|PRICE:||4000 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2018 Limited Edition|
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy's Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform. In the 1990s, it added the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system and began performing precision ground-attack missions.
In the 1980s F-14s were used as land-based interceptors by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran–Iraq War, where they saw combat against Iraqi warplanes. Iranian F-14s reportedly shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft during the war, while only 12 to 16 Tomcats were lost; at least half of these losses were due to accidents.
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy's active fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976, when the U.S. had amicable diplomatic relations with Iran. Top Gun was fairly late in operating the Tomcat and did not really start to fly the type until around the time that F-14 squadrons started to be disestablished and so there were 'spare' airframes available. They were pretty much gone from the unit by the time the type was retired.
I am an unabashed Hasegawa 1/72 Tomcat kit collector. It did not start that way; just happened. I do not, however, purchase game/anime-related boxings so no Idolmaster or Ace Combat boxings, though these are often sold for a good price. So far, I'm missing about a dozen boxings, though every once in a while, I run across one that isn't grossly inflated in price. I also keep my eyes open on new releases as these kits seem to sell out fairly quickly. .
This is the second Top Gun boxing with the first one being the IIAF desert scheme plane. This one has two options from when the unit moved to NAS Fallon and both options have a rather complex upper side camouflage scheme. Naturally, that means a goodly amount of masking will be required, but the result will be a pretty cool model.
Hasegawa has also been known to release their initial issue Tomcat kit as a limited edition, but those are often easy to spot due to their lower price. This is the second tooling. Now I don't know all the nuances of the different block numbers or modifications, so don't shoot the piano player on this. I will say that it looks pretty much like what I'd expect the planes to look like. There is a later IR sensor, optional gun gas inserts and this kit does have the later reinforced fins.
Now to the standard stuff. There is a photo etch fret for things like inner canopy latches, instrument and consoles, afterburner details and such. This is actually etched stainless from what I can see so will be pretty sturdy stuff. Back in the cockpit, there are decals that can be used if you so wish. Two bang seats are fairly well done. All this will fit atop the nose gear well when it is built up. Weight is needed in the nose.
The kit has a lot of inserts so one will have to be careful when installing these. Note also that holes will need to be opened for missile racks, fuel tanks and pylons. Wings can be built swept back or fully forward. For the latter, the slats and flaps can be extended. There are separate inserts for the area behind the wings depending on which you choose. The wings do not 'swing' so you make your choice and stick with it. Some cutting will be required for swept back.
Landing gear is very nicely done and you get both extended and lowered nose gear. I doubt the Iranian planes use the lowered position as they are not catapulted from aircraft carriers. Main wheels have separate hubs so that will help with painting. Intakes are nicely detailed and, in my experience, installing these is usually the biggest headache of Tomcat kits. That and installing the separate nose section. All of the various little lights are separate bits as well so that won't be fun installing those.
The instruction book is modern Hasegawa with Gunze paint references. There are a lot of colors needed for this as you can image. Since most of the color comes from the paint scheme, the decal sheet is not very large. Decals are very nice and should work beautifully.
Here we have yet another very nicely done limited edition boxing from Hasegawa. I am not sure just how well these sell outside of Japan since other companies have produced newer moldings, but they sure do look nice when they are done. Probably the biggest issue with these kits is the price. Even in Japan they retail near $40.00 and by the time they reach the US, that has escalated with the addition of shipping. US imported kits were quite pricey as well and as of this writing, there is no US importer. I often wonder what Hasegawa will do since the Tomcat is now out of US service and it seems that they are always managing to find something of interest to keep the kits on the shelves.
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