Aircraft Modellers Photo File

Lock On No 1

Lockheed F-104 G/J Starfighter

Verlinden Publications

reviewed by Mike O'Hare


The Verlinden name is almost synonymous with model building, and their Lock-On series with great reference books. The series has grown, over the past twenty years, to cover aircraft, armour, ships and virtually all things military, of nearly every generation. The book that started it all however, and is quite possibly the best in the series, is Lock-On #1: The F-104.

Little needs to be said about the aircraft itself - designed in the 1950's as a supersonic air superiority fighter, the versatile aircraft eventually developed into a potent ground attack and nuclear strike platform. It was easily the most recognisable and widely used Century Series jets, eventually serving with 15 different air forces around the world, soldiering on in Italy until the late 1990's. It has always been a favourite subject of modellers as well, because of its sleek lines, longevity, and literally dozens of unique camouflage options.

Though the early Lock-On books had become somewhat scarce in the 1990's, it seems Verlinden re-printed several of them recently, and the -104 issue was re-released in time to coincide with the (then) new 1/48 Hasegawa kit. It serves as the perfect reference for builders wanting to add details, too. It is printed on 7 x 10", semi-gloss paper, square bound, rather than the larger format, simple binding of later releases. Though more compact than most Lock-Ons, it contains far more content - 65 pages in total, covering virtually every detail a modeller could possibly be interested in. There are also four pages of scale drawings attached at the back of the book, with scale drawings of the F-104G/J and twin seater in 1/72, the G/J again in 1/48, and a camo layout for a Belgian F-104 in Tiger Meet stripes.

The detail section itself begins with an overview of general airframe details - intakes, RAT's, avionics bays, antennae and probes, before moving into some serious engine detail shots (perfect for those using CMK's exhaust set). Next is a page outlining detail differences on the TF-104G. After this comes a section on cockpit details, perfect for anyone installing an aftermarket cockpit in their Lawn Dart - the tub is photographed from every angle, and nice, big, clear pictures of every panel and instrument are included, along with close ups of the throttle and stick. Also included in this section are black and white drawings outlining instrumentation detail for every panel and console configuration. These appear to have been taken from an aircraft manual, as the function of every switch and dial is described. Following these come more cockpit details, covering the canopy, rear avionics bay, and TF-104 cockpits. The seat is similarly well covered, with both photos and line drawings, which even describe the ins and outs of the survival kit. Next come several pages dedicated to the landing gear. Two pages are dedicated to the nose radar, and three for ordnance. Before delving into the pre-flight routine (nice for diorama builders), the book outlines pilot and ground equipment details. Finally, rounding out the volume are five pages of general F-104 photos showing some of the unusual and special schemes worn, as well as a round up of the then-available kit options, though as it was written in 1983, this information is now woefully out of date.

The introduction states the book is an attempt to fill a large gap in modelling books by providing pictures useful to superdetailers. They were more than successful in doing so. It is a fantastic reference that just makes one want to build a Zipper. There really isn't anything else that could possibly be included to improve the book, and it stands up well today as one of the best books published specifically for modellers. It's also an interesting read. From seeing what each and every switch and dial in the cockpit is for (and for interceptor, fighter/bomber and trainer configurations, no less), to the start-up and launch procedure for pilots, it's great info for aviation enthusiasts and an absolute must have for anyone interested in modelling jets.


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I'm sorry, but since the review has been published that product appears to have gone out of production.