Preview: 1/72 Hasegawa Grumman F-14D Tomcat ‘VF-101 Grim Reapers’

Kit Info
Manufacturer: Hasegawa
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection
Parts: 197
Price: Rp. 285,000 (est. US$31.00)

The Subject
The Grumman F-14D is the final version of the Tomcat. It is at home in both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions and is considered the most versatile platform in the US Navy arsenal. Primary differences between the D and A variants include: more powerful GE engines, upgraded avionics and radar. By the end of 2006, the Tomcat has been retired from US Navy service, having served with distinction for more than 30 years.

VF-101 was the F-14 FRS (Fleet Readiness Squadron) for the Tomcat community. Since the mid-1990s, it was also the only training unit after the west coast training unit (VF-124) was disestablished. VF-101 was tasked with training the crews and ground personnel on the Tomcat. Weapons training was also done by VF-101 which encompasses all the weapon systems the Tomcat could operate. Until it was disestablished in 2005, VF-101 had as many as 130 F-14s of all three Tomcat variants for currency training and range control work.

The Kit
By all accounts, this is the ultimate Tomcat kit in 1/72 scale and they aren’t kidding. 197 parts of beautifully molded parts greet you when you open the box. As usual with Hasegawa, they have packed all the sprues into one big bag with the decals and clear parts in another smaller one. Once you take the parts out of the bag, you will find that the box won’t close properly. That’s how many parts there are in the box!

The kit features very fine recessed lines and is very detailed. You can tell this is a complex kit just from the parts breakdown. In fact, there has been talk that this is actually a simple (well, not really) scaled down version of the the excellent 1/48 scale F-14. One thing to note though, the 1/72 kit actually has a lot more parts. As with the 1/48 kit, the kit comes with PE parts and IIRC, there’s more PE parts than the bigger brother.

A look at the parts breakdown indicates that it’s the same as the 1/48 kit. The front fuselage is made of 2 left-right halves while the rear is made of top-bottom halves. This is probably the only logical way to split the parts. However, if it’s anything like its bigger brother, then the fitting between the front and rear fuselage will be a bit fiddly. Not anything major though.

Unlike the competition or even its older version of the kit, you can only build this kit with the wings either swung out or swept in. I personally think that being able to swing the wings in and out is simply a gimmick anyways. I certainly won’t be using the feature when I’m done with the kit.

It’s pretty clear based on the instructions that this is a rebox of the B variant so all the parts needed to build one is included. That’s good for the spares box. To build the D variant of the F-14, Hasegawa has included a new sprue of parts for the kit. Included in this sprue are two NACES ejection seats, control panels and the chinpod. Along with the GE F110 engines (which the B variant shares), the parts will make for a pretty accurate F-14D. Hasegawa has also thrown in the LANTIRN pod and rail, and the new-style LAU-138 launchers. Nice. As usual however, Hasegawa has again not included any weapons. You have to buy the weapon sets for those.

Hasegawa has started a trend of reboxing the D variant in various squadrons so you buy the box based on which squadron you want to model. This being the Grim Reapers boxing, both choices of markings are of course, VF-101 birds.

AD 160
High-viz red-tailed Grim Reaper. Shown on the box cover.

AD 164 (Pic from airliners.net)

Low-viz black-tailed Grim Reaper with sharkmouth on the radome and a sickle-bearing grim reaper for the tails

Registration is as usual, very clear. Hasegawa has a reputation for slightly thick decals but this one seem pretty OK. That’s probably because this sheet was printed by Cartograph, which has a reputation for good quality decals.

This is an excellent kit. Although the many parts will translate to some inevitable fitting problems, it is the most accurate representation of the F-14D Tomcat in the market right now. The choice is pretty obvious actually.

Preview courtesy of my wallet

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