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"Tomcat Construction"
F-14A Part
Three

by David W. Aungst

 

F-14A Tomcat

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale F-14A Tomcat and 
Black Box's F-14D replacement cockpit  are available online from Squadron.com

 

Background

 

With apologies to Tom Cruise, the real star of the movie Top Gun is the F-14 Tomcat. It is probably the most widely recognized and capable Naval air superiority fighter of the modern era (my opinion, with further apologies to all the Hornet lovers out there). With a design dating back to the early Seventies, it remains one of the US Navy's premier aircraft, even today.

The original Tomcat design was for a pure air defense fighter employing long range Phoenix missiles to protect Carrier Groups from any perceived aerial threat. Shorter range Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles give the Tomcat close range armament. For the traditional dogfight, the Tomcat is also equipped with the ubiquitous six-barrel Vulcan 20mm rotary cannon. Later developments have introduced a reconnaissance role to the Tomcat using the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS). The most recent developments from the 1990s have now added ground attack to the Tomcat's list of missions.

Hasegawa was quite late in releasing a Tomcat in 1/48th scale. Rumors had been flying for years about them finally doing it. With a growing line of F-4 Phantoms, A-7 Corsairs, and F-15 Eagles, it only made sense that they would continue the line by including the F-14 Tomcat. Finally, in the 1980s, a decade after the F-14 entered Fleet service, they released a 1/48th scale kit.

This posting is another part in a multi-part posting on the Hasegawa Tomcat. In this posting, I will describe the kits and discuss the issues with constructing the kits. In future postings, I will highlight my completed models of the Tomcat (I now have three) and discuss things specific to each project.

 

 

Tomcat Kit Lineage

 

The following are brief descriptions of a spattering of the earliest releases that Hasegawa made on the F-14 Tomcat. This list is by no means complete. I am only showing the roots of where the current Hasegawa releases on the Tomcat are based. There have been numerous special release kits with special decals for various aircraft, too numerous to list them all. All these special release kits are just re-boxings of one of the kits I list below. In some cases, like with the "Bombcat" releases, the special release kits also include a few extra parts, but the base kits remain unchanged.

 

This is the original box art of the original Hasegawa F-14 Tomcat kit, an F-14A (stock #07018 / P018). The kit was released in the early to middle 1980s. It featured a slew of in-the-box options (which I list later in this posting) and five different Pacific Fleet marked aircraft in the decals (VF-21 and VF-154 in two versions, each, and a VF-111 CAG).

This is the box art of the second Hasegawa F-14 Tomcat kit, another F-14A (stock #07019 / P019). This release was only a few weeks after the first release and contained an identical kit to the first one. Only the decals were different. This time the kit featured four different Atlantic Fleet marked aircraft in the decals (VF-31, VF-74, and VF-84 in two versions).
This is the box art of the third Hasegawa F-14 Tomcat kit, still another F-14A (stock #07020 / P020). This release was only a few months after the first two. This time the plastic components were changed to represent an early block aircraft. The new components replaced pieces from the earlier kit releases so that only an early block aircraft can be built with this kit. To the current date, this is the only Tomcat release with the components to build an early block aircraft. The decals included both Atlantic and Pacific Fleet markings (VF-1 CAG, VF-14, and VF-32 CAG).
The F-14A+/B Tomcat was first released as a special release kit (stock #51508 / SP008) with updated components to build an accurate F-14A+/B Tomcat. The big change was the replacement of the P&W TF30 engine exhausts with the GE F110 engine exhausts. There were a few other minor changes to the kit to complete the F-14A+/B. The decals provided three low-vis aircraft (VX-4, VF-74, and VF-101). The box art I have included here is actually the second release of an F-14A+/B Tomcat as a standard stock kit (stock #07023 / P023). It has the same plastic as the earlier special release kit, only with new decals for three different aircraft (VF-74, VF-143, and VF-211 CAG).
As the F-14D was just hitting Fleet service, this kit was released. This is a special release kit (stock #51544 / SP044) with updated components to build an accurate F-14D Tomcat. Decals were provided for two aircraft (VX-4 and VF-124). The kit was based on the earlier F-14A+/B Tomcat kit releases. All the pieces needed to make the F-14D were just added to the F-14A+/B kit without removing the counterpart pieces. Knowing which pieces to mix and match allows the construction of accurate F-14A+/B or F-14D models from this kit. To date, no standard release kit of the F-14D has ever been made. There have been multiple special release kits, though, providing a variety of decals options.

