F-14A/B Tomcat "Jolly Rogers" (2 kits) Limited Edition
The F-14 Tomcat is well known as a formidable, and versatile Fighter aircraft. It served faithfully, and saw action from 1974, until its retirement from the US Navy following its last deployment in 2006. Iran is the only other operator of the F14 Tomcat and is still in service.
In this package are two complete kits, and include decals for VF-84 Jolly Rogers aboard USS Nimitz in 1978, and VFA-103 Jolly Rogers aboard USS John F. Kennedy in 2004.
The large sturdy box features two nice color photos of each aircraft, and I referred to them several times while building and painting. All the grey plastic sprues for one aircraft and a photo etch fret are contained in one plastic bag. The clear parts are bagged separately. The main canopy in both bags had come loose, but no damage was found. Two squadron patches are included. These look fantastic displayed next to the finished models.
The Hasegawa 1/72 scale F-14 Tomcats have been around for many years, and the molds are showing some wear. The actual parts are very nicely molded, with crisp recessed panel lines and detail, but there was quite a bit of flash on some parts requiring removal. As there are two models in the box, the cleanup is duplicated. The worst areas being the wing roots, and slat tracks.
The kit has parts to build both an “Alpha” and “Bravo”, and includes a TARPS pod, AAQ-14 Lantern pod, LAU-135 BOL, external fuel tanks, and Phoenix missile pallets. No weapons are provided, however, there is a Hasegawa Weapons #3 set that will accommodate what these aircraft carried. The kit is furnished with many different weapons pylons to mount these. A nice photo etch (P/E) fret for each aircraft contains canopy rails, cockpit side consoles, rear vision mirrors, ejection handles and afterburner “rings” for the Alpha model. There is a tremendous amount of plastic in this box, and there are plenty of spare parts left over at the end of the build.
The instruction sheet is a booklet type. It is typical Hasegawa quality with good diagrams and clear instructions. The F-14A is referred to a #1, and the B is #2 as per the painting and decal pages for each aircraft. Some careful studying shows which parts pertain to either model. There is a helpful parts map on the last page, as well as the paint reference.
The cockpit is the first to be built, and both are the same. The fit of the shroud/coming over the instrument panels was tight, but some trimming helped. All panels are furnished by decals, and the side consoles include photo etch parts. You may also paint the panels if preferred. I used the decals and had to trim some of the clear decal film to get them to fit properly. The seats are nicely detailed with shoulder/parachute harnesses, but no lap belts. I made these from tape and then completed the seats with the P/E ejection handles. Aftermarket resin seats would be nice, but not really necessary.
The intakes and exhaust tubes are split, so the usual cleanup of the internal seams was needed. The compressor and turbine/afterburner faces were really nicely detailed and fit well.
Before the fuselage is closed up parts of the main gear wells go in, and I had some trouble figuring out their location. It was only when I attached the gear doors that sit against the engine intakes, that I realized there should be a gap between the inlet and gear wall to seat the edge of the door. Don’t forget the actuators for various ramps and doors. Some painting (White) is also helpful before closing up the fuselage halves.
The main fuselage is split horizontally, while the separate nose section is split vertically. There is a separate belly part just aft of the nose wheel well. All these parts fit fairly well but do show some wear from and gaps. Some judicious use of clamps, tape, and elastic bands helped close gaps. I still needed filler on some seams. I added some weight to the nose cone, and then mated it to the forward fuselage. The fit here was the worst in the whole build. To remember which airframe was which, and the options I chose for each, I drew an “A” and a “B” inside each where I could see it before completely closing everything up.
The wings were some of the worst parts with flash, and some very careful cleanup was needed. You are given the option of flaps and slats up or down, and wings extended or swept back. I chose one of each. In the flaps/slats up option, you remove the slat extension arms. They fit fine down but up left some small gaps. The tails and tail planes were all one piece, with minimal cleanup needed. The wing and tailplanes were left off until the end of the build. There is a choice of pneumatic bladders for either wing swept back or extended. Unlike other F14 models, the wings do not have the option of being moveable.
I was concerned with the fit of the engine intake trunk parts on the aircraft belly. They would not sit flush at the rear joint. Clamping them tightly in place, and running liquid glue along the joints did the trick nicely!
The landing gear fits fine, but the main gear had a tight fit into its mounting holes. Check the position of the legs to the external fuel tanks if used, as the tolerance is tight. The wheels have some nice detail, and the main tires show the tread pattern. No tires have flat spots. I have no issue with this, as sometimes they look too flat! All the gear doors have nice detail but are marred by ejector pin marks. I did not sand these off. There are two options for the nose leg – One with the oleo extended as it would be with the aircraft parked, and the other compressed as ready to launch. Again I chose both options.
The canopies fit nicely and are clear. There is a seam running through the center of the main canopy, which I carefully sanded out and polished. Then they took a Future floor wax bath.
I had to do some research on FS numbers to figure out the correct grey colors to paint these Tomcats. Hasegawa shows the FS number and “grey” in the description. Here’s what I found: FS36375=light ghost grey, FS16440= light gull grey, FS36231=dark gull grey and FS35237=medium grey. All these are available in my choice of Model Masters paint.
The decals performed well over a gloss coat and look good. There are loads of stencils and most are legible!!
While these Tomcats were not overly difficult to build, they did have some challenging areas, and the cleanup hampered the speed of assembly. With all the options available, some study and decisions are necessary prior, or early on in the build. I used the kit and external sources to learn more about the F14, and help with assembly.
Overall, these kits are super detailed and provide everything to add them to your carrier flight deck ready for another cruise, or a Top Gun fight! “I feel the need…the need for SPEED”!!!!!
Thank you, Hasegawa USA, and IPMS USA for the wonderful opportunity to review this model kit.