Camouflage & Markings
Republic RF-84F Thunderflash in Belgian Service
As an addendum to this month's "In Detail" feature about RF-84F from Brussels , here is a short review of Belgian Thunderflash paint schemes.
Belgian Air Force was an important overseas user of Republic jet aircraft. From the early stadium the Belgian authorities were interested in obtaining modern jet equipment. Already in 1951, Belgium acquired 21 F-84Es, the second jet in country's service after Gloster Meteor F.4. Subsequent orders followed for more F-84 series aircraft throughout the 1950s: F-84G Thunderjet, F-84F Thunderstreak and RF-84F Thunderflash.
Belgian Thunderflashes entered the active service in July 1955, and had a long operational career, the last operational machine being written off in May 1972. There were 34 RF-84Fs in all, all used by No. 42 Squadron, the sole dedicated photo-reconnaissance unit.
On a side note, Belgians were also the authors of probably the most bizarre F-84 modification - the Thundermirage, in which used F-84 airframes were converted to Mirage 5 decoys, full with delta wing, side air inlets and pointed nose radome!
The Thunderflashes and Thunderstreaks in Belgian service carried in three different paint schemes during their career.
This was the first scheme for both the Thunderstreak and the Thunderflash. Overall natural metal. This Thunderflash H8-R (ser. no. FR-17) is displayed as it looked shortly after delivery to 42 Squadron at Wahn (D.).
The introduction of Thunderjet into service conincided with an unprecedented growth of the Belgian Air Force. By 1955, the Air Force could boost no less than 650 aircraft spread over 24 squadrons for a total manpower of 21.000 officers and men. However, the enormous budgetary effort needed to maintain this force could not be sustained and later the number of units gradually decreased.
I couldn't establish the exact time when no. 42 Squadron machines were
camouflaged, it appears to be a few years into service. The scheme
shown here was a standard NATO Dark Green /Dark Grey over NATO PRU
Blue. Here is the H8-V (ser.no. FR-21)
Approximate FS color matches for the above scheme are FS 24079 / FS 26118 upper surfaces and FS 25109 lower. As no aircraft in this paint scheme was preserved at the Brussels museum, I quote the FS numbers after available literature.
The third and final scheme was the so-called "Vietnam-scheme" of two greens and tan upper surfaces with white lower surfaces, shown here on FR-17.
Based on the comparison of full-size aircraft in Brussels Air Force Museum using a FS 595B fan deck, the colours of the Vietnam scheme were approximated to FS 34096 / 34097 / 34340 for the upper surfaces with a slightly off-white paint on the lower surfaces.
For modellers of these aircraft, Daco Products from Belgium has produced a series of decals sheets in 1/48 and 1/72 scale for F-84F and RF-84F aircraft used in Belgium, covering all three types of the camouflage schemes. Along with those decal sheets, Daco has released enamel paint colors for authentic color shades; these paints are produced by Xtracolor. Colors include NATO Cam. PRU Blue, NATO Cam. Dark Grey, NATO Cam. Dark Green, Vietnam Dark Green, Vietnam Light Grey, Vietnam Tan, Vietnam Light Green.
Belgian F-84 serial numbers