Revell 1/48 F-14D Tomcat

KIT #: 5527
PRICE: $30.00
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Dale Rannals


Nothing looked better than a Tomcat waiting to launch from a carrier.  Nothing looked better in the air.  The “A” models airframes were limited by a quirky engine.  The “D” models were not limited at all.  But they are no more….political knee-jerking destroyed those in American inventory.  You’d think they could have kept just one for air shows at least!  Perhaps American and Iran will overcome their differences soon and we can buy back one of theirs?  Anyway, just to take the easy way out, I suggest a quick look on the web to get you a plethora of info on this awesome bird.


 Revell’s F-14D Tomcat is a reissue of Monogram’s venerable F-14A from the early Eighties (I believe 1981).  You get a sea of plastic (it’s a big bird) with raised panels lines and Monograms knack of getting the character of the subject just right.  Fit of the parts is okay; most fit well, but a few barely fit.  Clear parts are nice and, well, clear.  There are two versions done here….the first one (kit #4729) which has a new sprue containing the different exhausts for the “D”, newer gun vent panels and a different under-chin TCS pod.  Everything else is the same as the “A” version of yore.  The newer “D” kit is more substantial.  It has the above mentioned sprue but also contains another version of the TCS pod, different ejection seats, different instrument panels, weighted tires, external fuel tanks, a TARPS pod, a LANTRIN pod, newer Sidewinder launch rails, and an AN/ALQ-167 ECM “Bullwinkle” pod.  But that’s not all, for in addition to the standard weapons load-out of the original kit (4 Phoenix, 6 Sparrow, 2 Sidewinder) you also get dumb bombs, laser guided bombs, and JDAM weapons.  A cornucopia of under-wing stores that allows for a dizzying number of configurations.……maybe Hasegawa should take note.   

             Instructions consist of a nice 8 ½ x 11 booklet with good illustrations and generic, but quite complete color callouts.  Decals are for two aircraft:  VF-2 Bounty Hunters from 2003 and the Black Lions of VF-213 circa 2001.  The decal sheet is big and looks impressive.  It includes weapons stencils which I think is a nice touch.


Construction starts with the cockpit.  Here I deviated in the form of an Eduard F-14D color PE detail set.  A slight problem was the set was for the Hasegawa kit, so it wasn’t going to fit perfectly.  First step was to grind down and smooth out the kits parts.  The kit contains instrument panel for both the “A” and “D” versions, so I took the “A” versions parts and smoothed them out.  I figured this way if fitting the Eduard set turned out poorly, I could always fall back on the kits’ “D” instrument panels and proceed normally.  (Always….have a “plan B”)  I had to do a bit of cutting on the cockpit tub to get everything to fit, but it turned out well though.  I then painted various knobs and switches on the cockpit tub with dots of red, yellow and white on the end of a toothpick and soon I had an office that looked like a station from the Starship Enterprise….yes, a bit flamboyant and overdone compared to the real (and quite dull) thing but it gets ones attention and says “hey, look…there’s something down here.”  Next I painted, highlighted, and added a set of resin seats.  They looked very nice but I was mystified that they did not include the upper ejection rings.  I was all set to make some out of wire when I looked thru my references and realized these seats don’t have handles there.  DOH!   It’s a good thing to have good references…’s a better thing to actually check them.

Next on the agenda are the intakes.  Supplied are two compressor faces….another nice touch but a moot point here.  These, and the intake area, were painted flat black as I saw little point in detailing an area that was never going to be seen (nobody with a penlight is ever going to look at my models).  The intakes cover over these and that completes the fuselage bottom.  The wings are as easy as it gets….a top and bottom for each side and, since nothing hangs off of these, no holes to open or pylons to add.  At this point the wings and fuselage top and bottom are joined to make an almost complete airframe.  The fit of the fuselage pieces is tricky in the area of the intakes.  Careful assembly here will minimize the putty and sanding, along with the loss of the raised detail in the area.  I didn’t do so well, and quality time was spent here smoothing things out.  

 One of the parts that doesn’t fit well, unfortunately, is that big nose.  The radome cover kinda sorta seemed like it was for this kit, but only barely.  I glued it on and slathered on the putty and gave the sanding sticks a workout.  I assembled the exhausts next and at 7 pieces each they are fairly well detailed.  These were set aside, to be attached at the finale.  The TCS pod and vertical stabilizers came next, and after these were attached it was time for the paint shed.


