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Egilman

F-104C Starfighter "Blue Jay Four" by Egilman - Minicraft/Hasegawa - 1/32nd Scale

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Well, Time for another oldie but goodie... Was rummaging around the stash and spotted this one hiding at the bottom of a stack of 1/32nd scale warplanes... And I've always wanted to try a Natural Metal Finish.... And this has natural metal to spare... But I also like to do specifics also so there is a history.... The Aircraft I wish to build is one of the two that was used to win the 1962 US Air Force William Tell air meet...... Tail Number 57-0914 and 57-0915 of the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing which was based at George AFB California...  It was the only F-104 unit in the competition....

 

The meet was flown by Capt. Charles E “Chuck” Tofferi... who in a few years time would lose his life flying this exact same aircraft over Laos....

 

Here is a film reel of that meet...

 

 

This aircraft also has another connection I like to model, Star Trek, it is the Famed "Blue Jay Four" of the Original Series episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday" First Season, Episode 19..... in the lead in to that episode, you see a sequence, the same sequence you see in the William Tell film, opening the episode up.... 

 

 

That is Captain Tofferi returning from one of his William Tell runs... As you can see it was US Air Force Stock Footage used as the opening sequence for the Star Trek Episode.....

 

There was stock footage of two other F-104's used in that episode.....

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52-0969 and 57-0926 but it's the opening sequence that set which aircraft "was" Blue Jay Four.... 57-0914....

 

This is what I intend to model, 57-0914 an F-104C of the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing circa 1966 during an incident that happened over an undisclosed airbase in Nebraska (probably Offut AFB) where it was thought they had seen a UFO....

 

For the rest of the story, Capt. Charles E “Chuck” Tofferi went on to fly Skyhawks with the Marines at Cherry Point, NAS, after his return He deployed to Udorn RTAB, Thailand, where he met up with his William Tell winning Airplane old 57-0914... which of course he took back as his own aircraft........

 

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A photo of the Captain returning from a mission over North Vietnam in 57-0914 painted up in SEA camouflage scheme....

 

On October 20th, 1966, flying a mission over the Plain of Jars in Laos, in the aircraft he loved flying, the same one he won the William Tell Trophy in, Captain Tofferi lost his life....

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross....

 

This aircraft deserves to be modeled.... Not how it was lost, but how it was a winner, and an unknowing star in an episode of one of the most popular television shows of all time...

 

I give you, Blue Jay Four.....

 

EG

 

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Interesting choice.

I always thought the Zipper was one of Johnson's best from a long line of bests even though it received a reputation of not being a forgiving aircraft. I am not certain that it's rate of climb and many other performance abilities could be matched by many aircraft of the day. I think it could still out climb a F35 of today! I always wondered what would have happened if it had been allowed to evolve with more power and enhanced avionics, especially fly by wire computer assist such as is available today. 

 

The silver body with white wings of your choice should make a nice looking version. Count me in.

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26 minutes ago, lmagna said:

Interesting choice.

I always thought the Zipper was one of Johnson's best from a long line of bests even though it received a reputation of not being a forgiving aircraft. I am not certain that it's rate of climb and many other performance abilities could be matched by many aircraft of the day. I think it could still out climb a F35 of today! I always wondered what would have happened if it had been allowed to evolve with more power and enhanced avionics, especially fly by wire computer assist such as is available today. 

 

The silver body with white wings of your choice should make a nice looking version. Count me in.

For those who could master it, it was their go to aircraft and it was truly the "Zipper" they absolutely loved it. First aircraft in the USAF inventory that cruised at mach speed, (first to fly sustained Mach 2 also) for those that couldn't master it, she garnered another nickname, "The Widowmaker" It was an airplane that you had to pay attention while flying, get careless and it would bite you. (sometimes permanently) 

 

Nothing beats it's lines and form, a radical departure from aircraft designs of the day built for sheer speed and power. I have no doubt that it would beat out several of today's "exalted" birds... And in my personal opinion second to only the SR-71 in demonstrating what an engineering genius Kelly Johnson was......

 

Gonna try and do her justice... also just a note, the F-104C was the only Starfighter to actually see combat with the US Air Force, it was also the last F-104 designed at the request of the US government, the F-104G being designed to a West German specification.....

