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Italeri 1/32 F-104G/S Starfighter

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Italeri

1/32 F-104G/S Starfighter

Art.No 2502

 

 

Finally a new Large Scale Starfighter kit!!!

 

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Introduction (mostly courtesy Wikipedia)

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic fighter aircraft originally developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) by Lockheed. One of the Century Series of aircraft, it was operated by the air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004.

 Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, the chief engineer at Lockheed's Skunk Works, visited Korea in December 1951 and spoke with fighter pilots about what sort of aircraft they wanted. At the time, the U.S. pilots were confronting the MiG-15 with North American F-86 Sabres, and many of the American pilots felt that the MiGs were superior to the larger and more complex American design. The pilots requested a small and simple aircraft with excellent performance. Armed with this new-found information, Johnson immediately started the design of such an aircraft, following his return to the United States. In March, his team was assembled; they studied several aircraft designs, ranging from small designs at 8,000 lb (3,629 kg), to fairly large ones at 50,000 lb (23,680 kg). In order to achieve the desired performance, Lockheed chose a minimalist approach: a design that would achieve high performance by wrapping the lightest, most aerodynamically efficient airframe possible around a single powerful engine. The engine chosen was the new General Electric J79, an engine of dramatically improved performance compared to contemporary designs.

Because of that high-performance approach, the aircraft was a handful to fly during it’s entire career. That became most obvious in German service, they lost a total of 298 Starfighters! The Spanish, on the other hand, lost none. Keep in mind though that the Germans (and Canadians, Dutch and Belgians) used the aircraft amongst other tasks in the strike role. Low-level through the bad weather of North-West Europe…

To help (would-be) Starfighter pilots in staying on top of their steed, a series of cartoons were drawn with hints and tips. “Snake sez:” http://www.916-starfighter.de/cartoons%20.htm

 

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Early Starfighters used a downward-firing ejection seat (the Stanley C-1), out of concern over the ability of an upward-firing seat to clear the "T-tail" empennage. This presented obvious problems in low-altitude escapes, and some 21 USAF pilots failed to escape their stricken aircraft in low-level emergencies because of it. The downward-firing seat was soon replaced by the Lockheed C-2 upward-firing seat, which was capable of clearing the tail, although it still had a minimum speed limitation of 104 mph (170 km/h). Many export Starfighters were later retro-fitted with Martin-Baker Mk.7 zero-zero ejection seats, which had the ability to successfully eject the pilot from the aircraft even at zero altitude and zero airspeed.

The initial USAF Starfighters had a basic AN/ASG-14T ranging radar, TACAN, and an AN/ARC-34 UHF radio. The later international fighter-bomber aircraft had a much more advanced Autonetics NASARR radar, an advanced Litton LN-3 Inertial Navigation System, a simple infrared sight, and an air data computer.

In the late 1960s, Lockheed developed a more advanced version of the Starfighter, the F-104S, for use by the Italian Air Force as an all-weather interceptor. The F-104S received a NASARR R21-G with a moving-target indicator and a continuous-wave illuminator for semi-active radar homing missiles, including the AIM-7 Sparrow and Selenia Aspide. The missile-guidance avionics forced the deletion of the Starfighter's internal cannon. In the mid-1980s surviving F-104S aircraft were updated to ASA standard (Aggiornamento Sistemi d'Arma, or Weapon Systems Update), with a much improved, more compact FIAR R21G/M1 radar.

The basic armament of the F-104A was the 20 mm  M61 Vulcan Gatling gun. This weapon frequently had shell ejection problems resulting in avionic problems and crashes. Therefore, the F-104A mostly didn’t carry the gun early in it’s career, carrying ballast weight instead. Some F-104A’s never even did receive the gun! The Starfighter was the first aircraft to carry the new weapon, which had a rate of fire of 6,000 rounds per minute. The cannon, mounted in the lower part of the port fuselage, was fed by an ammunition drum behind the electronics-bay aft of the cockpit. It was omitted in all the two-seat models and some single-seat versions, including reconnaissance aircraft and the early Italian F-104S; the gun bay and ammunition tank were usually replaced by additional fuel tanks. Two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles could be carried on the wingtip stations, which could also be used for fuel tanks.

