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Navy Bird

1:72 Lockheed F-104N Joe Walker Tribute

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I'm joining the group a little late, but hopefully I'll have enough time to finish. I've chosen to model the NASA F-104N chase plane flown by Joe Walker, who was one of my hero test pilots (along with Scott Crossfield) when I was growing up in the late 50s and early 60s. Sadly, Joe lost his life in the mid-air collision with the XB-70 bomber in 1966. He was only 45 and left a wife and four daughters.

 

NASA originally had three F-104 chase planes with tail numbers 011, 012, and 013. These planes were characterized by a natural metal and Day-Glo orange paint.

 

f104_013

 

However, at the time of the accident, 013 had been designated 813 as can be seen in this photo:

 

xb-70_accident

 

This is the configuration that I'll be modelling. I found this nice profile artwork on the net:

 

F-104N_NASA_813

 

And a very sad, poignant reminder of the dangers faced by men who reach for the stars:

 

f-104n_wreck1

 

For this project, I'll use the Italeri F-104G kit (the F-104N designation was used for the F-104G aircraft delivered to NASA).

 

IMG_1484

 

IMG_1485

 

It looks like a nice, simple kit, which is just what I need after my F-111B conversion. I won't restrict myself to out-of-the-box, as I have some extra goodies - a resin cockpit and photoetch from CMK (which also includes an open radome and radar gear, not sure if I'll add that), nicely done resin tyres from RESkit, and what looks like a superb decal sheet from Rocketeer:

 

IMG_1486

 

IMG_1487

 

The stickers don't have specific markings for 813, but this can be made from the numbers that are there (812 & 013). So that's the project, and as soon as I get my workbench cleaned up I'll have a go at that cockpit. I plan on finishing up the Curtiss XF15C-1 that I started a while ago too, and I think that will be good to fill in the time when the paint is drying on the F-104.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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That's a really nice scheme and an interesting back story, look forward to seeing this one come together.

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Thanks, mates. I've been studying the Italeri kit, and I think I may switch to the Hasegawa F-104G kit that I also have. This is a very bad habit of mine, but at least I'm doing it at the beginning of the project and not in the middle!   :)

 

I believe that the aftermarket cockpit (which is designed for the Revell kit) may fit Hasegawa better than Italeri (where it really doesn't fit at all). I like the wing tanks better in the Hasegawa kit, which also has holes in the keel beam that runs through the middle of the main gear bay (Italeri doesn't). Hasegawa also a three piece canopy, so I can pose it open without having to slice my thumb with a razor saw. My Hasegawa kit also has the NASA logo stickers, and I think they are more accurate in size (Rocketeer's look a bit big). I don't know what the actual measurements are, so I'm just comparing to photos.

 

@modelling minion - I've been discussing the Rocketeer decals with a chap over on Scalemates who used this same sheet. His experience is that the orange and yellow markings were quite thick, and did not respond to solvents. Hmm. Rocketeer have you stack the orange decal on top of a white one (so that the orange is more opaque and vibrant) so it's probably a good idea to paint the white first and not stack. Otherwise, the Rocketeer stickers are printed by Aviprint, who print most of the CMR decals, and I've had good luck with them. I guess we'll find out soon!

 

Cheers,

Bill

 

 

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Bill, the Hasegawa and Revell kit are very similar. I suspect that any aftermarket designed for one will fit the other..

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First question - is the cannon on 813NA faired over or not? Certainly the later NASA F-104 chase planes have the cannon faired over, and this is quite obvious in photos. However, in the two photos that I posted above, both when the aircraft was 013 and when it was 813, there appears to be an opening where the cannon port would be. It looks like a small dark smudge, but it's there in both photos. If I build the model with the cannon port open, I think I'll be the first modeller of 813NA to do this - all other models I've seen have the port faired over.

 

What do you guys think?

 

Cheers,

Bill

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I had the same issue with the NF-104 but going on the evidence at hand I decided to fair the port over.

