62-12345, coded 4413
427 Wg, 8 Sqn, RoCAF.
Hasegawa 1/48th scale
This F-104G was built using the standard Hasegawa F-104G kit in combination with the beautiful Black Box F-104G/J cockpit set (#48006). The kit was built straight from the box apart from the aforementioned cockpit, which unfortunately did not fit perfectly. This might have been my own mistake though. The cockpit section seemed to be too wide at the front, and this resulted in the fuselage having a small bulge where the front starboard cockpit corner meets the fuselage. I was not sure whether the fuselage seam would hold with this kind of pressure coming from the inside so I drilled two small holes in the front fuselage bulkhead and secured it with a piece of wire. Also, the bulge was removed with a bit of sanding. Black Box does not tell you to remove the floor of the cockpit so I did not do this, although I have later found out that this is, strictly speaking, incorrect. The ejection seat will cover most of this area anyway so it is no big deal.
Apart from the area below the windscreen the rest of the kit went together without any problems. I did, however, modify the Martin Baker ejection seat slightly so that it would represent the type used in the Danish F-104s. The Black Box Martin Baker seat has the D-shaped headrest as found in e.g. some German and Italian airframes. Since this aircraft was going to be a RoCAF F-104G formerly in Danish service it would most likely have been fitted with the trapeze shaped headrest. The cockpit was painted dark gull grey FS 36231 with panels and instruments painted black. Various details were picked out in white, red, yellow etc.
From an early stage I decided not to use the Black Box underwing fuel tanks and pylons on this kit. The fins on the tanks are incorrect and bent out of shape so they will need to be replaced anyway. With the airframe being complete it was time to paint the model.My initial plan with this model was to build a German F-104G but due to the fact that I did not have the right colours in store when it was time to paint the model, I decided to finish it as a Taiwanese aircraft. After all, I already had plans to build one of the former Danish F-104s in service with the RoCAF so it was just a question of which model to paint in that specific scheme.
The F-104Gs received from Denmark were all in the 44xx range so I started looking for pictures of these. I did find a couple of pictures on the internet, all showing the light and dark ghost grey ‘cloud’ scheme. To my surprise I noticed that at least two of these former Danish F-104Gs were carrying the Red Dog AIM-9 launcher underneath the belly. This is the type included in the Hasegawa F-104 kits (but not the correct type for most F-104Gs). This saved me some scratch building and at the same time allowed me to arm my model with Sidewinders.
The two colours used for this scheme, light ghost grey FS 36375 and dark ghost grey FS 36320, happened to be in my stock of Xtracolor so that it what I used. Actually, after something like 10 years storage the darker colour had turned grainy and useless so I had to find a replacement. That is when I remembered one of the German RAL colours to be identical to FS 36320 – and I had this colour in stock, also from Xtracolor (RAL 7001). With both colours sprayed on freehand it was just a matter of masking off the radome and the anti-glare panel and paint them light grey and dark green respectively.
I had three sources of decals for the Taiwanese F-104s; Hasegawa kit #09365, Albatros decals #ALC-48006 and Eagle Strike decals #48239. Of those three it seems that Hasegawa is the most correct source as they provide you with dark blue codes instead of black codes as on the other two sheets. By combining the various Hasegawa decals I managed to find all the necessary decals apart from the squadron badge on the tail fin. This was found on the Albatros sheet.
The hardest part during application of decals was to cut out the individual numbers necessary for my model – especially the small codes and serial numbers. I did not trim off the carrier film on most of the decals as I hoped it would help the decals to blend into the surface. In fact, these decals are not as thick as Hasegawa’s usual decals, and they also seem slightly less glossy. The latter sometimes result in the dreaded silver effect underneath the decals but with a little care this isn’t a problem here. Should this happen, a needle and some Johnson’s Kleer will do the trick. After a day’s work the decals have all been applied, and the model can be set aside and allowed to fully dry.When the decals had been allowed to dry for several days any residue was wiped off with a damp cloth. Then it was time to give the model a coat of Johnson’s Kleer to seal the decals and the paint job.
I found that on this model my pre-shading had been so effective that I did not have to give the panel lines the usual oil colour wash. The weathering was thus limited to applying exhaust and gun gas staining on the upper port fuselage and behind the gun muzzle respectively. This was done before I applied a flat coat of Testor Model Master flat varnish – just in case I overdid the staining and would have to wipe it off again. The paint chipping was done after the flat coat had dried. I tried to keep the paint chipping to a minimum.The various sub-assemblies, fuselage, horizontal tail planes, wing tip tank, undercarriage and weaponry, were now finished and ready to be joined.
After painting my model I have come across Steven Weng's great pictures. They can be found here.
...More to follow...