Perhaps rather than repeat the history of this aircraft, it would be logical to just refer you to the Internet Modeler Archives. Chris Bucholtz did an outstanding review of the Tamiya 1/72 F-84G in the September 1999 issue. The history of this fifty five year old aircraft has not changed much in the last eleven months.
It is worth noting is that this kit offers the builder the option of building either the earlier E and the last of the straight winged Thunderjets, the G. The notable external differences are the large blow in auxiliary doors on the side of the G and a very slightly shorter exhaust on the E version. Another change is the addition of reinforcing strips to the inside of the canopy. This was introduced with the G, but quickly found its way onto previous versions still in service. More on the canopy later. One other revision was the addition of the flying boom refueling receptacle on the inboard port wing of the G.
When the Korean War started, most of the Thunderjets in operational service were the E model. Thus, if you are interested in the a/c of the Korean War, this kit fills a void left by the Tamiya kit.
With the beautiful Tamiya kit already available, one might wonder why Academy bothered with another Thunderjet. I would suggest that Academy sees the requirement for a well balanced line of aircraft products, and they have demonstrated in the past that competition does not intimidate them at all.
The kit handles the version differences by providing two different tail pipe choices and insert parts for the section of the fuselage where the blow in doors are on the G. This is a rather large section right under the cockpit, and my initial reaction was that this just might be a fatal flaw. As a general rule, my experience has been that these insert panels don't fit very well. (Remember the open gun bays on some of those older Monogram kits?) So how did it fit? Almost perfect! I had a very small gap on the bottom of the right side panel. It was about .005 wide, about the thickness of a piece of typing paper. A swipe with a bit of putty and it was done. The small insert for the refueling doors also was near perfect. The fit of these two parts turned out to be just about what the fit of the rest of the kit was like. I used a spot of two of putty in a couple of places where I did not do a good job of cutting parts off the sprues, but that was it. Everything just fits near perfect. Actual assembly time is probably less than the time it takes to apply all those decals.
The Academy kit offers a good choice of ordnance. The 5 inch rockets are mounted one below the other and while the fins are a bit thick, they look good when finished. Also included are a couple of 500 lb. GP bombs and the inboard fuel tanks. Like Tamiya, they also give you the commonly used RATO bottles. Another minor but perhaps noteworthy addition is the refueling probes on the tip tanks. Academy includes them and tells you to trim them off if not needed. Another nice "extra" is the inclusion of both the early and late belly dive brakes. Apparently the later version was common on export birds. The option to open the dive brake, and a reasonable detailed but somewhat inaccurate dive brake cavity is another nice touch.
The decal selection is outstanding as well. You get the box art black and yellow tailed bird from Korea, a later (1955) bird based in Japan and a French AF bird. Each of them has appeal. One thing about the decals is the maintenance stenciling is accurate. The Tamiya kit (in both scales) takes considerable license with both the English language and content. These decals are extensive. I think I spent almost as much time applying decals as I did putting it together! All fit the matching panel lines perfectly and went down with little fuss. The application of Micro Sol made the film almost disappear.
As mentioned above, the re-enforced canopy was introduced on the G version, but quickly found its way to most of the earlier versions still in Air Force and ANG service. The Academy kit does provide this canopy without the extra framing but offers no color schemes for it. Hopefully some of the after market guys will see the need here. By the time Korea started, the E versions, and even most Ds, had the re-enforced canopies.
Shortcomings? As always there are a few. But they are just very nitpicker stuff. I would have liked it better if the nose gear tire and wheel was separate from the nose gear strut. As a one piece molding there is no gap between the tire and fork. I don't like the molded in brackets on the canopy to hold the rear deck part. They did locate them near a painted frame, but they still show just a bit. I also would have liked separate tip tanks rather than the molded on ones provided. I still have not reached a mental conclusion on the open vents and panels on the side of the fuselage. This is not the alternate parts discussed above, but the small exhausts and intakes scattered around the center of the fuselage. Overall, when finished, the effect looks good, but I also think they may be more pronounced than they should be. Like I said, these comments are really small stuff.
I have attempted to resist a side by side comparison of the two kits. But since one of the goals of this kind of process is to make us better able to decide which kit to buy, I will say without any reservations that either kit will give you a fabulous looking Thunderjet to put on your displays shelf. There are minor differences in details and approach, but just sitting on the shelf one would be hard pressed to tell them apart.
A small part of me wonders why we were so blessed. Two equally nice, even almost flawless kits of this somewhat obscure airplane. Could one of these have been an equally good something else? Maybe we will get the something else too!
The bottom line for me was; let the version you want to build determine which kit to build. If you want a G then use either kit. If your goal is an earlier version, or one with the tip tank probes, or the later mostly foreign dive brake in the down position, then go with the Academy kit. I suspect you will not be disappointed no matter which kit you choose.