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Thanks, Mark. I would expect it to be faired over on 013 (why would NASA chase planes need a cannon?) but I have yet to find any period photos of 011, 012, or 013 that clearly show this part of the port forward fuselage. I have some later photos (in the blue & white scheme) that show the cannon faired over, but that's not what I'm building. Ugh.

 

If anyone knows of any good photos, please let me know. Meanwhile, I'll keep looking as I work on the cockpit.   :)

 

Cheers,

Bill

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2 hours ago, Navy Bird said:

...why would NASA chase planes need a cannon?...

It's probably not an issue encountered by the F-104 in this role, but a cannon might help to ensure that the test subject didn't get too far ahead of the chase plane...

 

In all seriousness though, it does seem pretty unlikely that it wouldn't have been faired over. Good luck with the hunt for confirmation - I wonder if this exists in images of a test/test subject that coincidentally shows the F-104N's fairing... hmmmm, I might go looking.

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OK, here is the best photo I could find. It sure looks to me like there is an opening in the cannon access panel.

 

104wN013

 

Otherwise, what is the dark spot? Look for the dark spot below the front tip of the port wing tank, and slightly below the day-glo orange paint on the nose. This spot is also right at the front of the bulge in the cannon access panel. What else could it be other than the cannon is not faired over?

 

Cheers,

Bill

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The canon was faired over. The dark spot is the bit that covers the actual opening and it is a darker material than the forward aluminium fairing that covers the trough. I suspect that it is some sort of composite/fibreglass part.

N812NA F-104NN812NA F-104N StarfighterLockheed F-104N NASA 812 Edwards AFB 1965 [USAF 178289 via RJF]

 

Jeffrey

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Excellent stuff, @JeffreyK! Thanks for posting those period shots, especially the video (which is the actual aircraft I'm building). That certainly clinches it for me - faired over it is.

 

I had seen the modern "gate guard" photos of 812 - I think the aircraft is at Lockheed. I didn't want to use this for my decision since it's been highly modified. At one point, Lockheed converted it into a pseudo-replica of the XF-104 which is why there are no intake cones on it today. When it was re-painted into the colourful NASA scheme, the intake cones were painted onto the fuselage (the black triangles that look like they're sticking out of the intake). That's the first thing that jumped out at me, as I thought it looked really strange.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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OK, as threatened I've switched to the 1:72 Hasegawa F-104G kit. In my opinion, both the Italeri and the Hasegawa kits are quite nice, but Hasegawa is a tad bit more detailed at the expense of having some unusual engineering features due to a mould design which accommodates many different marks of the Starfighter. So let's build this thing!   :)

 

Apparently the inside of the F-104G exhaust pipe is a light green colour. I've seen it described as also having a bit of blue in it. (Is this some special thermal coating?) The instructions provided by Hasegawa with this kit say to paint the interior of the pipe with Gunze H76 Burnt Iron. Ah, nope. Here is a nice shot looking up the hot end of an F-104G:

 

exhaust

 

My go-to paint for this type of exhaust colour is Gunze Mr. Metal Color MC216 Bronze. This is the old formula of Gunze's metallic colours and can be buffed, so you can get some nice effects. I'm happy with the finish achieved, and not too concerned about it since it will be very difficult to see once the model is together. If not impossible!

 

IMG_1507

 

Next I wanted to see if the resin cockpit designed for the Revell kit would fit Hasegawa. It's close, but there is significant interference between the bottom rear of the tub and the forward top of the nose gear bay. One or the other would need to be hacked up pretty good. I decided not to try and make it work. Instead, I decided to use the photoetched and pre-painted instrument panel and the resin bang seat to add some splash to the kit cockpit.

 

Here is the Hasegawa tub (with their console decals snuggled down over the moulded-in detail with several gallons of solvent), the CMK instrument panel, and the CMK Lockheed (Stanley) C-2 ejection seat with photoetched details:

 

IMG_1512

 

After taking the photos, I realised that I don't recall seeing Martin-Baker style face curtain handles above the headrest on these early F-104 seats. I wonder if CMK got this detail mixed up with the later M-B seat used on the German and Italian Starfighters? Since the Luftwaffe was using the F-104 down on the deck, they needed to have improved ejection performance and switched to the M-B seat, and the Italian F-104S was equipped the same way. I have a feeling those handles will need to come off my seat.

