Brand: Hasegawa 09385
Markings: TwoBobs 48-051 ‘F-104J Komatsu Starfighters’
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft developed for the USAF, but would serve the air forces of more than a dozen countries. It set many world speed records and a total of 2,578 Starfighters would be built. However, its reputation is somewhat marred by the Lockheed bribery scandals and a poor safety record.
Developed in the 1950s, the first YF-104A flew in February 1956 with the first production F-104A delivered to the USAF by January 1958. The F-104 was all-metal with a fuselage that was 2.5 times longer than its wingspan. It featured a radical wing design: small, straight, mid-mounted, trapezoidal in shape and was so thin that the leading edges were a cut hazard for ground crew. The Starfighter is an especially difficult plane to fly. For example, the newly reformed Luftwaffe (West German Air Force) would have 4 F-104 crashes in a single day in 1962. By the 1970s, the F-104’s international service began to wind down. The last operational F-104s served with the Italian Air Force, which retired them in October 2004.
The JASDF (Japan Air Self Defense Force) nicknamed their licence-built Starfighter the ‘Eiko’ (Glory). Mitsubishi would build 210 single-seated F-104Js and 20 twin-seated F-104DJ purchased wholesale from Lockheed.. The F-104J is a specialized interceptor version of the F-104G that was built for air superiority. Despite the bad reputation of the F-104, the JASDF did not have the same problems as the European Air Forces, mainly because it was used as an interceptor and not an attack aircraft. The JASDF would operate the F-104 from 1966 and retire its last F-104J in 1986.
The model depicted here is of 46-8621, an F-104J with special markings that flew in the 1979 Air Combat Meet at Komatsu Air Base. I don’t have anecdotal evidence of whether the F-104Js flew as ‘red air’ but they all sported unique bright colored schemes like typical aggressor aircraft.
The boxing I have is a 2001 markings variant of the original F-104J released in 2000. The kit comprises 117 light gray styrene parts in 13 sprues along with a sprue of clear parts and 4 polycaps. Surface texture is nice with very crisp fine panel lines and a ton of recessed pin holes representing flush rivets. However, the flaps, ailerons and slats all suffer from ejector pin marks, with many of them nestled among the rivets.
Other details are great: cockpit, wheel well, speed brake bays are all nicely rendered. The canopy is 3-piece but is not able to be modeled open. A very nice touch is that the slats, flaps and speed brakes can all be positioned. The undercarriage is attached to the fuselage via polycaps and Hasegawa includes different style wheel hubs in the kit.
Some of the parts breakdown is complicated: the ejection seat is 14 parts, the fuel tank is 9 parts and each sidewinder rail is made up of 2 halves. I’m not sure why Hasegawa over-engineered these parts and yet leave so many ejector pin marks on other parts.
The kit comes with 3 marking options for 207th Squadron, 83rd Air Wing F-104Js that flew in custom schemes at the 1984 Air Combat Meet. I got my kit 2nd hand and the decal sheet has already dried and yellowed so I can’t talk about the quality.
Hasegawa is known to put in a bit more effort designing kits of Japanese armed forces equipment: this one is no different. It’s lovely out of the box. Parts breakdown (except for the fuel tanks) are logical. Assembly of the main body was quick although hampered by the many ejector pin marks on the slats, flaps, ailerons and undercarriage. The most annoying part is fixing the pin marks without destroying the beautifully done rivet details.
A major hiccup for me were the wingtip fuel tanks. Each one was made up of 9 parts and they didn’t fit particularly well. Each tank has 4 circular disks that need to be clamped in between the 2 halves. These turn out to require specific orientations to fit flush. After messing up some of them I decided to simply sand them smooth and live without the fine details on them. As it turns out, there would be decals for most of these and would hide the details anyway.
I really like the idea of the undercarriage using polycaps to fit and have always wondered why this method isn’t standard on all kits. It makes for a stronger overall fit and is easier for final assembly.
I realized too late that the clear parts (formation lights?) are supposed to be attached from the INSIDE of the fuselage and fuel tanks and I have left all these off. It turns out though that they would all be covered by decals in the end. All in all, a straightforward build although as usual with Hasegawa, some finicky fit in minor areas. I also managed to drop the whole kit on its nose so I had to go back to fix the shape. There’s always 1 disaster with every build I do so the record is intact.
