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F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'

Hasegawa 1/32 F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2013 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War' Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08234 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $74.95

First Look

F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'
F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'
F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'
F-104C Starfighter 'Vietnam War'

The Lockheed F-104A was the world's first Mach 2 interceptor which entered operational service in 1958. While fast and able to climb like a homesick angel, the F-104A was found to have inadequate armament and range to be an effective air defense asset, but was kept online long enough for the Convair F-106 to enter service.

As with many fighter/interceptor designs that become obsolete, subsequent models become fighter-bombers and such was the case with the F-104C. In the early days of Vietnam, the front-line fighter of the day, the F-100 Super Sabre, was unable to intercept enemy aircraft in anything but clear air. The F-104C was brought into theater to protect US airbases from counter-strikes by the North Vietnamese Air Force and one essential modification was the addition of an air-refueling probe.

Hasegawa has reissued their venerable 1/32 F-104C kit, this time in a Vietnam Air War configuration. In this release, we have the standard F-104C release molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The standard kit also provides a pre-formed steel spring core for the main landing gear struts to maintain strength and their wide stance. What is new in this kit is a white metal air refueling probe to correctly configure this aircraft for its Southeast Asia deployment in 1967-68.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Raised surface panel lines
  • Nice cockpit (needs seat belts/shoulder harness)
  • Nicely molded instrument panel though needs instrument faces (not provided)
  • Positionable canopy
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Detailed landing gear
  • Detailed wheel wells
  • Decent J79 engine which can be removed
  • Removable tail section (to access and remove engine)
  • Nicely detailed radar set
  • Removable radome
  • Positionable stabilator
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Decent gun bay with positionable access door
  • M61 Vulcan cannon in gun bay

External stores and options:

  • Air refueling probe
  • 2 x tip tanks
  • Under-fuselage AIM-9 missile rails
  • 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinder

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • F-104C, 57-0928, 479 TFW, Udorn RTAFB, 1968
  • F-104C, 57-0925, 479 TFW, Udorn RTAFB, 1968, 'Smoke II'

The decal sheet provides a nice set of airframe stenciling and refueling caps for the kit in addition to the distinctive markings.

This kit has been around for many years and has remained arguably the best F-104 in 1/32 scale even though Revell produced their own F-104 in 1/32 scale. Hasegawa has released this kit in the F-104C as well as the F-104G/J/S using the revised tail sprue. This kit will remain the only option for a US F-104A/C for a while, though Italeri is due to release the first new-tool F-104 in 1/32 scale with options for the F-104G and F-104S (which means you can easily derive an F-104J as well).

Despite its age, this kit is still an easy build and would not take much preparation to render a nice bare metal Starfighter (though you'll have to create your own markings).

My sincere thanks to Hasegawa USA for this review sample!