Hasegawa’s F-104C quick build and review.

I had been promising to build an F-104 for my father, a retired aerospace engineer, but could never get the proper motivation to build the lawn dart.  About two weeks from his birthday I decided that I would finally dig into Hasegawa’s oft-lauded 1/48 F-104c and do a simple canopy closed type build for him as a gift.  Three weeks later, only a week after his birthday, he had a reasonable representation of an interesting aircraft for his collection.

Like I’ve often stated, most online reviews are hyperbolic, either drastically over or under reacting to the quality of a kit.  The reviews of Hasegawa’s Starfighter are no different.  I have read that it was one of the best kits, ever. It apparently would fall together with no issue, even under the intense magnification that points out all flaws that appear under a natural metal finish.  It isn’t that, exactly, but it’s not bad, at all. In fact, it’s a quite good and enjoyable kit, with a few flaws that can be addressed with minimal effort and skill.

IMG_0736.jpgThe cockpit is quite simple and Hasegawa provides decals for the instrument panels. These don’t actually match the contours of the side panels, but look convincing enough with some Solvaset.  The ejection seat is wholly too over-simplified and I opted for the Quickboost seat instead. Some paint and a wash, and the seat is a stunning and visible addition to the kit.

The fuselage and wheels bays go together very well. The first problem comes from the intakes.  Try as I might, the intakes had a minor step that would require some shaping and re-scribing to deal with.  There is some detail that I obliterated and could not reproduce quickly, but luckily a great deal of that will later fall under the Star and Bar decals and won’t be noticeable.  Another issue is the turtle deck insert that also had an unavoidable step between it and the fuselage.  This also took sanding and filling, and some minor detail obliteration, but ended up reasonably well.IMG_0553.jpgIMG_0554.jpg

The wings come with position-able slats, ailerons, and flaps.  One of my wings came with a broken wing tip pylon that required acquisition of replacement parts and explains most of the week long delay.  Once assembled, however, they fit perfectly and can be left off until after paint, without any fear of needing to fill and sand. The wing tip tanks also fit perfectly onto the wing and are almost snug enough to not require any glue.  Almost.

 

IMG_0620.jpg

Once assembled, primed, masked, and slightly polished, I decided to use Tamiya’s AS-12 silver spray right from the can as a base.  This is an exceptional product. It goes down wonderfully, dries quickly, and appears to be exceptionally durable.  On top of that, I masked off several individual panels around the exhaust to attempt to reproduce the multi-colored hues of my reference photographs and sprayed multiple colors of Alclad in different locations (aluminum, dark aluminum, white aluminum, anodized aluminum, steel, and burnt iron). The effect is convincing enough for me.

Now I was ready for markings.  The worst part of this kit were the decals.  I don’t know if it was simply a matter of them being almost 15 years old, but they were thick and resisted both Solvaset and Microset.  The curved markings for the nose band and the shock cones in the intake were terrible.  The nose band was so bad that I decided to simply mask and paint that instead of risking an issue with such a visible part of the aircraft. At this point I decided to abandon the stock Starfighter used on the box art and found a line 104 from the same unit that wouldn’t require the garish stripes on the back of the fuselage or on the nose.IMG_0611.jpg

One of the final steps was to button up the canopy.  I should have mentioned earlier that the canopy left about a 1/32″ gap between it and the glass covering the turtle deck making it unusable in the closed position.  Instead I posed it open and used Eduard’s PE for the canopy rails.  And, that makes me even more thankful for the Quickboost seat.

IMG_0742.jpg

I finished it up with the prominent pitot tube from MasterModel, put in the resin intake covers with Eduard “remove before flight tags”, the various other probes, and called it finished. This was a quick and an enjoyable build of an historically important aircraft, and a perfect gift for a retired aerospace engineer.

IMG_0744.jpg

And this reminds me of my favorite joke about the Starfighter, at least as it pertains to its initial troubled service with the Luftwaffe.

Q: How does one go about getting a Starfighter?

A: Buy a couple acres and wait.

 

Advertisements

EduArt’s P-40N: right in the “Goldilocks zone”.

Every modeler has their own way to rate the quality of a kit. To some, a low price point trumps all other considerations. To others, ease of build or out-of-box detail might be the defining factors. To me, I prefer a good mix of out of box detail without unnecessary over-engineering, and I want it to go together in a way that is more akin to building a plastic model than carving a model out of plastic. I’m willing to pay for those considerations, although there is definitely an upper limit to my generosity.

boxartEduard’s limited Edition boxing of Hasegawa’s P-40N pushed the envelope of my desire to pay for a kit.  But, as I have come to expect from Eduard’s “profipack” boxings of other kits, everything one needs for an exceptional build is in the box.  This is no exception.  Ease of build, engineering, and detail all sit right in the “Goldilocks Zone”. The end result is a truly enjoyable build without many head-scratching engineering choices, and extra detail (including some attractive marking options) that elevate the stock Hasegawa kit into rarefied air.

There isn’t much to say about this build that can’t be said about every other build: follow the instructions, and test fit often. There are only a few areas where any modeler might need to take more time.

IMG_0311
I’m using tape here to minimize the wing root gap and assure the correct dihedral. Note the putty around the gun inserts on the wing leading edge and a ring of filler around the tail.
  1. The .50 cal barrels are molded into their own insert that fits into the leading edge of the wing.  The barrels are very nice (and hollowed out) but this joint will need some extra attention, as well as some putty, to seamlessly transition to the wing.
  2. As the P-40N had a longer fuselage, Hasegawa elected to use the same forward fuselage from other marks, and a new longer tail section for the N version.  In order to minimize the joint between the forward and aft fuselage sections, I elected to attach each tail half to its corresponding fuselage half first.  I did this to make sure there wasn’t a step in the fuselage and that the panel lines and riveting matched up.
  3. If you elect to use the canopy provided to be shown in the open position, it has no positive location points.  In other words, without carefully gluing the canopy to the fuselage, the sliding canopy will not stay put.  This took some super thin CA glue, a glue looper, and a bit of time to assure I didn’t fog any of the clear plastic.
  4. The navigation lights will just take patience, and time.  The kit instructions ask the modeler to remove the lights molded into the wing tips and vertical tail, to then replace them with a photo-etch ring, and then install clear lights.  This was probably more effort than it was worth. If I had to build this model again, I would simply paint the molded on kit lights with Model Master chrome, and then cover that with translucent Tamiya red and green.

Beyond that, there are many areas where this kit shines. The general fit was exceptional. Even the fuselage to wing root gap was minimal, although it did require some corrective dihedral.  The provided photo-etch for the cockpit really amps up the detail and realism.  The clear parts included in the kit are wonderfully clear and required no Future or polishing to get a great result. The windscreen to fuselage engineering is masterful and Eduard’s pre cut masks fit perfectly. The landing gear were incredibly easy to install and provide one of the more solid gear attachment points I’ve ever encountered. Eduard’s resin exhaust and wheels are truly works of art. I could go on, but I won’t.

The bottom line is if you want a late war P-40 in 1/32 to add to your collection, this is a must-have. The stock kit is suitable for all but the most green of builders.  Anyone with a pocket full of cash, and a little experience using resin and photo-etch, will find this kit enjoyable and the end result suitable for display.

 

IMG_1529