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F-104G Starfighter Kit

Kinetic 1/48 F-104G Starfighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2019 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject F-104G Starfighter Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48083 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice kit and decals Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $39.99

First Look

F-104G Starfighter Kit
F-104G Starfighter Kit
F-104G Starfighter Kit
F-104G Starfighter 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 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. Like the USAF F-104C, the F-104G was limited in its intercept capabilities because while it had a good radar, it lacked radar-guided missiles that could affect an intercept in all weather conditions (the AIM-9 Sidewinder is ineffective in clouds).

Kinetic Models has come a long way since its first release in 2007, and one of those indicators is with the surface of the model itself. That first release was an F-86F-30, which is normally bare metal, but the surface of the kit's plastic was textured (typical of new company early releases and limited production kits) which made the application of a bare metal finish somewhat challenging. Here we are eight years later and we have another candidate for bare metal, and this kit has the surface for that paint. This is Kinetic's new-tool 1/48 F-104G Starfighter (they've also released an F-104J for the Japanese market) and in addition to its smooth skin, it also shows off more advanced molding and engineering than that first offering. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched details. The features of this kit make this F-104G representative of the aircraft later in its operational service. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed Martin-Baker ejection seat with photo-etched pilot restraints
  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable radome
  • Detailed radar set for display with open radome
  • Detailed afterburner section and J79 nozzle
  • Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
  • Positionable avionics bay door w/detailed avionics bay
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable stabilator
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable leading edge flaps
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable main landing gear doors

External stores options include:

  • 2 x AIM-9B Sidewinder
  • Dual rail Aero-3B missile rack for under fuselage
  • 2 x wingtip tanks
  • 2 x underwing tanks

The kit includes one sheet of decals which provide the following options:

  • F-104G, 22+39, 7117, JaboG 34, Memmingen AB, 1984-87, Scheme 2
  • F-104G, 22+91, 7174, JaboG 34, Memmingen AB, 1984-97, Scheme 2
  • F-104G, 21+64, 7033, JaboG 34, Memmingen AB, 1984-87, Scheme 1
  • F-104G, 25+23, 8298, JaboG 34, Memmingen AB, 1984-87, Scheme 1
  • F-104G, 26+60, MFG 2, Eggebek AB, 1985

The decals provide a nice set of airframe stencils which are printed by Cartograf.

A few notes worth considering:

  • The instructions provide color information using Mig equivalents (again) though a cross-reference table is provided
  • The color profiles are printed in black and white, and especially scheme #2, three of the four colors all look black, so good luck sorting out colors unless you have other references. Please print color profiles in color!
  • The instructions note that you should not use the photo-etched wingtip parts if you're installing wingtip missile rails or tanks. There are no instructions for installing wingtip missile rails in this release
  • You'll need to go to the aftermarket for other armaments carried by German Starfighters beyond the AIM-9B

Kinetic has really come a long way since its first release and this kit is easily the best Starfighter kit in this scale. The only real alternatives are the Hasegawa kit which has also been released in Eduard boxing, and the Monogram kit. While the Monogram kit is nice, it is dated, and while the Hasegawa kit looks like a Starfighter, take a look at the correction kit produced by Daco which contains a ton of plastic on its own to get the Hasegawa kit up to par. I'm looking forward to putting this kit through its paces and perhaps go with a bare metal scheme. While the three schemes in the box are all camouflaged, the Luftwaffe did operate bare metal F-104Gs in the United States with U.S.A.F. markings and one of these starred in the movie 'The Right Stuff' as Yeager was depicted flying the NF-104 using the F-104G as a surrogate.

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!

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