1/48 Hasegawa CF-104 Starfighter

by Sean Bratton



This is Hasegawa's excellent F-104J kit built as a CF-104 as it appeared at C.F.B. Cold Lake in the late 1970's while serving with 417 Squadron. I presented it to my father as a Christmas gift as he has 13 years of experience as an Airframe Technician on the 104. Needless to say, reference was never more than a phone call way.

The model includes extras in the form of a Black Box cockpit, the Cutting Edge F-104 update set, and Belcher Bits decals. I also robbed an old Esci F-104G for the centerline practice bomb dispenser. I filled in the openings of the Esci offering and reshaped the nose. I tried t0 rescribe the doors after everything was filled and sanded. I didn't quite get a circular shape - the bottom has a bit of a "wave" to it. I used the Black Box F-104J cockpit and this was my first experience with a resin cockpit. Although the detail is nice, I wouldn't use it again. The seat if beautiful, but the instrument panel is too high and I had to split it half way and overlap it when it came time to install it (after it was all nicely painted, of course). The cockpit coaming under the windscreen is also very large and I had to shave quite a bit off the bottom and sides to get the windscreen to lie where it should, losing a lot of the nice detail in the process. I didn't sand enough off the sides and this spread the fuselage a bit - more later. Sanding the bottom of the pit was easy - sand until the floor is gone as the F-104 doesn't have a cockpit floor. The pilot has two channels that run from the front of the seat to the rudder panels. If the pilot ended up in a situation where he had to get out of the airplane in a hurry (and a lot of them did) the seat had two cables that ran to special stirrups that were on the back of his boots. These cables pulled his feet back to the front of the seat and ensured that his feet left the airplane when he did.

The kit itself is beautifully molded. The detail on top of the wings is overdone, it should be smooth but has a large number of rivets. If it really bothers you it's easily filled in. I used very little filler - just a dab around the intakes and some around the nose landing gear insert. As I mentioned I left the cockpit tub a tad too wide and this left me with a bit of a gap around the insert piece for the nose gear. Not a big deal, aside from all the vent detail I had to carefully fill and sand around to prevent it from becoming dust. I can take any nice fitting kit and find a way to add filler.....

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The Cutting Edge set is nice and includes some neat bits for various eras of the CF-104. I used the under wing and centerline pylons from this set as well as the associated sway braces. Cutting Edge also provides coloured resin for the various navigation and formation lights scattered around the fuselage. I double checked a real airframe (104763 at the Reynold's Museum in Wetaskwin, Alberta) and found the Cutting Edge instructions were a bit off as far as what colour light goes where. My memory is a bit fuzzy on this but I believe I ran out of red and that the green lights are supplied as more of a dark blue. Not a big deal as it's tough to make out the colour on the finished model. I also used the canopy interior framing, not that this couldn't be made just as easy from bits of rod and sheet.

There has been much discussion on ARC and Hyperscale with regards to the flap position on the F-104, as Hasegawa gives you separate control surfaces to mount how you want. This is direct from the ex-rigger himself - the flaps where left up and the speedbrakes left closed "so we had fewer things to hit our heads on while crawling around the airplane". As well, it ensured that start up checks always started from the same point and nothing got missed. "Speed brakes open, speed brakes closed. Flaps down, flaps up, flaps to take off." Remember this was the procedure for the CAF, and not necessarily how other air forces did it. So on my model the flaps are up, the speed brakes are closed.

I armed the model with the 19 shot rocket pods from a Hasegawa weapons set and the previously mention practice bomb dispenser. The rocket pods are a little different at the rear end than the photos I had but honestly, would you have known if I hadn't told you?

The model was finished with Model Master Metalizers. I tried masking off various panels around the tail area with wet newspaper and sprayed on different shades to get the effect of different materials, with somewhat varied results. I didnt't seal the Metalizer, as I find the sealer tends to negate the "real metal" look, so that meant handling the model as little as possible. Despite my best efforts I ended up with a nice faded look in area - too bad I was going for the solid colour look! The fibreglass areas behind the cockpit were done with MM Platinum mist - a nice match to my eye.

There is always a lot of discussion about the colour of the underside of the wings and the radome, which is Grey 501-109. IPMS Buzz Buerling has the GP-12c colour guide and gives the colour as"about a 50/50 mix of RAF 'Sky' & FS35237". After scouring through countless Dakota, Tracker and Sea King decal instructions and of course Patrick Martin's book for colour suggestions, I tried Humbrol #23 Duck Egg Blue and Model Master FS36492 Light Grey out of the bottle. To me, the Model Master was a little less on the green side, perhaps giving the impression of being a little faded so that's what I used.

The decals are Belcher Bits BD-6 for the CF-104 and go on beautifully. I applied them directly on the Metalizer using just a bit of Micro-sol to get them to snuggle into the detail. The wings fit perfectly so I painted these gloss white, decaled, sealed them with Polly-S Semi Gloss to give them the proper sheen and then attached them at the very end.

The base is a sheet of cardboard attached to a cheap wooden plaque that I stained. I had airbrushed the cardboard using various shades of grey, brown and tan giving a nice concrete effect. Unfortunately my "one final misting" of grey went on too heavy and the base came out a mono-grey colour. By this time it was late on the 23rd of December and I didn't have time to start over. The lines were penciled in with a straight edge and then darkened freehand with a black marker following the pencil lines as a guide. Going freehand gives it just enough variation to make it look real. The patch is from Dad's old flying jacket and that's real CF-104 grease on it. If you try you can still catch a whiff of JP-4.

The final touches were a pair of chocks for the main wheels and a map in the cockpit from a Verlinden map set. See, if you try hard enough you can find a use for armour accessories.

All in all, this is a wonderful kit that I would recommend to anyone. The model brought back a lot of great memories for Dad and myself. If I try hard enough, I can still hear the howl of the J-79'sspooling up on a cold winter's night.....


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Photos and text by Sean Bratton