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F-14D Kit

Trumpeter 1/32 F-14D Super Tomcat Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2009 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject F-14D Super Tomcat Scale 1/32
Kit Number 3203 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros We have a new 'Best Tomcat in Any Scale' winner! Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $229.95

First Look

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F-14D Kit

The Grumman F-14D would become the last best version of the Tomcat to be produced. Where the F-14A was equipped with the AWG-9 radar and the TF30 engines, the F-14B retained the radar but received the F110 engine for a significant increase in available thrust. The F-14D was also powered by the F110, but the AWG-9 was replaced with a far more capable APG-71 radar, laser inertial navigation, oter improved avionics, glass cockpits, the NACES ejection seats, and other much-needed enhancements.

While the F-14D was a far more capable aircraft, it was also more complex and costly to operate as well. When the F-14D (and other Bombcats) started showing their stuff in air-to-ground delivery capabilities, their future would fall into the crosshairs of politics as the aircraft threatened the Super Hornet still in development. Then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney favored McDonnell Douglas over Grumman and rebuffed any attempts to improve or sustain the Tomcat.

The F-14D served in combat operations after the first Gulf War through its retirement in 2006. The aircraft is still regarded as one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built and proved that Grumman could successfully build an aircraft with the pointed end at the front end of the airframe.

When we saw this kit both in test shot images as well as at iHobbyExpo, there was no doubt about the size of the model, but there was no indication of the level of complexity of the kit. While Trumpeter does tend to over-engineer some of its kits, rendering lots of details in areas that will never be seen after assembly, such is not the case here. There is lots of detail, yes, but thankfully Trumpeter limited that to visible areas of the model.

If you look at the first image in the stack to the right, you see the kit as it appears with the lid first removed. The upper and lower main fuselage halves are nicely packed in separate packaging along with the clears, engine fairings, and rubber tires.

The basic airframe kit as packaged is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 22 parts trees plus the separately packaged upper and lower fuselage halves, engine fairings, and radome. The kit also consists of three trees of clear parts, one small fret of photo-etched parts, one set of metal landing gear strut cores, one set of rubber (vinyl) tires, and one set of rubber (vinyl) wing glove gaskets.

As I look over the kit, my first observation is that the rivet and panel line details seem to be finer that before. What's more, the engine compressor and turbine faces are much better as well. If you've seen the J57 engine faces on the Trumpeter F-100 and F-8 kits, the odd curves of the blades or the strange offset of the fixed stator vanes detracted from some otherwise nice work.

Looking over the whole model and having recently looked over the F/A-18E, you get the sense that Trumpeter has stepped up its game and is paying closer attention to details. Will they get this kit perfect, probably not, but so far no kit manufacturer has ever turned out a perfect model to date. This one looks like it is getting close though.

Among the various features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed cockpit
  • Nicely detailed NACES ejection seats
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable boarding ladder
  • Positionable radome
  • Positionable gun bay doors
  • M60 Vulcan cannon w/ammo drum
  • APG-71 radar under the radome
  • Metal landing gear cores for strength
  • Full length engine intake ducts with engines at the ends
  • Nicely detailed wheel wells
  • Positionable leading and trailing edge flaps *
  • Positionable wings (forward or swept)
  • Detailed intake ramp system
  • Nicely done F110 engines
  • Choice of open or closed F110 afterburner nozzles
  • Positionable wing spoilers *
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Postionable rudders
  • Positionable air refueling probe
  • Positionable speed boards *
  • Rubber tires

Among the external stores and weapons options:

  • 2 x AIM-9L/M Sidewinders (nice ones at that)
  • 2 x AIM-7F Sparrows ***
  • 2 x AIM-120 AMRAAM **
  • 6 x AIM-54 Phoenix ***
  • 2 x LGTR
  • 1 x AAQ-25 LANTIRN
  • 2 x External Fuel Tanks

* The kit provides these features as separate parts but don't show you how to extend them nor are hydraulic actuators shown in the instructions.

** It was the final sign of doom for the F-14D when it wasn't updated for AMRAAM. I don't know why these two missiles are in this kit, but you can use them as spares)

*** The proper pylon adapters are provided for these weapons when mounted on the wing glove stations

Among the mysteries in this box or missing:

  • Parts O - these appear to be the wing sweep gaskets that close up the slots in the fuselage while the wings are swept full forward. The instructions don't mention them
  • This aircraft is set up with LANTIRN, but no bomb adapters nor gravity weapons included other than the LGTR simulators
  • No TARPS pod included

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • F-14D-170-GR, BuNo 164342, VF-31 Tomcatters, -/100, CAG aircraft, 'Just Win Baby'
  • F-14D-165-GR, BuNo 163894, VF-2 Bounty Hunters, NE/100, CAG aircraft, USS Constellation
  • F-14D, BuNo 164603, VF-213 Black Lions, NH/101, USS Carl Vinson

The decals are provided on three sheets and include stenciling for the airframe and weapons.

Overall this kit could easily be the best Tomcat produced in any scale. I've done some side-by-side comparisons with parts from this kit and parts out of my Tamiya 1/32 F-14A and it looks like Trumpeter got the shape right. We'll see how this evolves as we start a build of this kit soon.

I noted some consternation over this kit's MSRP of $229.95 but when you compare the detail of this model against the Tamiya kit (which now retails for $209), the decision is far easier. Street prices for the kit are much lower depending on where you shop.

I couldn't wait to buy this kit after seeing the F/A-18E!

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