Italeri 1/72 F-14A Tomcat Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||January 2006||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Kit Number||1156||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||TARPS version, external tanks, good cockpit||Cons||Raised panel lines|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$23.00|
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 re-released their 1/72 F-14A Tomcat kit and it is still looking in good shape. The basic tooling is older generation where the panel lines are raised. From an initial once-over of the sprues, the parts are flash-free.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on two parts trees plus a small tree containing the clear canopy and windscreen. Detail-wise the kit is not bad but the AMS modeler will want to take care of a few minor 'tweaks'.
Out of the box, the kit represents a typical mid-life F-14A which has received the avionics updates that resulted in the antenna bumps under the wing gloves (not present on the early Tomcats). The gun gas vents are the standard F-14A configuration. F-14Bs and F-14Ds received a newer trio of triangular gas vents that were also retro-fitted to the F-14As later in their careers. If you're modeling a recent F-14A, check your references and modify the nose accordingly. In any case, you'll have to add a putty 'bump' at the gun muzzle as this is not present on the kit.
The kit provides the TF30 engine nozzles of the F-14A as well F110 nozzles of the F-14B/D (not used here).
The kit provides two types of IR sensor fairings under the radome though the TV system fairing used on many F-14As and virtually all F-14Bs is not included in the kit, nor is the dual sensor fairing for the F-14D. Check your references, but if you elect to use the F110 nozzles to build a newer cat, you'll need to fabricate the TV sensor.
The kit provides two different left nose halves, depending on the version of the aircraft you're wanting to build. These two parts have different exit paths for the engine exhaust stacks representing different versions of the aircraft.
The cockpit is definitely usable as provided in the kit. The ejection seats would benefit from photo-etched or decal seatbelts/harnesses.
The wings are designed to be movable with a linkage to move the wings together.
The intakes have engine faces at the far end. The exhaust nozzles and afterburner detailing are not bad either.
The kit comes with four AIM-54 Phoenix, two AIM-7 Sparrow and two AIM-9 Sidewinders. Loose the AIM-9s and get some nice AIM-9L/Ms out of the Hasegawa weapons set. The Sparrows and Phoenixes are usable out of the box. The kit also includes a TARPS pod and external fuel tanks to round out the external stores options.
The kit represents a TARPS F-14A, so the included TARPS pod mounts at station 5. This eliminates the two rear AIM-54 pallets that would be found at stations 4 and 5 (and are not included in the kit). The kit does provide the forward AIM-54 pallets for stations 3 and 6. Two sets of wing glove pylons are provided for stations 1 and 8 - this allows for carriage of the AIM-7 or AIM-54 under the wing gloves as well as the AIM-9 on stations 1A and 8A. The external fuel tanks mount under the intake trunk stations 2 and 7.
This kit provides markings for two different aircraft . The subjects are:
- F-14A, BuNo 161417, VF-142, AG/205, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
- F-14A, BuNo 160388, VF-41, AJ/105, USS Nimitz
While there are literally dozens of 1/72 F-14 releases out there (many of which are now out of production), this is a simple build that is less complex and less expensive than the Hasegawa versions (which are still the best in this scale). For a quick airframe to display any of the wide variety of colorful markings that have adorned the Tomcat, this is a good choice for the average modeler.
My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!