Following World War 2 there was an immediate rush to modernise aircraft from propeller driven majestic machines to powerful jet-powered brawling beasts. This was just as true in nations decimated early in the war – where their inventories were left over stock or allied supplies.
France, previously a lead musician in the concert of Europe, was fiercely independent with it’s industries. Producing unique French products from manufacturers such as Bloch, Spad, Lioré et Olivier, and Amoit…but following the war France had to catch up with the likes of Britain, America, and the USSR. Although a French designed jet had been produced, it was not a fighter and nor was one immediately forthcoming.
France opted for a readily available ‘off the shelf’ option…the F-84. The first mass produced jet aircraft produced the USA.
The model kit I chose was produced by Heller. This was the second in the line of Patoruille de France aircraft I was doing in almost chronological order (having done the MD450 first). It is an old kit…and I mean old. It dates back to 1979 and hasn’t really had any updates other than the decals…which I didn’t really even use (but we’ll talk about that later).
Construction was simple. Given it’s age, dare I say I actually enjoyed it, and got a good result? No, perish the thought. I couldn’t possibly have actually enjoyed construction of a Heller kit! The decals are also a blast. I won’t lie – they were impressive. There is a massive sheet of decals that will surely make the aircraft look absolutely amazing. But as this is a subject I’m building out of principle rather than actual desire, I only did the decals that I need to do…
Painting the model was really quite straight forward…well, sort of. I painted the entire model in Revell Aqua Colors, as normal. I started with 99 Aluminium for the base (on top of a Tamiya Grey Primer). I then painted over the top with 34 Italian Red for the tail. Now, why I say ‘sort of’ is because I was silly and didn’t have reference material near me to make sre I knew what the aircrat should look like. As a result, I didn’t realise the Italian Red needed to go on the wings alongside from 06 Terrschwarz / Tar Black. But it still wasn’t too bad…my black lines are too thick, but that’s a fault of me and me alone being far too lazy to tape up.
Earlier I mentioned how I only used some decals…and that’s because I used Hi-Decals Patrouille de France set to make sure my aircraft was one used by Patroulle de France. The aircraft seems to be a ‘forgotten’ saddle of the French display team. Finding reference photos wasn’t massively easy/useful, and there seem to be a number of differing schemes to boot.
The scheme I chose was from their fist public performance in Algeria. As a result, I didn’t weather it at all. I figured these aircraft probably just got delivered from the ‘States and were then thrust into the hands of determined French Pilots, so there wasn’t even time for it to be burdened by age.
This required painting the red sections on the wings, including a ‘squared off’ section with a black ‘square’ on it. I also didn’t realise this was duplicated on the underside, so the underside is just 2 straight red sections.
As the aircraft is fresh from the states it has double decals! Featuring part of the USAF roundel, and a French ADl’A decal on top! It’s unique at the very least!
The decals you see in the previous image are the ones given by Hi Decal, but I used French Air Force (Armee de l’Air) roundels from the Heller kit, as the Hi-Decal ones are separated into each individual colour.
The decals hit the mark for vibrancy, but I’d argue that the decals are not great for colour reproduction for the French blues…they seem slightly off. Not horrific, just slightly too teal. The decals are thin too. Like insanely thin. As in, I can’t believe how easy it was for these to become a mess- as one of the serials, hence why only one tail appears complete.
Disclaimer: Just to point out there were a lot of decals left from the Heller kit itself. I didn’t use these, in part because I sat and looked at them and felt overwhelmed by how much there was to do for an aircraft I cared very little about. I therefore made a choice not to apply them – but from the ones I used and tested they’re very good quality!
Buy or Fly?
This article is shorter than usual. I’ll be honest, I was not interested in this build and did it because I wanted a complete set rather than wanting to build it out of passion for the aircraft. I’m sure we’ve all been there.
But alas, I must determine buy or fly, and so, I will.
I would determine that for the kit, it is a buy – purely based on the fact that I genuinely didn’t find this a slog to put together, it was a goo d experience and gave a good result despite having to forgive my errors on a few occasions. This is remarkable in itself.
For the decals…well, I’d say this is quite hard to determine. I bought them because there was literally no other option. But they weren’t my favourite decals to work with….I’m relatively indifferent to them to be honest.