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  1. This is something I've wanted to build for a very long time -- 45 years, to be exact! In fall and winter of 1976-77 I was a freshly-minted Ensign attending the US Navy's Nuclear Power Training Unit, deep in the desert west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. At the same time, former Lockheed test pilot Darryl Greenamyer of the Red Baron Flying Service, also in Idaho Falls, was attempting to beat the low altitude speed record with a souped-up F-104 Starfighter he had built out of scrounged parts. On October 24, 1977, Greenamyer set a FAI Class C-1 Group III 3 km speed record of 1,590.45 kilometers per hour (988.26 mph), which still stands to this day. On February 26, 1978, while preparing an assault on the FAI altitude record using the same aircraft, he was unable to get the landing gear to lock before landing. As it was dangerous to land in this condition, he was forced to eject and the airplane was destroyed. Hasegawa has produced two versions of the Red Baron Starfighter -- one in 1/72 and another in 1/48 scale. There is also an old 1/72 ESCI kit (molded in bright red plastic!!!). For this project, I will be building the 1/72 Hasegawa kit, mostly out-of-the-box. My intent is to finish it in-flight over desert terrain, as on the box illustration. Let's see what Hasewaga has given us: Many of these parts will not be used -- some because they are not applicable to Greenamyer's civilianized Zipper, others because I'll have no need for landing gear. Molding is generally crisp, although there is some light flash on some of the parts: A clear sprue includes the three-part canopy, various lights, and a clear (?) instrument panel: The decal sheet, printed by Cartograph, looks very nice. But, I worry how well the large white markings will fit on the model. As a backup, I might try using the decal sheet to produce a set of masks with my Silhouette cutter (something I've not tried before -- if anyone has some tips for me, I'd really appreciate it!) Construction begins with the cockpit, as usual. The cockpit attaches to the nose gear bay, which is then inserted into the fuselage. I found the instructions a bit vague about where, exactly, the cockpit attaches, and my first attempt put the cockpit too high in the fuselage. The photos below shows how it should be done: Hasegawa thoughtfully provides a panel for the faired-over gun port on the left side of the nose, which fits perfectly: Cockpit in place, the nose halves are glued together: To close off the nose gear bay, I inserted Blu-Tack in the opening to help support the bay doors: The two door pieces are, together, too wide for the bay opening, so I sanded the long edges until they fit, and glued them in place. Not perfect, but nothing a little Bondo won't fix! As I mentioned earlier, the kit's canopy comes in three pieces. I'd much prefer a single-piece canopy for an in-flight model, so I "borrowed" a canopy from Monogram's F-104 kit to see if it will fit: Not too shabby! The Monogram canopy is a little short, and the front corners a bit too wide, but I should be able to make it fit! That's my progress after a couple evening's work. Despite its idiosyncrasies, I'm finding the Hasegawa zipper to be a nice little kit that builds up quickly. Maybe I'll have to get a few more for my stash haha!
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