Hasegawa

1/72 F-14D Tomcat "Black Tomcat" model kit

product # 01908 3,600 Yen (US$43.26)   Hobbylink Japan

Product Article by Dean Reynolds on Nov 1 2010

 

The F-14D Super Tomcat was the final variant of the F-14 program, although it was intended to be succeeded by the F-14C program which never materialised. The F-14D was first delivered to units in 1991, and featured GE F110-400 engines making it similar to the F-14B. It also included newer digital avionics systems such as the newer AN/APG-71 radar, the Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ), Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), SJU-17(V) Naval Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES) and Infra-red search and track (IRST).Due to cost concerns Congress was unable to allow the all of the Fleet units to receive the F-14D, instead a compromise was agreed on which saw limited new numbers being built and saw some existing F-14A aircraft being modernised up to F-14D standards, becoming F-14D(R).

On 8 February 2006 the last American F-14 combat mission was completed, when a pair of Tomcats landed aboard the USS†Theodore Roosevelt after a bombing mission over Iraq. That aircraft was assigned to VF-31 and the aircrew credited with the last bomb dropped in combat by a Navy Tomcat was pilot Lt. Justin Halligan and RIO Lt. Bill Frank. At this stage the F-14 has been completely retired from US Naval service, and all retired airframes were shredded to ensure that no parts could find its way to the worlds only military operator of the F-14: the Imperial Iranian Air Force, who currently have about 20 airworthy F-14Aís in service.

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This kit is a limited release re-issue of the earlier 1/72 F-14D Hasegawa kit, which in turn shares all the sprues from the earlier F-14B kit except for one small sprue which contains the differences between the F-14B and F-14D: the NACES ejection seats, control panels and the chinpod. This also means that this kit while intended to be built as a F-14D can also be built as a F-14B model.

The kit comes on 11 black plastic sprues, 2 clear sprues and one photo-etch sprue. Instructions are typical Hasegawa instructions, clear and in both English and Japanese. The construction of the aircraft is completed in 23 steps, and the part count is 176 pieces!

Well this kit really is designed for Tomcat fans and the attention to detail is really impressive. It is by far the most accurate 1/72nd scale f-14 I have ever laid eyes on and really trashes the competition in this scale, to be brutally honest I have seen a lot of 1/48 scale Tomcats that would pale in comparison. Obviously Hasegawa realised that this aircraft has a big fan base, and that any compromises would get them unnecessary flack and as a result they have really put their time in and delivered an excellent kit of a sorely missed combat aircraft. As mentioned earlier this kit is the same set of sprues for the previous F-14D boxing, and with only 1 small sprue separating it from your standard F-14B aircraft which have the same GE F110-400 engines.

The sprues are mostly free from flash, in fact there was only one area which made me raise my eyebrows and that was one of the intakes which had some serious flash all over the show while its corresponding mate was totally clear of the same issues! There was no swirl and overall very little (if any) cleanup required to get you to the building and painting stage. Detail is REALLY excellent, and I know I am repeating myself here but it blows away all the competition even in larger 48th scales, the panel lines are recessed and are some of the finest lines and rivets I have seen on an aircraft. Itís a good thing that this version comes in gloss black, otherwise it would be really impossible to see all the great detail with a dark wash which really wouldnít do very much! The wings are built as either swept forward or back, but you are unable to swing them once construction is complete. Some of the construction is a little complex, but the reasoning is obviously to try and get more detail into areas or more realism so it would not be a problem for a modeller with some experience under his belt. Cockpit has detail in the form of some very detailed photo-etch, which is not that common with Hasegawa in 1/72nd scale but it really sets the plane apart from other 1/72 attempts by other companies and this kit could definitely win big at IPMS competitions built straight out of the box. The photo etch also has some great interior and engine detail, although to be honest since the detail on the plastic is so good it is just extra icing on the cake!

There is a down side, this kit while having the TARPS pod and auxiliary fuel tanks does not come with armament! So beware! The instructions come with a diagram showing a large array of weapons and a diagram showing loading configurations for the AIM-9G/H/L/M Sidewinder, AIM-7E/F Sparrow and AIM-54 Phoenix but they are absent, and there is a note in the instructions telling the consumer that armament is optional and can be purchased in a Weapon Set III package which is separately sold.

 The decals are well printed although I felt they were a little on the thick side, and I would hesitate to guess how much fine detail would survive with one of these decals over panel lines and rivets. The kit comes with options for 1 aircraft which is as follows:

US Navy, VX-9 (XF-1) ďVandy OneĒ which was seen in an all black scheme in 1994, NOT 1944 as the instructions state! (Although Iím sure the Allies would have loved some F-14ís during the advance on Berlin!)

This kit is definitely a must have for Tomcat fans (which letís be honest, is a lot of us!)

Special thanks to Hobbylink Japan http://www.hlj.com for supplying this review sample.

Dean Reynolds

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Photos and text © by Dean Reynolds