Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Turkey.

The F-84 Thunderjet was the first production fighter aircraft to utilise in-flight refueling and the first capable of carrying a nuclear weapon (the Mark 7 nuclear bomb).

The Thunderjet remained in service with the USAF until the mid 1960's when it was replaced by the Super Sabre.

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Heller N.A. F-86F Sabre

A French made Heller kit of a North American F-86F Sabre.

I wrote a post about the history of the Sabre in an earlier post which you can see here.

The aircraft depicted on the box top is actually a Canadair (licence built) Sabre Mk 6 as flown by the 2nd Staffel Jagdgeschwader 71 "Richthofen" of the Federal (West) German Air Force in 1958, however, the kit also contains decal options for a North American F-86F of the USAF 51st FIW.

This kit is currently for sale on Ebay. Please see here for details of the auction.

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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Heller de Havilland FB.5 Vampire

A Heller 1/72 scale kit of a de Havilland FB.5 Vampire. This is the first Heller kit to feature in this blog although I must confess I am an admirer of the Heller box top art.

The aircraft depicted on the box served with 112 Squadron Royal Air Force.

An example of this kit is currently for sale on Ebay here.

The DH100 Vampire was commissioned by the RAF during World War II and became the second jet fighter to enter their service following the pioneering Gloster Meteor. The maiden flight of the prototype aircraft took off from Hatfield on 20th September 1943 and the first production model flew in April 1945.

The Vampire did not see service during the war but continued to serve in front line RAF combat roles until 1955, and as a trainer until 1966.

The Vampire was a very successful aircraft both in the UK and with many overseas air forces (see below) and a total of 3268 were eventually built. Of this total approximately 25% were constructed outside the UK under licence.

Many different variants were produced including night fighters and naval aircraft for service on carriers. In fact, on 4th December 1945 a Sea Vampire became the first jet aircraft to land and take off from an aircraft carrier (HMS Ocean).

The Vampire was also the first RAF fighter aircraft to have a top speed in excess of 500 mph.

In 1948, the aircraft set a new world altitude record of 59,446 ft and during the same year six Vampire F3s of 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the North Atlantic.

The Vampire was mainly used by the RAF in a ground-attack fighter-bomber role and the FB.5 variant's maiden flight was on 23rd June 1948. The FB 5 could carry a a 500 lb bomb under each wing as well as eight three inch rocket projectiles.

At it's peak 19 RAF squadrons flew the FB 5 and it was used in combat operations during the Malayan Emergency in the late 1940's/early 1950's.

Overseas air forces operating the Vampire included Austria, the RAAF and RAN, Burma, Ceylon, the RCAF, Chile, Egypt, Finland, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Lebanon, the RNZAF, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Syria and Venezuela.

Four Vampires of 45 Squadron the Indian Air Force were in action on 1st September 1965 during the Indo-Pakistan war. Returning from a ground attack mission against Pakistani army units, the Vampires encountered two F-86 Sabres of the Pakistan Air Force. The Sabres were armed with air to air missiles and in the ensuing dog fight three Vampires were shot down and the last of the four was destroyed by ground fire. Following this set back the Vampire was withdrawn from front line service by the IAF.

The last air force to use Vampires was the Rhodesian Air Force. They operated the aircraft for almost thirty years, finally withdrawing them in 1979 following the end of the civil war.

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to leave a comment. They are always welcome!

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Sunday, 14 February 2010

Matchbox F4U-4 Corsair - PK-14

An early 1970's vintage Matchbox "two colour" 1/72 scale kit of a F4U-4 Corsair.

The aircraft depicted on the box top was in service with the US Marine Training Squadron VMFT 20 based at Cherry Point in 1952. Included with the kit are decal options for an aircraft of the US Marine Squadron VMF 211.

The Corsair was designed as a carrier based single seat fighter aircraft for service with the US Navy and the prototype first flew in 1940. However, the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm were actually the first to operate the aircraft from carriers. Over 2000 aircraft were eventually delivered to the FAA.

US Navy units initially experienced difficulties landing the large high speed aircraft safely on their carriers many preferring to stick with their slower, smaller but easier to handle, Grumman Hellcats.

As a result, most Corsairs saw service with shore based US Marine squadrons. The Corsair was a very fast aircraft for it's day with a top speed in excess of 400 mph and it was very effective against the Japanese fighters with a reported 11:1 kill rate in it's favour.

The Corsair was also used successfully in a fighter bomber ground attack role in support of Allied Forces in the Pacific theatre.

During the Second World War, several squadrons of the Royal New Zealand Air Force were also equipped with Corsairs and fought against the Japanese.

The Corsair was used during the early years of the Korean War but soon became obsolete following the introduction of more modern jet aircraft.

In total over 12500 Corsairs of all variants were produced.

An example of the Matchbox kit is currently for sale on Ebay here.

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