Italeri 1/48 F-14A Tomcat Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2006||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||2667||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$32.95|
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 Tomcat. A legend was born.
Like the F-111B, the F-14A 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 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.
Italeri has reissued their F-14A Plus (kit 0837) with new decals, and a huge sheet at that. I confess that this is my first look at this kit, so let's have a go.
The kit is intended to be a simple build. It is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The kit features scribed panel lines and details on the airframe. The airframe has some of the antenna fairings under the wing gloves of the upgraded F-14As, but it still represents the early gun gas vents on the nose. The vents themselves are almost invisible...
The cockpit tub is reasonably laid out and there are molded details on the side consoles and instrument panel. These are fairly soft details that wouldn't matter to a young modeler, but an AMS builder would consider a resin replacement. The GRU-7 seats look usable. No HUD is included.
Like the Academy and Mongram F-14 kits, this kit also features moving wings with a linkage to synchronize the movement of the wings.
The kit offers engine compressor faces at the ends of the intake trunks and reasonable TF30 engine nozzles.
As this kit is intended to be a simple build, it has a minimum of options, but it does offer a choice of IR or TV sensor pods under the radome. The flight controls are all molded closed/neutral, speed brakes closed, landing gear down. The canopy is seperately molded from the windscreen, but there is no provision for posing the canopy open.
Weapons loadout is typical early Tomcat. Two AIM-54s on the forward ventral pallets (rear pallets not provided), AIM-7s on the glove pylons, AIM-9 on the glove rails. While the AIM-54s and AIM-7s look usable, the forward fins on the AIM-9s are a little soft to be Limas, I'd raid a pair out of another kit. A pair of external fuel tanks for under the intake trunks round out the externals.
The kit decals provide three options:
- F-14A, BuNo 160380, AJ/201, VF-84 Jolly Rogers, USS Nimitz, 1976
- F-14A, BuNo 158979, NK/100, VF-1 Wolfpack, CAG, USS Enterprise, 1975
- F-14A, BuNo 158978, NH/205, VF-213 Black Lions, USS Kitty Hawk, 1975
Note that all three schemes are pre-low visibility, so the aircraft are gloss gull gray over white and in full color.
This is a reasonable kit for a modeler who wants to bang out a decent Tomcat kit without much fuss. The detailing is usable out of the box, and even if you didn't want to add a resin cockpit replacement to this project, you could invest in a set of color-photo-etch for the cockpit using Eduard's set 49229 which is designed for the Hasegawa kit, but should be adaptable for this kit as well.
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!