Written by 11:22 pm Completed Works

Completed : Hasegawa 1/72 Grumman F-14A+ Kai Tomcat


Kit Info
Brand: Hasegawa 00898
Scale: 1/72
Media: Styrene + PE
Markings: No brand third party

The Subject
The F-14A+ Kai Tomcat was the main fighter used by the UN Navy prior to Space War I. The A+ Kai was a Tomcat with OverTechnology implemented to its avionics to extend its service life. The AIM-120 was also integrated as part of its weapon systems. By 2008, the UN was already developing the VF-0 and VF-1 variable fighters and the Tomcat would prove to be no match against the Anti-UN’s SV-51 variable fighter. The Tomcat would be replaced by the VF-1 by 2009.

Note: various designations have been used for this variant but I’m going with F-14A+ Kai.

Info adapted from MAHQ

The Kit
This is the 2nd newer mold (although it’s still 1988 vintage) of the F-14 from Hasegawa. Made up of close to 200 parts, this was the ultimate F-14 kit you can get for a long while. It was designed, with part swaps, to be able to model all the different F-14 variants. This particular boxing was of the ‘Super Tomcat’ prototype developed by Grumman that eventually led to the F-14B and D and it features the exact configuration needed to model the F-14A+ Kai that appeared in the Macross Zero anime, which was a mish-mash of the F-14B and F-14D.

Panel lines are very fine but due to the age of the molds, there are flash in a lot of the parts and other parts have lost some sharpness in the moldings. Of particular annoyance is the gun doors being both flashy and short shot. Markings-wise, only the 1 prototype is offered.

Great for its time, I think it has been superceded by both Academy and Great World Hobby F-14s that were introduced in 2019. A cursory browse on the internet also shows that those 2 kits are easier builds than this one.

The Build
This wasn’t an easy kit to build although to be fair, the various F-14 kits I’ve build so far all had their own weird fitting problems. The parts count is high on this kit but it’s because Hasegawa threw almost every available part for the variants in each box: there are a lot of leftover parts once completed. Anyway based on screenshots, these were the things I did to get the F-14A+ Kai:

  • F-14A/B style GRU-7 ejection seats
  • F-14D coaming for the pilot although there’s no HUD
  • No green tint on the canopy’s forward plate
  • The D chinpod
  • Removed the wing glove vanes
  • Only 1 large fairing on each wing glove
  • F-14B/D GE-F110 exhausts
  • The latest beaver tail
  • No external fuel tanks

The pilots are from the Hasegawa crew set and modified with epoxy putty and plastic plate to look somewhat like Shin and Edgar. The weapons are from Hasegawa weapons sets. Of interest is the use of AIM-120 AMRAAMs which were never cleared for the F-14 in real life (though it was tested by the prototype Super Tomcat).

Unfortunately, I pretty much had to trim, shim and elbow grease most parts to fit. Almost every joint had gaps that needed fixing. The kit doesn’t offer the wheels up option but the gear doors fit OK closed up.

It’s not as tedious as say, my Fujimi RF-4C build, but this ain’t no walk in the park.

Colors & Markings
I managed to track down the official Hasegawa callout online and used that as my reference. The F-14A Kai uses the standard TPS scheme. Under the scheme though I added brown mottling over my usual white ones. I like the end results as it adds random staining which can be enhanced by further oil paint weathering.

The impetus for this build was me finally getting hold of a set of the decals for the Macross Zero F-14. I missed the boat when the original was released but that kit had it’s own problems like the F-14 kit itself being the original 1977 mold. I got my decal sheet from a Chinese seller off eBay and it didn’t come with any instruction sheet.

I decided to paint the skunk tail and the wingtip chevrons instead of relying on decals figuring that they will be a handful to fit around the curves. Color-wise I followed quite closely with the instruction but I deviated when it came to the skunk tail. I went with a darker gray based on what I saw on the screencaps. I also sprayed the walkways on the wing gloves instead of using decals.

The decals thankfully worked a treat and went on very easily and snuggled down with Mark Softer. The kit has surprisingly few stencils so I decided to add them all. They looked very stark compared to the rest of the finish so I sprayed a very thin and translucent layer of Dark Ghost Gray over all the markings to knock down the contrast. This worked very well and I think going forward I’ll be using this method more.

The CGI model in Macross Zero

Finishing
The F-14A+ Kai in the anime was a full CGI model which looks like it has severe preshading. I decided on a more ‘realistic’ look based on what happens in real life to the TPS schemed F-14s. Some of these get very grungy so my take is mild in comparison. I was at first not sure I could pull it off but by doing the staining over a satin coat, I ended with a ‘look’ I really like. The satin coat is just flat enough to be able to grab and hold the oil paint.

So I’m done and the end result definitely looks good. But the fit of this kit makes me wonder if I’ll ever bother with another Hasegawa F-14 kit when the Academy and GWH kits are much more modern takes on the Tomcat and seem to fit better. Heck, I’m sure they aren’t worse.

Nevertheless, I’m quite happy with how this one turned out and it’s 1 more kit done for my Macross collection.

Build Log
> Part 1 : Cockpit
> Part 2 : Construction
> Part 3 : Construction
> Part 4 : Construction
> Part 5 : Construction
> Part 6 : Painting
> Part 7 : Finishing


Number 02 of 2020

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