Grumman F-14A Tomcat
Jeffrey J. Brundt
Revell's 1/32 scale Tomcat is available
There is not much that I can add to what has already been said
about the Tomcat.
Born out of the F-111 fiasco, the F-14 emerged to be one of the
premiere fighter aircraft in the US Navyís inventory. Many years
ago, in college, I built a 1/32 Tamiya F-14. Though the Tamiya kit
is still considered the best Cat in 1/32nd scale you can still build
quite a nice model from the R-M kit. I donated the Tamiya F-14 I
built to my Alma Matterís display case in the Aviation Technology
building at the SIU-C airport in Carbondale, Illinois.
Fast forward to this year and here I am at the local hobby shop
and I see the R-M Tomcat set way up high on the display shelf. I had
heard vague rumblings this kit was hard to get and had been
discontinued. Knowing it would be highly unlikely I was going to
spend $95 for a Tamiya kit I bought this one on impulse for a mere
$35. I understand you can get this exact kit from Revell-Germany at
a much higher price of $75. However, for that much Iíd go the extra
few dollars and get the Tamiya kit.
1/32 Scale Tomcat|
The Revell 1/32 scale Tomcat is molded in a medium grey plastic
and comes in a big sturdy box. You can tell these molds are old and
tired because there was lots of flash everywhere. To be fair though,
the detail was still crisp and the engraved panel lines are very
nice. The clear parts were a bit scratched from moving around.
Theyíre not packed in a separate bag. However, itís nothing some
micro-mesh couldnít fix. The wings are designed to swing just like
the real one and the meshing gears are molded in. You learn once
itís assembled itís easy to get the mesh out of alignment and it
takes some finessing to get them back. More than once I had to do
this. The GRU-7 seats are very nicely detailed as are the instrument
panels. The layout on the panels matched to the reference photos I
had. I know there are detail sets out there for the cockpit (seats
and panels) but I was building this one strictly OOB. I couldnít see
the justification to spending a lot of extra money for those
details. The kit also has the old seats from a previous issue of the
kit. If those were the only ones in the kit then I probably would
have gotten some aftermarket ones. It looks like R-M has done some
updating on this kit since the first issue. (They did however,
change the tires from molded rubber to plasticÖ.bummer).
Click the thumbnails
below to view larger images:
The stabilators are connected to each other with a rod so they
can pivot up and down. I started out by keeping this feature but in
the back of my mind I had a feeling it wouldnít last. (I was
rightÖ.the stabs ended up being glued in place) The general parts
fit is OK but youíre going to need putty, files and sandpaper. The
lower joint between the forward fuse and the main body is horrible.
Oh well. Nothing Iím not used to. Iíve come to expect this from most
every model I build so I donít get my nose out of joint when I have
to putty and sand. The assembly was very straightforward and
uneventful. It was nice while the main fuse putty job was drying I
could assemble the missiles. The kit includes 4 Phoenix, 2 Sparrow
and 2 Sidewinder AIM-9L missiles. The under-fuse Phoenix fairings
are included as separate pieces so if you want to model a bird
without them you can. The surface engraving is there so if you leave
the fairings off you still will have detail. The landing gear is OK.
You could add some wire detailing for hydraulic lines, etc. but I
didnít go that far. The fit on the main gear halves is not the best
and youíll need to file and putty to get the seams somewhat
respectable. Itís most noticeable on the drag links. I couldnít get
mine perfect since there are a lot of inside angles that are on the
impossible side to get a file in.
Before you glue the radome on youíll need to add noseweight.
About 2oz is needed. I had to add mine AFTER the radome was
installed (Doh!). I went thru the nose mounted ALQ-100 ECM unit by
drilling a hole and feeding in solder until I could get it to stop
tail-sitting. I wasnít too worried though since R-M includes the
optional upgraded TCS/ALQ-100 camera unit that fits over the fuse
molded one. I did change the pitot probe on the nose. The kit
includes it but if youíve been building these models for a while you
know they donít last long. Thereís a small hole on the front of the
radome for the pitot. I drilled this up to .062Ē and inserted a
brass rod until it hit something and stopped. I then left about
.300Ē exposed and cut the excess off. I then slipped a piece of
.047Ē music wire into the brass rod all the way and then cutoff the
excess leaving about .300Ē of it exposed from the end of the brass.