 

One of the most widely recognized aircraft ever built they served worldwide.... The GE J-79 engine served with distinction for over 50 years in various aircraft, the B-58, the F-4 Phantom and several other aircraft..... It was a marvel in itself...

 

Thank you for joining in Lou...

 

I will try my best to make a decent representation of the Airforce's intro to the sustained mach speed club...

 

 

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Aw, I'm in, too.  😁

 

Zippers are cool looking jets. We played with the F-104Gs in Europe way back when, before aviation got too PC. Fast, but we could out turn them in the F-4. Tried many a time to snivel a hop in one, especially when a NATO unit would come visit us for a week. Usually the bras would get those. :(

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1 hour ago, Canute said:

Aw, I'm in, too.  😁

 

Zippers are cool looking jets. We played with the F-104Gs in Europe way back when, before aviation got too PC. Fast, but we could out turn them in the F-4. Tried many a time to snivel a hop in one, especially when a NATO unit would come visit us for a week. Usually the bras would get those. :(

Thanks for coming Ken, 

 

Yep they were well liked by the brass a real flying aircraft, a fighter plane in every way. The F-4 was a natural outgrowth of what the F-104 pioneered.... got the speed and power now add the

maneuverability...

 

I have an F-4 in 1/32nd, a pre-built that needs a bit of assembly, nice looking model and huge.... It's a bit of a beast...

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27 minutes ago, fnick said:

Thanks for the background info EG. Always makes the model that bit more special.

I like to build to a specific subject if I can.. the Star Trek connection is what spurred my interest in the aircraft and then when I started researching her history, kinda sealed the deal.... Too many connections to my interests to not build her....

 

Welcome aboard....

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4 hours ago, Egilman said:

First aircraft in the USAF inventory that cruised at mach speed,

Not so sure about that part. Wasn't the cruise speed in the 500 MPH+ range? I thought the F-16 was the first "Super Cruise" US plane.

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3 hours ago, lmagna said:

Not so sure about that part. Wasn't the cruise speed in the 500 MPH+ range? I thought the F-16 was the first "Super Cruise" US plane.

Define cruise....

Cruise down the highway, you cruise at 60

Cruise down a country gravel backroad? 35 (at the max)

What's the cruising speed of a car?

 

Kelly Johnson defined it as the airplanes most efficient aerodynamic operating speed in stable air which in this case was mach 1.025, most lift, least drag... the F-16, mach 1.072, the F-22, mach 1.22 and I suspect that there are several planes missing that belong on such a list like the B-58, F-4, B-1B, F-111, definitely the SR-71, but I can't find the information on them....

 

Another definition of Super-Cruise eliminated all others except the F-22... which is cruising speed at "Normal" throttle sans AB which for the F-22 is Mach 1.015 without afterburners and actually no other plane ever built can do...

 

Which definition used depends on the opinion of the user..... I prefer Kelly's over anyone else's

The F-104 was the first plane designed to fly at sustained mach speeds, prior to that, supersonic flight could only be done for short bursts and not sustained. They succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations...

 

It was the first aircraft capable of super-cruise.... (and the first production aircraft capable of Mach 2, not only did they get sustained Mach 1, their design target speed, they got sustained Mach 2 to boot)

 

And of course brother, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.... you boys that were the actual stick and rudder men will know more about that than I, a simple plastic hacker..... {chuckle}

 

EG

 

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I love the Century series of fighters: 

- F-100 Super Sabre

 - F-101 Voodoo

- F-102 Delta Dagger

- F-104 Starfighter

- F-105 Thunderchief

- F-106 Delta Dart

 

Excellent choice for the F-104, the flying reactor.

 

Yves

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29 minutes ago, yvesvidal said:

I love the Century series of fighters: 

- F-100 Super Sabre

 - F-101 Voodoo

- F-102 Delta Dagger

- F-104 Starfighter

- F-105 Thunderchief

- F-106 Delta Dart

 

Excellent choice for the F-104, the flying reactor.

 

Yves

You forgot the last two Yves, the F-110 and the F-111, both designed as fighter planes....  The F-110 eventually becoming the F-4 Phantom II, (by government edict) and the F-111 eventually becoming the FB-111, (when it was finally decided that it really wasn't a fighter plane at all) A very storied development history for both of those last two......