Colors & Markings
This F-104J will be part of my Aggressor-themed collection of kits: normally plain colored aircraft that are dressed up in special color schemes for adversary training purposes. I’m modeling the blue and white color schemed 46-8621 that flew in the 1979 Air Combat Meet. Decals will be from the TwoBobs 48-051 ‘F-104J Komatsu Starfighters’ sheet.
As this aircraft has a partial full metal finish, I only did the marble coating for the colored areas. These areas required some masking work but were straightforward. I added glaze medium to reduce their opacity so the marble coat still shows through.
The metal finish was simply done over a flat black surface. As usual with metal finishes, I made sure to give the paints a bit more time to cure between masking and painting the different shades. So far, I’ve had very good luck with Vallejo Metal Colors and this time was no different. The colors went on easily with slight thinning.
Once the main colors were done, it was time for decals. As usual, the TwoBobs decals performed very well: they were easy to handle, robust and reacted well to Mark Softer. I did mess up a few stencil markings but the sheet had enough markings for 2 complete F-104Js so I have spare stencils. I’m also glad that the carrier film almost disappeared once cured.
While doing the decals, I realized that I missed out on painting a section on the spine pale yellow so I went back in to mask the area with tape and paper. I used paper for the decals that were already on as masking tape will definitely lift them. This section was quickly painted up with not much problem. 10 minutes masking, 10 seconds of painting. As usual.
I was initially a bit stuck on how I would weather this kit but looking at photos of JASDF F-104Js, they were all kept in very clean conditions so I decided to keep the weathering light. I decided to use Vallejo Model Wash again this time and I like the results. It’s subtler than the usual Raw Umber oil paint wash I use and I think it looks appropriate here with the cleaner look I’m going for. The exhaust was given the same wash and then highlighted with silver pencil. I went heavier with the wash on the metal areas near the exhaust to show some wear in the area.
Last on as usual were the pitot tube, various antenna and the AOA indicator (which I pinged 1 away and decided not to do the other one). And of course, just as everything was done, I dropped one of the wings and the tip of one of the winglets on the port fuel tank broke off. I used 0.25mm plastic card for the last minute repair. It looks OK so long as you don’t look closely.
To finish off the kit, the colored areas were given a spray of flat coat while I sprayed more gloss on the metal areas to seal everything in.
When I drew jet aircraft as a kid, the result always looked like an F-104 even though I didn’t know what an F-104 was then. I guess a rocket tube with wings will always imply a fast flying jet aircraft. And now I have the real thing in my collection!
This build has been relatively painless and the result is a very colorful and striking jet. It’s not without its problems (especially the wing tanks) but Hasegawa has a winner here. Details are great right out of the box and fit was generally good.
I decided it’s time to add a 1/48 modern pilot to join my 1/48 WWII pilot that’s used for size comparisons for my completed kits. There is a surprising lack of offerings for standing modern pilots in 1/48 scale but I finally got my hands of a pair of them, courtesy of Plus Model. Even better, it’s a mixed gender pair. Inside the blister are 2 figures, a duffel bag and a small sheet of decals. An illustration serves as a color guide with no paint codes provided.
I decided to go with the female pilot as it’s more interesting and I prefer the pose. The sculpt looks good overall though I think the face lacks femininity. The pour tabs are small and easily removed.
Once the tabs are cut off and the cut marks sanded down, I scrubbed the figure with soap before pinning onto the cork base. First color on is black as a base.
Then I sprayed white at a 45 degree down angle to hit the spots where the Sun up in the sky will hit on a typical day. This will serve as a base for my highlights and shadows. I then painted with paints cut with a bit of glaze medium to reduce the opacity so the work done previously still shows through. For an added splash of color, I gave the figure a red undershirt. I also went with a tan flight suit to break up the monotony of everything being olive drab.
After the first wash, the figure still looks flat. So I went in to add highlights on the edges and ridges of the figure. I then spent some time tweaking the highlights and shadows by repainting, washing then repainting again.
I then added the shoulder patches from the included decal sheet.
