Hasegawa 1/72 F-14A 'VF-154 Black Knights History'
|PRICE:||3000 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2003 Limited reissue|
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.
VF-154 was aboard the USS Independence when it replaced the USS Midway in 1991. When its sister squadron, VF-21 was disestablished, 154 inherited most of its planes and personnel. In 1998, the Independence was replaced as the Japan based carrier by the USS Kittyhawk and VF-154 cross-decked to the new ship. In 2003, VF-154 left the Kittyhawk and the Tomcat, transitioning to the super bug.
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. For this kit, they supply the standard F-14A instruction sheet and an addendum sheet that shows the D model differences The instructions are very well done as you would expect. They offer color callouts based on Gunze paint as is the norm with Hasegawa over the last decades. Every option and difference between the aircraft on the decal sheet is given so that you can do a proper job of things.
For markings, we have four options, all black tailed planes from the 1998-2003 time frame. The 1998 option has the unit's badge on the outer fin in outline. From 2000, we have the CAG bird with a more pronounced unit badge on the fin. This option also has black wing and stab tips. Finally, there are two options from 2003; one is the CAC bird and the other the CO's plane, with both having the standard 'swoosh' on the fin. Decals are nicely done and cause no issues on application.
You can add this one to a growing list of Hasegawa limited reissue kits. I guess it is a good way to do business as they seem to sell rather well. I'm surprised at how well these molds have held up. The final result of the build is a superb model of an important US fighter.
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