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Scratch built 1/32 scale
North American RF-100A

by Frank Mitchell


North American RF-100A

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Some of you might remember the F-107A that was described on HyperSscale a while back.  I mentioned in that story that the model required the wings, horizontal stabilizers and various small parts from a Trumpeter F-100, which, of course, meant that I had a slightly deficient F-100 kit lying around. I sent out some inquiries on the web, but believe it or not, no one had a spare set of Trumpeter wings, etc. available, so the kit languished for some months in a dark corner of the basement. Then, one Saturday noon, someone mentioned that I should do an RF-100A since that would require a scratchbuilt wing anyway. I thought that sounded appealing, while hiding the fact that I had never heard of an RF-100A. However, some research revealed that this was a very interesting airplane.

It turns out that there were only six RF-100As built, and they led intriguing lives, most of which is still classified. While the airplane is mentioned in a number of references, facts are a bit harder to come by.  What appears certain is that six early “A” airframes were taken from the assembly line and modified for the reconnaissance role. All armament was removed and some changes were made to the interior of the cockpit, but the main changes were two canoe-shaped fairings under the forward fuselage to house the cameras and two additional bulges on the fuselage beside the cockpit to cover the film canisters. Each wing was also said to be extended by one foot, which I was able to confirm (I think), once I knew what to look for in the very few photos available. Speaking of photos, the very few photos available show only two of the airframes if you don’t count the one that shows an obviously spurious serial number that actually belonged to an F-89.



From here on, details about the airplanes get a little (more) murky. The main thing I learned, once again, was that few references were trustworthy.  For example, several of them note that the camera canoes extended back to the wing trailing edge. That is obviously incorrect for a couple of reasons: First, if they were that long, then neither the dive brake nor the wheel wells and doors would be there; Second, several photos pretty clearly show that they ended only a bit behind the leading edge of the wing. Another comment that showed up in several references was that the ‘100A models had no bulge running from the radar gunsight bulge on the upper lip of the intake. Again, several photos proved that to be incorrect. The moral is that it does pay to check things out; not all “truths” are true.

The history of use seems to include a lot of work over Eastern Europe. Later, they were transferred to Taiwan, where other clandestine missions were probably carried out. The aircraft were not, apparently, preserved, and their ultimate fate is unknown (at least to me).

In summary, this was my kind of airplane; obscure, interesting, and hard for people to nit-pick. I had a new project.





Construction began by scratch building a new set of wings and horizontal stabilizers. There are obviously lots of three-views available, so the main issue was incorporating the changes necessary to make an “A” wing (straight trailing edge, no flaps, etc.) and adding the extended wing tips. 



The slats were made by first smoothing and priming that area of the balsa wing molds and then vacuum-forming the wings in .020 styrene. The parts of the leading edge that would become the slats were carefully cut from the upper and lower halves of the molded parts. Thus, when the wing sections were applied to the mold (I left the balsa inside for strength and ease of mounting the landing gear), the slat area was the correct shape and ready for finishing.



The slat parts were joined with a strip of styrene rod along the leading edge to supply some strength. After those were puttied and cleaned up, all that remained was to fit the slats to the wings with a suitable number of brass rods. Actually, this way worked even better than I had hoped; the slats are not glued in place but simply held by friction. This all sounds harder than it was.



Next came the fuselage changes. Two molds for the camera canoes had to be carved since they were the same shape, but left and right. These molds were really an approximation since I was pretty sure they would be relatively nasty to fit. Unfortunately, I was right, but it got done, eventually.  The bulges for the file canisters were also left and right, but weren’t as annoying to fit. The only other more or less major change was the smaller extension from the vertical fin trailing edge that was characteristic of the A through C models. Actually, there is enough meat in the plastic to carve these out of the kit piece and add only a small extension.



After these changes were made, it became pretty much a matter of just building the kit. However, turned out that the F-100A had more differences (some pretty small) from the “D” than I had at first thought. However, luck was with me in that I found a 1955 article published in the British magazine Flight that gave lots of good photos and a cutaway. Since it was published when the “A” was still new, they were of great help. 

Aftermarket pieces consisted of a Black Box interior (which had to be modified a bit), a Zacto nose intake (great fit), an Aires burner, and Renaissance nose wheels. The latter two were necessary only because I had stolen the kit parts for the F-107A.


Painting and Markings


Painting seemingly took forever.



Natural metal finishes are truly a pain in all kinds of regions. Basically, it consisted of an overall base coat of Floquil Old Silver followed by masking and spraying multiple panels with various Alclad and colors made up as I went from “silvers” I had lying around; it would have been easier had I not screwed it up and had to do the wings twice.

Decals were taken from a bunch of sources, but were basically standard-for-the-period USAF. Because I wasn’t absolutely sure of some things, I made this one 31547 since that is one of the ones which have no pictures available and therefore less chance of my being yelled at for inaccuracies. 



In summary, this was an interesting model of an interesting airplane. At the very least, I got two airplanes out of one kit.


  • Scratch Built 1/32 scale RF-100A by Frank Mitchell: Image
  • Scratch Built 1/32 scale RF-100A by Frank Mitchell: Image
  • Scratch Built 1/32 scale RF-100A by Frank Mitchell: Image
  • Scratch Built 1/32 scale RF-100A by Frank Mitchell: Image
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Model and Text and Images Copyright 2009 by Frank Mitchell
Page Created 17 December, 2009
Last Updated 17 December, 2009

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