After a final flat coat, I’m done. I think I still have a ways to go with painting faces but I can live with this result.
For what I intend to use it for, I think it looks good.
Brand: Fujimi K-3
Markings: AirDOC Gulf War Warriors 72006 and Hasegawa 00954
The RF-4C was the unarmed tactical reconnaissance variant of the F-4 Phantom II deployed by the USAF. It was similar to the US Marine operated RF-4B but with different engines and a more spacious nose for more camera options. Though unarmed, the RF-4C could carry a tactical nuclear weapon on its centerline pylon and would eventually be modernized to carry the AIM-9 missile. 503 would be built for the USAF and serve from 1964 to 1994.
This build depicts 64-1047, an RF-4C from 106th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) flying during Operation Desert Shield. 106th TRS operated from Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain during this period. 1047 flew 172* sorties over enemy territory in Desert Shield and its mission totals (represented by camels) were painted on its port splitter plate. 1047 would be the ’top scorer’ of 106th TRS, flying more missions than any other RF-4C during this period. The 106th TRS was relieved on 18 December 1990 by the 192nd TRS. 1047 would log 7,300 hours of flight time at the time of its retirement in May 1994 and is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB Ohio.
The first RF-4 kit Fujimi release was the RF-4B in 1984. This particular boxing however, was released in 1996 and offered the option to build either an RF-4C or RF-4E. Fujimi has a different approach to Hasegawa when it comes to depicting the different variants: the RF-4 fuselage comes as 2 nose-to-tail halves instead of simply partial nose segments like Hasegawa. The kit also features:
- Separate fold out instructions for the 2 variants
- ALQ-118 ECM pod included
- 4x AIM-7 Sparrow and 4x AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are included but not used
- Both straight and curve edged pylons (though my copy is missing the former)
- Both RF-4C and RF-4E exhausts
- Chaff boxes for the pylons
- Variant specific antennas and bulges
- Catapult strops or blanked off covers for the bottom fuselage
- A 4-part canopy though you can’t pose these open
- Very fine panel lines
- Clear parts for the camera covers but not the camera parts themselves
- Open or closed flare doors
- Very simplified gear bays
- Horizontal stabilizers that fit via tabs which give a more positive fit
- Markings for 6x RF-4Cs and 2x RF-4Es
Back in the early 1990s I built a Fujimi F-4G and remember it to be a trouble-free build by my standards then. Alas, it wasn’t to be for this one.
This kit was quite a bear to build. An initial dry fit showed that the 2 fuselage halves were ever so warped and this would cause me no end in fitting problems.
Since the parts count was low (especially by modern standards), it quickly took shape but I was seriously bogged down with how everything fit together. This was especially true with the nose and it took multiple sessions of gap filling to get it to look decent. The panel lines were also very (VERY) fine and I lost them in the areas I had to fix. I ended up going back to re-scribe all the lost panel lines and I also deepened the remaining existing panel lines so subsequent painting won’t cover them up.
My copy was bought second hand and it was missing the straight edged pylons that were used by the RF-4C and since I intended to build a modern 1990s-era RF-4C I had to get various donor parts. The straight edged pylons and newer 600 gallon centerline fuel tank came from a Hasegawa F-4G kit and the ALQ-131 ECM pod came from the Italeri (Tamiya reboxed) F-16A/B kit.
Colors & Markings
By the 1990s USAF F-4s were given a very nice and simple 2-tone gray camouflage (aka ‘Hill Gray’) much like the one on the F-16. I went through my usual painting procedure with only 1 minor difference. I started with a base of black, then a marble coat of both medium gray and white. I wanted to see if the 2 tones of marble coat had any effect on the main colors.
The main colors of FS 36270 and FS 36118 were a mix of Vallejo Model Color and Mig AMMO paints. They were thinned with acrylic thinner and given a few drops of Vallejo Glaze Medium to cut their opacity. Interestingly the demarcation lines on the nose were hard-edged but the one on the intakes were soft. These were easily replicated with masking tape and blutack.
The AirDOC sheet stated that the walkways were outlines but based on photos of 64-1047 I had, these needed to be solid dark gray patterns. I decided to mask and spray these instead of using the Hasegawa decals since I thought fitting around the intakes would be an issue. Based on the locations indicated on the Hasegawa instructions, I masked these off and sprayed the walkways.
