Hasegawa 1/48 CF-104 'Canadian Air Force'

KIT #: 09539
PRICE: $35.00 (approx)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Dan Lee
NOTES: Black Box cockpit set, Belcher Bits armament set and decals.

HISTORY

 

The CF-104 was based on the F-104G strike fighter aka the Deal of the Century to produce a multirole strike/recon fighter for NATO and MAP requirements.  Initially, the CF-104 performed the nuclear strike mission (using US nuclear weaponry) and had an initial paint scheme of bare metal with wings and tail surfaces painted in anti-flash white and did not carry the 20mm M61 Gatling Gun.  However, that mission changed in the early 70s when Canada opted out of the nuclear mission and the CF-104 became a conventional low level strike/recon plane with the M61 added back in.

 

The CF-104 was a controversial plane in the RCAF/CAF, but considering the history of Canadian aviation it seems par for the course.  Many pilots loved to fly it, but thanks to its low level strike/recon mission (which it wasnít really designed for and led to structural failures and crashes caused by said failures) and the hazards of flying in Europe (bad weather etc) it had the reputation of being a widow maker to the dismay of the Canadian public.

 

By the 1970s, it was decided that the CF-104 would be replaced with something more modern and less crash prone.  After a long competition between the F-14 (way too expensive), the F-15 (too expensive), the F-16 (only one engine) and the F/A-18, the F/A-18 Hornet was selected as its replacement.  By 1987, all CAF CF-104s were taken out of service and most of the survivors were sent to Turkey.

 

THE KIT

 

This particular boxing was the limited edition Hasegawa CF-104 kit based on the F-104G kit with special white metal ESM fairings for CF-104.  The parts are typical near flawless Hasegawa grey plastic (almost no flash, detailed parts etc) and include the typical Hasegawa decals.  However, they are a really poor representation of CAF markings (especially what Hasegawa thinks is a Maple Leaf in the middle of the roundels) so I replaced them with those from a Belcherís Bits Decal sheet that can do the markings of most if not all of the CF-104s that ever flew for Canada.

 

I used an old Black Box CF-104/F-104G cockpit set that I picked up from a local hobby shop sale.  The detail is much better than the Hasegawa cockpit, but a bit redundant in my opinion as the Starfighterís cockpit is very cramped.  I think a resin seat is probably the best solution.

 

Belcherís Bits also sells a CF-104 armament set that allows you to arm your CF-104 with anything from cluster bombs, Mk 28 and 42 nukes or carry a recon camera pod.  The set is nicely done, but I had some problems with broken fins and not so perfect fit of the pylons and bomb parts. 

 

CONSTRUCTION

 

The Hasegawa F-104 kits are extremely easy to build.  The most tricky part was getting the Black Box Cockpit to fit.  I had to remove a lot of the interior detail before test fitting to ensure no gaps before gluing in the resin cockpit bits in.

 

CF-104 cockpits were painted using Canadian Mil Spec colors, but I didnít have any exact matches so approximations were used.  I used Aircraft Grey for the interior grey even thought the instructions said Dark Gull Grey and then hand painted the rest of the detail using a 0 fine point brush.

 

Aside from the centerline seams there wasnít much sanding/filling required to assemble the fuselage as the wings, tailplane and fuel tanks were filled and sanded then glued in place.

 

I was tempted to detail the landing gear bays, but I discovered that the rear doors are not open except during maintenance so I left them alone.  Despite the fact that the airbrake doors were usually closed on the ground, I left them open because it took more work to close them.

 

The Belcherís BIts set also includes a resin version of the ESM fairings so I had the choice between the Hasegawa white metal ones or the resin one.  The resin one had better detail and I used that one instead.  A dab of CA glue was used to stick it on the model.

 

Lastly, I originally wanted to do a strike version of the CF-104 with cluster bombs, but I had problems with the placement of the pylons so I scrapped that idea.  I wasnít crazy about having a very clean plane so I glued the resin strike camera pod on.

 

COLORS & MARKINGS

 

I was tempted to do the late grey/green camo that was on the CF-104 at the end of its service with the CAF, but I decided to do the all green version from 441 squadron (Silver Foxes) because it had more interesting markings such as the checkered squadron tail flash which were eliminated in the CF-104 grey/green camo schemes.

 

The landing gear, interior of the landing gear wells and pitot tube were sprayed with AS-12 Bare Metal Aluminum and them the landing gear wells were masked off.

 

I preshaded the model with flat black and then sprayed on two (or more) thin coats of H80 Khaki Green which was the closest I had to the color.  I tried to make the variation in color very subtle but noticeable.  I masked off the nose and the area behind the cockpit and painted them Flat Black and Radome Tan respectively.

 

There was some confusion as to what color the strike camera recon pod was, but after some help from CAF types I went with the H80 Khaki Green although I could have used silver as the pod colors werenít consistent with the airframe colors. 

 

I sprayed on a light coat of Gunze Gloss as the preparatory base for the decals.  The Belcherís Bits decals were excellent to use including the 441 Squadron checkered tail flash.  I had no problems with them at all as they snuggled down with Microl Sol and Set, even over the many many many surface dimples, er, rivets.  I did use the Hasegawa stencils and had no troubles that I recall with them.

 

I didnít weather it as all the photos I had of the CF-104 with this particular scheme were very well maintained.  Once everything was dry, I sprayed on a semi gloss final coat and I was done the CF-104.

 

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

 

The pitot tube, landing gear and bay doors was installed while the various clear bits were added using white glue and painted using the 0 fine point brush.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

I donít build a lot of my home and native landís aircraft so this one is kind of special for me.  I do like the missile with a man in it look of CF-104 even though it had a record that was checkered to say the least and did poorly at what it was originally designed for (air to air combat.)

 

There isnít much that I can add about the amazing Hasegawa F-104 kits except they are quite simple/fun to build (and yes, Iím not crazy about the number of rivets on it.)  A modeler of any skill can pick one up and build one without too many issues.

Dan Lee

July 2010

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