Academy 1/72 F-14A "VF-2 Bounty Hunters"

KIT #: 12532
PRICE: $24.68
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  2016 boxing.


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. Thanks to help from Israel and a growingly competent local aviation industry, the IRIAF has been able to keep these planes in service.


Academy has produced several boxings of this kit, all of which appear to be the same except for markings. One does have to be careful with Tomcat kits and markings as there were subtle changes in the area around the gun and the very rear of the aircraft. Specifically the gun gas vents and the beavertail. The vents on this kit are the ones provided During the middle/later years of the aircraft's usage. Early Tomcats had a design that was seven equally sized rectangles and many of those that lasted until the end had this changed to NACA ducts. A modeler who cares about this sort of thing will check reference photos. This kit also has the reinforcements on the upper fin that one has to consider. These are simply engraved rather than properly raised so can be filled in if needed.

I was hoping that this kit did not have the rather bulbous nose of their 1/48 kit, but initial inspection shows that this may not have been changed when the kit was downsized. The overall feel of the kit is that it is much like Hasegawa's first F-14 kit in terms of a lack of inserts and simplicity of build. The tub has two four piece seats without harness a pair of instrument panels and a forward control stick. There are decals for the instruments. The cockpit fits atop a single piece nose gear well. This is then trapped in the forward fuselage halves and the upper bits like instrument anti-glare panels are attached.

Each of the wings is an upper and lower half. These are designed to swing so when attached to the lower fuselage half and the upper piece glued on, they should freely swing. There are the small wing glove strakes that will need to be glued in and then sanded smooth as by the time of the markings they were wired shut.

The biggest fit issue of any Tomcat kit are the engine intakes and this kit is designed like pretty much every Tomcat I've built. Ventral strakes, tailplanes and fins are a single piece. You have both open and closed burner cans and it was not unusual for one to be open and one closed after the aircraft shut down. Landing gear are well molded and the gear doors are all separate. There is no in-flight option. For things under wings you have a pair of intake mounted fuel tanks, four Phoenix for the centerline as well and glove missile pylons for a Sparrow and Sidewinder. Holes for the Phoenix pallets and glove pylons are already opened up so those will need to be filled if you don't want to carry them. The windscreen and canopy are separate, but there is no mechanism for an open canopy.

Instructions are well done with multiple paint references. Both of these options are in overall gloss light gull grey with the box art plane being from VF-2 in 1993. You will need to paint the rudders, cockpit surround and fin tips. The other option is a VF-102 plane in a somewhat less colorful scheme from 1982. Lots of stencils and the sheet looks to be nicely done.


As with any kit, only building it will really tell the full story. I've seen kits beautifully molded that were the pits to build and others that went together like a dream. My experience with Academy kits has generally been quite positive so we'll see how this one goes. 


January 2019

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