Kinetic 1/48 F-104A/C Starfighter

KIT #: K48096
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2021 release


Designed as the smallest airframe that would around a J-79 turbojet and meet the requirements of a supersonic point defense interceptor, the F-104 met all the requirements of the USAF. At first view, many thought that the plane would be unable to fly properly, but that was not the case. It just took skill to get the best out of it. The 104 broke many speed and time to climb records and was the interceptor the USAF had wanted. However, issues with the then new J-79 engine and its short range meant that its time in the USAF was limited.

The F-104A was supplied to Pakistan, Jordan and the Republic of China when retired from the USAF. The C model had an upgraded radar and engine to help perform the fighter-bomber role. The later GS model was a big export success operating with numerous nations until the last ones were retired in the early 2000s.


This is the latest F-104 variant to be kitted by Kinetic, having done the G and J versions previously. Not surprising is that some sprues are the same as those earlier kits. However, there is a sprue that is unique to this variant. 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.

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 make a choice of whether to open the holes for the refueling probe.

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. Note that there are different lower fuselage sections depending on the A or C model and if using the fuselage missile pylons, there are holes to open.

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. If not installing the tip tanks, there is a photo etch piece to insert in the tip of the wing. 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 wing tip tanks, wing tanks and pylons as well as the fuselage missile rack and missiles.

Instructions are in a very nice booklet form with color references offered in the MiG line of paints. There is a conversion chart with FS 595 and generic color names. Four options are provided. Two are in SEA camouflage and that is an aircraft with the 434 TFS in Vietnam and the 198 TFS, Puerto Rico ANG. Both of these options are F-104Cs. Two unpainted metal options are included, both being the red-trimmed 434 TFS/479th TFW based at George AFB in the late 1950s. One of these is an F-104A. Note that the wings are white on the upper surface and not on the underside. The decal sheet is nicely printed by Cartograf and has a glaring error on the US insignia as the star is not centered. You need to visit your spares for replacements. 


The kit looks superb in the box and judging from those who have built the other variants makes into a superb model when done. I have already started on this one and am anxious to see how it builds. 

October 2021

Copyright All rights reserved. No reproduction without express permission.

Thanks to Kinetic Models North America and Glen Coleman for the preview kit. This kit should now be available at your local retailer.

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