Dropping The Doumer Bridge: Building Trumpeters F-105D in 1/32 scale - Part 2

By Dr Menelaos Skourtopoulos

Dropping The Doumer Bridge
Building Trumpeters F-105D in 1:32 scale - Part 2
by Dr Menelaos Skourtopoulos & LtCol John Piowaty (USAF Ret)

Image 01

Building 415

I was very happy to get my hands on a model of the Thunderchief in 1:32 scale a couple of months ago. It's ironic that no one but the Chinese manufacture such a model, but anyway, the kit is great, even with some problems here and there.

There are extensive reviews of the kit, so I won't make any more comments on it. It is simply, the biggest and best kit of the Thud on the market.

Image 02

The idea of building Piowaty's 415 (Republic Aviations F-105D-6-RE Serial Number 60-0415) came to me immediately after I got the Thud kit. I was amazed by his story written in Lou Drendel's book, Thud. The challenge to create that Thud would be a great one! I didn't have any info about that plane, nor any pictures, so I was excited to make contact with John Piowaty himself. I made the proposal to write his memories of that flight together with the model, and now I'm very proud to have him as a co-author.

The Trumpeter is a mixture of high detail components such as the 20 mm GE M-61 gun, the radar, the bomb bay and the entire Pratt & Whitney J-75 engine; but there are also some features that drive you crazy. The ejection seat is somehow wrong, the front instrument panel sits too high, and the individual spoilers on the wing that are never open when the Thud sits on the ground.

Image 03

John Piowaty: "These are lift "spoilers" that work in conjunction with the ailerons--only when there is available flight control hydraulic pressure. The move in increments depending on stick deflection. Only in the hardest of turns do all of them lift full up".
Last, but not least, the main undercarriage is too weak and the builder must use extreme caution not to break it.


Image 04

I started with the cockpit. The detail level is generally OK and the front panel is of the sandwich type. The big problem is that the whole thing sits too high, so that the view through the gunsight is simply zero! I had to cut the side panels of the front panel and glue it deeper. The cover of that panel has to be cut shorter and the whole thing moved some 0.3 cm deeper into the cockpit.

The gunsight has rudimentary details and had to be changed a little. I put the gun camera in front of it and cut a new sight glass from a clear piece of plastic. I made some small details from a plastic sheet here and there together with some cables that run across that region.

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The windscreen has no details inside it. I cut some long pieces of styrene to represent the frame inside the canopy. A clock and a compass were glued inside that region. The movable canopy has also no details inside it. All had to be made from scratch.

Image 07 Image 08 Image 09

The biggest problem is the seat. It looks somehow wrong with the ejection side handles in the activated position! The headrest is really made too simple and I had to make almost everything from scratch. If you have enough money to spend, take the cockpit resin kit from Black Box. It's really a masterpiece.

One more thing you have to notice is that when the canopy is open, than the external canopy latches must be also in the open position. That means I had to cut two little holes there and use some stretched plastic styrene to represent the latches. So, do this before you glue the two fuselage halves together! Will save some nerves!

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415 was one of the early Thuds and had no combat camera under the radome. There was only the IF sensor there and I had to cut off the camera and fill the hole with putty. I then shaped it with my Dremel.

The beacon under the nose was not used. The big red light on the top of the fuselage had to be changed. I cut it of and made it flat to represent the early configuration.

Image 12

I used none of the detail parts inside the Thud: gun, refueling probe, radar, bomb bay and internal fuel tank to save weight. I did put the engine inside, but I now know that this is one more point for weight savings. You need only the afterburner parts and perhaps the front compressor that you can barely see through the air intakes.

Image 13

The wing spoilers are given as extra parts. That's fine, but there's a problem. They fit badly and they are always closed when the Thud is on the ground. Flaps and slats are separate and they could work if you want.

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The main gear legs are too fragile and the model is just too heavy if you put all the parts into it. I had some instability problems with my model, but I used the resin wheels of Contact Resin. That made things much better and the model can stand much more "punishment" or rougher handling.

Image 16

Some hydraulic lines made from plastic styrene made things more realistic there.


I didn't use the wing tanks but only the belly tank--the configuration of August 11, 1967. The huge 3,000 pound M118 bombs had to be made from scratch. The Thud had different pylons for the weapons and Trumpeter gives those pylons as extra parts. A very nice feature, but again, they are wrong. The angle of the leading edge of the real weapons pylons was much deeper and that had to be changed on the kit pylons. No big deal, just cut off the front part, fill it with putty, and sand smooth.

Image 17

I searched here and there to find the appropriate tubes for the bombs, but no luck. Finally I found the ALE-38 ECM pods in the F-4 kit as spares. They made perfectly the main bodies of the M118. The tails of the bombs are found in the spares box: the fuel tanks of Revell's MiG-21 in 1:32 scale! I used some putty to close the gap between the two parts. The fins are made from plastic styrene and I used the front part of the fuse extender of the M117 bombs of the kit.

Image 18

The Thuds carried two ALQ-76s in that mission. They came directly from the kit. Usually One and Three carried one pod and one AIM-9-John Piowaty remember that he had two pods as Number Four. Some REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT safety pin streamers add more realism.

Painting and Decals

Painting was a somewhat difficult project. The model is huge and very fragile. I used again only brush, no paint guns. And, holding the model in certain positions cost me some nerves! I used enamels from Humbrol and clear acrylic gloss for the decals.

Image 19

Decals are mixture from several sources. The white "00415" came from Revell's F-5E kit. The small 415 on the cover of the GCA antenna (painted blue the color of the 354th TFS) on the nose gear leg is also from spare decals. The white "USAF" is from the kit.

One more point of interest is the different position of the national insignia on the fuselage (under the air intake!).

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I took the photos with a Canon t70 and various lenses.

I would like to thank LtCol John Piowaty for his support and advice; without them this project wouldn't have been completed. Many thanks to Ms. Tina Pohl for help getting those pics!


Part 1 | Part 2

© Dr Menelaos Skourtopoulos

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This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011; Last modified on Saturday, May 14 2016