Hasegawa 1/72 F-14B Tomcat 'VF-103 Jolly Rogers w high detail nozzle parts'
KIT #: 52199  (SP 399)
PRICE: 5400 yen delivered
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2019 Limited Edition


With time, the early versions of all the missiles were replaced by more advanced versions, especially with the move to full solid-state electronics that allowed better reliability, better ECCM and more space for the rocket engine. So the early arrangement of the AIM-54A Phoenix active-radar air-to-air missile, the AIM-7E-2 Sparrow semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile, and the AIM-9J Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile was replaced in the 1980s with the B (1983) and C (1986) version of the Phoenix, the F (1977), M (1982), P (1987 or later) for Sparrows, and with the Sidewinder, L (1979) and M (1982). Within these versions, there are several improved batches (for example, Phoenix AIM-54C++).

The Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) was developed in the late 1970s for the F-14. Approximately 65 F-14As and all F-14Ds were modified to carry the pod. TARPS was primarily controlled by the Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) via an extra display for observing reconnaissance data. The "TARPS Digital (TARPS-DI)" was a 1996 upgrade featuring a digital camera. The digital camera was further updated beginning in 1998 with the "TARPS Completely Digital (TARPS-CD)" configuration that also provided real-time transmission of imagery.

Some of the F-14A aircraft underwent engine upgrades to the GE F110-400 in 1987. These upgraded Tomcats were redesignated F-14A+, which was later changed to F-14B in 1991. To fill the gap in attack types between the retirement of the A-6 and implementation of the F-18E/F, the Tomcat was cleared to use bombs in 1992. In 1994 it was modified to accept the LANTRIN system and its targeting pods.


This is the standard second generation Tomcat kit with additional bits added that include a pair of black 3D printed acrylic (resin) exhaust nozzles. Since showing two black blobs wouldn't be very useful, I have included an image of the nozzles already painted. This addition along with a sprue from their weapons set that includes the LANTRIN pods are what make this a special limited edition kit.  While I don't keep up with everything Hasegawa does, this may be the first time they have included 3D printed parts in a kit.

Hasegawa has reboxed the Tomcat at least five dozen times, judging by my slowly growing collection of F-14 kits. It was natural that they'd get the most out of what has to have been an expensive molding, judging by the plethora of small parts and inserts that come with the kits. There are so many parts that the box is actually bulging in an attempt to keep them from escaping. You can see the number of bits and pieces from the image above. In many ways, this is just a smaller version of the larger and equally impressive 1/48 F-14 that Hasegawa has produced. Typical of Hasegawa, the kit came with all those sprues in two bags. As a result, there were a number of parts broken off the sprues and the bits have numerous scratches on them.

As demanded, the panel lines are engraved and the kit offers the ability to have the flaps and slats deployed. In fact, to do it otherwise will require a bit of surgery to be done on the slat tracks. You can also position the glove vanes open or closed. Again, some surgery is needed for the closed position. All F-14s had them wired in the closed position after it was realized that they didn't really do anything and were an additional maintenance hassle.  You also have the ability to have the speed brakes and entrance steps/ladder open or closed, and two different tails, though one set is not for this particular boxing. So much has the F-14 been modified and updated over the years that you really need to have photographs of the aircraft that you are modeling to get everything right.

As required by its price, this kit comes with a small fret of etched metal. These bits are for the interior, canopy and exhaust. The metalwork is very well done and should really enhance your Tomcat. From what I see in the instructions, you can leave all these things off save for the upper ejection seat pull handles.

Instructions are standard stuff for modern Hasegawa kits and offer the usual Gunze paint references. Both markings options are from VF-103's last F-14 cruise aboard the USS JFK in 2004. Interestingly, aircraft #103 carries the special notation on the fin as you can see in the box top photo. The other option is the CAG bird. Both of these have black fins and cockpit surround. Decals are very nicely done and include instrument decals.


I am not sure just how many people outside Japan are willing to pay the somewhat premium price for this kit, but I can tell you that the end result is usually stunning. Probably the only thing it really would benefit from are aftermarket seats that have the harness.



March 2019

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