|KIT:||Italeri 1/72 F-14A Tomcat|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
OK, we all know that this is the end of the line for the Tomcat. the official 'farewell' date is in the next few months, and then they will all be in the boneyard and gone into the annals of historyI, for one, will be saddened by it. I went into the Navy with the Phantom in its glory days and retired just a few years after Tomcat units first started disappearing. It has taken an additional 12+ years for them to be gone forever and though the Hornet is cheaper and easier to maintain, it still doesn't have many of the capabilities that were standard in the F-14 when it first entered fleet squadrons back in 1974/75 (yes, that is 30 years ago).
So, let's take a look at what is, for many, an old friend. This is not a new kit or a reboxed Hasegawa kit, but a reissue of a kit that I first built about 15 years ago. Though the molds show some of the signs of age in the terms of a bit of flash, it is the same raised panel lines, the same operating swing wings, and the same good selection of weapons that it offered in the past. The transparencies are in good shape and offer a separate windscreen and canopy, though no way to pose the canopy open as there are no internal mechanism or external aft section.
In many ways, this is a contemporary of the first Hasegawa Tomcat in this scale. Much is quite similar between the two, and not surprisingly as there are only so many ways to kit a Tomcat. Though the nose section is separate, it is split vertically, just like the aft section. The cockpit is OK with raised detail on the instrument panel and side consoles. The seats are split right down the center, making it difficult to remove the seam. They look OK, but should really be replaced. Landing gear look fine with some ejector pin marks to remove. The small winglets are also provided, but you should know that they were made inoperable in the later 1980s as they caused more trouble than they were worth. Interestingly, a set of later engine nozzles are provided in case you want to do an F-14B, but in reality, the side gun gas panels and some other items would need to be changed and they are not in with the kit. Two lower nose sensors are provided, though neither is the TV camera that was often carried late in its life. I remember folks from the Tomcat squadrons whining about having to swap these out for a plane going on a mission as there were not enough to go around!
A full weapons load is provided with 4 Phoenix, 2 Sparrow and 2 Sidewinders. There are also the proper drop tanks and a recce pod. Phoenix pallets are provided as are the wing pylons that allow a Phoenix to be carried so you have a variety of load-outs that you can do. One thing else that hasn't changed is the misshapen nose cone. I'm not sure why, but the thing isn't symmetrical. When you have it done, it looks as if it is pointing up a bit. I'm not sure if an aftermarket one is available, but if it is, get it.
It is well-known that Italeri instructions are first rate so we'll leave it at that. The two options provided are both dirt easy to paint. They are overall FS 16440 Gloss Light Gull Grey. The instructions do state that they are flat, but they are painted gloss and weathered to semi-gloss at the worst. Corrosion geeks on the boat all claimed that the overall Gloss Light Gull Grey schemes were by and far the easiest to maintain and because they were gloss, they didn't hold onto crud that causes corrosion like the matte paints. Anyway, the small decal sheet offers two options. One is the box art full color option from VF-142 (listed as VFA-142; sheesh!). The fin tips will have to be painted yellow and the area around the cockpit with black. The other (listed as 'USS Nimitz') is VF-41 in full low-viz markings. This aircraft crashed into the sea upon approach to the ship in April 1980 while wearing this scheme. It has a matte Light Ghost Grey (FS 36375) area around the cockpit.
Overall, it is not a bad kit. Though not state of the art, it builds into a nice model to put on your shelf and if you don't like the kit markings, there are tons of aftermarket sheets for the F-14A.
Thanks to for the review kit. You can find Italeri kits at your favorite hobby shop or on-line at www.testors.com
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