  My inspiration for this build was a book I bought:  “Tomcat: Bye Bye Baby!”  It is an awesome pictorial history and a great read.  It shows to good effect how hard the late Tomcats were used and abused.  Very dirty, very scruffy, and with loads of “character”.  I thought it would be fun to try to replicate “the look”.  First up were coats of Light Ghost Gray on the underside and Dark Ghost Gray on top.  I didn’t lighten these up much as I normally do as the pictures I used as references definitely show these aircraft on the dark side.  I went back and highlighted panels and panel lines with lighter and darker shades respectively.  I went a bit more heavy handed with this, as this is one airframe you really can’t weather too much.

 Once this base was established I attacked the airframe using Tamiya’s weathering sets.  Using browns and blacks and both the brush and pad applicators, I dirtied up panels and high wear areas.  Moving on to artist’s pastels, I added lighter and darker grays to blend things in.  Then it was back to the paint shed for a gloss coat of Future.

 In between session of weathering, I worked on the many missiles, pods, and bombs.  The load-out of choice here was a LANTRIN pod, Phoenix, and Sidewinder missiles on the glove pylons with laser guided bombs and JDAM’s underneath the fuselage.  So these were assembled, sanded, painted and decaled.  The instructions give good painting details for these and I appreciated the stencils supplied…..they give some life to these objects. 

 Back to the airframe, after letting the Future dry for a couple days I started decaling.  I used Eagle Strike’s “F-14 Tomcats part VII” sheet with a Tomcat from VF-213.   The decals went on superbly.  One thing not included were the wing walk areas, but luckily these were included in the kits decals, so I used those.  Once off the backing paper and on the plane, however, I realized the kits decals weren’t as good as they looked.  Quite a bit out of register, the wing walks had an obvious black line on one edge and a white line on the other.  Even if they were in register they also looked, well……too neat.  Some of the late Turkeys had wings walk areas that looked like they were spray painted on without any masking; most were neater than that extreme but still had feathered edges.  So out came the Scotch tape and off came those decals.  I masked out the wing walks and turned up the tape edges to give me a feathered edge and sprayed them on.  Much better…. shoulda did that in the first place.

 With that done I gathered my oil paints and started dotting the surface….working on one section at a time…….with various colors of paint.  Then I took a nice soft, flat brush just damp with turpenoil and worked these colors in till they just change the hue of the surface.  This further breaks up any monotone qualities left on the aircraft and the oil paints slow drying time gives you time to play around with this technique.  This was set aside to dry for a few days and then a flat clear coat (Future/Tamiya flat base mixture) was applied.


The canopy was added and here was a disappointment.  It doesn’t fit well.  There is a big gap in the starboard side.  I glued it in place as best I could and I’ll just live with the gap……I was not going to putty and sand at this point.  Call me lazy.  The main landing gear were next and these are very sturdy.  Unfortunately, the wheel attachment is rather whimpy and both main wheels broke off within days.  I drilled holes in the wheels and gear, added a small metal rod (pieces of paper clip), and affixed them again with super glue.  Much better.  The exhaust and bombs and missiles were glued in place and she was done.


 I’ve always liked this kit.  I built one of these kits (original “A” version of course) when I was a teenager back in the early eighties and I had fun with it.   Fast forward a few decades and here I am having a blast with basically the same kit.  It’s an old kit, sure.  It has raised panel lines….doesn’t bother me.  The Academy kit is nice but I think it has an odd nose profile.  The Hasegawa uber kit is, well, uber.  Alas, the uber kit is also expensive.  That’s a big bummer.  My suggestion: Grab one of these and one of the earlier “D” boxings and have some fun.  Build one like this to practice some of those weathering skills. You can’t really overdo it here!  You can then use the TARPS and Bullwinkle pods from this kit with the other boxing and make a nice TARPS equipped F-14B.  You’ll still have weapons left for other kits and you’ll still have some green in your wallet compared to the price of one Hasegawa kit.  That’s always a good thing.

 Thanks for reading this far!!


 Squadron/Signal F-14 Tomcat in Action

 Tomcat: Bye Bye Baby!  ISBN#: 0-7603-2576-6

 The Internet

Kit and decals courtesy of my wallet.

Dale Rannals

July 2010

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