Hasegawa 1/72 TF-104G "Boelke Special"
|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/72 TF-104G "Boelke Special"|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Rebox with different decals.|
The first production fighter to exceed Mach 2, the F-104 was highly touted as the 'Missile with a Man in it'. Designed to provide the smallest airframe possible in an interceptor, the F-104 was to be the USAF's premier fighter aircraft. However, delays in getting the aircraft into production caused a huge order cancellation and concentration on the F-101 and F-106 to fill that role. Heavily marketing the aircraft to NATO countries ready to shed their F-84Fs for something more modern, the Germans were the first to buy into what was now going to be a tactical nuclear strike aircraft. Much airframe work had to be done to allow what was initially a high altitude interceptor to function as a low level tactical strike aircraft.
Lockheed was successful and despite an alarmingly high initial fatality rate with the plane (mostly from those transitioning from the sedate F-84/F-86), it eventually became a superbly reliable aircraft for many NATO countries and functioned equally well as an interceptor, a role it was performing with the Italians when finally pulled from service. As with any modern jet fighter, a trainer was mandatory and so, the subject of this kit, the TF-104 was developed.
Hasegawa's F-104 kit has been around now for about 20 years or so. Doesn't seem like it to many of us, but it is so. As is often the case with kits, especially in 1/72, new molds are often few and far between, but really, there is little need for a new mold 104 for the huge majority of modelers as Hasegawa's is a beauty.
In an age of multi-variants, this one is no exception. Of the four major sprues, three of them are for generic F-104, while one is for the two seat version. This later sprue contains a new nose, new seats, new gear doors, new nose gear and new cockpit tub amongt the bits. The rest is standard F-104. At least, standard Hasegawa F-104. Some of the salient features are bulged and 'flat' main gear doors, two sets of main wheels, a set of wing pylons and tip tanks as well as an alternate seat (same as one included with the TF sprues. The instrument panels have nicely raised detail and are molded in clear plastic. Raised detailing is on the consoles as well. Decals are provided for these in case one wants to use them. Clear bits (not shown) are very nicely molded and quite thin. As the main sprues have been used a lot, I was not surprised to find some flash on several of the finer parts.
This particular boxing is for a show bird that did not use wing pylons or tip tanks. The holes in the lower wing for the pylons must be filled unless one is going for aftermarket decals. Standard nicely done instructions with Gunze paint references. As I mentioned the other day, Gunze appears to be leaving the US market so one will need to figure out alternate paints once those no longer become available. The nicely done decal sheet for the JBG 31 special scheme just before they transtioned to the Tornado, has markings for the single aircraft. The scan is a bit dark to show the white bits. Back in the mid-1980s, I used a Microscale sheet and a Heller TF-104G kit to reproduce this aircraft and that was a lot of work. Those who have built the Heller kit recall that fit was not paramount to the company back then.
Another fine reboxing from Hasegawa and if you are a fan of the twin seat Starfighter, it makes an excellent basis for using aftermarket decals. These TF-104s seem to sell out rather quickly so you might want to grab one while the grabbing is good.
You can find this and other great Hasegawa kits at your local hobby shop. My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit.
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