Kinetic 1/48 F/TF-104G Luftwaffe Starfighter

KIT #: K48089
PRICE: $30.00 'used'
DECALS: Two camo options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 release


In response to a 1957 German Air Staff Paper asking for a single aircraft to fulfill its fighter, fighter-bomber, and reconnaissance mission requirements, Lockheed redesigned the entire airframe, including 96 new forgings, additional skin panels, and reinforced landing gear with larger tires and improved brakes. The proposed F-104G (for Germany) "Super Starfighter" featured a more powerful J79-11A engine, a larger tail with powered rudder (the same used on the two-seat F-104B and D), improved blown flaps with a mode for improved maneuverability, electric de-icing equipment for the air intake inlets, and a larger drag chute. Avionics were improved as well, primarily with the Autonetics F15A NASARR (North American Search and Range Radar) multi-mode radar and the LN-3 inertial navigation system by Litton Industries, the first such system to be placed into operational service. Altogether, these changes increased the amount of external weapons that could be carried to 3,000 lb (1,400 kg), and also allowed the aircraft to fulfill the NATO requirement of carrying a 2,000 lb (910 kg) "special store" (nuclear weapon) under the fuselage.

Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy selected the F-104 soon after as well, and the four European nations set up four production groups to jointly manufacture the F-104G under license. Arbeitsgemeinschaft (ARGE) South consisted of Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Dornier, and Siebel; ARGE North comprised Hamburger Flugzeugbau, Focke-Wulf, and Weserflug in Germany, as well as Fokker and Aviolanda in the Netherlands; the West Group was made of SABCA and Avions Fairey in Belgium; and the Italian Group was formed of Fiat, Macchi, Piaggio, SACA, and SIAI-Marchetti. The four groups were contracted to manufacture 210, 350, 189, and 200 F-104G aircraft, respectively. In addition, 1,225 J79 turbojets were also produced under license by BMW in Germany, Fabrique Nationale in Belgium, and Alfa Romeo in Italy. Canada, who had also chosen the Starfighter to fulfill its NATO obligations, delivered 121 sets of wings, aft fuselages, and tail assemblies built by Canadair to Europe while it constructed 200 CF-104s with Orenda-built engines for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Later the two would also build an additional 110 MAP-funded F-104Gs destined for Europe. Lockheed for its part built 191 two-seat trainers for both Europe and Canada, as well as supplying spares and technical support.

In all, 2,578 F-104s were produced by Lockheed and under license by various foreign manufacturers. Though out of service for many years, several are still flying with civil registration.


Kinetic has done the full range of F-104s and they have been well received. This is listed as a '2 in 1' kit and allows you to do either a single seat F-104G or a two seat TF-104G. I very much like that Kinetic offered a full fuselage half instead of splitting the fuselage to enable all the variants to be done with a basic forward section and separate tail sections. In fact, you get a separate sprue with the two seat fuselage and bits in the box, which makes the box quite full.

Detailing of the kit is first rate with fine engravings and some recessed rivet detailing. The cockpit is very nicely done with a multi-piece bang seat and p.e. harness. Unlike several model companies, Kinetic does not offer a decal for the instrument panels so those areas will need to be painted. Once the cockpit is built, construction turns to the exhaust, nose gear well, main gear well, and nose cone. Again, the wells are nicely detailed and perfect for those who like to pick out details. Before installing these items in the fuselage, one has to open the holes for the missile rails.

Then the rest of the fuselage is built up which includes the cockpit anti-glare panel, the lower fuselage sections, the horizontal stab, and the engine intakes.

The next construction steps cover the assembly and installation of the landing gear and doors. The main gear are fairly complex and unlike many 104 kits, each side of the main gear is a separate construct. At the rear, there is a ventral fin, tail hook, and speed brakes to install. The latter can be open or closed.

Wings have separate flaps, slats, and ailerons. You can pose the flaps lowered if you wish. Holes will need to be opened for the wing pylons. The canopy and the section behind it can be posed open if you so wish and it was not unusual to see this aft bit open during pre- and post-flight operations. The final bits are drop tanks, wing tip tanks, and pylons as well as the fuselage missile rack and missiles.

Instructions are well done and provide colors using MiG paints. FS 595 and generic names are also given. The instructions are divided into two sections. One is for the single seat plane and the other is for the two seat version. I like this as it keeps things simply. Markings are for two camouflage schemes, the splinter version, which has a da-glo section on the wing tip tanks and the later wraparound scheme worn at the type's retirement. Unit markings are for JBG 31 and JBG 33. You are also provided with a variety of code numbers so you can do any aircraft from the two units as long as you have a photo of it. If you want some other Luftwaffe unit, there are aftermarket decal sheets to provide that. Decals are nicely done and work well as I discovered with my F-104A build. If I had a complaint with the instructions it is that the printing on the late scheme is so dark that you cannot differentiate between the dark green and the NATO black. This will require some other source to see the demarcation lines between these shades.


This will make into a very nice kit. It has a good amount of detail and as such will require some careful building as some of the bits are quite small. I would have liked for the kit to include instrument decals and for the camo printing to be clearer. This kit by no means makes the Hasegawa offering obsolete, it just ups the ante on detail.


April 2024

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