Once the camouflage was done, I had to mask them off and paint the exhaust area. The primary colors I used were Vallejo Metal Color Exhaust Manifold and Dull Aluminium. There are small sections on the horizontal stabilizer that were darker where I used Model Air Metal Gun Grey. I think the area where I used Exhaust Manifold should be darker but I moved on and addressed it during weathering.
Since I wasn’t particularly happy with this build, I decided to save the (very nicely done) stencils from the AirDOC sheet for a more ‘worthy’ kit. WIth that in mind, I mixed and matched: RF-4C specific markings from AirDOC and generic stencils from Hasegawa F-4G (00954) sheets. I really like the AirDOC decals: they are thin, have barely any carrier film, are strong and reacted very well to Mark Softer. Thing is though, all the numbers were standalone so I had to cut out individual numbers to form all the squadron markings. It was lucky they were so robust (they were printed by Cartograph) since it took time to line up everything. It was a pain, but the end results looked good.
A minor complaint about the AirDOC sheet is that the marking callouts only showed 1 side of each subject. For 64-1047 there was only a port-side view and generic top and bottom views so I had to guesstimate how the shark mouth markings would look from the bottom. The positions of the tail markings were also just a best guess and from various online references. I also suspect the decals weren’t properly sized for Fujimi F-4s but there was nothing seriously over/under-scaled.
After another gloss coat to seal the decals, I did the usual panel wash with Mig AMMO Deep Brown Panel Wash. I previously would wipe everything down with a damp (with turpentine) tissue. This time I tested with a dry make-up sponge and waited till the wash has dried completely. It cleans er… cleanly but requires more effort to get the excess paint off. It worked better when damp with turpentine but started to break off in clumps. Anyway I still have a pack of them and will experiment further.
The whole kit was filtered with red, blue and medium gray oil paints using the oil dot method. I kept the filtering light since this is a 1/72 kit. I then randomly faded the upper surfaces with white oil paint but didn’t with the bottom since the upper surfaces are exposed to the Sun more.
From photos I’ve seen, no 2 F-4s look the same in the exhaust area due to heat stains and general wear and tear so some creativity can be had here. I first filtered the exhaust area with both thinned deep brown wash and black oil paints. Staining was also added with the same colors by splotching thinned oil paints with a used round paint brush. I kept the filters and staining lighter on the bottom but based on photos, the rear area can get quite dirty so I did the same splotching with the round brush using very thinned deep brown wash. I did this in stages as the wash dried.
By this time it does seem like a lot of work for some subtle changes but taken as a whole, the kit now looks visually more interesting.
After everything was given a day to dry, I sprayed a flat coat and did the final assembly for the landing gear and stores. It took some fiddling to attach all of them as the main gear doors were butt joints. The struts also needed trimming.
I had to do some touch-ups after taking off the masking tape but thankfully it was nothing difficult. I did however have to live with a step on the pilot’s canopy. It was that or the canopy won’t fit properly on the side. It was also obvious there were no cameras behind the camera windows. Should really have done something about them.
Now all that remained were painting the usual lights on the wingtips and the tailfin. These were transparent colors over a silver base and shined up with Future. The absolute last thing was the nose probe. This was painted after being attached.
So that’s it. With so many problems, my luck ran out and I did not finish by 27 May 2019, the time limit for an FB group challenge I joined. I did however finish in the last day of May so my ‘1 kit a month’ run was intact. This was far from a good build though. With so many fitting problems and my brute force solutions, this was at best, a 3 foot model ie. looks OK from 3 feet away. Still, having started and stopped a few of the Hasegawa F-4 kits, I’m glad I managed to see this one through to completion.
First introduced in 2008, the VF-1 was developed for the UN Spacy using Overtechnology obtained from the Macross alien spaceship. It would remain as the mainstay fighter throughout what would be called Space War 1. The VF-1 is capable of space flight and is able to have FAST packs attached to it to increase performance and ordinance.
