Hasegawa 1/48 TF-104G Starfighter Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2006||Manufacturer||Hasegawa|
|Kit Number||07240/PT40||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$29.95|
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 and its two-seat trainer variant, TF-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 find their way into other Air Forces including Greece.
There was no doubt in my mind that Hasegawa's 1/48 F-104 series was going to be impressive. In fact, before this kit was released, it was the Hasegawa 1/32 F-104 series that was the best F-104 in any scale. This kit is NOT a scaled down version of that 1/32 scale kit. This is all new design work with scribed detailing and lots of detail that I wish they'd scale up into a new 1/32 version.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene, and is impressive with its sharply-scribed detailing. It is presented on eleven parts trees, plus two trees of clear parts. A number of the trees are common to the other 1/48 Starfighter releases, but the fuselage halves, the tree containing the dual cockpit, and one of the clear trees are all different tooling from the previous single-seat releases.
The details start in the cockpit with each ejection seat being comprised of nine parts. No seatbelts or harnesses are molded in place, so you'll need to obtain some photo-etch to address these issues. Decals are provided for the side consoles and instrument panels.
The afterburner chamber is the nicest I've seen from Hasegawa, with the business end of the J79 protruding into the chamber and a finely molded flameholder/spray ring placed at a scale distance from the turbine face.
The cockpit, main wheel wells, and afterburner section are mounted into the fuselage halves before gluing the fuselage together. The new lengthened nose underside with the nose wheel well mounts underneath the nose along with a blanking plate.
The tiny wings feature positionable leading edge and trailing edge flaps, as well as positionable ailerons. In addition, the rudder, stabiliator, and speed brakes are also positionable.
As this is a trainer variant, the kit only provides the tip tanks and empty underwing pylons.
The markings included in this kit are for :
- TF-104G, 27+73, JBG 31, Luftwaffe
- TF-104G, 4-36, 4th Stormo/20th Gruppo, Italian AF
- TF-104G, 4-44, 4th Stormo/20th Gruppo, Italian AF
I am really glad to see the two-seat F-104G available as there are LOTS of colorful schemes to be had. I am hoping to see the Lockheed demonstrator "World Starfighter" appear in the aftermarket world, but I am happy that Superscale has released a set for the Bicentennial TF-104G that was assigned to Luke AFB in 1976. You can see a photo of the aircraft here.
My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!