Since Hasegawa released the single-seat F-104 some years ago modellers have eagerly awaited a two-seat version of this beautiful aircraft. Those who could not wait had the choice of either modifying their kit or use an expensive conversion set. I have to admit to having been tempted to buy the conversion set, but it was twice the price of the original kit - which of course also had to be bought. After all, it was a conversion set, so I figured that if a substantial number of modellers started this conversion Hasegawa would eventually release the TF-104. Lo and behold, Hasegawa actually did release it, and it is now hitting the shelves in the hobby shops all over Europe (and probably disappearing from the shelves just as fast).

The TF-104G was the first release with the F-104DJ being the second. Now it seems the plastic parts of these two kits have been combined in the TF-104G/F-104D kit. Hopefully Hasegawa will release the kit as a CF-104D too. That leaves only the F-104B and the F-104F to be made, although I find a release of the latter to be rather unrealistic.
This review is based on the TF-104G and the TF-104G/F-104D kits. I do not have the F-104DJ yet so I cannot comment on the decals in that kit.

The kit in general

The kit consists of about 185-200 parts on 16-21 sprues depending on which kit you get - more on this later. Many of the sprues have been carried over from the single seat variant but the kit contains three new sprues; one with two instrument panels, one with clear parts, and finally one with new cockpit, seat guide rails, lower front fuselage and wing pylons. The wing pylons have been missing from the single seat kits all the time, but now they are finally here, albeit only in the two-seaters. The fact that several sprues originate from the single seat kits means that you will have a lot of spare parts after finishing this kit. The entire cockpit is an example of this, and I guess this could come in handy for people who still have the old Monogram kit but do not want to spend money on an aftermarket cockpit for that old kit. As in the previous kits all parts are beautifully moulded although, unfortunately, some minor flash and ejector rings are present. The latter can be found on parts like the leading edge flaps and the undercarriage. Filling these marks is not a problem but it is a shame that such things are to be found on a kit this good! All panel lines and rivets are recessed, and I am sure some people would prefer to fill all those rivet holes on the wings and aft fuselage.

The TF-104G contains the Martin Baker GQ-7 ejection seat along with its cockpit mounted rails - the correct version for the TF-104G I might add. The combined TF-104G/F-104D kit contains both the C-2 seats and the Martin Baker seats. The seats are nice and capture the look of the GQ-7 but there are no seat belts apart from a lap belt, and some areas like the parachute container (behind the pilot's shoulders) on the Martin Baker seats should be more rounded on the top. With minor modifications and details the kit seat can be turned into something really nice. The rest of the cockpit consists of the two-seat tub, sticks, throttles and instrument panels. For some odd reason Hasegawa has not included aft cockpit bulkheads for either of the cockpits. Also, the cockpit sides inside the fuselage are not detailed at all, but add some plastic strips according to ones references would get you a long way. As usual instrument panels and consoles all have very nice raised details but decals are included if the modeller prefer to use these.

The rest of the fuselage contains only the main wheel well and the afterburner. The latter consists of four parts and even includes the flame holder. The main wheel well is very nice and considering the fact that very little of the main gear bay can be seen when the main gear doors are almost closed the level of detail is sufficient. Poly caps are included to hold the undercarriage in place after completion. Beware that test fitting the undercarriage can result in broken main gear legs because the poly caps will not let go of the plastic parts (do not ask me how I know this).
After the fuselage halves have dried the lower front fuselage can be added. This is a new part correctly portraying the rearwards retracting nose gear of the two-seat F-104s. Be careful and do a lot of dry fitting here if you want to obtain a smooth joint. The radome is split horizontally but with care no noticeable seam should occur. Note that the model needs a few grams of nose weight to avoid ending up with a tail sitter!
The intakes are simple but still the best in any scale. There is really no need for more in this area as the view into the intake is very limited. It is possible to fit the airbrakes on the aft fuselage sides in the open position - being the nicest airbrakes in any scale it is a crime not to do so. Open speed brakes were rarely seen on the real thing when it was parked though. If the airbrakes are to be closed be careful with the fit as they tend to sink into the fuselage

