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ESCI 1/12 scale
F-104 Starfighter Cockpit


F-104 Starfighter Cockpit

by Anthony Papadis

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Although Esci no longer exists as a company, many of their moulds live on, thanks to Italeri who are presently re-releasing many old Esci kits. Two kits that Italeri have recently re-issued (under their own moniker) are the 1/12  “Cockpit Series” kits. These consisted of an F-16A and the F-104 Starfighter cockpits, the subject of this feature. 

As I have already mentioned, Italeri have re-issued these kits, however this kit is actually an original Esci kit which I bought some time ago. The kits feature a wealth of detail which can be readily appreciated in this scale.  I used the excellent Verlinden “Lock-On No.1” as my main reference, in addition to the ejection seat site (www.ejectionseatsite.com)



The seat in the kit was more representative of European operators who used the Martin Baker GQ-7 series seats (these ejected upwards rather than downwards) rather than the original Lockheed designed C-2 seat. 

Also included is a piece of self adhesive material which has the pre-printed seatbelts. The instructions require that you simply cut the required belt and stick them onto the seat after threading them through the appropriate buckles.

Unfortunately, the pattern suggested in the instructions is greatly oversimplified compared to the ‘spaghetti’ like arrangement of the real item. The seat is also a little simplistic and lacks some detail.



Additions and Improvements


I added and/or improved the following items:

  • Face curtain and seat pan firing handles replaced by copper wire in order to eliminate the need to remove the moulding seam. The cross section of the kit  handles was also elliptical rather than round

  • The instrument bodies were scratchbuilt and added to the rear of the instrument panel

  • The dust boot for the base of the control column was made from some lead foil

  • The various hoses for the PEC  (Personal Equipment Connector) were fabricated by wrapping  8Amp fuse wire around a core of 16Amp fuse wire to simulate ribbed oxy hoses

  • The pilots ‘wander leads’ (portable spotlights) were drilled out and a clear MV lens installed. The electrical leads were made by wrapping  8Amp  fuse wire a round a needle and then stretching the wire slightly after removing it from the needle

  • The belt material was cut to suitable length and added to the seat to represent the proper belt arrangement. Esci’s belts were all printed in a horrible red brown colour (the original colour is visible on the seat as the horizontal brown belt to which the Sutton type harness is attached. The various belts were then painted in an appropriate colour

  • The scissor shackle on top of the drogue chute housing (head box) was made from plastic sheet and the drogue gun and  guillotine housing were fabricated from various bits of undercarriage leg taken from my spares box. The barostat and timing mechanism was also embellished with bits of wire and plastic to better represent the real item.

  • The ‘bowyangs’ or leg restraints were made from thin lead foil. These items attach at the base of the seat and their purpose is to restrain the pilot’s legs during the ejection sequence. After they draw the pilots legs back to the seat they lock the in place, as the flailing legs could be broken and even amputated during ejection. On the original C-2 seat, the pilot actually wore little ‘spurs’ that would lock into the foot troughs Shades of the Old West?





I love these kits. Like many aircraft modellers, one of my favourite parts of any build is the cockpit, so these kits are like an aircraft modellers dream! The kits also feature a nifty little helmet. Unfortunately, I managed to lose mine in one of my moves. Moving really sucks! 



There is tremendous scope for the detail nut with these kits, especially if you decide to build the side walls and fuselage sides etc. I really enjoyed building my ‘pit. It has since been to many model shows and been placed first at both state and national modelling competitions.  I rarely look at any of my built models after they re completed, however, this kit continues to occupy a prime position in my study.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Anthony Papadis
Page Created 20 May, 2004
Last Updated 19 May, 2004

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