Sundowner: 1/48th Academy F-14A Tomcat
This Academy F-14 kit (released in 1989) was an ideal combination if you were looking to build up a collection of Tomcats without breaking the bank (and speeding up the process by skipping the flaps-down build). Arriving about the same time and costing less than half the price of the Hasegawa model, it gave model makers another option for their Tomcat build.
Notable Kit Features:
Raised detailed cockpit with decent ejection seats & 2 seated pilot figures
Nicely scribed surface details and panel lines
Movable wing-sweep with glove vanes
Nice gear detail
Optional under-nose sensors
Intake trunks with fan faces
Open & closed nozzles provided
Tarps pod, fuel tanks & air-to-air weapons provided
VF-111 "The Sundowners" is one of the most colourful & recognizable USN squadrons out there, so I knew I wanted an example in my collection. I thought it was going to be Lt. Garry L. Weigand & Ltjg. William C. Freckleton's F-4 MiG killer but then this Tomcat build went and beat it to the punch.
Nose wheel-well construction beneath cockpit should be carefully fitted to ensure proper parts alignment later
Fit between the upper and lower fuselages halves requires test fitting and some work to line up everything and sand /fill off the rough edges
Intake fit requires sanding and filling
Kit Additions / Modifications:
I built this kit pretty much out of the box, utilizing some Fujimi decals to get the VF-111 markings (which were not the best).
The paint scheme for this Tomcat is the later overall (FS 36440) grey with lower visibility national markings. The colour comes into play on the tails, the ventral fins and shark-mouth. This overall scheme is certainly easier to apply than the Grey over White scheme. As this is a CAG aircraft, weathering was kept minimal.
The After-Build Report:
When it comes to a super-detailed Tomcat, the Tamiya offering may be best to suit your needs, if money is not a factor. The later Hasegawa F-14 kits (post-improvements) are still contenders (considered the "King of Cats" for quite some time) and then AMK jumped in as well as HobbyBoss, however a lot of critiques followed these two kits as well. If you want a reasonably priced F-14 and don't require dropped flaps for your build, the Academy kit is still a good (available) option with scribed panel lines.
Completed build #142 - December 2011 using the 1/48th scale Academy #1659 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