1/48 Hasegawa F-104N

 NASA "N812NA"   

by Dirk Adel

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Over the years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has operated no less than 11 Starfighters for flight test purposes. Between August and October 1963, Lockheed delivered three single-seat F-104G Starfighters to NASA, these planes being designated F-104N (N for NASA) and were to serve as high-speed chase aircraft. Those three were the only purpose-built Starfighters produced by Lockheed for NASA all other Starfighters operated by NASA were transferred from the USAF (or Luftwaffe!). Those F-104Ns were initially numbered 011/012/013. A/C 013 was lost on June 8, 1966, when it was involved in a mid-air collision with the second North American XB-70A Valkyrie during a General Electric-sponsored publicity photographic flight. The two surviving F-104Ns were later given the civilian registrations N811NA and N812NA. (found somewhere on the net)

This is my Hasegawa F-104 G (N) Starfighter N812NA. It is built out of the box except of using the Aires Cockpit set for the F-104G. One can do three different versions out of the Hasegawa box: Number one is N826NA as seen up to today, an ex-Luftwaffe F-104G in white-darkblue-white without the NASA-signs on the intakes (as shown on the box), number two is N812NA as seen around 1980 in white-darkblue-lightblue with the NASA-signs and third is "011" around 1970 in BMF with bright orange areas and white stripes. This would be the only option to use the tiptanks with.

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 Well, I did a fourth version: N812NA as seen ca. 1985 in white-darkblue-white with the NASA-signs. You can see the original aircraft in the pic at the bottom of this page. For more pics refer to the site of Dryden Flight Research Center http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/index.html. The kit made by Hasegawa is once more very accurate, even the bulged main wheel doors are right for all four versions. Of course all NASA-Starfighters had been demilitarized. So the canon has to be closed by sprue and putty.
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The Aires cockpit set contains both ejection seats, the Lockheed C2 and the Martin Baker GQ-7. Searching on several sites around the net, the only right seat for all NASA-Starfighters is the C2. So the Martin Baker went to the spare box. If you want to have the canopy open to make the cockpit more visible, you have to add some detail to the inside of the canopy. I added some air hoses made from wire, some handles and one rear view mirror on the right.

The model was painted using Tamiya TS-sprays and Gunze Top Coat, weathering was done using watercolor. Decals came all with the kit and are very good, but the blue stripes are a bit too thick. The red stripes of the NASA-signs are to be painted over, as the dark background of the blue stripes shines through. Almost no stenciling is seen on this aircraft. The kit was a pleasure to built and went together very well. The cockpit set matched almost perfectly. Of course this was not a cheap model: kit, cockpit set and spray cans add up to 60 Euro (ca.60 USD). 

Dirk

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Photos and text by Dirk Adel