The VF-1 is designed to be able to transform into a bipedal humanoid ‘Battroid’ mode and a hybrid ‘Gerwalk’ mode where the VF-1 takes on the look of a fighter jet with a pair of arms and legs. In Gerwalk mode, the VF-1 has the additional capability of VTOL operations and is able to skim the surface like a hovercraft. In Battroid mode, the VF-1 is pretty much capable of replicating human movements and most importantly, go into hand-to-hand combat with enemies.
The VF-1S is an uprated variant of the standard VF-1 built by Northrom. It features a modified head with 4 lasers, improved engines and avionics and is assigned to squadron leaders and CAGs.
The VF-1 can be augmented with the Shinnakasu Heavy Industry FAST Pack system with six micro-missiles in two NP-AR-01 micro-missile launcher pods (mounted rearwardly under center ventral section in Fighter mode), and two HMMP-02 micro-missile launcher pods. This configuration is called the Super Valkyrie. The HMMP-02 pod can be replaced by the optional Mauler RO-X2A high-powered double-action beam cannon pod (mounted on dorsal section) which changes the VF-1’s designation to Strike Valkyrie.
The Super Strike Valkyrie* variant is armed with 4 FAST packs (2 overhead, 2 underwing) with 2 HMMP-02 pods and 2 RO-X2A beam cannon pods. It is a further modification of the S-FAST pack / Config ver. 1.1 w variant. It is assigned the first strike role and a secondary space defence role. The mission is to quickly intercept the enemy before they get too close to the fleet.
*The Super Strike Valkyrie is my own variant
The base VF-1 kit was first released in 2000. In 2001, the Super and Strike Valkyrie variants were issued. In 2004, Hasegawa released an all-in-1 boxing where you can build either a Super or Strike Valkyrie. Options were also provided for the A/J or S variants.
Revolutionary at the time, the parts were designed to be able to be built in sub-assemblies so you can paint them separately before finally assembling it together. Now that it’s 2019 though, it is showing its age with most of the components broken down to the very basic left and right halves so there are seamlines everywhere.
With that in mind though, the mold is still holding up with a minimal of flash and very finely done panel lines as per Hasegawa’s usual standards. 4 marking options are provided: all of them are for the ‘Macross: Do You Remember Love?’ color schemes. No pilots or missiles are included (you need the weapons set for these). Out of the box, there’s also no gear up option.
Well, the base kit is the same as the VF-1A I built in 2017 so the same comments apply. I did go with a gear up option so some cutting, trimming and adjusting was required for the gear bay doors to fit properly. The most modifications done were on the Super PACKs which would fit under the wings. The female mounting point needed to be filled up and a slot required for the underwing pylon to fit in. I followed the reference pic of the S-FAST pack / Config ver. 1.1 w and armed my VF-1S with AMM-1 and RMS-1 missiles. First strike role so it needs a lot of missiles to do its job. 🙂
The kit is made up of components from 2 separate boxings. but I replaced those that I didn’t assemble properly with new more carefully done ones. Yes it means I have a ton of spares now which can’t be assembled into another VF-1. Oh well.
I pre-painted quite a lot of parts that I foresee would be hard to reach later on. I should have pre-painted the inside of the FAST packs also but didn’t. These would prove to be hard to reach during the painting stage. Lesson learned.
Colors & Markings
I figured only someone as brave (or reckless) as Milia Jenius would fly this configured VF-1 but I didn’t want to paint the whole kit in her red color. It’s… well… too red. So I decided to go with a white VF-1 with red highlights in a splinter pattern. It took quite a bit of masking but was straightforward enough. For the FAST packs I ended up with a darker color than I originally planned but I think they still work with the main color scheme.
I had 2 sets of decals. 1 is old and yellowed but I needed some of the markings from this sheet for the Super packs. All went well until the last piece which started tearing. I ended up fixing it with some red from unused markings on the new sheet. The shade of red didn’t quite match but you won’t know until you stared at it. It’ll have to do.
The new decals went on without a hitch and as usual, reacted very well with Mark Softer. I gave Milia the nose number of ’03’ figuring Hikaru Ichijyo is ’01′ and Maximilian Jenius is ’02’. Stencils were as usual kept to a minimum.
