If ever there was a plane that looked fast while sitting still, it was the F-104 or as it is more commonly known, the Starfighter. With its sleek needle like fuselage it easily looked capable of its top rated speed of Mach 2 . The F-104G was the European built variant of the Starfighter and differed in a number of ways from its predecessor, the “C”, the most notable being the larger tail. Other changes included substantially strengthening the airframe to allow for improved low level operations, the addition of an improved F-15A NASARR fire control system(North American Search and Ranging Radar), an additional hard point under each wing to allow for an improved weapons load of up to 4,000 pounds and all weather avionics.
The F-104 was equipped with the C-2 ejection seat initially, but due to numerous failures during high sink rates, the seat was changed to the Martin-Baker GQ-7(A). The “G” became the definitive Starfighter in terms of numbers and accepted into service. The Starfighter went on to serve in the air forces of no less than fifteen countries and was finally retired from service when the Italian Air Force flew them for the last time during the summer of 2004. Total numbers produced were 2578, with just 296 seeing service in the USAF, making up only two fighter squadrons.
It is a pleasant surprise to see this kit back on the market after being without it for awhile. The F-104 is one of my favorite planes and to have a quality mold of one in 1/32 is an added bonus. While the molding is older for Hasegawa, meaning raised panel lines, the quality is still evident in the kit. It features the bigger chord tail which is the most prominent external difference on the plane and is easily seen when looking at the plane in profile. Panel lines, while raised, are well done and consistent.
There are a few added bonuses included; namely resin main gear doors and wheels with the wheels being the correct wider version and the gear doors having the prominent bulge for the tires. There was a minor bit of flash on my sample, but it will clean up easily with a few passes from a sanding stick. The main landing gear is re-enforced with a pre-bent length of copper wire that is trapped between the two halves to help keep the landing gear legs from “splaying” out over time. Cockpit detail is adequate with raised buttons and knobs on the side consoles as well as the instrument panel, but the seat is incorrect for a German “G” variant.
The kit “Bang seat” is the earlier C-2 variant and should be a Martin-Baker GQ-7(A) which is a totally different looking seat. All is not lost though as a couple of folks offer resin replacement seats. AMS Resin
is one and the other is CAM Resin offered through Johns Models
Other companies that produced items for this kit featuring the earlier C-2 seat are Verlinden and True Details. Black Box made a resin cockpit, unfortunately out of production, that might be found with a little searching. I imagine you could mix and match to get where you needed to be, or one could simply build it out of the box. Whatever the choice, there are options available. A nice inclusion is the defrost ducting around the canopy which isn’t found on the 1/48 offerings of Starfighter. The builder has the option of posing the M-61 Vulcan cannon bay opened or closed. This same can be said for the radar in the nose of the aircraft as well as the ability to display the full J-79 engine along with the speed brakes. Personally, to this builder anyway, this takes away from the sleek look of the plane, so mine will be buttoned up as it were, but the option is there should somebody wish to do so.
Weapons choices are limited to two Aim 9 Sidewinders. You have the option of mounting them on the belly of the plane in step 15 or swapping out the wing tip tanks and installing them in step 17. No under wing pylons are provided. A pilot figure is included, but it is pretty basic in appearance.
Painting & Decals
Construction takes place over seventeen steps with easy to follow instructions and paint call outs provided for Mr. Color paints. Markings are provided for two aircraft:
• MFG1 Marineflieger 22 71 Neutral gray over silver
• MFG2 Marineflieger 26 88 Neutral gray over silver
Even though this is an older kit in new trimmings with some added goodies, it is still a wonderful kit with just a few short comings. Decal choices are limited, but there are aftermarket items available. If you are a fan of the Starfighter, and want one in a larger scale, then this just might be the one for you as it is the best Starfighter kit in this scale.
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