Kinetic 1/48 TF-104G/F-104G Starfighter Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||September 2020||Manufacturer||Kinetic|
|Kit Number||48089||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit and decals||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$39.99|
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).
About a year ago, Kinetic Models first released their 1/48 F-104G kit in their Gold Series and here is their latest, the TF-104G/F-104G 2 in 1. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched details. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Choice of single-seat and two-seat variants
- Nicely detailed Martin-Baker ejection seat(s) with photo-etched pilot restraints
- Nicely detailed cockpit(s)
- Positionable canopy(s)
- 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, 26+52, JaboG 33
- TF-104G, 27+77, JaboG 33
- F-104G, 23+40, JaboG 31
- F-104G, 24+74, JaboG 31
- F-104G, 35+33, JaboG 31
- F-104G, 21+99, JaboG 31
- TF-104G, 27+72, JaboG 33
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, so good luck sorting out colors unless you have other references. Please print color profiles in color!
- You'll need to go to the aftermarket for other armaments carried by German Starfighters beyond the AIM-9B
- Though the instructions only mention the Martin Baker seats for this variant, the kit also includes the Lockheed C2 seats and photo-etched restraints are included as well. You can build the F-104G or TF-104G flown by any user around the world with the contents of this kit.
- Because the ejection seat is provided on the tree that contains the AIM-9Bs and the external tanks, this kit has two of these trees to provide two seats for the TF-104G, so you'll have some spares for your parts box.
Kinetic has really come a long way since their first release and this kit is easily the best Starfighter kit in any scale. The retail price remains the same as last year's single-seat release, $39 USD (plus shipping) if purchased from Lucky Model.
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!
Here is a list of paints Kinetic identifies for the colors of this kit and the equivalent colors from other brands: