Another year, another Tomcat. This time it’s the much talked about new mold F-14 from Academy. It’s been getting raves around the community. Hopefully it lives ups to the hype and I can retire my old Hasegawa kits. First impressions though is somewhat disappointing as Academy has chosen to simply re-use the boxart from the 1/48 F-14A kit. Seriously Academy?
The instructions are for an F-14A but the kit includes (almost) all the parts to build the B and D so one simply needs to pick and choose the correct parts to use.
Academy has a more elegant way of using cut outs for the various gun vent versions. They include all three of the types and I simply picked the correct one to use. Note the very nicely done panel details.
The intakes are usually the Achilles Heel of any F-14 kit so I decided to tackle them first. The design of the intakes is very similar to how Hasegawa did theirs. The fit though it a lot better. As with the Hasegawa, these require prepainting.
Part of the intake is the color of the fuselage. These also need to be masked off and prepared before assembly.
The intakes fit without issue at all but note the molding seamline running down the length of it. I actually didn’t notice them until the painting stage and had to do some emergency repairs.
The cockpit details are very nicely done and looks sufficiently busy.
I decided to paint all the instrument panels instead of using the decals. I also punched a small disk of aurora sheet for the HUD repeater.
Another usual dodgy fit is the nose to fuselage join but this one fit very well! Things have gone smoothly so far.
The main wings are designed like the 1/48 Tamiya kit so the main wings slot into tabs. The result is that the wings swing independently unlike Hasegawa and Hobbyboss’ approach but the fit is tight so they don’t swing out easily.
The VF-103 F-14B I’m building only carried the forward Phoenix pallets and location holes need to be drilled out to fit them. They however required some shimming to align and fit properly. There are also gaps that need to be filled. If I ever build another one, I need to re-look at how to do it better.
To get a stronger fit for the stabilizers I added plastic plates inside the hole and I flooded the join with sprue glue.
All is not wonderful though. There are injection pin marks in the oddest of places that are hard to reach. There’s one in the Sparrow missile well.
There are also ejection pin marks in the main gear well. I trimmed as best as I could and then flooded the holes with sprue glue to melt whatever remained and semi-fill up the hole.
A dryfit of the canopy shows that it thankfully fits very well. I also like the idea of the windshield being molded with part of the nose. This makes the join between it and the nose gapless.
Before attaching in place I had to tint the front of the windshield. The color is a mix of transparent green and blue Mr Hobby Aqueous paints.
I gave the canopy a base coat of black and noted the somewhat deeper panel line where the windshield joined the nose. This will need to be addressed with Vallejo putty.
After closing the canopy I went ahead and attached the antennas on the side of the nose. Due to how they were designed, these fit very easily and stayed in place even with some careless jostling on my part.