Hasegawa 1/48 F-14A Tomcat
|K 38 (4038)|
'Atlantic Fleet Squadrons' boxing
I've written so much about the F-14 during the last severalyears of kit and decal reviews that I cannot think of anything new to say aboutit. As you know it is now nearing the end of its useful life and will probablybe gone from the fleet by 2005. I can recall the first time I saw one. I hadonly been in the Navy a few years and had heard about but not seen one of thesefantastic swing-wing aircraft. One day, at NAS Alameda, I was working on anaircraft in my squadron when a friend came to me and asked if I wanted to seesomething neat. Being the typical sailor, a number of thoughts crossed my mindand I said 'sure'.
We walked over to the transient hangar on the far end of theramp from our hangar and took the stairs to the second deck. There below us wasa Tomcat in gull grey and white with red wing, tail, and stabilator tips. It wasone of the prototype birds and had broken during a cross country. The squidpolice wouldn't let anyone in the hangar floor with it, but had no problem withpeople peering at it from above. I was mightily impressed by the size of thething. The largest fighter I had seen before was the Phantom, and this oneseemed much bigger. Even today, when I see one, I am still impressed. The Navyhad a superb fleet interceptor in the aircraft and no F-18 will ever really beable to replace it when it is gone.
This is thesecond F-14 that they have produced. The original kit was produced soon afterthe prototype was out and decent measurements were made of it. The kit hadraised panel lines and a pretty decent interior. It was considered to be thebest around for a number of years, and was still top dog in 1/72 until thenew kits were produced in 1988. This is one of those new kits.
Ithas all the goodies that were considered necessary at the time. There areoptions to allow a multitude of variants of the F-14A. Along with that are aplethora of parts, many of them rather small, but such is the case with modernkits. There are so many parts that the box is actually bulging in an attempt tokeep them from escaping. You can see the number of bits and pieces from theimage above. In many ways, this is just a smaller version of the larger andequally 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 numberof parts broken off the sprues and the bits have numerous scratches on them.
Asdemanded, the panel lines are engraved and the kit offers the ability to havethe flaps and slats deployed. In fact, to do it otherwise will require a bit ofsurgery to be done on the slat tracks. You can also position the glove vanesopen or closed. Again, some surgery is needed for the closed position. All F-14shave had them wired in the closed position for years. You also have a variety ofunder nose sensors, the ability to have the speed brakes and entrance steps/ladderopen or closed, and two different tails, though one set is not for thisparticular boxing. So much has the F-14 been modified and updated over the yearsthat you really need to have photographs of the aircraft that you are modelingto get everything right.
As required by its price, this kit comes with a small fret ofetched metal. These bits are for the interior, canopy and exhaust. The metalworkis very well done and should really enhance your Tomcat. The instructions arevery well done as you would expect. They offer color callouts based on Gunzepaint as is the norm with Hasegawa over the last decades. Every option anddifference between the aircraft on the decal sheet is given so that you can do aproper job of things.
Speaking of decals, this kit offersfour options. For some reason, VF-84 has always been a real favourite amongstTomcat builders. I guess it is the skull and crossbones that does it. All fouraircraft are in overall FS 16440 Gloss Gull Grey, so that should help easepainting problems. Anyway, there are two schemes for VF-84; one with a blacktail and one without it. The third schemeis from VF-31 with the big red tail bands and black radome. Finally, VF-102 isthe sole version with the smaller grey insignia as is now so typical with TPSpainted Tomcats. The sheet provides not only things like wing walk andinstrument panels, but also a zillion data stencils that are sure to keep youbusy for quite a while applying them! Typical of Hasegawa kit decals, these area bit thick and should be applied using hot water for best performance.
Well,the big question is whether you should get this kit or not. The truth be told,it is the best one available. It is also a complicated kit with lots of smallbits and pieces. There are others out there that are easier to build, includingthe older Hasegawa kit, but none can match the accuracy of this one. As withmost Hasegawa kits, this one has been reboxed with different decals and a fewextra bits at least a dozen times!
Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!
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