Italeri 1-32 F-104 A/C Starfighter Review
Prehistory: It took almost 35 years until a new, contemporary kit of this classic jet was manufactured on a large scale 1:32. Up to now, fans of the F-104 had to fall back on the time-honored kit from Hasegawa in order to build a model of the somewhat larger kind. (If this product was still on offer at all.) The Italeri company from Bologna / Italy is now providing a remedy.
The kit available to us is the classic American version of the “Starfighter”: The F-104 A / C interceptor, which also had a short period of use in the Vietnam conflict. Anyone who opts for an F-104 A must – with the exception of the AIM 9B missiles – refrain from equipping them with alternative weapons. The installation of the Vulcan cannon would also be omitted, as this was only installed in series from around 1964, as the reliability of the weapon was not available until then. The F-104 C, however, first flight in 1958, got a more powerful General Electric J 79-GE-7 engine and could then be equipped with more effective armament. A detachable air refueling probe was also provided. The “Starfighter” was now also used as a fighter-bomber.
In Vietnam, from 1965, the machine took over the task of a hunter escort to protect the early warning reconnaissance vehicle Lockheed “Warning-Star”, a military variant of the famous “Super Constellation” and the Republic F-105 on its “Wild Wiesel” missions. Because of the short range of the starfighter, these tasks were soon taken over by the McDonnell F-4 “Phantom”.
Kit: A South-East Asia “Starfighter” also adorns the large rectangular cardboard box, in which there are 300 individual parts made of gray plastic and a circuit board with brass parts. In addition, two decal sheets and detailed assembly instructions are included. The instructions are provided with precise three-dimensional drawings of the components and four-color crack drawings for the color design of the model.
When looking at the components, the striking engravings immediately catch your eye. They look a bit oversized, especially on the two halves of the fuselage. The components are neatly and precisely manufactured and show a high standard of detail.
The cockpit is adequately designed for this scale, but you miss at least a few decals for the instruments on the dashboard. The complete harness is available for the variant-specific C-2 ejection seat.
Further options are: the fully equipped avionics compartment behind the cockpit, separate rudders, and landing flaps, deployed air brakes, the air refueling probe, an entry ladder for the pilot, and the complete volcano cannon.
The highly detailed General Electric engine can be stored on a transport frame and thus also presented separately. The other option would be to insert the engine into the fuselage and mount the tail section on a frame. Unfortunately, the nozzle outlet inside is stuffed with sprue bolts. They are really firmly attached to the structures. You won’t get very far here without special tools.
The landing gear shafts do not require any additional work. The way they are made is fine. The wheels are flattened on the footprint. The canopy is transparent and made without streaks.
The following options are provided for “arming” the machine: The standardized four additional containers, two M117 bombs, and two AIM 9B air-to-air missiles.
There are four options for decoration. Of the two American starfighters from the Vietnam War, one aircraft is presented in camouflage in South-East Asia. A machine from Operation “Jonah Able” was one of 12 starfighters who were flown to Taiwan in 1958 to prevent the People’s Republic of China from attacking National China. The machines were not used but had a deterrent effect. A machine of the Taiwanese Air Force from 1969 can also be built.
Three of the starfighters are made of natural aluminum. The upper wings are painted white, while the undersides are to be painted with a so-called anti-corrosion protection (a light blue-gray).
The range of decals is divided into two sheets: one for the identifiers, the other for the maintenance instructions for aircraft and weapons.
Italeri 1-32 F-104 A/C Starfighter Review Conclusion: Finally a large-scale model of the Starfighter that meets today’s expectations and an attractive and dynamic model of this legendary fighter-bomber.
A little criticism is allowed. Why is the decal for the dashboard missing, which is probably included in the previously released F-104G kit? Furthermore, the unfortunate design of the engine outlet with the sprues should be pointed out. Well, that would be it with the “grumbling”. The assembly ultimately promises many hours of crafting fun.
Available in many stores and online at hobbyzero.com