AMT/ESCI 1/72 F-104C/G

Kit Number: 8759

Price: $7.50

Decals : Three great schemes:  Last flight of WTD61, Luftwaffe; Red Indian 421sq, CAF; C model Orange drone; USAF

Overall: see review

Comments:  ESCI builds aircraft that fit into two basic categories; great and problematic.  AMT has wisely chosen a great kit in the F-104.  I have built several F-104s in 1/72; from Hasegawa's early kit, to Revell's even earlier kit, as well as several Heller 104s (mainly because they can be built as two seaters).  Without a doubt, the ESCI is the best of the bunch.  Now I have not built Hasegawa's latest reincarnation so I do not know how that one goes together, but I can imagine it is superb.

For the money, you get a large box that holds a rather small kit.  After all, the 104 is not a huge aircraft.  You get a choice of tails for the C or G model as well as two types of acceptable ejection seat for the two versions.  The molds are still crisp and easily built.  The biggest trouble area is when the tail section is joined to the forward section.  One must be very careful that they are both sufficiently round or you'll have a real putty job ahead of you.  Fortunately (and unlike Heller) there is a nice strong bulkhead at the join to make thing easy.

This kit included a choice of wing tip and underwing tanks as well as missile rails and a few bits for the Italian S version that is not decaled, but could be built.  I chose the Final F-104 Flight scheme from WTD 61.  It is basically overall white so makes for easy painting, but make sure that all the holes underwing for the drop tanks are filled prior to painting.  The only other color not supplied on the decal sheet goes on the upper wing.  This must be painted and is a sunburst of the German flag of (from the inside) yellow, red and black.  Once the wings are painted and masked, it is time for the decal sheet.  AMT wisely chose to have Scalemaster produce this sheet and it is a joy.  All the blue markings for the fuselage and fin are supplied and, although it takes a while, fit well, react predictably to setting solution, and really look superb.

This truly great kit is well worth seeking.  Its availability at this time from AMT is in doubt, but if you can find one and you like 104s, pick up a few as this kit is highly recommended.

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