 

 

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 Scale Tomcat Described

 

Do you want the short version or the long one? Anyone that has ever built (or tried to build) one of the Hasegawa 1/48th scale Tomcat kits can attest to there being lots you can say about them -- both good and bad.

The short version is this -- on the good side, the Hasegawa 1/48th scale Tomcats are the most detailed and accurate Tomcats of any kits on the market today, bar none. This is a strong statement, but in my opinion, it is true. On the bad side, the kits are quite a challenge to build due to their many complexities and fit issues. Over the years, I have actually not seen many of these kits finished. If you ever try to build one, you will find out why many have never been finished. I would bet most end up broken after being thrown against a wall. You really have to want to complete the kit to put up with some of the issues it presents.

If you do not care to read all the gory details about building these kits, you can back out of this posting now and wait for my future postings that will show my completed Tomcats. Otherwise, read on...

I acquired my first Hasegawa F-14 kit when it was originally released in the middle 1980s. It cost a whopping $60 back then and is still generally in the same ball park for its price today. On the heels of Hasegawa's very well done F-4 Phantoms and A-7 Corsairs, I was sure that the F-14 kit would not disappoint me and plunked down a half-week's salary (at that time) without any hesitation. The kit turned out to be a mixed blessing.

The original two releases of this kit provide all necessary components to build any F-14A from the middle of the block 75 aircraft (starting with BuNo 159421) up through the last F-14A to be produced (a block 140 aircraft, BuNo 162711). Re-releases of the kit with different parts allow the building of earlier F-14A Tomcats (prior to BuNo 159421) as well as F-14A+/B/D Tomcats and "Bombcats". The only Tomcats that Hasegawa does not provide a kit for are the twelve prototype / pre-production aircraft (BuNo 157980 through 157991). Over the years, I have acquired many of these kits (I have expensive taste). Most everything I write here about constructing these kits applies to all the kits, collectively.

The kits provide all of the following right in the box. This is quite a list by any standard.

  • Hasegawa F-14 Tomcat
    Parts Trees

    Click Thumbnails below to view larger images:

    Parts Tree A and B

    Parts Tree E, H and K

    Parts Tree C and F

     

  • Finely engraved panel lines throughout the entire kit.

  • Raised cockpit detailing. Through the use of separate insert pieces, Hasegawa provides accurate instrument panels for each of their Tomcat kits. They just substitute different instrument panel pieces.

  • Optional position boarding ladder and steps. The ladder is constructed using etched metal pieces to form the vertical sides. There are no plastic pieces in the kit to replace these metal ones, so you must use these etchings if you intend to construct the model with its boarding ladder extended.

  • Very well detailed landing gear. The main landing gear legs are each composed of nine-pieces. The nose landing gear leg is made up of thirteen-pieces including alternate pieces to allow you to "kneel" the aircraft as it would be seen for a catapult launch. The only things that the legs are missing are some wiring harnesses. Apparently, Hasegawa intended to leave the wiring harnesses up to the modeler to add as super-detailing items.

  • White metal wheel hubs with rubber/vinyl tires. Included in most of the kits are alternate wheels with varying spoke patterns to model the different wheels used across a wide range of Tomcat production blocks.

  • Complete, fully detailed wheel wells.

  • Optional position swing-wings. In support of the optional position wings, Hasegawa provides alternate wing glove bladders. These bladders inflate and deflate as the wings sweep forward and back. They fill the slot that the wings swing in and out of, thus preserving the aerodynamics of the fuselage. The alternate bladder pieces allow for either fully inflated bladders with the wings all the way forward or fully deflated bladders with the wings in over-sweep (as they would be while parked on the carrier deck). The kit allows for the wings to be positioned at any sweep angle, but the bladders would need to be reworked to whatever partial inflation level they should be to fill the wing slot.

  • Optional position wing flaps and leading edge slats. Attaching the flaps in the lowered position does require the positioning of the wings to be fully forward.

  • Optional position horizontal tails.

  • Optional position speed brakes on the top and bottom of the "beaver tail". The speed brake wells are appropriately detailed with the correct ribbing and contours.

