by: Milan Mitev [ ]
History The Starfighter originated back to the middle of the last century and is famous as one of the most unique and successful US interceptors. The Starfighter is a legendary plane, because it has many common features with the other US jet fighters from the Cold War era, and in the same time, it is a one of a kind plane. The rather small wings with negative dihedral that significantly reduce the drag and let it fly at very high speeds, the T-tail, the small canopy and the slim fuselage profile are only a small part of all that makes this plane unique. The specific silver finish of the F-104 is another awesome characteristic and is also very well highlighted in the Eduard kit almost all the airframes that can be made out of this kit feature some kind of glossy silver finish.
Content of the 1/48 scale kits As it is a limited edition 2-in-1 kit, respectively it has a box that looks like a beautiful two-sided box. However, there are no printings on the box at all and instead it is wrapped in thin cardboard that has 2 beautiful boxarts on both sides, respectively of the Bundesfighter and of the NATOfighter.
Right after unboxing, one can come across just one transparent bag with plastic parts, which looks rather small for the size of the box. It is definitely a big bag with plastic parts and contains parts for only one airframe (one model), while just about everything else is doubled so you can choose between a Bundesfighter or NATOfighter finish of your model. Even without unpacking the plastic parts it`s easily noticeable that the build will be easy: the plastic parts are not really numerous; they are rather small; the F-104 is basically a small plane. Nevertheless, it will be a long and exhilarating build if you really want to achieve maximum realism in this model, because it has a variety of precision and high quality parts. When it comes to these high quality parts the kit is something like a typical Eduard Limited Edition kit, but only that we talk about 2 kits in 1 box. There are two typical Eduard instruction manuals respectively one for the Bundesfighter and one for the NATOfighter. With some small exceptions, such as a few small nodes on the fuselage, both assembly instructions are identical.
Differences between the markings The main differences are in the marking options and not only that the F-104 has few decals and a lot of stencils. The F-104 Bundesfighter almost entirely features decals for airframes that are somehow related to the German Air Force and from a narrower time period around the `80s.
The F-104 NATOfighter has decals for airframes related to a much wider time period from the `60s to the `90s, as well as offers airframes from different countries.
Greatest advantages of the kit
- Doubled PE and resin parts. It`s hard to notice any difference in both sheets with photoetched details, so at first glance they may look like an error in the kit. There will be definitely a good amount of leftover photoetch pieces to include in further builds.
- Choice from 10 airframes. There is nothing better than seeing plenty of decals and marking options out of the box. Five for each model, so a total of ten different marking options from this single kit. Some airframes have beautiful camouflages, others have low-vis painting schemes, others are for typical glossy silver Starfighters.
- Extensive riveting. The F-104 has numerous contrasting rivets and this is mostly due to the bare silver surfaces of the real plane. The rivets are clearly visible in the real plane and this 1/48 scale model has extensive riveting too.
- Ease of assembly. A few plastic parts, which assembly is spread out over 7 pages (4 sheets) in the instruction manual. Two big full-length pieces of the fuselage.
- Soft vinyl caps. The small black caps are installed into small holes, which permit to move some parts with a smooth motion.
- Inserting transparent parts. Most of the tiny little transparent parts, such as lights and sensors, are designed to be inserted from the inner side of pre-drilled holes on the plastic parts. This will leave clean round contours of the tiny little transparent parts from the outer (visible) side.
- Numerous positionable details. Slats, flaps, ailerons, airbrakes and many others are provided as separate pieces, so they can easily be glued at different angles in order to display a parked model, or a model in flight maybe.
- Highly detailed nozzle. The nozzle as a OOB nozzle is a superb one-piece part. All the turkey feathers are clearly distinguishable, the round edge of the nozzle is sufficiently thin and there are plenty of inner details as well.
Cons and imperfections- Packing of the plastic parts. Because almost all the sprues are packed in one single big bag there is a risk of bent and/or scratched parts. Fortunately, the crystal-clear canopy is packed in an individual bag, and yet only one big bag houses all the plastic details.
- Lack of ordnance. There is just no ordnance like missiles, bombs and others. The two fuel tanks on the wingtips make some kind of exception, but they are a rather typical part from the silhouette of the Starfighter.
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