Hasegawa 1/48 Grumman F-14A Tomcat

US Navy, VF-111 ‘Sundowners’, USS Carl Vinson 1982

Hasegawa’s Tomcats have a fearsome reputation as highly-detailed but over-engineered kits. So, not one to do things by halves, I decided to build two at the same time: this F-14A and an F-14D. It was a challenge and it took a few months. At the time these were the most complicated kits I had built, but the basic construction is fine. I built the F-14A pretty much straight from the box. One change I did make was to substitute the nose pitot with one made from brass tube and wire. Many have commented on the poor fit of the intake trunking to the main fuselage. If one follows the instructions there will be problems. However, if the internal trunking is fitted after the external trunking has been attached to the fuselage then the fit is actually very good — I barely needed to sand the joint (see photo below). One problem area I did find though, is the fit of the forward fuselage to the rear. I couldn’t find any way around this and had to resort to patient sanding and rescribing. The undercarriage bays are challenging to fit, but I eventually got them together. The other area where I would recommend caution is fitting the nosegear doors. I couldn’t fit them and the nosegear in the provided space, and had to ditch a piece of the undercarriage. Annoyingly I lost one of the pitot tubes underneath the canopy. I armed the F-14A in the classic fleet defence load-out of 4 Phoenix, 2 Sparrow and 2 Sidewinder — all from the Hasegawa weapon sets. The finish is all-over Humbrol129 enamel with a Klear coat and oil wash. The decals are from the kit, and were fine. I sealed them in with Pollyscale Flat. The exhausts and wing leading edges are Alclad II. This is a satisfying kit to build. Complex, for sure, but well-detailed and just requiring patience and perseverance.

Year bought: 2000 (Modelzone, Guildford)

Year built: 2003 (Maid’s Causeway, Cambridge)

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