 

I thought it was a good choice, when someone mentions the century series the first plane that comes to my mind is the F-104, the next is the F-100... one thing you can say, it definitely looks the part.

 

EG

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24 minutes ago, Old Collingwood said:

I remember reading somewhere  about NASA using one as a chase plane for SR71  and  other experimental aircraft, wasn't it to do with sustained speed and acceleration?

 

OC.

Actually OC, the F-104 was a research plane in and of itself when it first went to Nasa It was used in extreme altitude studies done by both the AF in conjunction with NASA and set many absolute altitude records for an airplane taking off under it's own power from the ground. (over 100k feet many times) and time to climb records. NASA had about a dozen of them if I remember correctly and yes it was their chase plane of choice when it came to the X-15, SR-71 and the XB-70.... In fact it was a malfunctioning F-104 chase plane that caused the crash of the second XB-70 and cancellation of the whole project.... the F-104 has a long storied history with NASA.

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4 hours ago, mtaylor said:

Count me in also.   Speaking of popcorn..... nootjes_en_popcorn_31.gif.877c964ba2869825ced4c01f0c42c585.gif

I KNEW it would get here eventually.... Pull up that nice comfy chair right there in the middle, No, the other one....... NO, the other, other one (after you finish distributing the popcorn of course)

 

Thanks Mark, and welcome...

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1 hour ago, Egilman said:

It was the first aircraft capable of super-cruise.... (and the first production aircraft capable of Mach 2, not only did they get sustained Mach 1, their design target speed, they got sustained Mach 2 to boot)

I remember seeing them at air shows and at the Museum in Dayton.  They always looked like all there were was an engine with wings...but very well shaped.

 

43 minutes ago, Egilman said:

I KNEW it would get here eventually.... Pull up that nice comfy chair right there in the middle, No, the other one....... NO, the other, other one (after you finish distributing the popcorn of course)

 

Thanks Mark, and welcome...

We aim to please around here.  ;)

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Well next comes the Kit....

 

Minicraft Hasegawa #104 (yes that is actually the kit number)

 

Originally released in 1977 it is a reboxing of the straight Hasegawa kit from 1975 for the US market....

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Back in the day this was kit was manufactured Hasegawa was considered the ultimate in model aircraft injection molding and would easily sell for $20.00 in an era where most Revell or Monogram kits sold for a buck or two and Tamiya was selling for 8-10 dollars. This was the state of the art..... We will see how well it holds up today.....

 

Instructions...

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Very clean, written in good english with not only exploded drawings calling out the location of each part but it's proposed colors as well, underneath each step are also written instructions with directions for how the parts are supposed to be attached... I wish they put this kind of effort into instructions today... Last two pages show a complete scale drawing of the aircraft showing the decal placement and a complete parts list with sprue locations identified.... 4 sprues in silver plastic, 1 in clear with a three piece canopy and one metal part, (a stiff wire insert to reinforce the main landing gear)

 

Parts.....

Sprue "A"

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Sprue "B"

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Sprues "C", "D" & "E"

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And yes it has a pilot figure! How many aircraft models today do you see that?

No photo etch in this kit.... but plenty of fiddly parts..... In fact there really isn't much available for this kit in aftermarket, resin or photoetch....

 

Decals...

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The decals seem to be in great shape considering their age, but I have ordered a set of aftermarket decals from Victory Models specifically to cover the insignias needed for 57-0914 it will also have the little placards that are usually found all over these birds.......

The Markings above are for 56-0819 an F-104C flown by Col. George C. Levin Jr. as commander of the 405th Fighter Wing the stripe colors represent each of the wings four squadrons. Col. Levin only got to fly with these colors for a very short while, he was ordered to remove them after being viewed at an open house by the upper brass... This was the time that General Lemay was Air Force COS, and he took a very dim view of extensive aircraft personalization.....

 

Anyway, that is the kit I'm going to be working with basically OOB. I will be using Ushi's metal buffing powder's to produce the BMF on the aircraft. Supposed to be good stuff, easy to use and apply. We will find out...

 

Next up, where we all start on Airplane Models, The cockpit......

 

I hope you enjoy the Journey....

