The next project is a new kit instead of finishing a shelf queen. My friend said that this kit was quite straightforward compared to the Hasegawa. Let’s see shall we?
First impressions are good so far. The panel lines aren’t as fine as Hasegawa’s but aren’t as deep as the Revell’s. Shape looks alright too. Best of all, unlike Hasegawa, Hobbyboss went the route of remolding whole pieces for the various F-14 versions instead of changing a small panel here and there which should make for less fiddly fitting.
Anyway first up is a quick wash with soap as the kit is covered with a coat of mold release. I then assembled the ejection seats. It wasn’t surprising that there are no molded-on seat belts but disappointingly, the very prominent ejection handles on the headrests are missing. In addition, the back cushion also looks off but I’m not too concerned with it.
I decided to do something about the missing ejection handles. I remember reading about a simple method of scratchbuilding the handles by using some wire and a custom jig from Andy Mullen’s site (since offline). The custom jig is made of 2 straight sections cut from a straightened paperclip that were hammered into a wooden base. Then it’s a simple matter of threading a brass rod (mine is a Wave Option System C-Line 0.5mm) through the jig and adjusting to taste with pliers. The handles look slightly oversized to my eye but barring finding a thinner wire, I think I’ll go with these. After some more adjustments, they should look fine behind a coat of paint and under the canopy.
This was actually a 2nd attempt at it. I initially used nails for the jig and craft wire for the ejection handles but the result looked more appropriate for a 1/48 scale seat (the silver handles in the below pic).
Since this is an F-14B, the gun vents are the correct NACA version. Also of note here is that the nose gear doors are molded on! Excellent for those who want to model this kit with the gear down, but pretty much a non-starter for folks who want to build this in-flight. The ECM blister on the gear door is also correct for the F-14B.
Most impressive is Hobbyboss molded the reinforcement plate surrounding the co-pilot’s step which is a feature on the F-14B.
The wings are designed to swing in and out which I don’t care much for since I prefer how the F-14 looks with wings swept anyway. I think I’ll need to figure out a way to modify the wings so that I can attach after painting though.
I then decided to do a quick dry fit to see how well the kit comes together: so far so good! More importantly, looks a lot like an F-14 Tomcat to me!
In the 1990s, the F-14 was adapted to drop bombs and the starboard weapons pylon was modified to have a LANTIRN pod mounted for precision strike. The kit includes the LANTIRN-specific vertical pylon but doesn’t come with the LANTIRN pod itself and the attachment rail for the pod. I got a LANTIRN pod and pylon from the Hasegawa Weapons Set VII. The Hasegawa pylon fits about 5mm longer than the shoulder pylon but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.
Hobbyboss also includes some nicely done LAU-138 BOL missile rails which is accurate for the F-14 in the 1990s onwards.
Another detail that Hobbyboss missed are the bomb racks on the underbelly missile palettes. I also got these from the Hasegawa Weapons Set VI. I’m going ahead with only the 2 forward ones mounted with 2 GBU-12s, which is one of the more common configurations for the F-14B in the 2000s.
Hobbyboss has molded identical looking fuel tanks which have center aligned pylons. The pylons are supposed to be offset to one side. It’s a hassle to try to correct and since they aren’t obvious when mounted, I left them as is.
So most of the major components have been dealt with, next comes proper assembly.
This one’s been in the backburner for awhile (what else is new?) so it’s time for it to see the light of day again. The plan is OOB with decals from TwoBobs Decals.
Back when the US Navy ran the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School aka ‘TOPGUN’, it operated A-4 Skyhawks in the role of the adversarys, ie. the bad guys. This particular Skyhawk took that role to the extreme by having an actual silhouette of a MiG-17 painted on it.
This project is heavily reliant on the excellent article by David Aungst at Hyperscale, who did all the research required to do up an accurate Top Gun #56. In fact, the TwoBobs decals are also based on this same research. The kit itself is the excellent 1/48 Hasegawa A-4E/F kit.
The cockpit is surprisingly detailed and with the canopy opening being so small, I think it looks more than adequate.
Based on the article, I needed to modify the cone shaped fairings that’s attached all over the airframe. The cone tips need to be cut off first.
Work is actually quite straightforward and I managed to get quite far in assembly. The kit also broke down into very easy subassemblies. The landing gear and landing gear doors were all handbrushed with white and given a wash of black gray.
Note : this post gets a lot of hits so I need to mention that I’ve lost the images for this preview. The only images left are low resolution ones you see here. I hope to be able to bring back the originals.
In 1987, the Grumman F-14A received its first major upgrade in the form of the F-14A+. The original TF30 engines were replaced with the F110, which provided a significant increase in performance, range and reliability. With these new engines, the F-14A+ could take off from the carrier deck without afterburner. The other major upgrade was internal, with the installation of the ALR-67 Radar Homing and Warning (RHAW) system.
38 new aircraft were manufactured and 48 F-14Aâ’s were upgraded into the B variant. The F-14A+ was officially redesignated F-14B in 1991. F-14Bs will serve with distinction (with further upgrades) into 2005 with VF-11 Red Rippers and VF-32 Swordsmen being the last 2 US Navy squadrons operating the variant.