 

I may tart up the cockpit tub a bit more, but the main attraction of this build is going to be the wild natural metal and day-glo orange paint job. I hope I can pull that off without swearing encountering any difficulties.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Would you guys agree that these three NASA F-104Ns have the short afterburner nozzle?

 

formation

 

I figured if Hasegawa went to the trouble of giving me both nozzles in the kit, I should at least give them the courtesy of using the right one!    :)

 

Cheers,

Bill

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On 11/29/2017 at 11:15 AM, Navy Bird said:

Would you guys agree that these three NASA F-104Ns have the short afterburner nozzle?

Yes. The later, longer nozzle seems to protrude just that bit further from the fuselage opening, as well as having a different configuration of petals. This review of Eduard's nozzles in certain other scales provides good illustration of the differences; the nozzles of the jets in your photo definitely look to me like the early version.

 

In looking at a selection of photos of NASA Starfighters, it appears that they may never have acquired the longer nozzle (assuming I'm correct about them having short nozzles, of course); I guess it was an upgrade for which they were not funded or had the need...?

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Bill

the Hasegawa kit is IMHO much superior in accuracy to the Italeri one, particularly in the canopy area. Some panel lines are not right though, some are mentioned in Andrew's build of his two Italian Starfighters. I may add that one of the lower fuselage panels should also have rounded corners and is not perfectly square like Hasegawa moulded... this of course if you want to go for full accuracy here.

A few bits...

Seat: yes, no MB syle handles on the C2, CMK must have mixed things here. I also can't remember the C2 having such large buckles

Nozzles: the longer exhaust was introduced as standard on the S and later a number of Gs (like all German ones) received this as part of the smoke reduction modifications. The NASA fleet did not use this and in any case this modification was introduced a decade after the aircraft you want to reproduce crashed. If you're familiar with Phantom nozzles, the short one is the same used on the F-4B/C/D while the long nozzle is the same of the F-4E/G/J.

Gun: I couldn't find any decent picture of these aircrafts in that period that show this area well. It would make sense that the gun opening was faired over, afterall a fairing for the gun was introduced very early in the Starfighter career as the original F-104As often flew without gun while GE worked on sorting the M61 Vulcan. Later pictures show the fairing very well, but all pics where this is well visible are of the aircrafts in the later white/blue scheme. Personally I would probably add the cover, but some pictures do indeed leave many doubts

,

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for the info, @Giorgio N and @Andrew. One of the things I like best about Britmodeller is the depth of knowledge that its members have. I haven't found the question yet that you guys can't answer. @Martian Hale even answers questions concerning the ritual use of white plastic gussets on other planets.

 

So, this little Hasegawa kit - what an RB! Usually when I use that term, it means "real b***h," but in this case it means "rare beauty." The fuselage just fell together, and everything fits and aligns superbly.

 

IMG_1515

 

IMG_1516

 

IMG_1513

 

This may require a wee bit of Mr. Surfacer somewhere (cannon fairing perhaps), but I honestly think that it may not need any at all. Now, about this paint job. What attracted me to this scheme is the day-glo orange and natural metal combination. The Rocketeer decal sheet provides the orange sections, but it always pays to read the fine print. Here is what I just read in their instructions:

 

"Some parts which is printed in fluorescence color have harder layers than those of normal-printed parts. It may crack being fit to curved surface. The best way to avoid this problem is to warm the decal with hot-boiled water (unfortunately, decal softener does not effective, since the nature of the ink causes this problem not the film). Be careful not to do not harm to your model itself, or to yourself! Using hot steam may be more effective, but its higher temperature may deform plastic parts of your model. Please take your best care."

 

Oh boy. I think this means - decal solvents won't work, the decal might crack on a curved surface, you can get around the problem by burning yourself with boiling water, or by using hot steam which will melt the styrene.