  • Optional position tail hook. Actually, if you build it right, the tail hook is functional and can be raised and lowered on the completed model. I do not build my models as toys, so I glued the tail hook in the position I wanted it (raised).

  • Optional open and closed engine exhaust nozzles with complete afterburner interiors all the way in to the flame holders and turbines. Even in the F-14A+/B/D kits with the new engine exhaust pieces, this option is still provided allowing the model to have opened or closed engine exhaust nozzles.

  • Full engine intake ducting back to a representation of the engine faces. The contours of the ducting are not truely accurate, but to have some form of ducting with an engine face is better than a blank wall or, worse yet, an empty hole.

  • A complete compliment of weapons pylons allowing most any air-to-air weapons load to be modeled. Unfortunately, though, no actual weapons are provided in the kit -- nothing -- not even a couple Sidewinder missiles. This requires you to steal weapons from some other kit or purchase some of the Hasegawa weapons sets. And, a gripe of mine with the Hasegawa weapons sets is that the Phoenix missiles are in the "smart bombs" set while all the other air-to-air missiles are in a set of their own. This requires you to buy two weapons sets to model a Tomcat with all three missile types on it, as if the Tomcat kit did not cost enough already. A couple Hasegawa special release "Bombcat" kits do include air-to-ground weapons, but no air-to-air weapons are found in any of the kits to date.

  • A TARPS reconnaissance pod. This is a big plus that Hasegawa could have easily ignored. A full conversion to the TARPS configuration also includes a fairing over of the middle front Sparrow missile well. The later Hasegawa releases include the part to do this on the C tree (part C51). The kit instruction sheets make no mention of this part or where it goes, but that is its purpose.

  • Open access doors with a representation of the 20mm Vulcan cannon in the left nose. The real point here was that Hasegawa needed to provide the gun covers as separate pieces because they are different from one F-14 version to the next. The actual representation of the 20mm Vulcan cannon is rather poor, being nothing more than raised detail inside the gun bay with no extra pieces to provide a true representation of the 20mm Vulcan cannon. Several after-market companies provide replacements of the gun bay interior that greatly improve the look (if opening gun bays is your "thing").

  • Finally, they provide what can only be termed as "extra pieces". This includes all sorts of antennas and airframe variations that provide the modeler with the ability to build most any Tomcat in existence. Like the TARPS pod, these are a big plus that Hasegawa could have easily ignored.

While this all sounds wonderful, it is not without a cost. There are an extraordinary number of pieces in the kit. The original F-14A kits contain 268 gray plastic, 16 clear plastic, 6 etched metal, 8 white metal wheel hubs, and 4 vinyl tires. Quite a number of these pieces (about 30) are the "extra pieces" I mention above that are optional variations on the airframe allowing the modeler to build any specific aircraft block number and weapons loading. Later releases of the kit have the number of parts climbing even higher as in most cases, Hasegawa added new options without removing the old ones. The high end of the part count is found in one of the recent release of the F-14D Tomcat (in overall black from VX-9). Because this kit includes trees of iron bombs and everything needed to make a "Bombcat", the gray plastic parts top out at nearly 500 pieces!

 

 

Building Hasegawa's 1/48 Scale Tomcat

 

I was so excited by what I saw in the original Tomcat kit I purchased that I started building it immediately. Then, I found some things with the engineering of the kit that really disappointed me. Not that the issues were insurmountable, but I had some preconceived ideas from what the F-4 and A-7 kits were like. When the F-14 kit actually did have what I considered "real" issues, I got disgusted and boxed the whole kit up, putting it away in the closet. Note that this occurred in the middle 1980's where my Advanced Modelers Syndrome (AMS) was at its worst. It was easy to convince me back then that any kit was too much trouble. The disappointment has lingered, though, and is the biggest reason it has taken me until now to finally build the kit. I will relate the issues I ran into as I walk through the construction sequence for the kit.

The troubles I ran into with the kit relate in many ways to the complexities introduced by all the pieces. The main trouble spots are only in a few specific places. In fairness to Hasegawa, I have to state that later releases of these kits have had the moldings reworked to help alleviate some of the issues that I outline here. Depending on which kit is being built, it may or may not have the reworked moldings. The original kits (stock#07018 and #07019) seem to be the most likely kits to not be reworked. Every other release of the kit I have checked has the reworked moldings.

