F-14 Tomcat doesn’t need special introduction. Being the main star of a Top Gun movie, the aircraft was designed in late 1960’s after the failed F-111B project. Featuring twin tails, twin widely spaced engines and swing-wings, this fleet defender entered operational service just in time to witness the evacuation of Saigon in 1975. Since then it became a backbone of US Naval Aviation serving from its carriers across all the world’s seas. It first drew blood in 1981, when two VF-41 Black Aces Tomcats shot down two Lybian Su-22s and later in 1989, two F-14As of VF-32 Swordsmen again bloodied themselves of the coast of Lybia, this time downing two MiG-23s. It’s fifth and last kill in US Navy service came in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm when an F-14A of VF-1 Wolfpack shot down Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter. The only other Tomcat operator, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force achieved in excess of 130 kills with the venerable fighter against the Iraqi aggressors. With years came the upgrades, first the A+(later redesignated B), replacing its troublesome engines and a whole new package with D, which retained the B engines but had new avionics and radar installed. With the end of Cold War, Tomcat also changed its role from fleet defender to Bombcat, and again VF-41 being the first squadron to bomb targets in anger in 1995, earning the squadron motto “First to fight, first to strike!”.
I have to admit right away that I am a HUGE Tomcat fan. I’ve build a few Tomcats in the past and my long term plan is to build at least one aircraft from each squadron that flew it… During the past few decades I managed to acquire decals to build around 150 Tomcats from almost all squadrons. But that also brings a problem – which Tomcat to build next? Hearing nothing but positives about the Finemolds kit and since it’s been a while since I last built a Tomcat, I wanted to build something special. To build one of the Tomcats I have seen for the first time in person.
In June 1997, USS John F. Kennedy, became the first carrier to visit Slovenian port Koper. Aboard her were two full squadrons of F-14As, VF-41 Black Aces and its sister squadron VF-14 Tophatters. As a huge Tomcat fan, that was like the heavens descended upon me and after a gruesome summer waiting queue of 8 hours, I was finally on a boat towards the carriers fantail.
20-year old kid had a blast of the day 😀
Finemolds first released F-14 model, the D version, for the multi-part Aviographics magazine. As is usually the case, models that get released for the magazine, don’t get a rerelease and the community was sorry for that as it was THE Tomcat kit in 1:72!
Luckily for us Finemolds released F-14A in its own boxing. The kit is unfortunately quite expencive and doesn’t come with any weapons (old Hasegawa type policy). You have an option to buy additional sets from Finemolds like pitot and AoA probes and even ejection seat harnesses! but that will rise the price even more (and the harnesses cost almost the same as a resin seat replacement). Luckily, this is also where the critiques of the kit end. The kit is amazingly engineered. If you’ll be really careful, you won’t need any filler at all – if you’re sloppy, you’ll still end up with just minor, easy to clean up, seams. The shapes are accurate and detailing is amazing – cockpit for example has raised knob details and looks light years better and more accurate than the so popular Tamiya 1:48 offering. Same goes for the landing gear wells. The bonus of open panels is self-evident although if you want them closed, some additional puttying would be required – dry-fit of the nose to fuselage wasn’t the best I’ve seen. While the decals perform beautifully, the VF-84 and VF-111 options included didn’t appeal to me and I’ve gone ahead with a combination of Airfix and Fujimi decals.
This build was really a Phase 1 of the build and eventually, the Phase 2 will be building a diorama – carrier base, aircraft being chained down and inspected.
Aftermarket: Master pitot and AoA probe, Northstar Models wheels, NeOmega GRU-7 ejection seats, Eduard Remove Before Flight tags
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-004 White, MRP-005 Basic Black, MRP-041 Red, MRP-173 Tire-Rubber Matt, MRP-038 Light Gray, MRP-040 Dark Grey. MRP-100 Interior Grey, MRP-105 Blue Grey, MRP-129 Zinc Chromate, MRP-009 White Aluminum, MRP-147 Burnt Iron, MRP-148 Exhaust Metal, MRP-152 Pale Burnt Metal)