The F-104C and later models added a centerline pylon and two underwing pylons for bombs, rocket pods, or fuel tanks. The centerline pylon could carry conventional munitions or a nuclear weapon. A "catamaran" launcher for two additional Sidewinders could be fitted under the forward fuselage, although the installation had minimal ground clearance and made the seeker heads of the missiles vulnerable to ground debris.

 

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The production versions were:

F-104A; A total of 153 initial production versions were built. The F-104A was in USAF service from 1958 through 1960, then transferred to ANG until 1963 when they were recalled by the USAF Air Defense Command for the 319th and 331st Fighter Interceptor Squadrons. Some were released for export to Jordan, Pakistan, and Taiwan, each of whom used it in combat. In 1967 the 319th F-104As and Bs were re-engined with the J79-GE-19 engines with 17,900 lbf (79.6 kN) of thrust in afterburner; service ceiling with this engine was in excess of 73,000 ft (22,250 m). In 1969, all the F-104A/Bs in ADC service were retired. On 18 May 1958, an F-104A set a world speed record of 1,404.19 mph (2,259.82 km/h).

 

F-104B; Tandem two-seat, dual-control trainer version of F-104A, 26-built. Enlarged rudder and ventral fin, no cannon and reduced internal fuel, but otherwise combat-capable. A few were supplied to Jordan, Pakistan, and Taiwan.

 

F-104C; Fighter-bomber versions for USAF Tactical Air Command, with improved fire-control radar (AN/ASG-14T-2), centerline and two wing pylons (for a total of five), and ability to carry one Mk 28 or Mk 43 nuclear weapon on the centerline pylon. The F-104C also had in-flight refuelling capability. On 14 December 1959, an F-104C set a world altitude record of 103,395 ft (31,515 m), 77 built.

 

F-104D; Dual-control trainer versions of F-104C, 21 built.

 

F-104G; 1,122 aircraft of the main version produced as multi-role fighter-bombers. Manufactured by Lockheed, and under license by Canadair and a consortium of European companies which included Messerschmitt/MBB, Dornier, Fiat, Fokker, and SABCA. The type featured strengthened fuselage and wing structure, increased internal fuel capacity, an enlarged vertical fin, strengthened landing gear with larger tires, and revised flaps for improved combat maneuvering. Upgraded avionics included a new Autonetics NASARR F15A-41B radar with air-to-air and ground mapping modes, the Litton LN-3 Inertial Navigation System (the first on a production fighter), and an infrared sight.

 

RF-104G; 189 tactical reconnaissance models based on F-104G, usually with three KS-67A cameras mounted in the forward fuselage in place of cannon. In Dutch service the camera-bay was removed and the cameras placed in the Oude Delft Orpheus-pod, making the employment of cameras more flexible and mission-specific.

 

F-104F; Dual-control trainers based on F-104D, but using the upgraded engine of the F-104G. No radar, and not combat-capable. Produced as interim trainers for the German Air Force. All F-104F aircraft were retired by 1971; 30 built.

 

TF-104G; 220 combat-capable trainer version of F-104G; no cannon or centerline pylon, reduced internal fuel. One aircraft used by Lockheed as a demonstrator with the civil registration number L104L, was flown by Jackie Cochran to set three women’s world speed records in 1964. This aircraft later served in the Netherlands.

 

F-104J; Specialized interceptor version of the F-104G for the Japanese ASDF, built under license by Mitsubishi for the air-superiority fighter role, armed with cannon and four Sidewinders; no strike capability. Some were converted to UF-104J radio-controlled target drones and destroyed. Total of 210 built, three built by Lockheed, 29 built by Mitsubushi from Lockheed built components and 178 built by Mitsubishi.

 

F-104DJ; Dual-control trainer version of F-104J for Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, 20 built by Lockheed and assembled by Mitsubishi.

 

CF-104 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadair_CF-104 ); 200 Canadian-built versions, built under license by Canadair and optimized for both nuclear strike and 2-stage-to-orbit payload delivery, having NASARR R-24A radar with air-to-air modes, cannon deleted (restored after 1972), additional internal fuel cell, and Canadian J79-OEL-7 engines with 10,000 lbf (44 kN)/15,800 lbf (70 kN) thrust.

 

CF-104D; 38 dual-control trainer versions of CF-104, built by Lockheed, but with Canadian J79-OEL-7 engines. Some later transferred to Denmark, Norway, and Turkey.