To tell if a kit is a reworked one, check the engine intake pieces. If there is a deep half-inch notch cut out of the inside corners of these pieces, the kit is a reworked one.

Like most kits, the construction starts in the cockpit. The basic kit cockpit is "generic" so that it is reusable between all the various kit releases. The main cockpit tub has no detailing. Into the tub are installed all the specific detail pieces to provide the correct details for the specific Tomcat version being built. I found that some of the detail pieces did not fit as well as they could.

The front cockpit side consoles are a sixteenth of an inch too small for the space on the cockpit tub that they fit into. The intention is that they are attached flush to the rear wall, leaving a slot at their front ends. Then, the left and right instrument sub-panels are supposed to slip down into these slots. There are two issues here. The slots are not wide enough to fit the sub-panels, and the sub-panels have raised details all the way to their edges. Some of the details on the lower section of the sub-panels get covered up when the they are slipped into the slots in front of the side consoles. I thinned the sub-panels by sanding down the backing so they would fit into the slots in front of the side consoles and just accepted that some detailing was getting covered up as I slid them into place.

 

 

The rear bulkheads of both cockpits cause trouble. In the front cockpit, the piece does not want to slide down into place inside the cockpit tub. Be aware, also, that the beveling on the edges dictates that one side is the front and the other side is the back on this piece. If you insert it backwards, a noticeable gap appears at the base of the part. I filed down the sides of this piece to get it to slide into place.

The issue with the rear cockpit bulkhead is one of not having enough substance. The bulkhead builds up in three pieces that do not actually touch when they are installed in the cockpit tub. This provides a place to see into the fuselage behind the rear cockpit. I solved this by adding some sheet styrene backings onto the pieces.

Lastly, when attaching the rear main instrument panel and instrument hood into the cockpit, the front of the hood does not touch the top of the front cockpit bulkhead, leaving a sixteenth of an inch gap. I added some strip styrene to the top of the front cockpit bulkhead to fill this void.

When all these fit issues were addressed, then it was time to address the details that Hasegawa missed in the cockpits. I purchased the Eduard photo-etchings set for the Hasegawa Tomcat (stock#48-155) to obtain lots of details for the cockpits. Included in the Eduard set are really nice representations of the cockpit canopy sills.

The next items on my list of cockpit improvements were the cockpit side walls. Hasegawa molds nothing into the inside of the fuselage halves to represent the assorted side wall details found in the Tomcat. I was preparing to scratch build these items when Black Box released their F-14A Tomcat cockpit for the Hasegawa kit. The Black Box set fixes all the issues I outline above by replacing the entire cockpit. It also provides side wall details for the cockpits. I simply discarded the modified kit pieces and counted myself lucky for not investing too much time on the cockpit issues.

For a full review of the Black Box F-14 Tomcat cockpit and its integration into the Hasegawa Tomcat kit, see my other reviews: "Tomcat Cockpit" and "Tomcat Cockpit Painting".

Following the completion of the cockpit, I assembled the forward fuselage. In the original release kits, before the moldings were reworked, the kit cockpit does not fit inside fuselage sides real well. I needed to cut off the sides of the cockpit tub to gain clearance so the fuselage would fit together. In the kits with reworked moldings, the cockpit fits inside the fuselage without any issue. When I swapped to using Black Box cockpit, I did not have to worry any more about it.

After dealing with the cockpit and the forward fuselage, the rear fuselage is a snap. In one evening, I cut, cleaned, trimmed, and assembled the entire rear fuselage (without the engine intakes). A little care was needed to get the "beaver tail" to fit smoothly without too much of a joint line, but this was workable without using filler.

The main wheel well interior pieces proved to be a bit of a puzzle. After tinkering with them for almost an hour, I finally relised that they are intentionally too tall. The top edge of them comes to a shape beveled point. When joining the upper and lower fuselage halves, this point is crushed over the raised details on the inside of the upper fuselage. This is an odd choice by Hasegawa to get a tight fit, but it works. I just needed to accept this was the way it was intended to work.

The worst fitting pieces in the entire kit were found when I started work on the engine intakes. The cockpit issues are a "cake walk" compared to the engine intakes.

