Hobby Boss 1/72 F-14A Tomcat
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Easy Assembly kit|
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.
Many of you are aware of how simple their easy assemble line of kits are. Well, this one does not seem to fit that mold at all. In fact, it looks very much like their standard F-14A kit in this scale. In fact, the sprue layout is identical. It makes one wonder what makes this one 'easy assemble' if it is the same as their standard kit. I really was hoping for a kit that is easier to assemble than the standard kit we get in 1/72 scale. However, having not built the standard boxing, I really cannot comment on its ease of construction.
Like standard boxing, the nose gear doors were molded into the forward fuselage sections, I wondered how that would work out. However, they are very nicely done with all the hinges on the inside. Cockpit is well detailed and has decals for the instruments and for placards on the bang seats. No belt decals so you will want to add those to spruce things up.
The gear wells and landing gear are all well done and look about right. There are two nose gears; one that is 'normal' and the other lowered as if ready for the cat shot. The design of the intakes is just like on most of the other Tomcat kits and it will be interesting to see how well these fit as that is frequently an area where one has issues. I should also mention that this kit has two gun gas vent areas. This two hole vent as provided with this kit started with BuNo 161138 and for the rest of the F-14A production. That means you can 'legally' only use the TPS markings option as the first is for a 159xxx plane which had the seven 'hole' vents.
Naturally, the swing wings can be moved fore and aft. On the back, the area for the burner nozzles is separate, and as this is a major difference between the A and B/D, Hobby Boss has thought things out. Options for the burner cans are full open and full closed. As I have mentioned in many other Tomcat articles, it was not unusual to see one full open and one full closed upon engine shutdown. A full weapons suite is also included. One will need to decide early in the build whether to include the Phoenix rails and open holes for them. There are also the proper fuel tanks. No bomb racks are provided so you cannot do a Bombcat.
You get quite a large decal sheet that includes markings for two VF-1 aircraft (see earlier comments on gun gas vents). It also includes full data for the plane and the various weapons provided. The first VF-1 option is in the early light gull grey and white scheme while the second is for a TPS aircraft in greys. Decals are nicely printed, though there are a lot of aftermarket sheets out there that you could use in their stead.
It would not be incorrect to say that I had been tricked into buying this kit on the promise of it being a minimal piece, easy to build offering. Clearly it is not. Whether it is a better deal price wise than the standard boxing really depends on the source of your purchase. However, it does not, in my mind, qualify for an easy assembly kit like others that Hobby Boss have released. Just thought you should know.
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