1/48 Hasegawa Canadair CF-104

Starfighter 

by Jens H. Brandal

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  Norway Constitusion Day 2006 

 

Norway purchased 22 surplus CF-104s (of which 3 were twin seaters) from Canada in 1972.  These were refurbished at Scottish Aviation in Prestwick, modified to RNoAF specs including installing the M61 cannon and a new coat of paint.  They then flew off to enter service with no 334 Sqn in the anti-invasion role as fighter-bombers.  Spending much time at low level, they were frequently seen carrying four tanks and a practice bomb and rocket dispenser.  As Norway started taking deliveries of the F-16 in 1981, 334 Sqn took over the intercept duties of 331 Sqn, and they were fitted with dual Sidewinder launchers on the belly.  The CF-104s flew out of RNoAF inventory in 1982, and a number of surviving aircraft went to museums or private display.  www.starfighter.no has a lot of useful information on the F-104 in Norwegian service.

Shortly after Hasegawa released their F-104 series, I purchased this F-104C to "warm up" for the day I would add a RNoAF F-104G to my collection.  I ended up filling and sanding more than I expected, and realised this would never make the grade for a bare metal finish without an awful lot of work.  So, do I finish it in camouflage or put it back in the box?  I decided to finish it in camouflage, and convert it into a Norwegian CF-104.  All the basics were in the box with the exception of the extended rudder and fairing above the nozzle, but these were easily added from plastic.  The Radar Warning Receivers were made from scratch - the rear ones are basically cut off cylinders with rounded rear ends, so I used 4 mm diameter Evergreen tube filled with Milliput.  The RWR on the nose was more awkward to make, but taking things one step at a time it's not difficult.  First start off with a diamond shaped baseplate, then I added the front piece from square rod that was sloped back in the side view.  When dry, I added the side walls from 0.5 mm plasticard that I sanded to shape.  The cavity was then filled with  Milliput.  The spheres on the nose were also fashioned from Milliput.  I made several, and then selected the two that were closest in size, sanded them down to a hemisphere, and glued them on the forward facets of the antenna cover.  To make it a proper CF-104 I needed to remove the IR sensor just in front of the windshield.

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It is well known that Hasegawa have been cheapskates when it comes to ordnance in their 1:48th Starfighter kits, so I added wing pylons from sheet plastic using the drawings in the Verlinden Lock On book for reference.  The extra wing tanks were modified from a pair of tanks donated by a fellow IPMS member - thanks Neil!  The vertical fin on the under-wing tank has a swept leading edge and vertical trailing edge.  The horizontal fins are symmetrical (unlike the tip tanks), and are the same size as the outside fins on these. 

As the cockpit was already painted and the fuselage halves glued together, there was little detail I could add, and changing the cockpit to the correct configuration was out of the question.  I purchased an Eduard Zoom set to add some details to the canopy area and I also used the HUD frame.  The coaming was detailed using lead foil and some bits added from scratch.  The seat was a bit bare, so I replaced some of the moulded in harnesses and hoses with wound copper wire and lead foil. While on the construction stages, I added some strips of plastic to the leading edges in three sections.  These would later become protective strips painted red for an additional splash of colour.  Normally, I am not keen on FOD covers and the like as I think they detract from the lines of the aircraft.  However, I also try to show some of the characteristics of the plane, and these would highlight the sharp leading edges the Starfighter was famous for.

The CF-104s spent their entire career with the RNoAF wearing locally produced paints approximately matched to FS24098 on the upper surfaces and 26375 on the lower.  The belly colour should have a slight metallic sheen to it, but I was unable to replicate this in a satisfactory manner, and in any case it is only noticeable up close, and would not look realistic on a scale model.  I am not aware of an out of the tin match for FS24098, but the colour you're after is a warm olive green, and -4097 is not warm enough.  I mixed my own from approximately 50-50 Xtracolor NATO Green (the aeroplane colour, not the armour colour) and RLM04 Yellow.  Towards the later stages of their service, the planes were spot-painted in almost any shade that could be called "green", and some aircraft could be said to be green variants of modern US Navy jets.  For that reason, and that the red and white 334 Sqn chevron would add a bit of colour to an otherwise drab finish, I chose to represent my Starfighter in the latest configuration of the late 70s and early 80s.  Vingtor Decals - http://vingtor.net  - is a small company specialising in Norwegian military subjects, and these decals are beautifully printed by Cartograf.  The sheet offers details for six aircraft (including a couple of two seater)  from the earliest period without RWRs and call numbers with Canadian font, to the latest, but there are enough numbers on the sheet to make up just about any aircraft of any era.  The 1:72nd sheet has decals for two aircraft, and the 1:48th scale sheet caters for one, but includes some useful extras for F-16s.  The decals are available in 1:32nd as well, but they have restricted the numbers and only include decals to do one model.  The decals went on beautifully with my usual method of using Tamiya acrylic thinner as a solvent over a clear gloss coat of Polly S, finishing off with an eggshell finish of grey tinted Polly S clear.

Since I was making the latest configuration, I also needed to add beacons on the belly and spine from clear sprue as well as teardrop nav lights on the tip tanks in place of the flush ones.   The leading edge protective strips were painted red and had Eduard Color Etch Remove Before Flight tags added to them with fine wound copper wire.

As I started off with the interceptor, the centerline pylon was not included, and I added this too from sheet plastic - the sway braces were bent copper wire.  Originally I was going to scratchbuild a practice dispenser, but a look through a book detailing the history of the Kongsberg Penguin Anti Ship Missile, showed a conceptual drawing for a Norwegian designed nuclear missile!  Norway's policy has been to not allow permanently based foreign forces and storage or deployment of nuclear weapons on Norwegian soil in times of peace, so this came as a surprise.  I then thought "what if...?" What if the cold war got really hot, and the RNoAF were tasked with a strike at Murmansk before the Northern Fleet could pose a serious threat to NATO shipping and Europe's lifeline to the US and Canada?  Well, it's too late to practice once a "silver bullet" is strapped to your plane and you get the map and target coordinates, so I decided to arm my Starfighter with a dummy nuke while the squadron was on a foreign exchange to "some undisclosed European country".  The Belcher Bits CF-104 armament set has the now surplus RWRs and wing pylons, five BL755 cluster bombs as well as two nukes - Mk.28 (with two different tailfins) and Mk.43. Assuming that the Mk.43 would be the more modern weapon, I decided to use that one, and lots of filling and sanding followed.  Being a dummy weapon, it was painted white and I supposed there should be some markings saying "Inert" or similar, but I had none.  When I glued the "shape" to the belly pylon, I realised a problem.  The rear body and fins would make it impossible to retract the main undercarriage, let alone open the doors!  Not sure what was wrong here, but as I was already committed to a delivery, I chose to ignore this.  The clearance is minimal, and that is accurate for almost anything carried under a Starfighter.  From a friend, I was later told that the Mk.28 was the standard NATO "special store" for Starfighters, and later still, I was told from an ex- 334 Sqn Starfighter mechanic that these aircraft were not equipped to carry nukes.  Luckily neither of us had to be proven wrong...

Jens

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Photos and text by Jens H. Brandal