|KIT:||Hasegawa 1/48 F-104DJ Starfighter|
|PRICE:||2600 yen at www.hlj.com|
|DECALS:||All Japanese options|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||YAY! A two seat Starfighter at last!|
The Starfighter was designed as a point defense fighter whose main goal was to get off the ground and to the incoming bomber stream as quickly as possible. As a result, the airframe was designed to not only be a small as possible to meet the criteria, but was as aerodynamically clean as could be. Since it would be operating from fixed bases, a very short wing and 'T' tail were part of the design. This meant high take-off and landing speeds along with some of the problems that a 'T' tail brought with it in terms of high speed stalls and flat spins, from which pilots rarely recovered.
Though the USAF flew the early A and C models, it was not widely used and most of its success was with the G model for export sales. These planes were developed and high speed fighter-bombers so had to be able to handle a realistic ordnance load and carry more fuel. The fuel thing was taken care of with fuel tanks on the wing tips and if needed on wing or fuselage pylons. The wing tip tanks were normally always fitted as they actually improved the flying qualities of the plane at lower speeds.
Japan was one of the earlier users of the F-104 most of which were built by Mitsubishi under license. They also purchased 20 two-seaters, all built by Lockheed. These were used as aircraft in which to get some refresher training and as test birds or unit hacks; each Starfighter squadron having at least one. Despite their less than uplifting reputation with the Luftwaffe, the Japanese did not have the problems with multiple crashes that European countries did, despite all concerned transitioning from the much more staid F-86 Sabres. This was mainly because Japanese pilots were using them in air defense and not ground attack so did little low-level flying. Though I'm not 100% sure, the last Starfighter was retired in the late 1980s with units transitioning to the Phantom or the Eagle.
For many, many, many, many, many years (well, a long time), 1/48 jet modelers have been pining for a two seat Starfighter. The urgency increased several years ago when Hasegawa released their superlative 1/48 F-104J kit followed by the C, G, S and multiple reboxings/fresh decals of the same.
But still no two-seater. It is a rather unfortunate fact of model history that twin seat versions (often considered little more than trainers) of various aircraft were thought to have no appeal. Well, I'm not one of those who find twin-stickers to be boring. In most cases, I find them to be better looking airframes than the standard single seat fighter version. While this isn't the case with the F-104 (sorry fans), the two seat version is one that I've built more of than the standard version of the 104 in 1/72 thanks to first Heller and much later Hasegawa.
Now I'll be the first to admit that I've not built ANY 1/48 F-104, confining my Starfighter interests to 1/72. But I have built the smaller Hasegawa kits and the more recent versions have been quite sweet.
Do I need to tell you the panel line/rivet detailing is superb? Nah, you know that. Same with the quality of the molding in terms of no flash, no obvious sink marks and none of those pesky ejector pin marks.
You'll also not be surprised that several of the sprues are common to the single seat versions, but there are new ones. There are new fuselage halves (DOH!, we know that), a new sprue for clear parts (natch, Jackson), and a new one for the various cockpit bits, nose gear well, instrument panels, pylons and the other stuff. The single seat clear sprue is also provided for the windscreen and other common clear bits. I found it interesting that the sides of the front and rear seats are quite different. The rear seat has little 'wings' near the head rest while the front is pretty normal looking. A third set is in there as well, undoubtedly for the G version.
According to the sprue lay-out guide, you'll have quite a few pieces left when done. Apparently the DJ version didn't use wing pylons as these are included, but not shown as part of the build. Only tip tanks, and no 'winder rails. The canopy sections are separate from the rest of the cockpit coverings, but no actuating mechanisms or latches are provided. These swing to the left when open as shown in the pic below.
I'm not conversant enough on Starfighters to know if a TF-104G can be built from this boxing or not. It seems so from the redundant bits, but for sure, it will be a version without the larger wheels and bulged doors as those are not included. I'd bet that a CF-104D could be done though as those are quite similar to the F-104DJ. You seem to get the proper seat sides for it. As they say, 'Check your references'!
This brings us to the decal sheet. This thing is huge and fills the bottom of the box. No need for aftermarket on this one as not only are there ten distinct options (covering every unit in Japan that flew them), but there are also enough 'spares' to make the serial of any F-104DJ that was built. These appear to be the 'new' Hasegawa decals with actual white and proper reds. I just realized that the pic I pulled from the archives is the box art plane and the first F-104DJ built. It was assigned to 207 Squadron and painted in what is listed as Aircraft Grey with white upper wings and unpainted metal in the aft fuselage where it got quite hot. You can see the shades of metal in the image. I should mention that some early Starfighters were in unpainted metal for the fuselages, but I'm not sure if that is true of the DJ's. They all got a coat of paint pretty early in life if that was so and remained in this scheme for their entire career.
I want everyone reading this to go out and buy at least one, and preferably two of these. Based on their other jet kits, this one will be a real beauty. Those who don't like to weather or are lazy can do these as clean as they want as rarely did one see a dirty Starfighter in service. This is pretty well true of all JASDF and JMSDF aircraft.
Tell Hasegawa that two-seaters are cool and perhaps they will finally do a TA-4J. In the meantime, we can be happy about this very nice Starfighter. This one is going straight to the workbench!
My thanks to for the review kit. Get yours direct. Save money, buy lots!!
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