The intake trunk pieces just do not match the contours of the fuselage. They also lack positive alignment points to assist in getting them to fit the lower fuselage. The fit issues are compounded if you do not get the main wheel well pieces to sit just right. My recommendation is to use as little glue as possible to build and install the main wheel wells. As none of them are load-bearing in the kit, this is fine. That way, you can adjust the placement of the wheel well pieces to accomodate the engine intake trunking.

I carefully fit and adjusted the fit of the intake trunk pieces to make them line up on the fuselage. Then, I added some strip styrene locators to assist me with the alignment at the rear end of the pieces. Finally, I adjusted the fit and location of the main wheel well backing pieces (kit parts C15 and C16) so that they would not interfere with the intakes. The engine intake issues are sort of addressed in the kit releases with reworked moldings. The moldings changed, but most of the fit problems are still there.

In addition to the poor fit of the intake trunks to the lower fuselage, the fit of the intake ducting inside the trunks is pretty bad. I needed to use more than a little filler to blend the interior of the intake trunks into the intake ducting pieces. The entire area should be smooth, but the kit has loads of knockout pin locations and rough plastic. While a lip is molded into the trunk for the ducting to fit into, the ducting does not reach it.

My final intakes, after sanding the filler, were not really correct (still), but they were better looking than the way the stock kit provided them. I figured that the view afforded in the front of the intakes would be limited enough to hide any remaining shape issues. I was proved right after the intake trunks were attached.

Before attaching the intake trunks to the lower fuselage, I painted their insides gloss white. After this dried, I masked and painted the camouflage color of the outer portion of the inner intake. I had no specific pictures of the aircraft I was building that showed the intake interiors. Hence, I masked the most typical paint line I have seen inside Tomcat intakes. Check your references when doing this masking as the line can change from aircraft to aircraft.

During the process to attach the intake trunks to the lower fuselage, you also attach the intake variable geometry ramps (kit parts F10, F11, F12, and F13). If attached the way they are provided in the kit, these ramps are positioned like they would be in supersonic flight. As this configuration is never seen on the ground when the aircraft is parked, I modified the installation of the ramps to correct their placement.

I deleted the actuating rods for the forward ramps (kit pieces H6) and removed all of the raised details on the backs of the forward ramps. This allows the forward ramps to be attached in a highest, flush position. Then, I cut all but a sixteenth of an inch of the oleo extension off of the rear ramp actuators (kit pieces H7). This effectively halved the length of these actuators. This allows the rear ramps to be attached in corresponding higher positions to match the new positions of the forward ramps. This revised ramp configuration better captures the look of the intakes when the aircraft is parked on the flight line.

After attaching the intake trunks to the lower fuselage, I found that another place to work out was the area just under the upper lip of the intake. The intake trunks have pointed forward extensions that should transition smoothly into the lower edge of the intake lip. This was not happening. I used still more filler to shape and blend the pointed forward tips of the intake trunk into the lower side of the intake lip.

If I ever build another of these Tomcat kits, I will strongly consider using intake covers on the model to hide all these intake issues.

With the intakes completed and fully attached, I attached the forward fuselage to the rear fuselage. The joint between the forward and rear fuselage did not align well. The cross-section shapes of the two fuselage sections are not the same. I used a heavy styrene strip to widen the upper portion of the rear fuselage opening. This helped the forward and rear fuselage shapes to match each other better.

By this time, I was getting used to applying liberal amounts of filler to this kit. I applied some more filler and sanded it out to smooth the fuselage joint. I also needed to reinforce the inner structure of the fuselage joint. I had placed a lot of lead shot in the nose area of the model to guarantee the it would sit correctly on its landing gear. This made me fear that the nose section would get broken off if I was not careful. The reinforcing gave me some peace of mind.

At this point I was holding a nearly completed fuselage that was starting to really look like a Tomcat. I thought the big issues were finally past, but I had one more to go -- the wings. The wing problems relate mostly to the wing flaps and the pieces that go into the wing flap construction to support the lowered wing flaps.

To build the model with the flaps retracted (up), things fit pretty much as advertised. All that is needed is to thin the trailing edge of the upper wing piece, and the flap slides in with very little extra effort. Not readily apparent in the instructions is that the "eyelid" doors (kit parts C1 and C8) are discarded when the flaps are up.

