Completed : Hasegawa 1/48 Grumman F-14A Tomcat ‘VF-84 Jolly Rogers’

Gallery

Build Report

Kit Info
Manufacturer: Hasegawa
Scale: 1/48
Media: Injection Plastic

The Subject
Developed in the 1970s as a long range ‘fleet defender’, the Grumman F-14A Tomcat is the premier combat aircraft of the US Navy. Armed with a maximum of 6 AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, the Tomcat’s radar can track dozens of targets at one time, ready to intercept any enemy aircraft closing in to the carrier fleet.

During the early 1990s, the Tomcat also emerged as the primary reconnaissance platform for the US Navy. Fitted with a TARPS camera pod, it can zip into enemy territory, take hi-resolution photographs and still be able to defend itself against any opposition.

However, with the fall of the Soviet empire, the role of the Tomcat became redundant as the threat from long range bombers decreased significantly. It was then that the Tomcat community looked into expanding its role by activating its latent attack capability. Towards the end of its service life, the Tomcat also became known as one of the Navy’s most effective attack aircraft.

As of 2005, all F-14A variants of the Tomcat have been replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The only variant remaining with the US Navy is the upgraded F-14D.

The Kit
The 1/48 Hasegawa Tomcat has always been the one kit I always wanted to own. Modeling in my high school days was always a simple matter of gluing everything together and throwing the ‘finished’ kit into my pile of glued together pile of plane-looking plastic. There was never a 1/48 Tomcat in this pile though.

So when I first saw this kid at Nakamoto’s shop, I HAD to own one. This became the first ever 1/48 aircraft kit I finished properly. It’s not the easiest 1/48 kit to tackle, but the results were very satisfying. In fact, after I finished the kit, 4 or so other folks who frequent Nakamoto’s workshop starting building Hasegawa Tomcats too! All thanks to me? Hahahaha

Construction
The 1/48 Hasegawa F-14 kit has always been one of those model kits that I always wanted but never bought. But I couldn’t resist getting one and try out. This kit is actually the first aircraft kit that I’ve completely constructed and finished properly.

This kit isn’t easy to build. I plunged right into it before checking out reviews. Still, I enjoyed this build tremendously. Construction wasn’t straightforward by any means:

Cockpit
The two halves of the front fuselage didn’t fit until I cut off quite a fair bit of the cockpit control panels. This problem seems to not affect all boxings of the F-14A. Probably different batches.

Engine Bays
The parts didn’t fit right. I had to compromise and leave a gap inside the bays so they will fit into the bottom fuselage. The good news: you can’t see it from the outside. The bad news: I know the gaps are there.

Landing Gear
For some strange reason, the front landing gear fit too far into the bay. Because of that, the clearance of the launch bar to the gear doors is very slim.

This being an F-14A Tomcat, the nozzles are modeled one open and one closed. This is a pretty common occurrence as pilots usually shut down one engine while taxiing, then the other after the aircraft has parked.

Finishing
Navy aircraft in the 1980s were very well maintained. They were given a high gloss finish and always looked clean. In the middle of the 1980s, the US Navy adopted the TPS (Tactical Paint Scheme) colors for all their aircraft. These were low-visibility colors and consequently very dull. I decided to color my Tomcat during the transition period, the aircraft tended to be dull colored while the markings remained bright and colorful.

With that in mind, I added a bit of weathering to the Tomcat with some oil paint mixed in turpentine. Things done include a general wash on the panel lines, some oil and hydraulic streaks.

Weapon-wise, I loaded the Tomcat in standard CAP (Combat Air Patrol) configuration of 2x AIM-54 Phoenix AAMs, 2x AIM-7 Sparrow AAMs and 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs. I actually used the wrong version of the Sidewinders but I didn’t realize it until I have mounted them onto the kit.

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