References, references, references… I have too many of them.
Honestly most of my temptation to jump down the rabbit hole of super detailing this F-104 has been spurred on by my discovery of the various manuals available for this aircraft. There are flight manuals, maintenance manuals, parts manuals, structural repair manuals, electrical manuals, etc. But not just one of each, no… there are manuals for each variant of the F-104 developed over its 46 year operational history.
I became a little obsessed with the topic a few months ago, and scoured the internet for additional source material. I now have a pretty decent sampling of the manuals that exist for the F-104 A, B, C, D, G, and S, and this array of information has given me an excellent, although one-dimensional, understanding of the myriad ways in which these variants differ from each other. It has also caused a few headaches due to information overload and the occasional contradiction between different sources.
Naturally, once I had detailed information about all the structures and systems of the cockpit, I just had to go and build them…
The escape hatch, or cockpit lower access hatch as it is also known, is the first component I have built from the ground up since familiarizing myself with the T.O. 1F-104C-4 and T.O. 1F-104G-4 Illustrated Parts Breakdown technical manuals.
Here is a rundown:
The first graphic is from the Structural Repair Manual T.O. 1F-104A-3. It shows the features of the initial production run of F-104A and F-104C aircraft fitted with downward firing ejection seats, and the hatch is therefore referred to as an “escape hatch”. In the second panel, from the Structural Repair Manual (T.O. 1F-104G-3), the F-104G “cockpit lower hatch” features updated footrests, a larger rectangular aperture in the belly for the UHF antenna, and weight saving perforations in the inner skin web. The third panel shows the Illustrated Parts Breakdown (AA 1F-104S-4) view for the F-104S “cockpit lower access hatch” produced in the 70s’.
The hatch for the F-104C is something of an amalgam of these three images, as it has the original footrests, the perforated inner skin web, and a UHF antenna with the double cross pattern shown in the third image.
Off to the workbench…
The first step was to carve away excess material from the kit part. Then the part was cut in two, the portion under the cockpit, and the portion with the wheel well bay opening.
Next, I shaped frames and longerons from 0.020” styrene sheet, before gluing them into a square frame. I set this frame into the kit part with Milliput and carefully adjusted its position and orientation until the longerons were positioned correctly (see my previous post).
Here all four frames have been added, FS 196.5, FS 206, FS 232, FS 243. After the initial framing with 0.020" styrene sheet, the rest of this part was built up using 0.005" sheet styrene.
Building the new footrests. I built these up from the originals I harvested from the Aires kit. Sorry for the potato cam.
Potato cam again. I tried using a “better” camera with macro, but the lens wasn’t getting enough light. Here is the escape hatch after addition of rivet detail and part of the inner skin web. Rounded corners of the web were made with Milliput.
And finally here it is with one footrest dry-fitted. The whole thing was done up with several thinned coats of Mr. Surfacer and sanded to fill gaps.
Until next week, thanks for stopping by!