 

 

Building the model with the flaps positioned down is where the fun starts. I found the flap pieces do not fit the wings as well as they could. Troubles start with the "eyelid" doors. First off, the instruction sheet has these parts labeled backwards. Put C1 where the instructions tell you to put C8, and vice versa. Even when these pieces are on the correct side, they are still too thick to fit into the thin space between the upper and lower wing pieces. I ended up separating these doors into three pieces each, cutting and filing away some of their backing portions, to get them to go into place.

 

 

 

Then, Hasegawa only provides two hinge/actuator points to connect the flap to the wing. There should be six. There are locator points on the flaps and wings for all six hinge/actuator points, but these are some parts that Hasegawa apparently neglected to include in the kit. I nipped off the two provided hinge points, as they are a little too long and incorrectly shaped. Then, I built up all six hinge/actuators using strip styrene.

A friend I met on the Internet (Danny Deters) sent me some great detail pictures of the lowered flaps on a Tomcat. Studying these detail pictures helped considerably with the process to build the hinge/actuators. With Danny's permission, I have included some of his pictures below:

 

Inboard, Underside

 

Outboard, Underside

 

I was still unhappy with the look of the flaps. After some extended investigation, I found out why. Hasegawa molds the wing flaps, themselves, incorrectly. They are too big! Hasegawa molded their pieces on the assumption that the flaps are a fowler style flap that slides back as it comes down. The truth is that the flaps are a slotted type that merely pivots down with the "eyelid" doors retracting to reveal a slot between the wing and the flap. No sliding back occurs. The bottom line is that the Hasegawa flaps are too long in their cord by about an eighth of an inch, the width of the "eyelid" doors.

After some investigation on how best to fix the problem, I initially came to the conclusion that fixing the kit pieces would be harder than just creating new flaps from scratch. Then I looked more into the scratch building effort and decided I really was not up for that, either. After further scrutiny of the kit pieces, I found that simply cutting off the leading edges of the pieces and filing them back to air foil shapes would work. So, that is what I did.

I cut the kit wing flaps following the scribe line that defines the "eyelid" doors (when the flap is retracted). Then I filed the leading edges of the parts to re-create the proper airfoil shape. I fixed the scribing that was lost during this process. I machined in the attachment points for the hinges that attach the flap to the wing. Lastly, I added the bumps on the upper flap surfaces that attach the actuators to the flap.

 

 

Inboard, Topside

 

Outboard, Topside

 

The last error by Hasegawa on the wing flaps involves the location of the flap actuators and the hinges points. Each actuator rod should be centered over a hinge point. Only two of the six actuator points align with the hinges. The others are skewed left or right by up to a quarter of an inch. I chose to not try to fix this alignment issue because it would involve rebuilding the (at the time I learned this information) already constructed "eyelid" doors and re-scribing the piano hinges for the "eyelid" doors. Perhaps on a future build of the kit I will tackle fixing the actuator locations.

 

 

The Hasegawa wing flaps always looked somehow wrong to me. After discovering and fixing most all of these wing flap problems, I was much happier with the look of the dropped flaps. I considered raising the wing spoilers while I was working on the wing, but decided against it. I had my hands full with just fixing the incorrect flaps. Like the flap actuators, perhaps on a future build of the kit I will tackle raising the spoilers.

I left the wings loose (unglued) in the fuselages of my completed models. The fit is tight enough on the wings to hold them in place without glue. This way I can remove the wings for transporting the models.

By now I was getting really tired of the model (again), so it was fortunate that I had finally reached the end of the big problems. The engine exhausts were no real trouble. Note that the engine exhaust nozzle adapters have a definite left and right side. I test fitted these between the left and right sides until I got it right, then added glue. Note that on F-14A+/B and D Tomcats (with the GE engines) the engine exhaust nozzle adapters should have all their scribing filled and sanded smooth. This area on the real aircraft is some high-tech fiber surface with no panel lines running through it. All it has is a series of attachment screws running along the edges.

A very typical parked stance of the F-14A engine exhausts has one side wide open and the other side fully closed. What happens is this. While taxiing, both engines are fully open. When the first engine is shut down, the aircraft is still powered by the second engine. The flight control computer cycles the shut down engine exhaust fully closed in a attempt to increase thrust. When the second engine is shut down, no power is available any more and the second engine remains fully open. The operating mechanism on the F-14A engine exhausts is not effected by gravity, so the exhausts remain in whatever position they are in at shut down.

