F-104S Starfighter Veltro 1 Limited Edition
The maiden flight of the F-104 was in 1954, and its final variant was the S (first flown in 1966) model, which was a licensed-production Italian version of the 104. The Italian Air Force and Turkish Air force flew the S model, with the Italians using them until 2004! (Pretty good service, I’d say.)
Upon opening the box, you will find 16 (some have just one part on them) light grey and 1 clear sprues of injected molded plastic, a nice decal sheet with markings for one aircraft (a 104S from the 5th Stormo, 23 Gruppo, in memorial paint scheme), and an 8-page instruction sheet. The plastic is cleanly molded with nice detail and is flash free, but there are a few pin marks throughout the parts.
You begin with steps 1 & 2, the ejection seat and cockpit, and while both are not bad looking, they don’t have a lot of detail. The consoles and control panel can have decals applied or, as they have raised detail, you can dry brush them. Steps 3-6 deal with the exhaust and main gear well, which are both nicely done, and once these are built you are ready to put the fuselage together. Everything so far was a good fit and I encountered no problems until the nose cone. The instructions have part A3 on the top and B1 on the bottom – and it should be the other way around…no big deal, really (as long as you pay attention!). Step 7 is the final cockpit additions and the intakes. You really need to follow the instructions for the cockpit and add the control stick last, as it makes life much easier! There was one small discrepancy here, where the instructions would have you leave the sight (part N4) off. All the pictures I have show the aircraft with it mounted, so I added it. The intakes were assembled and the fuselage area around them painted before adding them (if you wait to paint until after…you’ll be sorry). Steps 8 & 9 are the building and installation of the wings, tail, and speed brakes. Each small wing is a 5-piece assembly and is a bit fragile, and I decided to assemble the two main pieces (C7-D7 & C6-D8) and attach those to the fuselage so as not to break the flaps & slats off every time I picked it up, and that method worked well for me.
Steps 10-14 deal with the landing gear and, for being out of box, they look pretty nice. Each is a 7-piece assembly (not including the door) and has a fair bit of detail to it. Even the nose gear is a 5-piece unit and, as with the main gear, is pretty sturdy. Steps 15-17 are for the final pieces (wing tanks, canopy, arresting hook, ventral fins, and exhaust nozzle). Construction was pretty easy and straightforward and I had no real problems to speak of.
The painting instructions are a bit off since they would have you paint the fuselage FS 36118(Testors Gunship Gray) and the dark anti-glare panels in front of the cockpit Neutral Gray. Oops! I used a mix of Testors enamels, acrylics, and metalizers to paint this model light ghost gray (FS 36375), gunship gray (FS 36118), and RLM 04 for the exterior. Dark gull gray (FS 36231) was used for the cockpit, jet exhaust (1796) for the nozzle, non-buffing aluminum for the landing gear and wheel bays, and burnt iron for the exhaust manifold. I did use some pastel chalks on the exhaust nozzle to give it a used look, but all the pictures that I have of this scheme show the aircraft pretty clean, so I didn’t overdo it. The decals went on smoothly, but I managed to mess a couple up – trust me, it wasn’t the decals’ fault.
Although I wish that Hasegawa had supplied the underwing pylons, I still recommend this kit to anyone who wants to build a 1/48 F-104S. If you want a little more detail, I would recommend an aftermarket cockpit and seat (or at least photo etch to spruce it up) and exhaust nozzle, but out of box it still is a nice kit. There were few, if any, fit problems and the detail is pretty nice.
I would like to thank Hasegawa and Hobbico for providing this kit, the IPMS Review Corps for letting me build it, and all of you for reading it.