Category: Completed Works

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

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As of 2005, all F-14A variants of the Tomcat have been replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.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

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:

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.

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.

Completed : Hasegawa 1/72 Stonewell Bellcom VF-1G Valkyrie

Kit Info
Manufacturer: Hasegawa
Scale: 1/72
Media: Injection Plastic

The Mecha
The VF-1G ‘Wild Weasel’ is a modification of UN Spacy’s VT-1 Super Ostrich for the expressed purpose of Suppresion of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) missions. Armed with the latest AGM-88 Mk.IV HARMs (High-speed Anti Radiation Missiles) and ALQ-188 jamming and receiver pod, the VF-1G is tasked with the hunting down and destruction of enemy controlled radar sites. Standard missions involve two or more flights of ‘Wild Weasels’ clearing enemy defenses before the actual strike package of Strike Valkyries enter the airspace.

NOTE: This is my own addition to the Macross universe. It’s non-canon. But I’m sticking with it.

The Kit
Hasegawa delighted fans worldwide in 1999 when they announced that they will be releasing model kits based on the Macross license. The VT-1 is the trainer Valkyrie that was featured in Macross: Do You Remember Love, a 2 hour movie that recounts the events of the TV series. While the original VT-1 is meant to be in orange and unarmed, I decided to come up with my own camouflage scheme and make the VT-1 a combat version of the two-seater Valkyrie. So, the idea of doing it up as a ‘Wild Weasel’ platform came up.

Construction was pretty straightforward although there were some problematic steps. Some of quibbles that came up:

The engines had to be painted first before inserting it in between the two halves of the legs. Not painting them first would have required major modifications. I also ended up gluing the two halves of the engines together. They were supposed to be able to open and close but when assembled, they just seem to be… half opened! I ended up masking the engines and then constructed the legs around them. Because of this, I made a pretty bad mistake which I didn’t realize until I was 90% done with the kit. I won’t tell you what the mistake was though (^_^).

The VT-1 called for covered intakes which make construction considerably more complicated. The covers did not extend all the way to the edge, and there was a step just behind them, which meant that there were small gaps on the left and right of the covers to be painted with the fuselage color. If i did it over again, I’d have painted the covers, masked, then assembled the section. As it was, I assembled, painted THEN masked. Needless to say, lots of unnecessary swearing followed.

The way construction was done, it seemed like it I was building both an aircraft AND a robot, which, in a strange way, I was. Because of this, quite a bit of pre-assembly study of the instructions was required. This was also done as I have the philosophy of not painting what can’t be seen.

There was an option to have the sensor head retracted but I concluded that since my Wild Weasel unit there would have sensors installed in the head, I decided to install the head in the deployed position. Besides, it looks nicer that way.

The kit didn’t come with any weapons so I modified some F-15 pylons and got the HARMs from the Hasegawa weapons set. Since it’s a Wild Weasel I HAD to have HARMs for my kit! To secure the HARMs properly, I drilled holes on both the missile and pylons and inserted brass rods.

I also added a Heads Up Display (again, from a spare F-15 kit) on my Valkyrie to enhance the bare cockpit. Parts fit were finicky in some areas, which had to be puttied up but all in all, construction was relatively painless.

To top it off, I added an ALQ pod (again from the Hasegawa set) and slung it on what would be the right arm of the Valkyrie. This replaces the gunpod which was not included anyway in the VT-1 kit.

I decided to go for the Hill camouflage scheme that the USAF’s F-16 currently sports. This is also the color scheme that the last dedicated Wild Weasel (the F-4G) sported before it was retired. A custom mix of Gunze Sangyo paints was provided by Achtung Japan Hobby. The design of the scheme is exactly the same as the default VT-1 scheme, only the colors are different. As usual, I did preshading with black all over the kit and then proceeded with the two greys. Painting was very straightforward, with the help of careful masking, of course. Then a wash of black oil paint gave it a nice subtle weathering effect.

The canopy had a seam running down the middle of it (as per Hasegawa’s standard practice), so I sanded it down, polished and coated the canopy with Future to give it a supershine.

Another Hasegawa tradition is the thick decals. This one is no different. Nothing that a healthy dose of Mark Softer couldn’t handle though. I also added a small noseart of a girl on the left fuselage Macross logo. This came from a ALPS printed sheet designed by Starship Modeler. It is very detailed considering its size. However, it is very translucent, so the effect wasn’t as striking as I could have wanted.

A final coat of semi gloss sealed up the whole thing and I must say, considering how fast I built this thing, it turned out pretty OK.

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