Brand-new Kitty Hawk Models’ first kit is a 1/48 scale Lockheed F-94C Starfire. The kit comprises 125 injection-molded parts on three sprues of soft, light gray styrene, one clear sprue, three steel ball bearings, and a sheet of photoetched metal. The decal sheet is printed by Cartograf and includes markings for two colorful aircraft; as always with Cartograf, the printing is crisp and in perfect register. The engraved panel lines are fine and consistent across the airframe. The flaps and rudder are molded separately but cannot be posed. The exhaust and afterburner are realistically deep. Tires have a slight bulge/flat spot molded on.
You do have a few options: The mid-wing rocket pods can be built with their steam lines, nose cones, or without showing loaded rocket tubes; the speed brakes can be open or closed; and the canopy can be open or closed.
The instruction book is 12 pages, in color, with 19 steps of easy-to-read line drawings. Paint colors are for Gunze Sangyo acrylics; U.S. Federal Standard numbers are listed under them. I especially enjoyed the full-color decal placement guides on the last two pages. Nice!
Starting in the cockpit, you can use the kit-supplied photoetched-metal side consoles; the instructions say a decal can be used instead of the photoetched-metal instrument panel. The problem with not using the photoetched-metal panel is the injection-molded one is too narrow and most of the decal would have to be trimmed to fit. I ended up using the metal with the decal (instead of painting it). It worked fine! The metal parts fit perfectly and, after painting and dry-brushing, looked convincing.
Removing some of the smaller detail parts is delicate work. The plastic is soft, brittle, and tends to “tear,” even when using side cutters. I went to a small razor saw for some of them.
The seat belts are photoetched metal, but, strangely, only a single shoulder belt was included instead of the usual two.
With all the cockpit parts painted, I was ready to assemble them I noticed there were ejector-pin marks in what I thought was the bottom of the cockpit floor; actually, it was the top of the floor. I ended up filling them with putty. Another issue with the cockpit floor was the lack of locator holes for the pins underneath the ejection seats. Instead of trying to locate and drill the holes, I simply removed the seats’ locating pins with a few swipes of a sanding stick.
Assembly of the fuselage was trouble-free. I had no more trouble until Step 11: removing the two-piece air intakes without marring them. The intakes had oversize attachment points; being careful here will save fitting and sanding to hide seams later. I discovered that Part C36 did not allow Part C34 to fit over it properly, so I left Part C36 out. I super glued the three ball bearings to the inside of part C34 to prevent the model from sitting on its tail.
When I test fitted the wing to the fuselage, I discovered a gap on both sides of the upper wings. A small spreader bar of scrap styrene resolved the issue.
The rest of the kit went smoothly. The photoetched-metal pieces for the wheel-well doors and speed brakes were just right.
For painting, I decanted Tamiya AS-12 bare-metal silver into my airbrush. Once that was dry, I gave the model a sludge wash of flat back to accent the panel lines.
I chose the decals shown in the box art. Starting with the wingtip tanks, I noticed each of them had a raised rectangle about halfway down that the strips would have to fit over. Rather than deal with trying to make the decal conform, I sanded the raised area away. The red strips did not fit correctly at the front of the drop tank or with the vertical centerline of the tank. I ended up mixing some Tamiya red with a little orange to touch up the edges and make them line up.
I had left the nose radome off to this point to avoid having to mask it while painting the silver, and that ended up saving me some heartache. The kit-supplied ball-bearing weights weren’t enough to keep the plane on its three wheels, so I added a large fishing sinker to the inside of the radome and glued it in place. Problem solved.
I found Kitty Hawk’s Starfire an enjoyable build. I spent 25 hours on the model, which is fairly typical for me. If you have the modeling experience to deal with some of the fit issues and delicate parts, you will be rewarded with an attractive model.
A version of this review appeared in the December 2012 FineScale Modeler.