 

I think I'll just paint everything.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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On 30 November 2017 at 8:33 AM, Giorgio N said:

the Hasegawa kit is IMHO much superior in accuracy to the Italeri one, particularly in the canopy area.

 

Yes, Giorgio, the clearest and most obvious deficiency with the Italeri '104s is the overblown/ wrong size canopy. For this reason, for me, the Hasegawa wins every time. You can forgive odd panels being out of accuracy but the focus of all builds tends to be the canopy/cockpit. It is a shame because the Italeri kits do offer a cost effective solution compared with, say, the Revell C-model. A variant with few options available.

 

Martin

 

 

 

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On 17 November 2017 at 1:35 PM, Navy Bird said:

and what looks like a superb decal sheet from Rocketeer:

 

It's a shame Rocketeer didn't issue their wonderful 1/32 NASA and test machine sheet in 1/72. There are some great machines on that too!

 

Martin

Edited by RidgeRunner

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Oops ..... My memory failed! I meant Victory and 1/48! It's early ........

 

edit: no, I was right, Rocketeer,  but 1/144!

 

Martin

Edited by RidgeRunner
Corrections

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On 30 November 2017 at 8:45 PM, Navy Bird said:

 

I think I'll just paint everything.

 

A good plan!

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Hi mates,

 

I've primed the Starfighter with a glossy grey, and I can see a couple of small spots that still need some attention before any Alclad goes on. Especially since these natural metal finished tend to highlight everything you messed up. Here she is after the primer:

 

IMG_1518

 

IMG_1517

 

I then spent a lot of time trying to come up with a way to duplicate the "day-glo" orange on the Rocketeer decal sheet. There is a photo of the decal sheet that I posted earlier, so you can have a look at that and see what I am trying to do. My best effort was Gunze H98 Fluorescent Orange (which is very translucent) over Gunze H329 Insignia Yellow. I wish this next photo showed it better, but it really does have a bit of that day-glo "pop" when you see it with your Mk. I Eyeballs:

 

IMG_1519

 

It's a reasonably good match for the decal sheet. However...(there's always a however isn't there?)...

 

Were these NASA chase planes really painted with fluorescent orange? Or was it more of a reddish-orange colour? The decal sheet and this profile artwork look quite orange:

 

F-104N_NASA_813

 

But the photos seem to tend more towards a red-orange:

 

formation

 

Does anyone know what paint was actually used on these babies? I think Testors (gasp!) make fluorescent red and orange enamels - I may have to make a trip to the LHS and pick some up.

 

Anyway, I'm thinking the plan goes like this. Mask the bottom of the wings and the nose cone as they'll be staying Aircraft Grey (which is what I used for a primer). Paint the bird overall gloss white. This will be a good base for the Alclad colours. Once the white is cured, the top of the wings and the areas on the tail and forward fuselage that will be orange and yellow are masked off. Spray all the Alclad stuff I want. Let the Alclad cure, and then mask off and paint the orange and yellow areas. Finally mask off and paint the intake lip and shock cone, along with the anti-glare panel. Black decal striping will hopefully cover all the edges as in the original design. Or something like that.

 

Or...I could actually try the Rocketeer decals using their boiling water trick. I think I would still paint the white rather than use their white decals as a base. I don't know...

 

I wonder if this will be fun?

 

Cheers,

Bill

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Cracking work Bill, look forward to the painting! I don't know which exact orange was used but your Gunze test looks bang on with the photo of the real deal to my eyes at least.

 

Cheers,

 

David

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On 11/30/2017 at 8:45 PM, Navy Bird said:

"Some parts which is printed in fluorescence color have harder layers than those of normal-printed parts. It may crack being fit to curved surface. The best way to avoid this problem is to warm the decal with hot-boiled water (unfortunately, decal softener does not effective, since the nature of the ink causes this problem not the film). Be careful not to do not harm to your model itself, or to yourself! Using hot steam may be more effective, but its higher temperature may deform plastic parts of your model. Please take your best care."

Bill, have you tried a hairdryer for softening recalcitrant decals. I have had massive success with the technique - one I have picked up from a fellow car modeller. Very effective.

ATB
Rick

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