We are certainly going to continue to see great things from Furball; and IPMS/USA sincerely appreciates Furball Aero-Design’s support by providing one more of their great products for review. And thanks to the reviewer corps leaders for sending this set to me to work on!
External metal plates are commonplace engineering solutions to vibration and fatigue cracking on aircraft structures. In the case of the F-14 (and the F-15 under “Pacer Buffet” in the mid-1980’s) early block aircraft developed fatigue cracks in the vertical fins. The quick solution (before you have to buy new fins for the next generation aircraft) is to apply external stiffener plates. In the old days they were called “fishplates” because they were shaped like fish in profile. The purpose is to distribute the stresses out away from the crack location, preventing further damage or failure of the control surface. That’s what Furball has captured with this set.
This is Furball’s first foray into the Photo etch world (that I am aware of). Other mediums have been tried by other companies such as using plastic, self-adhesive mylar, etc…. but PE is a more long-lasting solution. It’s a simple set but requires a bit of skill and patience with metal and superglue. In the clear sleeve package is an instruction card and a small fret of Photoetch external stiffener plates for your Tomcat.
To use: Following the instructions (you do, don’t you?) carefully remove the existing external stiffener plates from the F-14A vertical fins. I had trouble seeing the engraving, so I used a wash to highlight progress, and show where rescribing was successful. (see the pix).
The photoetch stiffeners are made up by laminating three separate plates, then applying to the model. I recommend slow-setting superglue to do this; but so slow that the stack slips out of place. (it’s four steps; even I figured it out.).
Once this plate stack is in place, then apply the miniscule leading edge PE plate, and you are finished. I shot the fin with primer to ensure I had everything where I needed it… and called it a success!
Tamiya may well release a later version of the Tomcat, but that may be a while (Many of us are still waiting on a Tamiya 1/48 P-47N after 12 years). That makes this set valuable to bring your later block markings up to speed with an accurate aircraft modification. It took me five minutes to do one side, which is well worth the effort.
Highest ratings to Furball for this set; I was very pleased with the value… Like the flap/Slat masks, use this set knowing you are saving yourself a lot of angst. Thanks Furball for taking care of us!