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Completed : Fujimi 1/72 Grumman F-14A Tomcat ‘Top Gun’


Kit Info
Brand: Fujimi 28010
Scale: 1/72
Media: Styrene
Markings: DEF Models 72004
F-14 Decal set Movie collection No.1

The Subject
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft developed for the United States Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project.

The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform. In all, 712 F-14s would be built and would serve the US Navy from 1970 to 2005. Iran is the only other operator and the Tomcat is still being flown by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) as of 2020.

The F-14A is the initial variant of the Tomcat and served as the all-weather interceptor for the carrier group. Later modifications added precision strike to its portfolio. In all, the US Navy would receive 478 F-14As.

The subject of this build is the F-14A (loaded in the standard Air CAP configuration) piloted by U.S. Navy Naval Aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and his RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) Lieutenant Junior Grade Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. They were stationed aboard USS Enterprise when Maverick and his wingman LT Bill “Cougar” Cortell intercept two hostile MiG-28s over the Indian Ocean. Maverick missile-locks on one (which drives it away), while the other hostile locks onto Cougar. Maverick drives the second Mig-28 off after going into a negative 4G inverted dive with it and Goose (allegedly) taking a Polaroid photo of the pilot.

Sources:
Wikipedia – Grumman F-14 Tomcat
Wikipedia – Top Gun

The Kit
The Fujimi kit has always been as highly regarded as the 1988 Hasegawa kit. Both were contemporaries and have been in constant production since being released. The Fujimi however, offers more options out of the box:

  • rubber tires (styrene ones are also included)
  • option for flaps and slats in up or down position
  • raised details in instrument panels
  • fine engraved panel lines
  • pilot and RIO figures
  • 4x AIM-54 Phoenix, 4x AIM-7 Sparrow and 2x AIM-9 Sidewinder
  • regular and lowered nose gear
  • engine trolley to display the engine externally
  • 2x different tailfins: early and modern
  • 3x different chinpods
  • 2x different gun port covers
  • both TF30 (opened and closed) and F110 engine nozzles

So… it looks like you can build any variant of the F-14 doesn’t it? In a word, no: the F-14A engine shrouds are different from those of the F-14B and F-14D. Fujimi only includes the F-14A version and I believe they have never addressed this omission in any subsequent releases. Such a pity.

On the bright side, this kit will get you what looks to be a very nice rendition of an early and late F-14A though. So let’s see how it builds up!

The Build
Overall, I found this kit to be an easier build than the Hasegawa kit but it did have some problems too:

  • each intake trunking is rendered in full length and split into left and right halves. There’s simply not enough pins or mating surfaces to align them properly. A small misalignment can poentially cause a step in the join down the whole length of the intake.
  • there are very fine but noticeable gaps where the intakes join to the nose section
  • the beaver tail is designed as a separate part and there is a step where it joins the fuselage
  • the rear engine trunking are halves with rib detail on the insides. The seam lines inside them are impossible to clean up
  • the main wings didn’t quite fit nicely in the closed position

Thankfully though some potential areas like the gun nozzle inserts, wing glove pylons and canopy fit well.

Fujimi has nailed the shape and I really like how the panel lines look on this kit.

Colors & Markings
It is generally understood that there were two F-14As that were painted up as the ‘hero’ aircraft: Buno 160694 and Buno 160665, with the former being in most of the shots and is the one that appeared in the beginning ‘flown’ by Maverick and Goose. The decals from Jeight Design/DEF Model offers markings for both F-14s. On a sidenote: neither of them were used for the sequence where the F-14 flew inverted over the ‘Mig-28’.

The color scheme is the standard TPS that the F-14 started carrying in the 1980s. This was painted over a black base that had a lot of marble coats of various colors including white, blue and brown. These had the effect of making the main gray colors (which I thinned a fair bit) to look off-colored immediately.

I also preshaded some of the panel lines with white to simulate touch-ups. I didn’t really try to replicate how the F-14 appeared in Top Gun though. That would be impossible. I did however replicate the light gray walkways which was done by masking and spraying.

I did a once over of the work done and decided to discolor the back half of the top and bottom fuselage even more. Overdoing the effect is beneficial as the subsequent panel washes and weathering would tone them down.

The decals went on without any problems although the solid gray band over the upper fuselage tail area is not included even though the others were. This was masked and sprayed with a mix of grays that I tried to match to the decals.

Finishing
Based on screenshots, the Tomcats in the film were line jets that has the typical heavy weathering in the usual areas but clean nose numbers and tail markings. I did the usual staining using various oil paints. I also used a medium gray oil paint on random panels to add further discoloration.

Once everything has dried, I misted a satin coat and attached the landing gear and weapons carefully with sprue glue. The main landing gear don’t have positive fit and one unfortunately cured slightly skewed. Other than this one problem though, the other parts attached without any issue.

All in all, the Fujimi kit is not an unpleasant kit. It does however has its own unique challenges that I think makes it onpar with the Hasegawa offering. I would rank them both below the much better (but almost thirty years newer) Academy kit.

Build Log
Pt. 1 – Construction
Pt. 2 – Painting
Pt. 3 – Finishing


Build 1 of 2023

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