Kit: Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter

Manufacturer: Hasegawa

Kit Number: 1004

Price: Y1000, about US$18.00 in the States

Scale: 1/72nd

Markings: four aircraft

69th TFTS, 58th TTW, USAF (generic bare-metal scheme)

203rd Sqdn., JASDF (generic bare-metal)

207th Sqdn., JASDF (silver paint)

10 JBW, Force Aerianna Belge (camo)

It's hard to write an objective-sounding review of this kit, because what I will say about it could have easily come from a Hasegawa advertising brochure. What I will say is this: the TF-104G is the finest 1/72nd scale aircraft kit I have ever seen. Strong praise indeed, but read on.

Hasegawa, in keeping with its other releases of late, engineered the kit so that several versions could be offered for minimal extra tooling costs. The TF-104G is no exception; it includes a totally new sprue that includes the two-seat forward fuselage, additional ejection seats (yes, seats...more in a minute), nose gear, and cockpit tub.

The cockpit includes two different seat types--the Lockheed and the Martin-Baker MB-7--and each comprises not one but three parts each for the Lockheed and four for the Martin-Baker! I used the M-B seats in my model, and with some True Details seat belts a very tough-looking seat resulted! Instrument panels and side consoles are fully detailed, and the instrument panel is molded in clear so that a realistic radar PPI can be painted! In addition, the side consoles were molded flat so that the details could be represented properly; the modeler simply tilts the sides of the cockpit so that the panels are canted--very nice. This cockpit can be shown under the clear, distortion-free, canopy, or the canopy can be cemented open.

When I built the landing gear, I learned something. To accomidate the second cockpit, the nose gear well was turned 180 degrees so that the nose strut retracts aft, not forward like the single seaters; however, the nose gear is placed in the same exact location relative to the main gear struts. I had to pick up my completed ERTL F-104G to confirm this, so don't let that throw you.

Landing gear is nicely done, with all the retractor arms being represented on the struts--something not seen on some larger Starfighter kits. Both smooth and bulged-type main gear doors are included. Other goodies include a complete set of clear lights, two styles of main gear tires, wingtip and underwing drop tanks.

OK, so it's a class act in the box. How does it go together? Very nicely! The fuselage is split so that the forward/rear fuselage joint and the intake joints all line up. I was expecting trouble, but all I had to do was a bit of filling at the base of both intakes, and I only did that because I was doing a natural-metal scheme and of course the surfaces had to be perfect. The wing-to-fuselage joint is flawless, and the canopy fits perfectly. This is truly the Hasegawa we know and love!

In my opinion, the Starfighter cried out for a natural metal scheme. The Air Force scheme looks plain but it really came alive after doing the natural metal work. Decals fit well and snuggle nicely with the Microscale system. My only gripe with the decals was the usual one with Hasegawa stickies: the white wasn't opaque enough!

This is absolutely a fabalous model, and I intend to build some single-seaters in due course, as there are no shortage of markings for this airplane. Eighteen bucks may sound like a lot for this little plane, but treat yourself: this is a pretty fair model airplane.

Review by Andrew Abshier (Oklahoma City)

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