 

EG

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The Zipper had a General Electric J-79 turbojet engine. Probably the most responsive jet engine of the day. Push the throttle(s) up and the engine gave you what you wanted, more thrust. The other fighters of the day (F-100, F105, F-106) had Pratt engines. Pushing the throttle up in those was, as one former Thud pilot told me, like sending signals to the engine room on a seagoing vessel. You asked the engine for thrust and eventually you'd get it. Once you got it they were pretty quick jets, but if you were in aerial combat, you wanted thrust immediately, not eventually. Had something to do with the afterburner nozzles and how fast they programmed closed for the requested thrust.

 

The plastic in those early Hasegawas was kind of brittle, so cut the part free from the sprues. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but we need to be reminded occasionally. I just picked up an A-7D/E and there's a story coming, but I need some additional paint and a Furball decal set. 😁

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If My understanding is correct, the F104 was developed as a fighter/ interceptor, and had limited range.  From the information included above, Captain Tofferi was lost on a bombing mission.  Why did the Air Force use these difficult to fly planes in this role when fighter bombers were available?

 

Roger

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17 hours ago, Egilman said:

Kelly Johnson defined it as the airplanes most efficient aerodynamic operating speed in stable air which in this case was mach 1.025, most lift, least drag... the F-16, mach 1.072, the F-22, mach 1.22 and I suspect that there are several planes missing that belong on such a list like the B-58, F-4, B-1B, F-111, definitely the SR-71, but I can't find the information on them....

Yes there are several aircraft missing from that list from countries all over the world  that can fly supersonic for protracted times. some with and some without afterburner. While the 104 set a number of speed, altitude, and climb records, I still think, (Without research) that the 104 was not able to go supersonic without the use of afterburner in level flight. If someone knows otherwise please let me know. 

 

I do not know where the Kelly Johnson definition came from or how it would apply to the 104. The air force definition I believe originally was 20 minutes of sustained mach 1+ without regard to efficiency or regards to afterburner use. It is clear that under this definition the 104 could "supercruise" but at a severe range penalty, both from exceeding MACH 1, and from using the afterburner. The present day use of "Supercruise" seems to be the ability of exceeding MACH 1 without afterburner, but all presently existent aircraft are still exceeding their "most efficient operating speed" when doing this, even the F22. Just the act of exceeding the MACH 1 barrier with existent airframes seems to have negative aerodynamic reproductions.  

 

I don't know much about the other aircraft mentioned but the B-58 was another "Favorite" of mine back in my "aircraft" days. I was always impressed by it's looks and mission envelope. Kind of like the Mosquito of the jet age, able to out fly it's potential enemies. But there again it's "Cruise speed" was MACH .91 with a burst speed at 50,000 feet over the target of excess MACH 2, and return of MACH .91. I believe it is considered that it's main survival was that it flew the majority of it's mission close to the ground where most missiles could not hit it and almost no fighters were fast enough at that altitude. This was also for the most part considered to be below minimal radar tracking altitude of the time and visual tracking would be almost the only way to follow the aircraft from the ground. I once read that the B-58 was able to go from one horizon to the other in something like 5 seconds giving very little time to intercept it with a normal SAM. 

 

I am nothing but an interested novice in these matters, only reading up on planes of interest over the years and then only sporadically when I ran across something on my way to somewhere else. I would be extremely interested in any input by others who have more knowledge.

 

Like you say, on with the build. 

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2 hours ago, captain_hook said:

Wait - wasn‘t the starfighter the plane that killed a lot of pilots during accidents? Much like the sopwith camel in the Great War.

Hence some of the other not so faltering names like "Lawn Dart" and "Widowmaker". Like EG said, not a forgiving plane to fly.

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The F-104 was designed with a downward firing ejection seat, for it's interceptor role. A high altitude arena. When we sold these jets overseas, they made fighter bombers out of them and flew them at low altitude. If the pilot had to eject for whatever reason, ....  The jets were eventually retrofitted with conventional upward firing ejection seats. With those tiny wings, there wasn't much lift generated, so landing speeds were very high. Could have been a problem for an inexperienced pilot.

 

I didn't think the USAF did much bombing with the F-104. They were used in combat as fighter bomber escorts and combat air patrols in Viet Nam.

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