Hasegawa 1/72 F-14A Tomcat 'VF-33 Tarsiers
|PRICE:||2600 yen when new|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2004 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.
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. This is a fairly early kit as it has a SP (special) kit number. Inside the kit is the Atlantic Fleet boxing with the addition of a new decal sheet and markings guide.
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. 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 two options, both are listed as overall 36375 light grey, but I think that may be an error and should actually be 16440 light gull grey. I recommend checking period photos to verify this before painting. The two options also have black tails and ventral strakes. The box art plane is with VF-33 and has a black canopy surround as well. The other is with VF-24. The decals are nicely printed and while 'old school' Hasegawa decals with off-white whites, this only applies to the insignia so should be easily replaced. As an additional note, the instructions are from the 'Atlantic Fleet' boxing and come with an addendum sheet for the decals included in this boxing.
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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Thanks to me for this one, eh?
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