Hasegawa 1/72 F-14A Tomcat
|PRICE:||1000 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Though out of service with the USN, the F-14 is still an aircraft that engenders a considerable following among enthusiasts. Designed as a fleet interceptor to replace the F-4 Phantom II, the aircraft benefitted from the lessons learned during the Vietnam War. During that conflict, the F-4 was not as effective as hoped against a lesser adversary. Two main reasons were the lack of a gun for close combat and the lack of maneuverability against more maneuverable adversaries.
Variable geometry wings were very much in vogue during the design phase and this allowed the F-14 to be very fast with them swept back, and fairly slow (something needed for carrier landings) with them fully extended. It also improved the maneuverability of the aircraft immensely, making it a viable dog-fighter. The only thing that held it back were substandard engines, a feature that was not entirely fixed until the F-14A+/F-14B when the aircraft was re-engined. Despite its capabilities, it was getting more and more expensive to maintain and so rather than spending the money on an upgraded airframe, the type was retired in the early 2000s, replaced by a less capable, but newer aircraft, the F-18F.
This is one of Hasegawa's initial F-14 kits. Unlike the later versions, this one does not have multiple inserts, comes with weapons, and has operating swing wings. It is also lacking separate slats and the general detail level is a little bit lower. It also has raised panel line detail, probably the reason why a newer tooling was done in the 90s. However, it is still in production and at a substantially lower price, which makes it a good deal for those who simply want a nice 1/72 F-14. Interestingly, there are a lot of different boxings that have the same K12 kit number.
The cockpit is pretty basic with decals for instruments and seats that are in a left and right half. There are the appropriate controls for the pilot and GIB along with an actuating rod for the canopy. This fits into a forward fuselage section that is split vertically.
The wings have a gearing piece so that when you trap them between the upper and lower rear fuselage halves, the wings can swing back and forth. Probably the most difficult part of the build is the engine intake parts. These always seem to need filler and adjustment. This version of the Hasegawa F-14 is the only one I've ever built, but I'll bet it is similar in the newer tooling. For the exhaust you have a choice of fully open or closed burner cans.
Both the main and nose landing gear are well done and look the part. You do not get the lowered nose gear as is provided with many other F-14 kits. You can install these after you paint, which I always do as the fuselage will need some filler work in the back. Fins and stabs are single pieces that simply glue into the fuselage. It is at this stage that you attach the forward fuselage and the radome. No weight is needed. Canopy and windscreen are separate and you have crew figures. Canopy is not designed to be posed open.
Unlike later Hasegawa Tomcats, you get a full weapons suite of Sidewinders, Sparrows, and Phoenix missiles along with their pylons and pallets. These are not the most detailed in the world so you may want to swap them out with aftermarket.
Instructions are well done and the two markings options are in overall light gull grey. One is with the box art plane of VF-33 while the other is with VF-2. I'd like to show you to decals, but I was screwed over with this kit. I bought it as 'new', but taking off the shrink wrap, showed an open parts bag and decals from another kit as well as one of the corners of the box torn. As the kit decals were probably not very usable, that isn't an issue. What is was being cheated by the e-bay seller. Unfortunately this was years ago that I bought the kit and only just opened it so I can't tell you who to avoid.
Regardless of my misfortune, this is still a very nice kit for those who are not squeamish about raised panel lines (the horror), and who want a nice model on their shelves. Still worth picking up.
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