Hasegawa 1/72 F-104G Starfighter
The F-104 Starfighter has always been an interesting aircraft for me – I remember being at the Toronto CNE Labour DAY Weekend Airshow in my younger years and a pair of CF-104’s were on the list of performing aircraft. One display was showing a difference in speed with one Starfighter doing a slow fly-by and then another zipping by at a much greater speed. I remember that the slower Starfighter appeared to be ‘fighting’ to stay in the air with a high angle of attack and you could hear the engine be throttled up and down as the pilot seemed to have the aircraft almost sitting on its tail.
The printed sources I checked noted that only about three hundred and fifty Starfighters built as short range interceptors and fighter trainers but the multi-missionF-104G had over nineteen hundred units built for tactical support and recon activities. Back in the 60’s, the Starfighter was the subject of the biggest co-operative manufacturing programme in Europe since WWII with Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Norway all flying the F-104 in Europe and assembling also occurring in Japan and Canada.
This kit was purchased from a nearby regional hobby store which also has consignment sales including ‘resale’ kits. Most of the consignment kits may have been opened with the majority of them would still have their inner packaging all sealed and also have been checked to be complete. This particular kit had most of its fuselage built – an item not typically offered as ‘re-sale’ but I knew it was an awesome Starfighter kit; I was able to acquire the kit ‘as-is’ for only $5 with minimal expectations but with a great fall back plan of obtaining some excellent spare parts if things did not work out. The focus of finishing this kit would be to complete the build and focus on airbrushing with acrylics. In the past, I have assembled the Matchbox and ESCI F-104’s in my younger years and knew this kit is the next level up in detail, assembly and decals.
The kit instructions are print dated from 1989 – and the nicely engraved detail would be able to keep up with any recent more modern kits. The cockpit surfaces do have raised details but no detail on the side walls. There are some decals if one wishes a simpler route. The canopy has three pieces and can be in an opened or closed position.
The instructions show the fuselage is comprised of a front ‘single seat’ cockpit area from nose tip back to the intake vents with some drilling and some cut away items. The kit includes pylon components for the front end sidewinders and a centre line gas tank – but no actual equipment is provided for the forward pylons. The rear fuselage includes the main landing gear housing and an exhaust section which has decent detail and depth. The landing gear assembly is nicely detailed being made up of multiple strut pieces including clear landing lights. Each wing and the stabilizer are each molded as single pieces due to the actual wings being so thin (I remember seeing a CF-104 in a hanger in Hamilton and there were leading edge rubber guards in place in order to protect ground crew!) There are 2 types of ejection seats in the kit – I would assume the seats that are used are for the upward direction ejection seats while the unused pieces are for the downward ejection seats. (Editor's note: Several F-104 operators opted for Martin Baker seats which I believe are the other option beside the Lockheed seat).
This preowned kit had most of the fuselage assembled with some of the main landing gear struts in place. The previous owner did not drill out the front holes for the front equipment racks. The assembled components did look decent enough but minimal filler was required around the air intakes due to minor misalignment issues by the previous owner.
It was noticed that Part C6 was not seated correctly during assembly so the main landing gear struts needed to be removed (broken apart) and had to be reassembled compensating for the misalignment of the landing gear housing with one extender arm shortened slightly and the other extended using a thin bit of stretched sprue. Parts B11 & B12 could not be found but some stretched sprue was used as replacements, these would be pretty much covered up by the landing gear doors anyways.
Similar alignment issue was noticed when putting the identified ejection seat in place; this probably occurred due to the kits requirement to have the cockpit tub ‘pinched’ into place – the cockpit floor was just a fraction of an inch to high and the installed seat interfered with the canopy being in the close position. I just simply removed the overhead pull-down loops and continued with the build.
The single piece wings were added with proper alignment but I was a little surprised that there are no ‘forward-view’ diagrams which show proper wing anhedral angle and landing gear alignment. There are mounting holes located on the wings for the inboard wings tanks. There are kit components which appears the be outer missile rails for wingtip Sidewinders but the rails are identified as ‘not for use’ and only wingtip tanks are provided and shown in the instructions. I had full intentions of mounting the inboard tanks so I kept the mounting holes open only to find out that part B14 was missing when I assembled the tanks – I’ll probably grab that part from another kit in a future build – so the mounting holes were left unfilled for future use.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The kit provides four options for Germany aircraft. Option 1 is a modern ‘lizard’ camo scheme from JBG34 and then option 2 is an Olive/Grey camo unit from JBG31 (I chose this aircraft). Option 3 & 4 are Neutral Grey units from MFG1 and MFG2 Marineflieger units.