If both engines are fully open (on a parked F-14A), it means they were shut down pretty much at the same time. It is rare to find both engines fully closed on the ground.

On the F-14A+/B and D Tomcat, the typical parked stance of the engine exhausts is to have both exhausts wide open. The same operational behavior occurs to the engine exhausts that occurs on the F-14A. The difference is that the operating mechanism of the engine exhausts on the F-14A+/B and D is very much effected by gravity. Within minutes after shut down, the engine exhausts are pulled open by gravity.

The landing gear constructed and plugged into the wheel wells with no issue. I added wiring and plumbing to the landing gear legs using fine wire. The rubber/vinyl tires provided by Hasegawa are both good and bad. With time, they squash on the model while it sits on your display shelves so that they create convincing looking weighted tires. Then, with more time, they start to decompose and leave oily spots on your display shelves. Finally, they start to crack and fall apart. I learned this from using the rubber/vinyl tires in the high-grade F-4 Phantom kits. Hence, I replaced the F-14 wheels and tires with resin items available from Cutting Edge.

I added the various antennae and little details at the end of the project, just before declaring myself done. Even these were not without some headaches.

The arresting hook is about a quarter of an inch too long. This causes it to hang out beyond the beaver tail. It should be even with the end of the beaver tail. I cut off the end of the hook, removed about a quarter of an inch from the end of the center rod portion, and re-attached the hook tip.

The COM antennae along the spine do not fit the locator holes on the fuselage. I filled the kit provided holes and redrilled some of my own. While I was at it, I scratch built new antennae from .020 inch sheet styrene (cut to size to match the kit pieces).

The nose tip pitot part does not really fit the hole on the tip of the nose cone. Also, it is too long. I took the same approach here as I did on the spine COM antennae and scratch built a new pitot with brass wire and the "pitot-less" nose tip in the kit. Then, I filled the hole on the nose tip and redrilled a new hole to match the thickness of the brass wire.

The boarding ladder uses etched metal pieces to construct its vertical sides. These are too thin looking when built, so I laminated .015 inch sheet styrene onto them and trimmed them to size. Using appropriate sized drill bits, I drilled the litening holes into the sides where they existed in the etched piece. This thicker construction looked more appropriate to what I saw in pictures of a real Tomcat boarding ladder.

The mounting holes for the horizontal tails were too large. The tails just hung in them. After contemplating several not-too-easy options, I decided to take a "cheap" approach that worked. I applied a bead of super glue inside the holes and let it dry. This reduced the hole size just enough so that the tails fit snuggly. I needed no glue to secure them. This makes them more survivable over the upcoming years on my display shelves. Since they are not glued, they will just move if (when) I bump them instead of breaking.

The instruction sheet has parts #L10 and #L11 (the wingtip navigation lights) backwards. I painted mine on the sprue using the instruction sheet to tell me which part would be which color (clear red or clear green). When I went to attach them to the wingtips, they did not work on the sides that I painted them for. The correct placement, for the record -- #L10 is the left (red), #L11 is the right (green). I stripped the clear paint off using an old bottle of Polly-S paint and decal remover. Then painted them again in the correct colors before attaching them to the wings.

 

 

Conclusion

 

In reality, none of the trouble areas I ran into are impossible to fix. That I fixed them proves this point. They only take a some extra time and a little tinkering with the kit's engineering. For the kit's cost, though, these areas should work right out of the box. Hence, back in the 1980s when I first started the kit, my AMS took over and I just socked the kit away.

It is a shame that I had to wait so long to get over the disappointed feelings so that I could finally get up the courage to complete this monster. Compared to the state-of-the-art technology found in most of the recent Hasegawa and Tamiya releases, this is not an easy kit to build. But, it is not all that bad. It is better than some old Airfix kits I have worked on. The completed kit is quite pleasing to look at and worth the effort to complete.

I got so into these Tomcat kits when I was finally building them (after fifteen years of feeling disappointed with the kit) that I built three kits all at the same time. Look for the three different Tomcats to get posted separately in future postings.

 

Go to Part One - Building the Black Box Cockpit

Go to Part Two - Painting the Cockpit for Effect

Go to Part Four - Painting an NSAWC Tomcat


Model, Description and Images Copyright 2001 by David Aungst
Page Created 03 August, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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