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F-14D Kit

Hobby Boss 1/72 F-14D Super Tomcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2012 Manufacturer Hobby Boss
Subject F-14D Super Tomcat Scale 1/72
Kit Number 80278 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Lots of details Cons Mad Riveter has returned, over-engineered, can only build early F-14D (see text)
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $33.95

First Look

F-14D Kit
F-14D Kit
F-14D Kit
F-14D Kit
F-14D Kit

Back in the early 1960s, then-US Secretary of Defense (SecDef) Robert McNamara had a vision to bring the different armed services together to save some money by combining requirements. For example, the Air Force and Navy had slightly different requirements for the AIM-9 Sidewinder resulting in different versions for each service at a higher price tag. In the case of the missiles, the services finally banded together and are buying the same missiles allowing for purchases at a greater quantity discount. The concept was definitely sound.

McNamara was looking hard at his shrinking defense budget and in 1963, forced the services to use a common nomenclature system for its aircraft so that aircraft like the Air Force's new F-110A was really an F-4C. About this same time, the Air Force was looking for a new nuclear-capable precision strike aircraft while the Navy was looking for a fleet interceptor. The SecDef chose this unfortunate combination of requirements to force the two services into a common airframe. The F-111 was born. While the Air Force version would go on to meet that service's expectations, the Navy's F-111B just wasn't going to cut it for carrier operations. McNamara reluctantly agreed.

What the F-111B had going for it was a crew of two, a pair of good engines with the TF30 afterburning turbofans, the AWG-9 advanced fire control system, and the long-range AIM-54 Phoenix missile. What it needed was a lighter, more agile airframe! Grumman developed the answer by wrapping all of the best features of the F-111B into the F-14 Super Tomcat. A legend was born.

Like the F-111B, the F-14D uses variable geometry wings to allow for maximum lift during launch and recovery from the deck while still achieving Mach 2+ intercepts in defense of the fleet. Unlike the F-111B, the Super Tomcat was agile in a dogfight, though its TF30 engines were just not powerful enough to sustain high-performance maneuvers for very long. This was later fixed with the replacement of the TF30 with the F110 engines on the F-14B/D.

The only country to operate the F-14 outside of the USN is Iran. While US operations of the F-14 never accumulated the combat records of the F-15, the Iranians used the Super Tomcat to its fullest extent and not only fired the Phoenix in anger (which the US has not done), but when they ran out of AIM-54s, they began carrying HAWK missiles instead!

The F-14 Tomcat is still one of my all-time favorite subjects. Seeing the F-14s on the ramp at Nellis AFB during the AIM-9L evaluations back in the mid-1970s wearing the Keith Ferris camouflage won my heart over and I've been hooked ever since. So when Hobby Boss announced that they were releasing the F-14D Super Tomcat in 1/72 scale, I had to take a look.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. As you would expect, this kit is a scale-down of Hobby Boss' 1/48 scale kit which in turn was scaled down from Trumpeter's 1/32 scale kit. We did review the Trumpeter 1/32 F-14D (look here) as well as Hobby Boss' 1/48 F-14A (look here). With each iteration, the kit is easier to build as the parts count is reduced and the number of options are likewise reduced.

The layout of this kit is similar to the Hasegawa kit and offers many of the same features plus a few more. Let's take a look at these first:

  • Nicely detailed NACES ejection seats
  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Movable wings
  • Choice of open or closed afterburner nozzles for both engines
  • Choice of AIM-54 or AIM-7 glove pylon adapters
  • Choice of normal or 'squat' nosegear strut

For external options:

  • 2 x AIM-9L
  • 2 x AIM-7
  • 4 x AIM-54
  • 1 x TARPS pod (not used in this build)
  • 2 x external fuel tanks

What you have in this box is an early F-14D as it would appear early in its career, which means there are no Bombcat options nor a TARPS pod.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • F-14D, 159630, VF-2, NE/101, USS Constellation, squadron commander's aircraft
  • F-14D, 163894, VF-2, NE/100, USS Constellation, CAG's aircraft
  • F-14D, 164603, VF-31, AJ/101, USS Theordore Roosevelt, squadron commander's aircraft

The decals are provided on two decal sheets that also include airframe and weapons stenciling.

This kit will be a simple build and does provide some nice air-to-air loadout options to take the F-14 back to its fleet defense roots. The marking options in this kit are colorful choices, and you have a wide variety of aftermarket decals available should you want one of the other Super Tomcat squadrons depicted in your build.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!