The kit went through my usual stages of weathering of panel wash, fading and filtering but no chipping this time. For the dark FAST packs I panel washed with a medium gray instead of the dark brown I always use. All the clear parts were installed and painted before the components come together.
Final assembly took quite a bit of patience. Some careful planning was required and the components were attached in a specific sequence to reduce the chance of screwing up on my part.
And I’m done! Killing 2 kits in 1 go might be a waste to some, but for me, it’s well worth it to have such a heavily armed variant.
Brand: Italeri 162
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Various (see text)
In 1986, Testors Model Corporation released a conceptual model airplane dubbed the F-19 Ghostrider. Their design was based on Lockheed’s real life ‘HAVE BLUE’ stealth fighter project of the 1970s. This F-19 design became the shape of the stealth fighter in the eyes of the public until the official unveiling of the F-117 Nighthawk in 1990. The MiG-37 was Testor’s concept of the Soviet counterpart for the F-19. Testors surprisingly got the MiG-37’s shape closer to the F-117 Nighthawk than their F-19 design.
The MiG-37 is a more conventional design than the F-19 and as conceptualized, is powered by dual non-afterburning Kumansky turbojets. It is larger than the F-19 and used many components (like the landing gear) from earlier MiG designs. Armaments include tactical nuclear weapons and radar-seeking air-to-ground missiles.
Info adapted from the instruction sheet
The kit comes in the usual Italeri side opening box. There are 3 trees: 2 molded in black and 1 clear. This is a simple kit with only 54 parts. The quality of the plastic is typical of the 1980s: thick and brittle with simple details. What little panel lines there are are the raised type. Some things I’ve noted:
- cockpit details are (surprisingly) molded on, including harness details
- includes a clear part for the HUD though there’s no HUD mount
- canopy cannot be posed open
- bomb bay doors can be posed open
- 2 bombs and 2 missiles are included for the bomb bays. These look fictional.
- able to be modeled gear up
- no external stores or pylons
- airbrakes can be posed open
2 color options for the same aircraft, Bort 36, are included. I can’t determine the quality as my copy has yellowed and is already brittle but it looks to be typical Italeri stuff from the 1980s.
All in all, a very simple kit indeed with mold quality of its time.
Construction begins as usual with the cockpit. The details are simple but molded on. I added a harness with masking tape and busied the plain cockpit area with plastic plates. For the color I went with the weird green hue Soviet plane cockpits tend to come in. Perhaps the green is to keep the pilot’s Russuan bear tendencies at bay? Hah!
The kit came together very quickly but the fit is average in some spots while poor in others. I did the best I could and spent some time to eliminate the gaps that were as wide as 2mm wide. Stores-wise, I decided to keep the front bomb bay closed but I lost the aft bay doors so I mounted 1 of the bombs in there.
Colors & Markings
Both color schemes provided by Italeri are boring: 2-tone gray and white or all black. And since this is a Soviet aircraft, it deserves some splinter/digital camoflage. I went with all gray with a digital camo of black, blue and gray on the upper fuselage. Masking was a challenge but with the Aizu 1.5mm masking tape, the only real challenge was the time it took to mask the patterns. I’m glad to say the result was quite good with barely any paint bleeding or overspray.
Markings-wise, I had to trash the kit decals as they have degraded badly. I used markings from the Eagle Strike EP72092 ‘Sukhoi Su-27 641st Guards Fighter Aviation’ sheet. The stencils come from the Trumpeter Su-30MKK Flanker G kit. I also added a WWII-era Russian propaganda (??) marking on the starboard tail fin. This came from an Academy Il-2 Sturmovik kit.
Panel wash was with the usual Mig AMMO Deep Down panel wash. To blend and lower the contrast between the camo colors together I filtered using the oil paint dot method with dark gray, white, yellow and blue oil paints.
I botched a bit of the final assembly and ended with glue stains in some spots that I had to buff out, repaint and weather. Now the bottom looks more patchy which I think adds to the look of an operational machine. The main gear doors also didn’t fit correctly but I made do with them.
All in all, not my best build by any measurement and the age of the kit really shows in the fitting and details. Still, it’s amazing to see how close Testors got with the shape to the F-117. I really should build the F-19 counterpart to this one. /Looks at my to-build pile…