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  • Writer's picture@PlaneThought41

Ace of Spades Tomcat: 1/48th Monogram F-14A

Updated: Sep 27, 2021

Back in 1981 when this kit was released it was the "King of the Cats". The shape looked accurate and it had working swing wings & glove vanes which weren't toy-like. Detail abounds here with crisp raised switches and dials throughout the cockpit, which looked great when properly finished. The GRU7 ejection seats were decent as were the gear and wells with all kinds of piping depicted.

Notable Kit Features:

  • Well molded cockpit with raised detail which fairly accurately represents the real thing

  • Movable interlinked wings (and early glove vanes)

  • Decent engine nozzles with interior detail

  • Very nice Sidewinders for the time... or still for that matter

  • Sparrows are molded into the pylons (which isn't great for painting)

  • AIM-54 and pallets are included as well (but no fuel tanks)

  • Nicely detailed gear and wheel wells

  • Stabilators are molded as part of the upper fuselage

Build Inspiration:

Sooner of later with all the provocative military exercises and show of force stationings you get a real confrontation. Back in the early eighties with tensions running high between the US and Libya the end result was was an engagement between two VF-41 "Black Aces" F-14s and two Libyan, Ghurdabiyah Air Base Su-22 aircraft on the 19th of August 1981. As this was the first combat engagement between "Swing-Wing" fighters I sought to build one of the victors of the engagement.

"Fast Eagle 102" crew Lt. Dave Venlet / Cdr. Hank Kleemann and "Fast Eagle 107" crew Lt. Larry Muczynski / Lt. Jim Anderson of VF-41.

Heads-Up Report:

  • Old-School raised panel lines

  • Nose cone fit needs a bit of work to get the transition smooth

  • The intakes do not fit well (leave a step at the fuselage join) and generally require much filler and sanding to get an acceptable fit (in my example)

  • Sparrows are molded onto the glove pylons

  • Ventral vanes are molded onto lower fuselage (the downside being lack of detail in vents)

  • Monogram decals often leave something to be desired (a bit thick and not flexible)

Kit Additions / Modifications:

Built pretty much out of the box with the exception of sanding off the raised panel line detail and adding the excellent "Detail & Scale - Su-22 Killers" decals to get "Fast Eagle 107" based on the USS Nimitz ("Fast Eagle" for a Tomcat callsign, go figure)

End Result:

The Monogram Tomcat has since been bested by other kits on the market, however considering this kit is still a fraction of the cost of most other F-14 kits, it still has a place in the market. (Note: not to be confused with the early Revell Tomcat which was mediocre at best.) If you are looking for a budget F-14A and don't mind the old school raised panel lines (which can be sanded off) then this Monogram kit can still give you a good end result.

Completed build #18 - March 1987 using the 1/48th scale Monogram #5803 kit.

Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers

Add-On Bonus:

Below is a description of the encounter by Lt. Larry "Music" Muczynski (the pilot of 107).

“We arrived down there and went into an orbit pattern on CAP station. The day before, this station had only one intercept, so we were not real happy about being sent down there. In fact we were trying to think of ways to get off of that station and go someplace else. What we had determined was that once we got down to what we call our combat fuel load, we would call for relief on station, go back and hit the tanker, and then go to another station.

After forty-five minutes on station we turned south one more time, and Dave Venlet, Commander Kleemann’s radar officer, picked up a target coming out of the airfield we were watching in Libya. Shortly thereafter, my radar officer, Jim Anderson, picked up the same target. It immediately became obvious that they were coming towards us, because they were heading right at us and climbed to 20,000 feet which was our altitude. They accelerated up to 540 knots. Commander Kleemann was flying lead, and I was flying wingman on his three o’ clock position, about a mile or two out so it was easy to see him. […] As we closed on the Libyans […] it became obvious that they had good GCI (Ground Control Intercept), in that every time we would take a cut, they would take a cut to neutralize what we had done.”

“When Commander Kleemann was 1,000 feet in front of them and about 500 feet above them, he rolled his left wing to pass directly above the section so he could get visual ID on them. At that time, the left side of the lead Libyan aircraft lit up with a big flame as the missile motor ignited. I was on that side, so it was very obvious to me with a tremendous orange flash and smoke trail coming off the plane and going under Commander Kleemann’s plane. It then did sort of a banana up toward my plane, but it was also immediately obvious that neither one of us was going to get hit by the missile, so it didn’t bother either of us.”

“Commander Kleemann initially had also gone after the leader, but when he saw me closing on him, he reversed his turn back toward the wingman. […] Commander Kleemann got behind the wingman very quickly, but being early in the morning the sun was low on the horizon. The wingman […] happened to fly across the sun as he was making his hard starboard turn. So Commander Kleemann just waited on his shot for the guy to clear the sun. […] As the wingman cleared the sun, Commander Kleemann was about forty degrees off the guy’s tail, at about three-quarters of a mile. He fired an AIM-9L off of station 1A (left glove pylon, shoulder station). The missile pulled lead, then did a ninety degree reversal and hit the aircraft in the tail. […] The aircraft started to roll, the drag chute deployed and the guy immediately ejected. He got a good chute and started down.”

“The leader, whom I had gone after, had completed his climbing turn, and was heading straight away north-northwest. He started a slight right hand reversal, but I had obtained a good firing position behind him. I armed up my AIM-9L, and also fired from station 1A. The Sidewinder went right up the guy’s tailpipe and blew off everything from the wing roots rearward in a tremendous fireball. Since I was only one-half mile at the guy’s dead six , the thing that scared me the most was that I would shoot myself down because of the FOD going down the engines. I did a 6 g pull-up, straight into the vertical, and when I cleared the debris pattern, I rolled inverted. I looked down and could see everything from the wings forward spinning on its way down and the plane on fire. After about two turns , I saw the pilot eject from the aircraft, but we did not see him get a good parachute.”

Later U.S. Navy Commander Thompson S. Sanders wrote in Air & Space/Smithsonian that his S-3A Viking's mission was the real precursor to this incident. Sanders was ordered to fly his Viking in a racetrack orbit inside Qaddafi's claimed zone but outside the internationally recognized 12-mile territorial water limit to try to provoke the Libyans to react. An E-2C Hawkeye alerted Sanders that two Sukhoi Su-22 fighters had taken off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte. Sanders dove to an altitude of 500 feet and flew north to evade the Libyan aircraft, a stressful experience for Sanders because the S-3A was not equipped with a threat warning receiver, nor with any countermeasures.

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