|PRICE:||4200 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||2023 Limited Edition|
The final variant of the F-14 was the F-14D Super Tomcat. The F-14D variant was first delivered in 1991. The original TF-30 engines were replaced with GE F110-400 engines, similar to the F-14B. The F-14D also included newer digital avionics systems including a Glass cockpit and replaced the AWG-9 with the newer AN/APG-71 radar. Other systems included the Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ), Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), SJU-17(V) Naval Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES) and Infrared Search and Track (IRST).
Although the F-14D was to be the definitive version of the Tomcat, not all fleet units received the D variant. In 1989, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney refused to approve the purchase of any more F-14D model aircraft for $50 million each and pushed for a $25 million modernization of the F-14 fleet instead. Congress decided not to shut production down and funded 55 aircraft as part of a compromise. A total of 37 new aircraft were constructed and 18 F-14A were upgraded to D variants (these were designated as F-14D(R). The R was for rebuild). An upgrade to the F-14D's computer software to allow AIM-120 AMRAAM missile capability was planned but was later terminated.
While upgrades had kept the F-14 competitive with modern fighter aircraft technology, Cheney called the F-14 1960s technology. Despite some aggressive proposals from Grumman for a replacement, Cheney planned to replace the F-14 with a fighter that was not manufactured by Grumman. Cheney called the F-14 a "jobs program", and when the F-14 was canceled, an estimated 80,000 jobs of Grumman employees, subcontractors, or support personnel were affected.
Starting in 2005, some F-14Ds received the ROVER III upgrade and were designated as F-14D(R). Of course, this designation only confused things with the rebuilt aircraft, however, since the system was only used for the F-14s final deployment, the whole thing is really moot.
Hasegawa has reboxed the Tomcat at least three or four 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 sprues image. 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. Even after all these years, the parts are free from flash. In order to be sure that we have a proper F-14D, there are is a new sprue to provide the additional things that are changed, which in this case would be all the F-14B upgrades as well as a targeting pod and pylon, new lower chin seeker, seats, instrument panels, and gun gas extraction panels. I'm not 100% sure if ALL the upgrades are in this kit, but it is enough for most modelers
This is the most recent (2023) limited edition, and while it shares the name of an earlier release, the markings are different. 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-14shad 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. Any weapons will need to come from another source, such as Hasegawa's weapons set.
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. For markings, we have just the single option as provided by the box photo. This is a black tailed plane from VF-101, which was the east coast Tomcat training squadron. All the black areas on the fins and upper spine/canopy surround will need to be painted. The decal sheet is very nicely done and should work as well as any aftermarket decals. In case you want to use decals over the instrument panels, those are provided. One minor error is that since this was a rebuilt plane, the small serial number area should read "F-14Dr" (r for rebuilt) instead of "F-14D". A very minor deal, but there it is.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
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