- Manufacturer: Italeri
- Scale: 1:32
- Aircraft: F-104S ASA Starfighter
- Markings: 4-11, IX Gruppo, 4 Stormo, Grosseto AB, 1998
- Aftermarket: Eduard ejection seat | Eduard exhaust | Eduard wheels | Zactomodels AIM-9L Sidewinders | Master pitot tube
- Paints: Gunze Mr. Color | Tamiya | AMMO | Mr. Paint
The Germans called the F-104 Fliegender Sarg. The Flying Coffin. They also called it the Widowmaker and the Ground Nail. The Canadians called it the Lawn Dart, the Aluminum Death Tube, and, saying what we’re all thinking, the Flying Phallus. Us Americans, always the imaginative bunch, called it the 104.
The F-104 wasn’t a very good aircraft. And honestly, it’s nowhere close to finding its way into my favorites list. But sometimes, for whatever reason, some kooky subject just hooks into your brain and demands to be build right fucking now.
That’s pretty much how I came to start Italeri’s F-104.
I wish I hadn’t. The kit has just enough charm to pull you through the early stages of the build, and once you’re closing the fuselage, you’re kind of committed. There’s a lot of grumbling about the trench-like panel lines and all…honestly those didn’t bother me that much. What did bother me was the sloppy molding, which left separation lines on every damn thing, the sloppy fit, which is easy enough to hide with massive pieces like wings, but becomes apparent late in the build when antennas and such are 1) tiny, 2) in need of cleanup and 3) too big to fit in their damn holes. The decals were also a mess – allegedly printed by Cartograf, but obviously from their “extra thick” value meal.
Overall, this is not a bad kit. And that’s what makes it worse. With a bad kit, you can write it off. With a kit like this…it feels like they had a good kit going, got about 75% of the way there, and said “fuck it, let’s go get lunch”. But that extra 25% matters.
Now, I can hear whining about “some modeling skills required”. Great. Screw you. I don’t want to be fondling tiny antenna parts trying to remove tumor-like molding blobs from them. I don’t want to be installing gear doors late in the game that have zero location aides. I don’t want Cartograf decals that are actually shitty Cartograf decals. Especially in a kit that I’m paying over $100 for. Lack of follow-through isn’t charming like fighting with a short run or resin kit. It’s just annoying, like having to cover for someone else’s mediocrity.
- Eduard Ejection Seat: The seat is excellent, and the ejection rails that fit to the kit parts are most appreciated, as are the included stencil decals. But the PE seatbelts are dumb. I wish Eduard would cut that shit out.
- Eduard Exhaust: Huge improvement over the kit parts and I would consider it an almost mandatory upgrade. While the kit insists you can install the exhaust can after the tail is installed, I found that it absolutely had to go onto the engine first.
- Eduard Wheels: One of Eduard’s better wheel sets, at least in terms of playing nice with the kit and actually fitting. Note that the mounts on all gear struts will need to be shortened slightly to fit these.
- Master Pitot Tube: The kit pitot tube is a waste. Metal definitely helps out here, but save installing it until late in the build.
- Zactomodels Sidewinders: Some of the nicest missiles out there, hands down. The tail fins practically clip into place. The forward fins…those are extremely delicate. They look fantastic, but care is required during cleanup, installation and handling.
- Zotz Decals: I intended to use these, but they were just awful. Avoid.
Check out all build photos over at SmugMug
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