The wings are the same as the ones in the single-seat versions. They consist of five pieces each: Upper and lower surfaces, leading edge and trailing edge flaps and aileron. Be careful not to remove the small details on the wing tips when removing the upper wing surfaces from the sprues. These details represent navigation lights etc. - this is only really important if the tip tanks or tip launchers are not fitted though. The leading edge flaps will benefit from having some small pieces of plastic added between them and their respective wings, otherwise the flaps will sink into the leading edge of the wings. The wing's 10 degrees anhedral is supported by the bulkhead that is part of the main wheel well; a simple but effective solution. The stabiliser and the rudder are separate parts, thus enabling the modeller to place them in a position other than neutral. As mentioned earlier the flaps, rudder and ailerons all have ejector pin marks which need to be filled - not good if you are going to make a natural metal bird.

The lower front fuselage is a separate part just like on the single-seat models. However, while the part from the single-seat kits is still included, the two-seat F-104s had rearward-retracting nose wheel, and this is provided for with a new lower front fuselage. The nose landing gear consists of three parts plus nose wheel. Unlike most other F-104 kits the main landing gear legs are moulded as two parts, not one, and consist of three parts each excluding the main wheel. Both the small and large main wheels are included - as are the two types of wheel hubs. In the TF-104G only the bulged main gear doors are provided, but the combined TF-104G/F-104D kit includes both types of main gear door. Hasegawa has not been as thorough in showing the placement of the main wheel doors as in the 1/72nd scale kits; the large main gear doors parts hang down a little after shut-down due to the loss of hydraulic power.

Unlike the single-seat releases of the F-104 this kit includes wing pylons in addition to the stores carried over from the single-seat versions, i.e. wing tip tanks and the double AIM-9 Sidewinder launcher mounted on the fuselage. The former would require some modifications if they are to be mounted on the wing pylons, and the latter is not appropriate for TF-104Gs. TF-104Gs usually carried Sidewinder missiles on Aero-3B launchers mounted on the wing pylons. These launchers are not included either.
All the clear parts have been carried over from the single-seat F-104 kits. Added to these are new parts for the two-seat F-104s, including a new canopy and navigation lights. The new parts are clear and very nice. The new navigation lights are of the teardrop shaped type. These were also used on some of the single-seat F-104s, so these would also have been nice to have in all the Hasegawa F-104 kits.


The fit of parts is near perfect. A little filler was used, primarily around the intake/fuselage joints, but that could partly be due to my own faults.

The TF-104G kit

The TF-104G includes markings for a German aircraft (27-73) from JBG 31 in the splinter scheme, and an Italian aircraft (4-36) from 4th Stormo, 20th Gruppo in the overall medium grey scheme. Unfortunately the national markings are dimensionally incorrect on the Italian aircraft.


The combined TF-104G/F-104D kit
There kit includes markings for two F-104Ds and one TF-104G, all three in natural metal. The TF-104G is the most colourful, being a bicentennial bird from 58 TTW/418 TFTS with red, white and blue trim on the tail fin. The second one is a plain jane aircraft from 436 TFS with the well-known TAC badge and lightning on the tail fin. This is also the only of the three aircraft that has the IFR probe. The last one is another plain jane aircraft, however, instead of the TAC badge and lightning it has a red, white and blue stripe on the tail fin. The instructions show the tail fin to be natural metal on all three aircraft while in fact it was ADC grey on the last one. This is evidenced by a picture in the F-104 Detail & Scale book.
Conclusion

These two-seat F-104s are a nice and timely addition to the previous releases. The quality is still very high, although the injector pin marks are still present. Also, the lack of cockpit bulkheads is a drawback, while on the other hand underwing pylons have been included. Very highly recommended!