by: Luciano Satornetti [ ]
HistoryThe Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin engine, two seat, variable sweep aircraft. It first flew on 21st December 1970. The F-14 was the United States Navyís primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defence interceptor and tactical reconnaissance platform from 1974 until 2006. It later performed precision strike missions once it was integrated with the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night ĎLANTIRNí system. The F-14 was developed after the collapse of the F-111B project, and was the first of the American teen series fighters which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat against Migís during the Vietnam war.
The first twelve F-14Aís were prototypes, the US Navy received 478 F-14Aís while 79 were received by Iran. The final 102 F-14Aís were delivered with improved TF30-P-414A engines. Additionally an 80th F-14A was built for Iran, but delivered to the US Navy.
The F-14 first deployed in 1974 with the US Navy aboard the USS Enterprise, replacing the F-4 Phantom.
The KitThe kit arrives in a large sturdy top opening box with a nice painting of an F-14 on the lid. On lifting the lid the first impression is on how well itís all packaged, with eight bags of sprues, two boxes containing a further twelve bags of sprues, a small sheet of PE and a bag of rubber tyres, plus three bags of decals the instruction booklet and a double sided A3 full colour decal / painting guide. That is a total of twenty six sprues making 391 plastic parts and 33 PE parts, of the 391 parts 30 are not needed for this kit these include a LANTIRN pod with pylon and a TARPs pod. Several more fragile parts are wrapped in foam for further protection including the canopy.
An idea of parts break down can be seen in the ejection seats, each of which is made of eight plastic and six PE parts plus two decals, the radar is six plastic and thirteen PE while each of the AIM-7 Sparrows is 7 parts.
OK with this kit you have some options, hereís a list:
Open / closed radome
Open / closed refuelling probe
Open / closed boarding ladder
Compressed or not nose gear leg
Open / closed cannon access panels
Deployed or not Flaps and slats
Two complete engines
Open / closed air brakes
Wing glove vane position
Open / closed canopy
Open / closed burner petals
Choice of weapon load out
This last option gives you two AIM-9 Sidewinders, four AIM-7 Sparrows, six AIM-54 Phoenix and two drop tanks. As can been seen thatís a full war load plus two spare.
Rivets or should that be quick fasteners on a modern jet? Well yes they are there but look at any F-14 and youíll see they are covered in them. Are they over done? In my opinion I would say not especially once it has received a coat of paint.
There is no fancy wing sweep parts in this kit although the wings are movable each one is independent, this I donít see as a problem.
The InstructionsThe front cover covers the read before section, symbol guide and decal application method. Pages two and three cover the sprue layout and list the unused parts, this then leads to the thirteen assembly steps beginning with the cockpit and radar. As mentioned earlier lots of options present themselves throughout the build and that means in some cases holes will need to be opened up, so watch out for these. The instructions are for the most part clear but the step numbers are more page numbers an example is step two: Assemble two wheels, assemble the nose gear, assemble the nose gear wheel well, install the refuelling probe, install assembled cockpit, nose gear wheel well, radar into the forward fuselage and add boarding steps.
Colour call outs are made during the assemble by name and Mr.Hobby code, but check you references as the instructions would have you paint the entire gear door in Insignia Red instead of just the edging, others may be incorrect.
MarkingsDecals are covered over five sheets, a small sheet covers the cockpit, a larger sheet the weapons and black / grey stencils, a third sheet the full colour stencils plus national markings while the remaining two cover the squadron markings, all the decals appear to be in register with good colour definition.
Scheme 1) F14A-75 159008 VF-32 USS J.F. Kennedy 1976
Scheme 2) F-14A-95 160379 VF-41 USS Nimitz 1978
The painting guide in both cases does not show the wavy demarcation between the upper light gull grey and underside white which was present on both these aircraft.
In Conclusion Some would ask if we need another kit of the F-14 as we already have the Hasegawa example. With this kit, if it goes together as well as it looks then, yes, there is room the another F-14. Plus, add to that the fact you get a full weapon fit and the many options. I cannot wait to see what Hobby Boss has in line for us next in their F-14 series.
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