I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had ‘built my stash’ – literally. I was looking for a new project, and decided on the new Italeri F104G/S Starfighter (2502) in 1/32.
I don’t normally build jet aircraft, but decided that the genre offered a wide range of new modelling subjects. Although it’s only been on the market a couple of months, I understand that Tamiya is re-boxing the kit under their own banner. There are a number of kit reviews on-line, but I thought I’d share a few photos with you as the build progresses.
Although listed at £85-£90 generally, I shopped around and located a kit from a UK supplier for £66 including free postage.
For the specific subject, I’m modelling the RCAF CF104G, NMF nuclear strike version, Cold Lake, Alberta AB, c.1962, which is one of ten kit choices.
Already, there are a few aftermarket sets for this kit. I’ve opted for the following:
Eduard F104 C2 seatbelts (32808)
Eduard F104G Interior (33131)
Master-Model pitot tube (AM 32-037)
Aires F104G exhaust nozzle (2077)
I’m using the latter item, although originally for the Hasagawa kit, as the detail is better than the Italeri version. That said, I want to use the kit’s full engine set, detailed-up, and displayed on the trolley/stand that’s also part of the Italeri set, although probably later as a ‘mini-project’.
The kit comes with a neat colour booklet, a walkaround, which is useful when read with the kit’s instructions, which are set out for both the ‘G’ and ‘S’ versions.
The following photos show the results of three days’ work, where the Lockheed Martin seat (Martin Baker version also in the kit) is beefed-up with the Eduard sets. The webbing particularly is more detailed than the kit set.
The next step in the build-sequence is the undercarriage and wheel bays. Here are photos of the main bay as per kit offering.
As can be seen from the ‘after’ photos, rather than remove the moulded cabling and hydraulic detail, I retained it, and then over it applied copper/aluminium/lead wire, with a few pieces of PE from the spares box, using the existing kit detail as background to add 3D depth. Once the areas are primed, painted,and washed, the detailing should be convincing, particularly here in the main wells where it’s more visibly ‘busy.’
Here, with the detailing in place, the areas are primed, ready for the aluminium finishes and other high points of colour. The same process applies to the nose bay, but as it’s narrow and deep there’s less detail on show.
The nose bay, before and after. The wheel and light lens will be added later.
Here is a shot of the nose wheel tyre. The tyre halves join to create a centre tread seam, but only the one. I had to scribe two further tread seams on either side of the main seam. Not perfect, but under primer and flat black it should be fine.
Behind the main cockpit sits the compartment for the batteries, AC/DC buses, and so forth.
The appearance is basic, just a few bulges and nibs, so I’ve detailed these with spare PE to give it a little character. For cabling I’ve simply used lead wire and a section of metal guitar string (coiled ‘E’ type). No doubt someone will come up with a complete aftermarket upgrade for this area.
The piece is painted Model Master Gull Grey, as opposed to the cockpit colour, US Compass Grey. After everything is picked out in respective colours and a few stencil decals from the spares box are applied, the unit is sprayed with a matte varnish to pull it together.
The various subassemblies are now in place. The photos show these just before closing the fuselage halves, with a couple of shots of the main bay in place.
Here’s the Hasagawa can. It’s been primed with Tamiya primer, and then ‘undercoated’ with Alcad black primer, after which it’s been sprayed with Alclad Stainless Steel. I tested before closing the fuselage to make sure the exhaust would drop into place OK and not disappear down the hole where the kit’s engine would be.
The tail section of the aircraft is joined as one with the main forward section, but it can be posed separately on a standing frame with the engine jutting out from the main plane at the join, or thirdly as a single airframe with the engine posed separately on a stand outside the aircraft.
Here’s the forward cockpit coaming, with a few PE additions.
There are the two compartment covers for the battery areas behind the cockpit. The areas are quite plain, but now I’ve added plastic dowel/rod, lead wire, and a few stencil decals to give the areas some life. The ‘topsides’ will be finished in Alclad Polished Aluminium as the rest of the main aircraft.
The fuselage, doors, and other attendant parts have now been primed with Tamiya primer, followed by Alclad Black Primer. The pieces will be polished with a fine abrasive paper to remove any dust motes, and washed, before the application of Alclad Polished Aluminium.
To note, the wings have more standard white/grey finishes and will be treated separately to the laquer-finished parts.
Here is the main fuselage and other parts, now sprayed with Polished Aluminium. I’ll also mask off a few select areas and apply Stainless Steel for variation. The photo is taken on a table – at this stage it’s getting harder to fit the airframe on to a standard surface to photograph.
The fuselage is now nearly completed. There is a little touch-up to complete and the canopies and raised compartment covers to put in place, but apart from a little polishing it’s ready for decals.
The wings have been made and painted, and will have to be decalled with a finish coat of flat varnish before fixing to the fuselage.
Not pictured, as the build elements are straight forward, are the wings, fuel pods and clear pieces. As the model depicts the RCAF CF-104, which had the Vulcan cannon opening faired over, it being an aircraft that was designated in a nuclear strike role, I wanted to show the loadout as fuel pods only. The alternative for this aircraft would be underwing pods with Sidewinders at the wingtips.
Having effectively completed the model, my view is that it’s a well-detailed kit, with an interesting choice of decals, and the opportunity to display the GE J79 turbojet in-plane or separately on a stand, is a nice touch. I still plan on detailing the engine as a separate display item. A crew ladder is also provided.
The cockpit area is well detailed, but benefited from aftermarket sets. As you can see from the extra work I put in on some areas, it’s possible to add detail without extra expense.
I’ve read that the F-104 has more stencils than almost any other similar aircraft. While there is indeed a comprehensive stencil page, including for underwing stores, I didn’t find them too onerous; I spent about six hours stenciling.
Because of its size, I doubt I’d buy another, but it would be nice to see the kit in a camo scheme, and there are some great looking schemes on offer here.