Revell 1/144 F-104G Starfighter Kit First Look
By John Doerr
|Date of Review||August 2008||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Kit Number||4060||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit||Cons|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$7.95|
The F-104 was debuted as the “missile with a man in it”. That is not a pleasant title at a time when missiles were displaying a nasty habit of self-destruction during testing. In limited service in the USAF, the F-104 was believed to have the worst safety record of any of the Century series. Later studies found that this was not so and the F-100 actually had a worse record. It is no small wonder that it became the most widely built and used of the series.
With interest in the USAF fading, Lockheed set about marketing the design to NATO members. The continental members of NATO were flying a mix of F-84s, F-86s, G-91s and Hunters. The F-104 would give them a quantum leap forward. Lockheed had redesigned and improved the aircraft with G model. Lockheed was smart enough to realize that just marketing the aircraft would not be enough, so they marketed license production. The European aircraft industry had fallen far behind the US and the Soviet Union. This would enable the European manufacturers to jump-start their production at a current top end level. The marketing plan worked and the F-104 went on to equip virtually all of the continental NATO air forces.
In Luftwaffe service the 104 quickly became a scandal because of the abysmal safety record, with crashes being extremely common, too common. A study revealed that most of the crashes involved a very fast and unforgiving aircraft running into various solid objects, usually the ground. The study also revealed that a combination of relatively inexperienced pilots, flying a high performance aircraft in poor flying weather contributed to the crashes. The Luftwaffe instituted a major flight training program at Luke Air Farce base in Arizona. The abundance of good flying weather enabled the Luftwaffe pilots to quickly master the airplanes and the incidence of crashes dropped off sharply. The F-104G in NATO then established a safety record equal to the other aircraft in service.
The kit contains a surprising amount of parts for this scale. Molded in dark olive plastic, the kit features petite, very shallow and delicate recessed details. The cockpit contains four pieces, a tub, a very nice Martin-Baker GQ-7 seat, instrument panel and stick. The instrument panel is the correct shape but not an accurate portrayal of the instruments. At this scale, the instruments would be too small to discern so Revell has chosen to add some larger gauges that will be visible and busy should you choose to paint them. The nose gear/wheel is a single piece, and the main gear is a single piece designed to mount into the aft part of the bay a la Monogram and Hasegawa.
The wings are a single piece for each side and mount to the fuselage sides. The fuselage is made up of 11 separate pieces, a nose cone and exhaust, two forward fuselage halves, two main fuselage halves, the right and left intakes, and a separate main gear bay, and finally two tail cone and rudder halves. The breakdown of the parts is such that we can expect a C and a D in the near future. One tree includes both forward fuselage halves and the cockpit tub. A second contains the Martin-Baker seat, the larger tires, bulged main wheel doors and the tail cone with the enlarged rudder. By substituting these two small trees any version can be made. The two seat TF-104G has already been released. The kit also includes the wing pylons and the under wing tanks, a ubiquitous feature of the G models, but one I have only found in the 1/72 scale Hasegawa and Academy kits. The canopy is very well shaped, thin and clear.
The kit comes with a set for two Luftwaffe aircraft. The decals are for 20+ 36 of Jabo 34 and 26+53 of WTB 61, both in the three-green wraparound Norm 83 scheme. The decal sheet is extensive for a kit in this scale and includes the full stencils. The stencils are added to the forward fuselage markings and the wing markings to make application much easier. Also included are the upper and ventral radome tan antenna panels, the anti-glare panel, and the instrument panel, for those who do not wish to mask and paint.
The instructions are the standard Revell multipage international style booklet. They include a location drawing of all four sprues. There are 18 well-drawn simplified steps. The color callouts by letters are referenced to the Revell brand paints by their name, without FS numbers or standard color names. However, in the four view profiles at the end of the instructions the Norm 83 colors are given the appropriate RAL or FS numbers, in addition to the letter coding.
This seems to be one of the nicest kits of the F-104 regardless of scale, and they seem to have done everything right with kit. I would highly recommend this kit for anyone working in this scale.