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F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit

Kinetic 1/48 F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2020 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48092 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice kit and decals Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $39.99

First Look

F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit
F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit
F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit
F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit
F-104J/F-104DJ Starfighter Kit
F-104J/F-104DJ 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-104J and its two-seat trainer variant, F-104DJ, was produced as a dedicated interceptor for the JASDF. The aircraft could be armed with up to four AIM-9 Sidewinders but did not have a strike capability. The majority of these were produced in Japan by Mitsubishi, and after the type was retired from JASDF service, some were transfered to Taiwan.

About a year ago, Kinetic Models first released their 1/48 F-104G kit in their Gold Series followed by the F-104J. Here is their latest release, the F-104J/F-104DJ 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 Lockheed C2 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:

  • 4 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-104J, 46-8645, 24 TFS, Nyutabaru AB, 1982
  • F-104DJ, 26-5006, 204 TFS, 1983

The decals provide a nice set of airframe stencils as well as generic marking which will allow you to replicate almost any JASDF Starfighter, and these are printed by Cartograf. Note that fundekals has produced an extensive set of decals for this kit in JASDF service, also 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!
  • Though the instructions only mention the Lockheed C2 seats for this variant, the kit also includes the Martin Baker seats and photo-etched restraints are included as well. You can build the F-104J or F-104DJ or any other G/J 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 F-104DJ, 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, $33 USD (plus shipping) if purchased from Lucky Model.

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!