Reviewed by Brett Green
The Lockheed F-104J is the Japanese version of the Starfighter. The Japanese Starfighter was substantially similar to the early F-104G. In fact, the first F-104Js were simply re-assembled F-104Gs.
Hasegawa's first F-104 in 1/48 scale comprises 117 light grey styrene parts (3 not used); 19 clear parts (10 not used); and 4 poly caps (one not used). All 13 grey sprues are squeezed into a single plastic bag, risking scratching and scuffing in transit.
The wing assembly is designed so that movable surfaces can be positioned. The slats, flaps and ailerons are all single parts. This is not only handy for personalising your Starfighter, but also ensures sharp leading and trailing edges on the razor-like flying surfaces. Slats and flaps have rounded joining surfaces to simplify positioning, while the ailerons (and rudder) are connected via pins. The pins will have to be removed if these parts are to be repositioned.
The undercarriage is another highlight. The main wheels are supplied with a separate tyre and two-piece wheel hub. Undercarriage legs are secured using poly caps. Both of these features will make painting and final assembly of this model much simpler.
The large, colourful decal sheet supplies markings for ten JASDF Starfighters in the same basic scheme of silver fuselage, with grey and white wings.
Instructions are typical Hasegawa fare with construction called out over 18 steps using extensive diagrams and sporadic descriptions.
There is only one misleading instruction that I have found so far. If you want to install the optional clear parts for the fuselage and fuel tank formation lights (as called out in Steps 11 and 18), you will have to drill out the holes and install the clear parts FROM THE INSIDE of the parts in twelve positions BEFORE THE FUSELAGE AND TANKS ARE ASSEMBLED. In other words, drill these holes and install the parts before Step 5, Fuselage Assembly.
It should come as no surprise that Hasegawa's new 1/48 scale F-104J is a beautiful kit. Its pedigree is long and distinguished. By coincidence, I bought the re-released Hasegawa 1/48 scale F-4J Phantom II kit at the same time as the F-104. The Phantom dates back to the late 1980s, but still holds up well by today's standards in terms of surface texture, detail and accuracy. Over a decade later, this Starfighter continues and refines that tradition.
Review and Image Copyright © 2000 by Brett Green