With the impending release of the Hasegawa F-104, Mike Belcher has been hard at work creating a new decal sheet and a new accessory pack to help make a nice looking CF-104 in RCAF/CAF service. His two new releases are Belcher Bits Set No. 14 CF-104 Weapons Set in 1/48 and a nice decal sheet, Belcher Bits Decal BD6, which will allow almost any CF-104 in Canadian service to be modeled.
The weapons pack consists of a large bag of resin parts, one small fret of photo etch parts, one piece of plastic stock, and one square of plastic card. What all this raw material represents is five BL-755 Cluster Bombs, two twin stores carriers to carry all those bombs, a VICON Camera pod, two nukes (a Mk. 28 and a Mk. 43), two wing pylons, a centerline pylon, and the three radar warning receivers that CF-104s sprouted later in their service years. Each Cluster Bomb is comprised of two resin pieces and a photo etched arming vane. The nukes are each three pieces, and with the Mk. 28 you have the option of doing the Mk. 28EX ground burst bomb, or the Mk. 28RE retarded bomb. You will have to make the fins on the nukes from the provided plastic card. All of the other paraphernalia is molded in one piece. The resin castings look great, with nice surface detail where necessary, and I couldn't find any air bubbles at all. The instructions lay out how to assemble everything and have painting guides, but there are no assembly diagrams. This isn't much of a problem as figuring everything out is pretty straightforward. A nice set with only one drawback. You need to build three or four CF-104s to use all the weapons.
Along with the weapons pack, Belcher Bits issued a beautiful decal sheet that will allow almost any CF-104 in Canadian service to be modeled. This includes nine different 439 Squadron Tiger Meet aircraft. I would call this a generic sheet because even though the instructions illustrate 8 specific service aircraft and the nine Tigers, enough numbers are provided to do any CF-104 you would want to model. The eight service aircraft are natural metal CF-104 s/n 12721 of 427 Squadron, natural metal CF-104 s/n 12758 of 1 Wing, natural metal CF-104 s/n 104799 of 439 Squadron, natural metal CF-104 s/n 104830 of 427 Squadron, a overall green CF-104 of 421 Squadron, a natural metal CF-104 s/n 104753 of 417 Squadron with the Cold Lake tail band, an overall green CF-104 s/n 104841 of 421 Squadron, and finally a green/gray over gray camo bird from 417 Squadron s/n 104783. No two seat CF-104s are provided for, but as I said everything is included on the sheet to do any of them. The sheet is beautifully printed, everything is in register, and in general everything looks great. I have only two problems with the sheet. First off there are only a few stencils included. I understand that this more of a personal opinion, but I like to see stencils included. The other problem is a little more problematic. The second option on the sheet, s/n12758, provides for a CF-104 that wore a smaller maple leaf within the roundel. These smaller leafs are included in the sheet, but on the 48" roundel for the wings, the larger leaf is printed as part of the roundel. There fore you will need to remove the large leaf from the roundel, fill in the missing white area, and then apply the smaller leaf. Not a big deal, but a strange oversight. Instructions are clear, and one nice touch is that we are referred to a photo of each aircraft that is illustrated.
Great stuff that is highly recommended if you want to do a Canadian CF-104. Now if only the Hasegawa kit would make its way to Ohio!