 

F-104S (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeritalia_F-104S ); 246 Italian versions were produced by FIAT (one aircraft crashed prior to delivery and is often not included in the total number built). Forty aircraft were delivered to the Turkish Air Force and the rest to the Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana). The F-104S was upgraded for the interception role having NASARR R-21G/H radar with moving-target indicator and continuous-wave illuminator for SARH missiles (initially AIM-7 Sparrow), two additional wing and two underbelly hardpoints (increasing the total to nine), more powerful J79-GE-19 engine with 11,870 lbf (53 kN) and 17,900 lbf (80 kN) thrust, and two additional ventral fins to increase stability. The M61 cannon was sacrificed to make room for the missile avionics in the interceptor version but retained for the fighter-bomber variants. Up to two Sparrow; and two, theoretically four or six Sidewinder missiles were carried on all the hardpoints except the central (underbelly), or seven 750 lb (340 kg) bombs (normally two–four 500–750 lb/227–340 kg). The F-104S was cleared for a higher maximum takeoff weight, allowing it to carry up to 7,500 lb (3,400 kg) of stores; other Starfighters had a maximum external load of 4,000 lb (1,814 kg). Range was up to 780 mi (1,250 km) with four tanks.

F-104S-ASA (Aggiornamento Sistemi d'Arma – "Weapon Systems Update"); 150 upgraded F-104S with Fiat R21G/M1 radar with frequency hopping, look-down/shoot-down capability, new IFF system and weapon delivery computer, provision for AIM-9L all-aspect Sidewinder and Selenia Aspide missiles. It was first flown in 1985.

F-104S-ASA/M (Aggiornamento Sistemi d'Arma/Modificato – "Weapon Systems Update/Modified"); 49 airframes upgraded in 1998 to ASA/M standard with GPS, new TACAN and Litton LN-30A2 INS, refurbished airframe, improved cockpit displays. All strike-related equipment was removed. The last Starfighters in combat service, they were withdrawn in December 2004.

 

USAF’s Air Defense Command used the F-104A as interceptor, Tactical Air Command later as a ground support aircraft. No wonder the USAF wasn’t too thrilled about it. ADC used it as if they used a Formula-1 car in the Daytona-500, while TAC tried to use that same Formula-1 car in the World Rally Championship!

 

The endurance, fire control system and the gun with 2 short range heat-seeker weren’t sufficient to intercept enemy bomber streams and be able to down enough of them over the vast expanses of North America, just as 3 hardpoints and the ability to scream very fast in a straight line don’t make for the best ground-support aircraft. It really was the aircraft the pilots in Korea had wanted; the tool to kill MiG’s! And not because of superior manoeuvrability, but because of speed, thrust, employing the vertical, energy manoeuvring, and the ability to have 100 20mm shells in one place of the sky after a 1 second burst…

 

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So why would the upgraded F-104G be what the NATO-air forces needed? Two words: Point-defense and Nuclear-strike. You can use an F-104 to intercept and down enemy aircraft, provided you have enough of them and employ them in a smaller geographical area. Say like North-Western Europe where almost all air forces use some squadrons of them in the air-defense role!

Likewise, having only three hardpoints isn’t that much of a drawback if you use two of those for extra fuel and the remaining one for a tactical nuclear weapon that you want to be delivered very fast flying ultra-low into the rear areas of the enemy! Notice that for the more conventional air-to-ground work those air forces almost all employed a second type. At first often the venerable Republic F-84F Thunderstreak and later the Northrop F-5 , Mirage 5 or Fiat G-91.

 

The Kit

So, on to the kit. For a long time, we had to make do with the venerable Hasegawa model. With enough tender, loving care, a stunning model could be made from that kit. The new Italeri model is much better but in my opinion, still needs some TLC to make it really stunning. Spoilt as I am with the latest models from Tamiya and Wingnut Wings, it is apparent that this model falls a bit behind in the state of the art of injection moulding. You can see that in the slightly larger panellines, the slightly heavier details and a sinkmark here and there. Make no mistake; this is while comparing it to the leaders in the industry; I’m still very enthousiastic about this kit! What I am a bit dissapointed about is the lack of parts for other than Italian F-104G’s. There are decals for a Dutch interceptor, but no Aero 3B under belly launchers as were used by the Dutch.

 

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 (Copyright by one of the contributors on the Facebook Klu F-104G page)

 

Markings for a German Marineflieger F-104G but no Kormoran missile with launcher.

