KIT: Monogram 1/72 F-104C Starfighter
KIT #: 5240
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Dimitriy Levin


The F-104C was a fighter-bomber version of the F-104A fitted with upgraded avionics and engine and capable of carrying air-to-ground munitions including Mk.28 and Mk.43 nuclear bombs on the centerline pylon. The centerline pylon could also be modified to carry two AIM-9 Sidewinders although the device created significant drag and was rarely used. The upward-firing Lockheed C-2 ejection seat replaced the unloved downward-firing seat of the A model. The F-104C served in Vietnam proving to be an effective enemy deterrent during MIGCAP patrols but a marginal ground-attack platform due to limited payload and range. As a testament to "Zip-Four" performance, on December 14, 1959, Cpt Joe B.  Jordan flew an F-104C to a world-record 103395.5 feet, climbing to 98425 feet (30 km) in a record-breaking 15 minutes 4.92 seconds from brake release, and reaching Mach 2.36 in the process.



The Monogram F-104C is a relatively new offering in 1/72 scale, my copy copyrighted 1996. Its 80 parts are cleanly molded in light-gray styrene with delicate surface detail and recessed panel lines. The kit does not appear to be a scaled-down 1/48 Monogram model. In fact, the breakdown of parts is nearly-identical to the new Hasegawa 1/72 Starfighters with comparable level of detail. The cockpit is nicely done with a three-piece ejection seat and a full tub, control panel and stick with finely raised detail in the best tradition of Monogram. Fuselage is composed of six parts, these being front and rear fuselage halves, separate nose cone, and separate rudder/exhaust. The Vulcan cannon panel is a separate part and the airbrakes are positionable and detailed on the inside. Of note, the instructions incorrectly show the airbrakes swinging open like a door as opposed to sliding back as they open.

The parts allow for the proper open position and this is a curious omission as Monogram's earlier 1/48 kit has the correct open airbrakes. There is a blanking plate in the fuselage to prevent see-through intakes (alas, no engine face is provided) and an exhaust plug with good afterburner detail. Landing gear bays are reasonably detailed and the intricate main landing gear assembly is nicely represented. Wings and tailplane are a single part each. All of the  antennae under the nose are there as well. Clear parts include a thin and very transparent one-piece canopy, HUD, and the three landing lights. Optional bits include the in-flight refueling probe, the tailhook, and the RWR antennae for the nose and the tail. Stores include wingtip and underwing fuel tanks, a centerline pylon, and two Sidewinders with both wingtip and fuselage rails. No air-to-ground stores are offered.

Decals are by Scalemaster and appear thin, glossy, and in register with the exception of instrument panel decals (not really an issue since careful painting and drybrushing would yield much better results there). The first scheme is for an SEA camouflaged "Pussycat" (serial no. 60884) from 435th TFS, Udon AFB, flown by squadron commander Lt Joe Nevers. The modeler is instructed to trim the fins on all droptanks by 4 mm for this aircraft. The second scheme is aluminum with white wings, rainbow fuselage band, and red shooting stars, as depicted on the boxart. It represents group commander Colonel George Laven Jr's ride (serial no. 60891) from 476th TFS, 479th TFW, George AFB, as of May 1959. Per instructions, this aircraft was equipped with RWR antennae and did not have a tailhook. Decals also cover all major stenciling
including the Sidewinders.

The instructions are the usual superb Monogram fare, in this case an 8-page booklet with 39 construction steps. Colors are given as generic names, ProModeler paints, and FS numbers.


The Monogram 1/72 F-104C looks like a great kit that I rarely see built. In the box, it compares very favorably in detail and quality to the new Hasegawa F-104J I have in my stash at about half the cost. This one is going to the top of my "easy builds" pile. Highly recommended.

October 2005

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