Review: Italeri 1/32 TF-104G

Italeri 1/32 TF-104G

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft which later became widely used as an attack aircraft. It was originally developed by Lockheed for the United States Air Force (USAF), but was later produced by several other nations, seeing widespread service outside the United States.

The TF-104G (Lockheed Model 583-10-20) was the combat-capable two-seat version of the F-104G. It had a cockpit canopy similar to that of the F-104D, with a fixed transparent area separating the two separate leftward-opening canopies. It was fitted with the NASARR fire control system of the single-seat F-104G and was equipped with underwing racks which could accommodate many of the same offensive weapons that the single-seat F-104G could carry. However, the TF-104G did not have the centerline bomb rack of the single seat F-104G version. As in the case of the F-104B and D two-seaters of the USAF, the 20-mm Vulcan cannon that the single-seat F-104G carried had to be deleted, some internal equipment had to be rearranged, and the internal fuel capacity had to be reduced.

All of the TF-104G two-seaters were built by Lockheed, although some used components supplied by the European Starfighter consortium. Since the TF-104G aircraft was so similar to the F-104D two-seater of the USAF, no prototype was built and the first machine was actually a production machine. Including 48 aircraft assembled from components supplied by the European Starfighter consortium, Lockheed built a total of 220 TF-104Gs in six versions, generally distinguished from each other by the nation which was to receive them. These versions were identified by adding a letter after their Model 583 company designations. Models 583C through H were respectively versions destined for MAP delivery to Germany and Italy, and for direct delivery to Holland, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

One of the Model 583Ds was retained by Lockheed as a demonstrator. It carried the civil registration number N104L and was nicknamed *Free World Defender*. It was used by the well-known aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran to set three women’s world’s speed records. On May 11, 1964, she averaged 1429.3 mph over a 15/25 km course, on June 1 she flew at an average speed of 1303.18 mph over a 100-km closed-circuit course, and on June 3 she flew at an average speed of 1127.4 mph over a 500-km closed-circuit course. Ms. Cochran’s Model 583D was eventually delivered to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu) with the Dutch serial number D-5072.

Two ex-Luftwaffe TF-104Gs were acquired by NASA in July of 1975 and were given the civilian registration numbers N824NA and N825NA.

Many of the TF-104Gs were purchased with MAP funds, and those that were were assigned USAF serial numbers for record-keeping purposes, even though they never carried USAF insignia. In addition, numerous Luftwaffe TF-104Gs operated with training units in the USA and carried USAF insignia and serial numbers even though they remained German property.

As far as I can tell if you want a 1/32 TF-104G then Italeri are the only option. There is a conversion kit on the market to allow you to convert other F-104Gs into TF-104G, but that’s about the only competition out there.

The kit comes with a top opening box and it is quite sturdy. The sprues are all bagged separately and the PE and clear parts are in their own bags. The PE parts have a stiff cardboard backing. The PE and clear parts are separated from the rest of the parts in the box and taped down in place so they can’t move. Overall the packaging is excellent and the kit arrived with all the parts still attached to the sprues apart from the tail plane, but that was still inside it’s bag and caused no problems. Inside the box we have:

  • 36 step build instruction sheet
  • 12 page painting and decal placement guide
  • 338 plastic parts on 7 frets (48 not used)
  • 24 clear parts
  • 47 PE parts
  • 2 large decal sheets

The level of detail is very good, as you’d expect with a modern 1/32 kit. I like that you have a few options in the build. You get different ejector seat types for some of the decal options and you have the option of building the kit with the engine inside the aircraft our outside on a stand. If you choose the latter option you also get a stand for the tail. The engine has a good level of detail and is made of 14 parts. You also get a crew access ladder to put up against the cockpit.

The build is done over 36 steps but some of them are options, such as steps 1 and 2 are for Martin-Baker seats and steps 3 to 5 are for Lockheed ejector seats. Overall it should actually be a pretty straightforward build. The instructions are clearly laid out and a nice size.

Colours are called out as needed through the build. IN the painting guide they are named, given FS references and listed in the Italeri paint chart. There are 8 decal options and all are good choices. You can choose from an aluminium finish to camouflage and a few styles in between and they cover 7 nationalities.

This kit is currently a future release at KitLinks for $107.99.

Conclusion
This is a very nice kit with some good diorama options in the box. You could do a nice simple build or you could go to town and leave the engine out on its stand in a hanger environment.

Many thanks to Italeri for sending along the kit for review.

Paul Tosney – Editor
ModelBuilder International
Scifiantasy
HobbyLink International
eBay Store

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