 

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And only ECM parts for the Italian versions. So you should come to know your F-104G intimately if you want it to be correct! On the other hand, Italeri is the first manufacturer that gives us underwing tanks! Hooray!!! In addition to that you get a J-79 engine which you can showcase on it’s own dolly, the tail piece has it’s own dolly too, an entry ladder is provided, you have the opportunity to show off the M-61 Vulcan gun, the avionics compartment, pose the airbrakes open and position the flaps and slats to your liking.

 

The packaging is very good. The large sprues are packed in their own bags while the small sprues are packed per two. The photo-etch and clear parts are thoughtfully packed in their own bags which are glued to a cardboard filling piece, immobilizing these parts while also locking the regular light grey parts in. The plastic is softer than Hasegawa’s, I’d guess as soft as Wingnut Wings plastic.

 

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Sprue A gives us the fuselage halves, the cockpit tub, intakes and the main landing gear box and it’s wheel doors. Bulged and flat. The kit doesn’t provide you with parts for the NASARR radar antenna. Personally, I don’t mind because detailing that part means you have to keep the nose cone off the model, ruining the sleek Starfighter line.

 

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There are two types of intakes; for the F-104G (top) and for the F-104S that were slightly different in design for the uprated engine. The give-away is the rectangular intake access door.

 

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The consoles of the cockpit tub share some resemblance to the side consoles of F-104G’s that were photographed for Daco Publications’ “Uncovering the Lockheed (T)F-104G Starfighter” by Danny Coremans and Peter Gordts. During their lifetime the F-104G’s of different users did receive different updates and different lay-outs of some panels, so it can be that the consoles are correct for an Italian version!

 

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Main wheel doors are supplied for both the “fat-wheeled” F-104G’s and the “skinny-wheeled” CF-104. Some CF-104’s were later sold to Denmark to fill in for the losses of original F-104G’s.

 

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 Visible here is the shock cone, and the blanking plate for the gun trough. The F-104S had to give up it’s gun for the systems that enabled it to shoot the Sparrow, but it’s also a nice bonus for the modellers that want to build an RF-104G. Or for the spares box, if Italeri brings out an F-104C you could use it to backdate it to an early F-104A…

 

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A view of the gun trough to be used on the F-104G and the instrument panel coaming which "canvas" part I don’t regard as particularly accurate…

 

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And the “business end” of the gun port. It would benefit from some fine adjustment.

 

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The main wheel well with it’s detailing. I will sand away the detail that’ll be visible on the model and replace it with copper wire or such. What you also see is the peculiar solution Italeri thought up for the intake trunks. There is trunking to the front bulkhead of the main gear well, then empty space. At the rear bulkhead of the MLG the trunking re-appears and leads to the compressor of the engine! But no worries, you’d have to put an endoscope into the intakes to even see that.

 

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This photo shows the rather nice edge to the cockpit and avionics bay. But be careful while snipping away the part from the sprue!

 

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A view of the panel lines of the fuselage. They are somewhat highlighted by the photography but you’re right if you find them pronounced. I wonder how they’ll look with paint on it. In any case; the glossier the scheme, the more visible the edges of the panels will be.

 

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Sprue B contains the tailsection, wings, main landing gear, airbrakes and some other stuff.

 

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The underside of the wing. Looking at the Daco book, the ovoid panel with the three double row of rivets seems to be particular to the F-104S. I will fill these.

 

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The wings also feature separate flaps and slats. The ailerons are moulded in with the rest of the wing. I like the addition of boundary layer control exhaust ports on the top of the slats.

 

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Inner sides of the tiptanks with “weld seams”. These could do with some toning down.

 

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The instrument panel. According to Verlinden’s Lock-On on the F-104G Starfighter, the IP is correct for an interceptor. The difference with a fighter-bomber is really small. The interceptor has a bank of lights where the fighter-bomber has a ground speed indicator.

 

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The nice control stick with the accurately moulded plastic cover. If you’ve fitted the parts of the cover together, don’t eradicate the seam but make it look like a zipper as the original has! Between the control stick parts you see the throttle. The flap lever that lives to the left of the throttle has to be scratch built.

 

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The inside of the MLG-door that stays open. Some slight punchmarks can be seen. Try to scrape them gently away with a no.15 Swan & Morton scalpel.

