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1/48 scale Hasegawa & Cutting Edge
F-104S ASA Starfighter

by Pierpaolo Maglio

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F-104S Starfighter is available online from Squadron




This is the very last year of service for the F-104, after more than one million flying hours over forty years the most representative fighter of the Italian Air force (AMI) is being phased out, so as a modeller I want to celebrate this event my way. I had some photos of the Italian Air Force F-104S-ASA coded 5-35, that I took in the Summer of 1994 at Rimini AFB. It was a fighter from the 5th Wing (Diana The Huntress on the tail), 23rd C.I.O. All Weather Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (Greyhound on the intakes) then based at Rimini AB near my home. Because of this legacy I decided that 5-35 should be my next Starfighter.

The fighter had low-viz markings and small national insignia but retained the NATO standard green/gray camouflage with flat aluminum undersurfaces. Later it was repainted in air superiority gray overall.





This is Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F-104S with Cutting Edge's conversion and detail set.

It was a big project for me, the Hasegawa kit in 1/48 is good but needs a lot of work to become a real F-104“S”. Hasegawa just gives you the same parts that you can find in the F-104G, a pair of additional ventral fins and a decal to simulate the different panels on the “S” air intake. Indeed, on the “G” model the air intakes had a trapezoidal panel on the sides, while in the “S” model there are rectangular auxiliary air intakes. These are always completely open during scramble take off especially on hot Summer days. No wing pylons are given in the box and this is really disappointing since Italian Starfighters always used them and never used the ones under the air intakes. So I ordered the Cutting Edge (48267) resin conversion set and it helped me a lot since it contains full perfectly shaped air intakes, many pylons and RWR and ECM antennae. However, it comes with insufficient and sometimes incorrect instructions (for instance, the anti collision light behind the canopy should be white not red) and the pictures of the real thing show that some of the antennae and lights are located not in the same places as indicated in the resin kit instructions, so always check your reference before gluing those parts.

I have to say that the CE set fitted perfectly into Hasegawa plastic parts with only minor trimming problems. What I really don’t like of the Hasegawa kit are the rivets: there are too many of them (some are located in parts where they shouldn’t, like the flaps) and they are too deep and too large for 1/48 scale. So I tried to sand them down a little, especially on the wings and flaps.

I cut out the brake chute compartment under the belly of the kit along panel lines. This surgical operation was simplified by the unusual fact that Hasegawa has made the F-104 kit in a softer plastic that their standard. Once again I found out that the CE drogue chute door fitted perfectly in the hole.



I would have liked my Starfighter to be fitted with underwing tanks, Sidewinder tip launchers and Sparrow/Aspide launchers on underwings outer pylons. Such configuration is the best one available on the Italian Starfighters, because, as pilots use to say, it gives you the best combination of fuel and armament. Not to mention that the aircraft in my photos showed that configuration. By the way, the CE set doesn’t include any underwing tanks and since it is almost impossible to convert the tip tanks that come with the Hasegawa kit into underwing ones, I had to choose a different combination, with tip tanks, a Sparrow launcher under the right wing and a Sidewinder launcher under the left wing. At that stage no missile was installed since I could not find a good pair of them, but the CE launchers are so well detailed that I might never put the missiles on. I did not use the centerline station rack under the belly, as it was removed on Italian interceptors.

The Hasegawa ejection seat was also replaced by a Martin Baker by CE.


Painting and Markings


Painting was straightforward: Future on all plastic, Acald II White Aluminum on undersurfaces and then some more Future to seal it off. I used my personal mixes of Tamiya gray and Gunze green for the camouflage and then ... some more Future. I also sprayed a little acrylic translucent blue paint here and there on the gray surfaces just to get to the bluish-gray shade you can see in real fighters with a little worn camouflage.

I painted off the infra red seeker at the base of the windshield in the same colour as the rest of the fuselage since the sensor was removed from the whole F-104S-ASA fleet: it was useless as the IR seeker of an AIM-9L is far better than the one on the fighter! To represent the washer around the windshield I used orange ink from a Japanese calligraphy brush pen, letting it leak along the panel lines.


The pitot tube I used is by Fine Molds and it is a real gem. It is made of brass and perfectly lathe shaped. To paint it I first airbrushed it in glossy white then used a micro tape of just 0,7mm to mask the part of it that should stay white. A little Gunze insignia red was airbrushed on it, so I got a perfect spiral.

The final problem was with decals. I used a sheet from SkyModels, the decals were very good, thin and well printed but there was a big error I couldn’t correct: in the real plane you can find that on the right intake the Greyhound is running towards the back of the plane and on the left intake it is running towards the front. In then decal sheet both Greyhound go towards the front!!!! To correct this problem I would have had to buy a Tauro sheet but I thought it was too expensive just for the little insignia I needed.





At the end of this project I was left with many parts for another F-104S, so I might make an F-104S-ASA.M featuring the air superiority gray scheme later on.



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Pierpaolo Maglio
Page Created 13 October, 2004
Last Updated 13 October, 2004

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