Since the 1980s, the best 1/48 scale F-14 you can get is from Hasegawa. The Academy and Revell offerings cannot begin to compare with it. It’s detailed, the shape is accurate and once completed, it simply catches attention on any display case. Now there’s a new entry that’s trying to dethrone it, and it’s Hobby Boss, a Chinese company.
Variants of the F-14 were a simple reboxing of parts by Hasegawa with some added parts. The effort, to me, is half-hearted as Hasegawa doesn’t include all the tiny details that make the variants different from the F-14A. Now Hobby Boss has released the F-14B. Since the base kit is the same as the first release, this preview will only look at whether they have captured all the minor detail changes from the F-14A.
The biggest and most obvious difference between the A and B variants are the engines and Hobby Boss obviously has gotten this right. I’m not sold on the complete engines though. While it’s nice that you can display the engines separately, how many modelers would really actually do that?
Here’s a list of items they got it right for the F-14B:
In addition to the above, Hobby Boss has included all the weapons that an F-14B can carry and various others that it won’t. Also included are:
In order to replicate these on the Hasegawa, you’ll need at least 3 boxes of their weapons sets.
The parts breakdown is very similar to the Hasegawa offering. There are however some differences. One, the wings can sweep in the Hobby Boss. Unlike Hasegawa however, they don’t include the parts to lower the flaps and slats. They also do not include the wing glove vanes as separate parts. Hobby Boss however, does give you the option to have the inflight refueling probe open and extended.
From what I’ve read so far on the Internet, the Hobby Boss kit fits quite decently. Frankly, this is more than I can say about Hasegawa’s F-14 which has fitting issues in the cockpit, front to rear fuselage and intakes.
Now the general consensus of the Hobby Boss F-14 is that even though it’s right up there, the Hasegawa F-14 is still slightly more accurate shape-wise, especially around the intake area. For me though, ease of build trumps the minor (for me anyway) issues with the intake.
The kit comes with 2 marking options:
There is also 2 sheets of stencils.
While the Hobby Boss does have a high MSRP, on the streets it’s quite competitive compared to the Hasegawa offering. And we haven’t included the cost of the minor scratchbuilding involved and the weapon sets you need to get to arm the F-14. Being a mold that has been redone over and over again, the latest Hasegawa F-14s also suffer from flash of some form on the parts.
If it turns out the Hobbyboss F-14 is really an easier build, I think the only conclusion is: if you want the best 1/48 F-14 Tomcat, get the Hobby Boss.
Preview courtesy of my wallet
Work on the cockpit begins. The consoles are all decals. Looks decent enough especially since I’m keeping the canopy closed.
Ejection seat next. There’s quite a few details missing like the prominent canopy breakers and the green oxygen bottle on the left side of the seat. I added seatbelts using strips of masking tape. They are held in place with white glue. Then it’s a simple of handpainting, giving a dark wash and then lightly drybrushing the details.
The kit comes pre-molded with the older AIM-9 missile rails. The Italian ADFs replace these with the LAU-127 rail which allows for the mounting of the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. Hasegawa instructions say to cut off the existing rail and mount this new rail that comes in a separate sprue. So I chopped off the old rail and cemented the new one on.
The Italians use the ADF for the air defence mission and they usually carry a maximum of 4 missiles (2 AIM-120s and 2 AIM-9s) for this purpose. The number 3 and 7 hardpoints are therefore usually left empty without even the pylons. The kit comes with the holes for the pylon pre-drilled. These need to filled up. I used liquid putty for these.
With most of the construction done, I can close the top and bottom halves of the fuselage then cement the wings and tailfin.
I then sprayed black gray onto the cockpit consoles and frame. Then the seat goes in.
Stores next. A pleasant surprise is that Hasegawa provides 4x AIM-9 Sidewinders (2 old, 2 new versions) and 2x AIM-120 AMRAAMs. I’m giving the F-16 a standard air-to-air load of 2x AIM-120, 2x AIM-9 and 2x 370 gallon external fuel tanks. From what I gather, their F-16s don’t normally carry ECM pods.
I also drilled out the back of the missiles to simulate their exhausts.
I previously previewed this, decided to just try to quickly build one (yeah right). This will be the F-16A ADF (Air Defense Fighter) from the Italian Air Force (AMI – Aeronautica Militare Italiana). As of 2011, the AMI operates 27 ADFs in an air defence mission.
The Hasegawa kit is from the 1980s and it’s clear the mold has gone through many runs as almost every part has some sort of flash that needs to be cleaned up.
Details in the wheel bay is bare but I’ll make sure no one flips the kit over. 😀
So what makes an ADF an ADF? Externally there are some obvious differences. First up, there are new antennas (‘bird slicers’) in front of the front landing gear.
There are also bird slicers in front of the canopy.
There is a huge bulge at the base of the vertical tailfin.
Hasegawa did miss out some ADF-specific details. There is supposed to be a searchlight on the left side of the nose for night interceptions.
The ADF is basically an F-16A but it does sport the 2 vented F-16C-style gun vent port. I might not do anything about this one because I’m not too confident about my scribing skills.