Colours are identified by Gunze and Mr. Color paint shad identification. Conversion charts identified colour interpretations, choosing Tamiya X-11 Chrome silver to replace H8 Silver and XF-58 Olive Green to sub for H78 Olive Drab and XF-53 Neutral Grey to sub for H53 Neutral Grey. Additionally, XF-21 Sky subbed for H74 Sky for the nose cone and exhaust tunnel and for some reason I cannot remember what I used for the H309 Dark Green Antiglare Panel. All paints were thinned down using Tamiya X-20A Acrylic thinner. Tamiya masking tape was used for the sharp edged colour separation – which made things a lot easier as I did use my Paasche H-1 tipped external action airbrush, not having to worry about blending any colours. I had to mix my own shade of H14 Orange; I ended up mixing Testors Model Master #1708 Insignia Yellow and #2719 Italian Red, mixing the two until the desired shade was achieved. Being away from modelling from about 25 years, I was reminded about the difference in airbrush cleanup when using the different paint types – I think I am now sold on using acrylics whenever they was available – which will be pretty much ‘always’ from now on. I have always preferred the finish of enamels but the smell and clean-up do make painting with enamels a bit of a task – acrylics just seem to require minimal effort. I was quickly reminded just how any imperfections appear to be magnified when finishing a model with a silver paint and took note for any future builds. The tan sections on the top and bottom of the plane were painted using Testors Model Master #1792 SAC Bomber Tan.
Once painting was completed the entire model was coated using Future/Pledge Floor Glaze to prepare for the decals. The older kit decals did have some yellowing; I was able to reduce the yellowing by ‘bleaching’ the decals by placing them in direct bright sunlight for a few days. The yellowing was not completely eliminated but it was noticeably reduced. The decals cooperated splendidly although they were on the thick side. The decals separated well after proper soaking and using Micro Set and Sol provided me with great adhesion with no silvering effect. The amounts of detail provided with the decals do produce a great looking aircraft with stencilling comparable to a larger scaled model.
Final landing gear was glued in place ensuring proper alignment (or the best I could) then the wing tanks and tail stabilizer (that’s when I noticed I painted the stabilizer backwards and I was not really interested in correcting the mistake). The canopy was separately masked and brush painted with an initial interior colour coating followed by the external camouflage colours. Micro Kristal Clear was used to set the canopy in the closed position. The front Pitot tube was missing from the kit but that was corrected with a couple of stretched sprues which were cut and glued into place, painted Titanium Silver. The rear body navigation lights were prepared to be put in place but ended up being shot across the room a few times when I applied too much pressure on the tweezers – I ended up losing one of the lenses and had to fill in the void using a couple of applications of Micro Kristal Klear.
Well the main objective was accomplished. I was able to deal with difficulties from the original build and get a bit more experience using acrylics with the airbrush and was able to get the decals applied all without pulling out too much of what hair I have left. I was pleased with the Tamiya paints and the colour matching which achieved the look and camo scheme that I was after using stock kit parts and decals. I liked this kit enough that I went ahead and purchased a couple of Hasegawa D16 F-104J/CF-104 kits and plan on building 2 versions of the CF-104 configuration. My ESCI CF-104 kit (9044) will probably end up staying in storage longer than I originally planned. This G model now sits next to my ESCI 9011 F-104C which was built a couple of decades ago.
One thing I did notice as I was taking pictures was that aircraft identification decals on the port side just below the cockpit appeared to have grabbed the acrylic paint and caused slight cracking around the edge of the decal – I may have applied the decals in haste and the paint may not have cured fully – note for future builds to allow the acrylic paint to cure for a couple of days instead of just overnight.
Military Aircraft of the World – Editor Chris Chant, Presidio Press California
Pocket Encyclopedia of World Aircraft in Colour: FIGHTERS – Kenneth Munson, Blanford Press, London
21 September 2020
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