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Kinetic F-104G Starfighter

Build review of the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with good fits
Kinetic Models continues its 1/48 scale military jet line with an F-104 in the Gold series; this particular boxing features Luftwaffe aircraft. 

The kit comprises 220 plastic parts, 28 of which are clean, clear plastic for the canopy sections and lights. Well-engineered photo-etched metal (PE) parts provide appropriate details, including wingtip end-caps if you model the aircraft sans wingtip fuel tanks. 

Finally, decals designed by Cross Delta and printed by Cartograf provide markings for three German fighters; they were a delight to apply. But be aware that Mr. Mark Softer is a bit aggressive for these decals; Microscale Micro Set and Micro Sol were perfect.

Overall this is a well designed and engineered kit. For the most part, fit throughout was hassle-free, with only small amounts of filler required in limited areas. 

The cockpit features sharp, accurate details, but there is no provision to detail the instrument panel, other than blank raised bezels. It is surprising in this day and age that there are no decals for instrument faces. Sidewall details are well represented, too, a first for out-of-the-box F-104 kits. I confess that I couldn’t make sense of the PE seat belts and chose to omit them. (I would use an aftermarket resin seat with molded belts if I build another Kinetic Starfighter, but that’s the only change I would make.) 

Internal details in the wheel wells, afterburner, avionics bay, and radar are well done. I chose not to install the radar as I just like the look of the F-104 with the nose cone in place.

The fuselage-mounted air brakes usually are not open when the full-sized aircraft is on the ground, but the kit’s air brake parts require modification to pose them closed.

Another first for this kit, I believe, is the inclusion of underwing fuel tanks and pylons as well as wingtip tanks. These all scale nicely based on my references. The tip tanks need to be modified to sit at the correct angle relevant to the wing panel. Sanding a chamfer on the underside of the wing so that the tank can rotate slightly will allow the tank fins to be correctly aligned to the wing panel. 

The instructions for this kit are clear and concise with color callouts for Ammo by Mig Jimenez paints; a cross-reference includes Vallejo Model Color, Mr. Color, Tamiya, and Humbrol colors. There are some dubious color specifications for the German naval air wing aircraft (for some reason only the two side views are provided for this option) with the underside being designated as silver; I believe it should be RAL 7001 silbergrau, a light, non-metallic gray. (Yes, I neglected to follow the modelers Prime Directive to check your references and used silver! Eagle-eyed readers will also note that the red turbine stripe on the rear fuselage is in the wrong place, for the same reason.) 

The inclusion of the avionics bay immediately behind the cockpit is welcome as is the canopy frame tubing, a first for any kit of this aircraft. However, there are no mounting devices for either of the canopy panels, so careful gluing was required.

Obviously, comparisons to the older Hasegawa kit are inevitable. Kinetic has the edge with regards to the amount of detail provided in the box and the wings festooned with inappropriate rivets. However, the Hasegawa kit can be found for less if you shop around. Would I build another one? Absolutely! It builds well and features accurate, copious detail. And I do like Japanese F-104 Aggressors ...

Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2020 issue.


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