Eduard 1/48 F-104G NATO Fighter Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|F-104G NATO Fighter
|Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
|Eduard-enhanced release of Hasegawa F-104G kit
Less than five years after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, Clarence 'Kelly' Johnson was looking at the first combat experience between jet fighters over the skies of Korea and understood the need for an aircraft that could reach high altitude and affect a high-speed intercept to achieve and maintain air superiority. His revolutionary Model 83 was designed to meet that need and was submitted to the USAF as an unsolicited proposal.
The Air Force agreed with the need, but decided to seek other ideas from industry. Designs were submitted by Republic and North American, but a cautious Air Force staff opted for the Lockheed design. The F-104 was born. Two XF-104s were delivered less than two years later, but the first production F-104As would not enter service until early 1958. The F-104 was the first operational aircraft to fly above Mach 2 (twice the speed of sound). Its small airframe enclosed a powerful afterburning J79 engine which could take the F-104 from the ground to 80,000 feet in less than five minutes.
The F-104G was produced as a multi-role fighter for operations in Belgium, Germany, Holland, and Italy, with each of these countries producing a combined total of over 1000 airframes. Many of these would eventually find their way into other air forces. The F-104G is similar in appearance to the USAF F-104C except for the wider chord vertical stabilizer.
Hasegawa's 1/48 F-104 Starfighter kits are certainly the best of the subject in this scale and were probably the best kits of this subject in any other scale until Italeri released their 1/32 scale kits. While some will point out some bugs in those kits, Eduard has offered fixes/enhancements for both (F-104C and F-104G/S) kits. While Eduard was busy researching and producing the nice range of photo-etch and Brassin sets for those kits, they also arranged to release Hasegawa's 1/48 F-104G kit in their limited edition series. That release - Bundesfighter - was a big hit on the market, especially given this is one kit that Hasegawa hasn't reissued in some time. That release focused on the F-104G in Luftwaffe and Navy service as well as an example of an F-104G in US markings as it appeared at Luke AFB at the German F-104 flight school. Building on that success, Eduard followed up with this second release 'NATO Fighter' which covers other NATO operators of the Starfighter.
This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on ten parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. What makes this kit different than the standard Hasegawa release is the inclusion of a set of color-printed photo-etched parts and two Brassin (resin) ejection seats. The kit has a nice set of colorful decal options, one set of airframe stencils, and a set of Eduard Kabuki-tape paint masks. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Choice of color photo-etch or decal instrument panel and side consoles in cockpit
- Choice of Lockheed or Martin Baker resin ejection seats
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable stabilator
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable speed brakes
- Choice of short (early) or long (late) J79 afterburner nozzles
- Choice of flat or bulged main gear doors
External stores options:
- Wingtip fuel tanks
- Centerline pylon
This release provides markings for five subject options:
- F-104G, 12625/FN-K, 331 Sqn, Bodo AB, Royal Norwegian AF, late 1960s
- F-104G, 7037/9-037, 192 Filo, Balikesir AB, Turkish Air Force, 1991
- F-104G, D-8331, 312 Sqn, Twente Enschede Airport, Royal Netherlands AF, 1979
- CF-104, 899, 430 Sqn, Royal Canadian Air Force, Twente Enschede Airport, 1976
- F-104G, FX39, 350 Sqn/1 Wing, Belgian AF
This release from Eduard, like the Bundesfighter kit previous to this, takes the Hasegawa kit to a better level of detail than the stock Hasegawa kit. Eduard has also provided optional Brassin sets for this kit including:
- F-104 early (short) exhaust nozzle set
- F-104 late (long) exhaust nozzle set
- F-104 late undercarriage wheels
Now if you're really wanting to take the Hasegawa to the ultimate AMS level of detail, you might remember last year when DACO released the 1/48 F-104 'Improvement and Completion Set'. When you open that box, you wonder if there isn't a complete Starfighter in that box. Even though there are over 500 parts in that box, there isn't a complete Starfighter kit in there but it does provide an extensive array of parts to correct and complete the Hasegawa kit. You can click the link above to see the items included in the set but needless to say, the DACO set provides additional details not addressed by Eduard as well as the most extensive set of F-104 pylons and external stores available in less than 1:1 scale.
This Eduard release provides some colorful NATO examples of the F-104G which, combined with the Eduard parts in the box, makes this version of the Hasegawa kit worth finding. With all of the great aftermarket detail options also on the market including the items mentioned above, you can build the ultimate Starfighter in 1/48 scale. Either way, it is really nice to see this kit back on the market.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!