 

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The main landing gear. The mould seam is a bit pronounced here. Doesn’t have to be a problem, really, but the shape of the part doesn’t make it any easier!

 

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Sprue C; the furniture, the computer and the big gun!

 

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 Left the hatch that goes over the ammo-bin and right the hatch that closes over the avionics compartment. The zippery panel line on the ammo hatch is –as you’d expect- indeed the hinge of the panel! My advice is to keep this panel closed, you’ll see a hint of the ammo bin but not that it’s not a separate part! The avionics bay is a different story altogether….

 

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The avionics bay with it’s modular boxes is a bit of a mixed bag. I’m happy it’s included, and the lay-out is correct. From left to right: circuit breaker box (different configurations were used), a typical configuration of  “F-104 Jeep Can” modules in the middle section with a correct representation of the Litton LN-3 inertial navigation platform on the lower left hand side and on the right the ammunition box. But….. I’m convinced that in 1/32nd scale the shallowness of the part will be all too obvious, so I will be scratchbuilding a proper bay with proper “Jeep Cans” and assorted wiring. When comparing the “T-handles” on top of the boxes with photos they lack finesse.

 

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Here you see the Martin-Baker ejection seat as used by the Italians, the Germans and –later- the Danes. I suspect that since these countries sold F-104’s to Greece and Turkey that they flew (at least partly) with M-B seats too. Also visible are the parts for the M-61 Vulcan gun.

 

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See the Ejection Site for photos of the Martin-Baker Mk.GQ-7A: http://www.ejectionsite.com/gq7a.htm

 

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(Copyright Mark Verbeek)

 

As you see, you can do a LOT to dress the seat up!

The side-walls of the nose landing gear.

 

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And the nose landing gear itself.

 

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Sprue D: More furniture, wheels, fuel cans and rockets. X2

 

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Here we see the parts of the Lockheed C-2 ejection seat.

 

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Some things are a bit strange with this assembly. First; there is a cushion for the seat back provided. Only, with this seat, the back rest was the parachute itself which the pilot wore on his back.

 

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 And second; Italeri directs you to glue some vague belts/webbing to the seat. In fact that is a sorry representation of the webbing that extends forward on ejection to prevent that the pilot’s arms are being pushed to the side and the back. There is a company that refurbishes C-2 seats that you can buy. One of them I came across on the internet shows this webbing to good effect. Just ignore the chrome!

 

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(Copyright AvionArt International BV)

 

Normally the seat would look more like this, albeit with the webbing tucked away somewhat neater:

 

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(Copyright Mark Verbeek)

 

See the Ejection Site for more: http://www.ejectionsite.com/vbar_sg.htm

 

Here you see the MLG wheels in the kit. Italeri directs you to use the star-shaped wheels for the F-104G’s and F-104S’s but to use the thinner round disc wheel for the CF-104! That is unfortunately inaccurate. The CF-104 did have thinner wheels than the F-104G and S but they were of the same design. The wheels Italeri wants you to use are in fact F-104C wheels.

 

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The sprue further contains accurate underwing tanks with the accompanying pylons. Don’t forget that the CF-104, F104G/J/S had the pylons perpendicular to the ground. Only the F-104C had it’s pylons perpendicular to the underside of the wing!

 

Sprue E is the engine sprue.

 

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And a nice engine it is! Sadly, the invisible parts look better than the visible…. :)

On the right you see the compressor first stage; the part of which I told you that you’ll need an endoscope to see… Next to it is the “engine-side” of the short exhaust nozzle as used on most F-104G’s. The actuators of the nozzle-blades do look a bit heavy.

 

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This is that same nozzle. Aside from the heavy inner detailing you’ll also notice that it’s almost completely closed. That would mean that the engine is running at almost full military power… Nice if you put in a pilot and make a flying display of your Starfighter, but not so great if you want to pose it on the tarmac, canopy and gunbay open. Or even with the tail off the model… The part does look correct however, with the right amount of nozzle blades. Personally, I'll fit the Aires F-104 exhaust nozzle for the Hasegawa F-104.

 

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The very nicely moulded last engine stage with flame holder. Because it sits so deep in the engine it’ll look stunning when painted right. Okay, okay, you may need your endoscope for that part, too…

 

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On this photo you see the exterior of the General Electric J-79 engine. If you want, a stunning model can be made of it. Below that a picture of the delicate inner detail of the afterburner section which mimics the indentations of the original really well!

