Hasegawa 1/72 F-104G 'World Starfighter'

KIT #: 02877
PRICE: 1200 yen when new
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1995 limited edition


The F-104G was the main production version of the Starfighter with 1,122 aircraft produced as multi-role fighter-bombers. Manufactured by Lockheed, and under license by Canadair and a consortium of European companies which included Messerschmitt/MBB, Dornier, Fiat, Fokker, and SABCA. The type featured strengthened fuselage and wing structure, increased internal fuel capacity, an enlarged vertical fin, strengthened landing gear with larger tires, and revised flaps for improved combat maneuvering. Upgraded avionics included a new Autonetics NASARR F15A-41B radar with air-to-air and ground mapping modes, the Litton LN-3 Inertial Navigation System (the first on a production fighter), and an infrared sight.

The selection of the F-104G as NATO's main fighter bomber was rocked by scandal when it was discovered that Lockheed (not for the first and not for the last time) had bribed political and military leaders to win the contract. So 'hot' an aircraft was the 104 that WWII ace Eric Hartmann was forced to retire from the Bundeswaffe after his strong and vocal opposition to the aircraft, which had a very poor initial safety record with the German Air Force. It eventually went on to have a good safety record. The last military Starfighters were retired from the Italian Air Force in 2004. Some are still being operated by civilians.

 Despite owning a number of these kits, this is only the second I've ever built. The kit is typical of Hasegawa kits from the 1990s until today. Finely engraved detail, a somewhat bare cockpit that uses decals and raised detail, and two seats. One is the type used by Canadian and Japanese Starfighters so is not used in this boxing. An interesting feature of the cockpit tub is that it has to be 'bent' along some scored lines to be the proper width.

The nose section is separate from the rest of the airframe to accommodate the two seat boxings. The nose gear well attaches to the bottom of the cockpit assembly and intakes have no trunking, but are deep enough to make that almost a moot point. The rear fuselage section has a tailpipe assembly with the final compressor stage on one end and the burner can on the other. Note that throughout the build, the instructions will have you drill holes or remove detail as required.

There is a main gear well piece that slides into the aft fuselage section just prior to installation of the nose section. The instructions show the gear legs in place, but it may be that you can attach these later so test fit it. The forward main gear doors are almost completely closed, but again, should not be attached until after the main gear due to the retraction struts.

Wings and tailplanes are a single casting with holes already in the lower wings for the wing pylons. Missile and centerline tank pylon holes need to be opened up early in the construction. The kit does not include separate speed brakes, but really, these were frequently closed on the ground anyway. One has minimal options for things under wings. There are the tip tanks which were carried by pretty much all 104s and a pair of similar tands for the lower wing. No centerline equipment nor missiles. Clear bits consist of a windscreen, canopy and rear section. The canopy can be posed open, but there really is not much to see in the cockpit unless you go with aftermarket.

The kit provides six markings options. Four of them are German planes from the standard boxing that include aircraft from JBG 31, JBG 34, MFG1 and MFG 2. All the various schemes are included and Gunze paint references are provided. Two scheme are additional for this boxing and that includes a bare metal Spanish plane and an overall grey one from Taiwan. Decals are nicely printed and a bit thick, but even after 20 years, should be viable.


First step was to assemble the fuel tanks. This kit had a bit more flash on it than I'd have thought, so more parts cleanup was needed. I then painted all the interior bits with dark gull grey. I used the decals to cover the instrument panel and consoles. These are a bit oversize, but when dry (after a dab of Mr. Mark Softer), look very nice. The control stick was added as was the rear bulkhead and the nose gear well. This was then installed in one fuselage half. The fit is excellent. The other half was glued on after opening the holes for the missile rails. Fit is fairly good. One has to have a photo of the plane being modeled as the molded on antennas are different. For mine, I ended up sanding off all but one.

Next step was building up the aft fuselage section. This needs to trap the exhaust section. After painting the inside of this assembly with Alclad II's jet exhaust, I glued this into the fuselage. There are guides on the back of the mounting plate that show how this fits. The burner can was simply pushed in place to keep the exhaust aligned. There is a forward bulkhead that not only adds stiffness, but is also the back of the gear well. The gear wheel roof was glued in as well. Once all that was dry, I removed the burner can and sanded things down.

It was then time to join the front and rear fuselage pieces. The truth raised its ugly head and I had to install the landing gear and the center gear brace. I glued those in and then attached the front fuselage. Before the glue dried, I glued on the intake pieces. Having all this sort of fluid allowed me to get things as well aligned as I could. I still needed a little filler, but that is me. Once that was done, I attached the wings. Prior to that I filled in the holes on the underside of the wing as my Starfighter wasn't going to be carrying under wing fuel tanks.

With that done, the tailplane was glued in place. I next tackled the main landing gear. This had to be installed or the fore and aft brace would not be able to be painted. I prepainted all these piece with Alclad II aluminum, hitting the front gear well while I was at it along with the inside of the gear door pieces. The main gear have brake lines that fit on them. These are prone to breaking when removing them from the sprue. It is a good idea to attach the forward braces once the airframe has been painted. The wells were filled with Silly Putty and the main gear legs masked.

Moving to the cockpit, I masked the clear bits and glued them in place after painting and installing the seat. This was followed by the fuel tanks. I also glued on the missile rails. 


Since all the aftermarket decals I have for the 1/72 F-104G are Dutch or Canadian, I decided to use one of the kit options, which is for the RoCAF. This is for a plane late in service with the small roundels. I first painted the nose cone FS 36092, then masked the anti-glare panel and painted it black. It could also be painted dark olive drab. This was then masked off. The intakes were painted black and masked as well.

For the rest of the airframe, I went with Hasegawa's recommendation and used FS 36495. This is really light and perhaps one would want to add a touch of blue to it, which is what I'll do if I even do this scheme again. I gave the airframe a coat of gloss acrylic clear. When dry, I masked off around an upper spine antenna area, one on the underside, and the tip of the wing tanks. The upper spine got a light coat of a brown, the underside was painted deck tan and the tank tips with aluminum. When I took the masking from the nose, I was surprised to see that the radome grey and the overall color were almost identical.

I installed the nose gear, the struts for the main gear and the various gear doors. These are all a bit of a fussy attachment as they are, for the most part, butt joins. There are two struts on the main gear doors that attach to the landing gear themselves, but not all that well. I then started applying kit decals. There are quite a few stencils and on a scheme like this, it helps break up the solid color. I had some problems with silvering even though I used Mr. Mark Softer on all the decals. I also had a couple of them crack and one of them, an underwing roundel, shattered.

With the markings in place, a coat of semi-matt was sprayed on and the final bits attached. These consisted of an antenna or two, the nose probe, wheels, and the tail hook. I also glued on the burner can, removed the masking from the clear bits and attempted to install some of the tiny lenses over the fuselage lights. I got one in place and promptly lost the next one so gave that up as a bad idea. The kit did not come with missiles so I grabbed some that looked about right out of one of Hasegawa's weapons sets and for the finishing touch, installed the nose pitot.

Overall, the model turned out well. It is a bit fiddly in places, but otherwise pretty straight-forward with no real surprises. It is probably the best kit of the type in this scale, but I have to say that the ESCI kit (reissued by Italeri and AMT), is an easier build and looks just as nice when done. Regardless, this kit can be found for a reasonable price and is well worth picking up.


23 September 2016


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