Once I had things aligned and straight I wicked thin CA in and
firmed everything up. I then used putty to fair the sections
together with the proper conical transitions. I now haw a pitot tube
you can stand the plane on.
The clear parts got micro-meshed then dipped in Future. The inside
surface of the windscreenís center panel was lightly sprayed with
Tamiyaís transparent green. The windshield was glued in place. The
clear portions were masked then it was puttied and sanded to fair
into the fuse. The cockpit area was then masked and covered for what
always seems to be like an eternity until all the painting is
completed. When I finally remove this masking it always reminds me
of the scenes in those movies when they remove the bandages from
someoneís face after plastic surgery.
The model was prepped for paint. The paint scheme shown on the
box is for an all grey bird from VF-111, the Gunfighters, out of NAS
Miramar. The kit decals are of the hi-vis variety. I didnít
particularly care for this scheme, however. My previous Cat was done
up in the scheme of VF-84, The Jolly Rogers. Although I like VF-84
Iíve always had a soft spot for VF-1 Wolfpackís markings. VF-1 is
also the first squadron to take delivery of the F-14 back in 1973.
Plus I would be able to do a hi-vis color scheme rather than just
CAM produces an excellent set of markings for VF-1 in 1/32 scale. I
also ordered CAMís hi-vis data sheet for the F-14A. With these two
sheets I would be able to relegate the kit decals to the spares
file. I painted all the white areas with Krylon gloss white straight
form the can. Now the fun begins. Masking. I masked all the white
areas off (and there are A LOT of those) then sprayed the model with
Humbrol light gull grey. The leading edges of the wings, stab and
verticals were masked off and sprayed with Testorís aluminum
metalizer lacquer. And lastly the afterburners were masked off and
sprayed with Testorís steel and then highlighted with Testorís
titanium lacquers. The forward end of the radome was masked off and
hand painted with Humbrol radome tan and the anti glare panel and
windshield frames were hand painted with acrylic craft paint flat
black after masking. Thatís a lot of masking and painting but the
end result was well worth it. After removing all but the canopy and
cockpit masks the model was then given a coat of Testorís semi-gloss
and prepared for decal application.
The decal process took several evenings. There were some areas that
required micro-sol (most notably the post side ventral fin where the
ECS inlet cooling duct is located) and those took very well. After
the decals had set and the little bits of trim painting (nav-lights,
wing tip slime lights, etc.) were done another coat of semi-gloss
was applied. Now came the moment of truth as I removed the cockpit
masks. The end result is quite stunning. The seats and control stick
were glued in and the canopy was glued in place using Mighty-Tacky
craft glue (just in case it needs to be removed later for transport
or other things). The missiles were installed last. The AIM-9Lís and
Sparrows were rather easy to do. Itís the Phoenix missiles that took
the longest. I had masked and hand painted their radomes with
Humbrol radome tan but as anyone knows thatís ever seen a Phoenix
will tell you is that they are covered with placards and markings.
In 1/32 scale the omission of these would be quite obvious. Since no
one makes any marking for the Phoenix I was on my own. Fortunately I
have a scan of Phoenix markings from an Estes model rocket decal
sheet. Thought they are way to big a little editing in Photoshop
fixed that. I sized them correctly and printed a master out with
enough marking for six missiles (have to allow for fudges) and took
them to the local Kinkos for laser copying on some of my decal paper
stock. Then began the long process of applying all those decals.
Once again the end result was worth it. The missiles were all
attached using Mighty-Tacky craft glue (just in case they need to be
removed in the future) and it was done.
I really enjoyed building this plane. Total construction time was
about a month and the sheer size of a 1/32 F-14 is quite impressive.
I always knew the F-15 was a big plane but the Tomcat is slightly
bigger and more imposing. She looks mighty fine sitting next to my
1/32 F-15E. If youíre on a budget then I highly recommend the R-M
Tomcat. Itís a great value for what you get. With a bit of work you
can have a very nice bird to add to your collection.
Click the thumbnails below
to view larger images:
Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by
Jeffrey J. Brundt
Created 04 August 2002
04 June 2007
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