 

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What we finally have on this sprue is the inner nozzle on top and the second type of nozzle for use on the F-104S. This is also the nozzle if you build a later German F-104G since they were re-engined with a later version of the J-79 that also had that longer nozzle.

 

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Also provided is an entrance ladder for the cockpit. If I’m not mistaken, these same ladders were used in the Netherlands for the F-16’s when they came. A very welcome addition indeed!

 

Sprue F contains the transparencies.

 

They look commendably thin and extremely clear:

 

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The nice thing is that Italeri also gives us the parts for the canopy defogging system, the canopy lock guide, the manual lock and the pyrotechnic charges that are used to eject the canopy!

 

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Furthermore Italeri provides a PE-fret.

 

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To be honest: most of these parts are of very limited value. There are some small parts that you need to detail the canopy as I mentioned above, but the belts, instrument panel and side consoles don’t add anything useful in my opinion.

 

There are two large sheets of decals with markings for 10 Starfighters and stencilling included. The markings are for 3 Italian F-104G’s, 2 Italian F-104S’s, a Greek, Belgian, Dutch and German Marineflieger F-104G and finally an aluminium CF-104.

 

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 “Designed and printed by Cartograf” is mentioned on the sheets. That means that the decals are very good indeed. Mistakes can slip in, however.

 

For instance, the registration on the fuselage of the Dutch F-104 is way too small. It may be sized for 1/48 but certainly not 1/32… Secondly I don’t know what Polly has been smoking, but normally he has a different expression in his eyes….

 

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 (Second Polly by Dutch Decal: http://forum.largescalemodeller.com/topic/1746-dutch-decal-dd-32014-f-104g-starfighter/ ).

At first I suspected a c***-up with the Belgian markings too, but during the transition from NMF to the SEA-schemes, FX-12 did in fact fly with large roundels and large registration! A special scheme, indeed!

 

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But if you really want to know that your decals are meticulously researched; you should turn to DACO Productions for your Belgian and German F-104G decals. Danny didn’t print his Luftwaffe Starfighter decals because he was still trying to find out what 1 “zap” on 1 F-104G had looked like…. For the Dutch version I suggest you turn to Dutch Decal.

 

The total package of the kit is round out with a nice booklet that gives some information and a nice walk-around.

 

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Conclusion:

 

Recommended

 

Here and there it falls a bit short in the fine details in my opinion. On the other hand, what is provided looks accurate in my eyes, although the C-2 seat is a bit awkward as provided/designed by Italeri, but a nice enough starting point nonetheless. The kit is clearly very much more advanced than the Hasegawa kit. The only thing is to refine some parts.

However, do shop around in regard to prices. I have seen it offered in the Eurozone for as much as €95,- but also for €75,-! I think the first price is rather steep, the second acceptable.

 

Thanks to Creative Models Ltd. / Italeri for supplying the review sample!

 

Erik B.

References:

Lock On No. 1 F-104G/J Starfighter, Verlinden Publications, 1983.

Uncovering the Lockheed (T)F-104G Starfighter, Danny Coremans & Peter Gordts, DACO Publications, 2012.

Wikipedia.

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Erik,

You certainly know your one-oh-fours. Well done. Very comprehensive review.

You may lie down now.

Cees

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A long promised and awaited kit that has just had a seriously comprehensive 'in the box' review - well done Erik!! Based on what you say, I shall be deferring my purchase until I've seen the promised/rumoured AFV kit in the same scale 'cos this Italeri version doesn't seem to really 'ring my chimes'. 

Thanks Eric, you've saved this poor pensioner a wedge of cash!

Regards,

 

Steve S.

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Excellent review.

 

I have to say that having seen the plastic in 'the flesh' I am much more impressed. I think it's because most photos in reviews are about 500% better than I can see. Not knocking close ups, but it's often worth remembering that the kit often looks better when you actually see it. 

 

I may get one of these when they come down in price... quite fancy that NMF and white Canadian one...

 

Matt

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You're right Matt_, the photos do exaggerate any flaws of the plastic. But to show what the reviewer means, he has to use close-ups... In most respects it is a very good kit, but at the detail level I do find that it has some clunkyness. The makings of a show-stopper are there, though! Thanks for the compliment, BTW! ;)

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Wow, anyone would suspect you quite like 104's Erik!  Cracking review by the way .. great job.

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