Revell 1/72 TFX (F-111)




Long OOP


Three versions


Scott Van Aken


1969 boxing


For those of us old enough to remember, the 1960s saw many interesting people in US politics. One of those was Robert McNamara as Secretary of Defense. As is often the case of these appointees, he was a man whose intentions were good, but the results of his meddling were nearly a disaster. You see, Mr. McNamara was, at one time, running Ford Motor company. Now the Air Force wanted an advanced tactical bomber while the Navy wanted something to carry its new Phoenix stand-off air to air missiles. Well, this was an excellent time to give them both what they wanted with basically the same airframe. It worked with cars where the same basic design was both a Ford and a Mercury so it will be with aircraft.

The TFX (Tactical Fighter eXperimental) was born. Features of this plane were the ability to fly at supersonic speeds and low level (for the Air Force) and the ability to carry the large Phoenix missiles and have swing wings (for the Navy). The swing wings were a hot item in the 1960s and the Navy liked the idea as it helped carrier stowage, where space is at a premium. The Navy plane had longer wings to help slow down landing speeds for the carrier. Both had a new Cockpit Escape Module where the entire cockpit would be ejected in case of disaster. They also used afterburning turbofan engines, a first for both services and Pratt and Whitney. General Dynamics would build the USAF F-111A version while Grumman would do the Navy's F-111B.

Well, things just didn't go as well as hoped. There was trouble with the engines not providing full thrust. The escape module added a lot of weight and just wasn't reliable enough. The special low level radar that hooked into the auto-pilot for terrain guidance (F-111A) just was too rough and shook the plane rather severely. The Navy's F-111B was a huge aircraft for the job of fleet protection, and frankly, the Navy just never wanted the plane so fought it at every chance. Then we will go into the usual cost overruns. This time it was just too much. The Navy had their 6 prototypes and used them to get the Phoenix system to reliably operate for the plane they really wanted, the F-14 Tomcat. The USAF was then to be the only American operator of the type and after more development, it turned into an excellent strategic bomber and tactical strike aircraft. Grumman got more experience with swing wings so it could properly develop the Tomcat.


This is the second boxing of this kit, the initial run being done in 1966. Other than the sturdiness of the box, they are identical. I bought mine at a swap where the original owner had started painting the cockpit (white for some odd reason). Detail is raised and though there isn't much of it, what is there is well done. Options include a removable cockpit escape system, swing wings, moveable horizontal stabilizers, a radar set, and retractable landing gear. Both nose cones and wing extensions for the F-111B are provided. No wing pylons or missiles are given. Thanks to the retractable landing gear, there is no gear well detail.

The detail is raised and there are ejector pin marks all over the place on gear door insides, ventral strakes and other parts. No sink areas were noted but there is some flash on one of the sprues. I can tell you from experience that you can get all the bits to operate, but one has to be very careful in construction as some of the finer bits have a tendency to break (like the horizontal stab hinges). The different radomes are build to just push on so they can be removed and the cockpit section has tabs so it can also be removed.

Instructions are quite good for the time with several construction step drawings. Only generic color info is provided in the construction steps and the decals/camo drawings. Markings are provided for three aircraft. One is a generic F-111A in SEA camouflage, but with the light grey underside, a color only used briefly as most USAF F-111s had the bottom painted black for night ops. The other two are for USN aircraft in the then-standard light gull grey over white. Two units, VF-101 and VF-121, both training squadrons who were to get the plane are provided. Needless to say, the type never got that far so they are, for all intents and purposes, to be considered fictitious. Considering the 30 plus years these decals have been around, they are in remarkably good shape and barely beginning to yellow.


Well, I can tell you that serious builder will not want this kit. Its toy-like features make it only for the collector or someone wanting a nostalgic model. It is also a rather fussy build with all those working gizmos. It is still the only F-111B ever kitted in 1/72, and your editor has built both versions over the years.

Kit courtesy of me and my constant digging through the vendor's tables at swap meets!

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