Italeri 1/32 Lockheed Martin TF-104G Starfighter
The Lockheed Martin F-104G Starfighter is one of the most famous fighters in the history of aviation. It also had the longest service life: it entered service in February of 1958 with the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Wing of the USAF Air Defense Command and Italy retired its last F-104 on October 31 of 2004. The Starfighter was built in 7 countries and was operated by 15 air forces. The 2 seat TF-104 was the advanced trainer version and it lacked the single seater's 20mm gun and center line pylon.
This is Italeri's 1/32nd scale TF-104G kit. It consists of 383 parts, 355 of which are injected molded plastic with 28 parts on a single photo etch fret. This is a complex, well detailed kit. The parts are well molded with no flash and small attachment points that will make them easy to remove from the sprues. There are minimal ejector pin marks on a few parts but these will be easy to remove. There are some sink marks on some parts such as the front landing gear doors and you can fill these with your favorite putty and a sanding stick.
The surface detail on the wings and fuselage consists of finely recessed panel lines with rivets and raised detail where appropriate. There are some raised rivets at the base of the rudder and tail that are especially well executed. The flaps are separate moldings and you have the option of posing the air brakes open or closed.
The cockpit is a highly detailed multi-piece assembly. It comprises 2 separate tubs, each with its own ejection seat, rudder pedals, control stick and instrument panel. The ejection seats come in for high praise and you have your choice of Lockheed or Martin Baker ejector seats for the front cockpit. You could buy aftermarket resin seats if so inclined, but why bother?
The kit seats include photo-etch harnesses and they will be quite impressive with oil washes and dry brushed raised detail. The side console detail is a bit soft but like the seats it will stand out with some dry brushing and oil washes. The instrument panels, like the side consoles, are a bit soft in detail and the instrument dials themselves are featureless. Oddly the decal sheet only includes a panel for one of the 2 panels, so you might look for aftermarket panel decals from Airscale.
The landing gear faithfully captures the graceful, insect-like undercarriage of the real thing and both wheel bays have convincing a level of detail. The front wheel well in particular is impressively deep.
The kit includes a highly detailed General Electric J79 turbojet engine made of more than a dozen well molded pieces. You can also display the engine separately from the fuselage thanks to a removable tail and a trolleys for both the engine and tail.
There is a center line tank and 2 pairs of fuel tanks, one each for the wingtips and the lower wings, and you can choose from 2 styles of main wheels.
The canopy parts are clear, well molded and slightly distorted and a deep in Future is probably a good idea.
The kit includes 2 enormous decal sheets and they offer 8 different TF-104Gs to choose from:
"20-5," TF-104 G, 20º Gruppo, 4º Stormo, Grosseto, Italy, 1985. This 2 seater was Flat Dark Grey and Dark Green over Flat Aluminum with an Olive Drab over Flat Light Grey nose radome. The wing tip tanks were Dark Green over Flat Aluminum.
"4-23," TF-104 G, 20º Gruppo, 4º Stormo, Grosseto, Italy, 1986. This plane was also Flat Dark Grey and Dark Green over Flat Aluminum with an Olive Drab over Flat Light Grey nose radome. The wing tip tanks were Dark Green over Flat Aluminum.
"88-386," F-104 F, 4th Training Squadron, O.T.U. 10, Norvenich AB, Germany, 1964. The air frame was Metal Gloss Silver with a Flat Light Grey radome. The wings were Gloss White over Light Sky blue Grey with areas of the rear fuselage in Metal Flat Steel and Flat Aluminum. The wing tip tanks were Metal Gloss Silver.
"633," Royal Canadian Air Force CF-104 D, 1st Wing, Lahr, Germany, 1966. The air frame was Flat Aluminum with a Flat Light Grey radome. The wings were Gloss White over Light Sky blue Grey. The wing tip tanks were Flat Aluminum.
U.S. Air Force TF-104 G, 69th TFTS, 58th TFTW, Luke AFB, 1976. Metal Gloss Silver with a Flat Light Grey radome. The wings were Gloss White over Light Sky blue Grey with areas of the rear fuselage in Metal Flat Steel and Flat Aluminum. The wing tip tanks were Metal Gloss Silver.
"104-22," TF-104 G, Escuadron 104, Spanish Air Force, Torrejon, 1968. This 2 seater was Flat Aluminum with a Flat Light Grey radome. The wings were Gloss White over Light Sky blue Grey with areas of the rear fuselage in Metal Flat Steel and Flat Aluminum. The wing tip tanks were Metal Gloss Silver and the rudder was Light Sky blue Grey.
"FC 11," TF-104 G, Belgian Air Force, 10th wing, Kleine-Brogel A.B., 1981. This very colorful aircraft was Dark Green, Flat Medium Green and Flat Dark Tan over Flat Gull Grey with a Flat Light Grey radome. The wing tip tanks were Dark Green over Flat Gull Grey.
The pair of decal sheets are spectacular. They include over 120 air frame stencils and national insignia and numbers for each aircraft. They are crisply printed with bright colors, minimal carrier film and excellent registration. Along with the great decals are a pair of instruction manuals. The first is devoted to the model assembly. It includes a parts map, great illustrations, a clear and logical build sequence and color call outs for Italeri acrylic paints. The color call outs include Federal Standard (FS) numbers so you can use your preferred brand of paints. The second manual includes color profiles for each aircraft plus a 2 page guide to applying the more than 120 air frame stencils. This is a first class presentation. Well done, Italeri.
If you are a fan of the 2 seat TF-104 G Starfighter in 1/32nd scale this kit is for you. It is accurate and highly detailed right out of the box and it includes some very exciting decal options. There are lots of aftermarket accessories for the F-104- resin wheels, ejection seats, photo-etch sets, etc. Whichever route you take I am confident that you can build a contest winning model with this kit. I recommend this kit and I would like to thank Model Rectifier Corporation for the review sample.
F-104 Starfighter in Detail & Scale, Detail & Scale Volume 38, by Bert Kinzey, Detail & Scale Aviation Publications, 1991
F-104 Starfighter in action, Aircraft No. 27, by Lou Drendel, Squadron/Signal Publications, 19762