Revell 1/48 F-14D Tomcat Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||November 2011||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Kit Number||5527||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Inexpensive kit with lots of options||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$28.00|
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, other 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.
One of Revell's regular catalog kits is their 1/48 F-14A and F-14D Tomcat kits. I remember building the Monogram F-14A more than two decades ago and it was a nice, buildable, inexpensive, and detailed kit in those days. The F-14A had the synchronized wing sweep which was new for the hobby which even extended the glove vanes at full sweep. How does the kit stand up to the test of time? Let's take a look:
This is the F-14D adaptation from the F-14A tooling. Even though it is branded Revell, this is still the Monogram design updated to account for the F-14D modifications. Molded in light grey styrene, the kit is presented on seven parts trees plus on tree of clear parts. Given that this tooling originated with the Monogram F-14A, this also has raised details and some of those details are rather soft. While the sprues look good in the images, there is flash starting to show up in a number of areas which will take a little time and care to remove so the kit will go together with minimal fuss.
While the tooling is similar between the original F-14A and the F-14D kits, this one has F-14B/D specific modifications including deletion of the wing glove vane slots in the wing gloves as well as the associated sweep mechanism on the wings and inside the wing gloves. While some of the original part options are still there, you won't be able to backdate this kit straight out of the box. What we do have here:
- Cockpit tub has original AWG-9 instrument panels as well as APG-71 updated panels, so an F-14B is possible
- Ejection seats are good representations of the NACES seats used in the F-14D but the GRU-7 seats are gone (so you'll need GRU-7s to backdate the aircraft)
- Same optional seated figures are provided as well as newer standing crew figures
- Canopy is positionable
- Wing still sweeps in synchronization
- Engine faces still inside intake trunks but they aren't GE engine faces (but they really weren't TF30s either so..
- Nice GE afterburner nozzles are provided but the TF30 nozzles are not
- F-14D unique IRST/TCS pod is provided as well as the TCS-only pod under the nose
- Weighted tires
- Correct gas-vented gun door
Revell has updated the external stores since the last time I saw the Monogram F-14A kit, the options in this box include:
- 1 x TARPS pod
- 2 x external fuel tanks
- 1 x ALQ-167 pod (not used)
- 4 x AIM-7 under the fuselage
- 2 x AIM-7 under the wing glove pylons
- 2 x AIM-9
- 4 x AIM-54
- 1 x LANTIRN targeting pod w/pylon adaptor
- 3 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 4 x Mk.82 slicks
- 4 x Paveway LGBs
- 4 x bomb adaptors
So out of the box you can build an F-14D in the fleet defense (air-to-air) configuration or in the Bombcat (air-to-ground) configuration with a variety of load-outs included in this box. There are a few items that will need attention:
- the pylon adaptor for the LANTIRN puts the pod under the glove at a weird nose-up angle, this should be level
- you will need some putty as there are going to be a few gaps, most notably around the gun door insert
- the AIM-9 and AIM-7 missiles need to be replaced
Since the older instrument panels are included in the box, all you'll need are some GRU-7 seats and you can backdate the kit to an F-14B and all you'll need to do is move or not install certain antennas in the kit (look at our photo walk arounds and photo galleries (link below).
Some folks are under the impression that the F-14D was only configured with the dual IRST/TCS pod under the nose. I was surprised to learn that VF-213 was one of at least two squadrons that operated their F-14Ds with the TCS-only pod as used on the F-14A/B as well.
The one nit I will pick with this kit is the same as one I've had with some of Hasegawa's kits - the box art. Hasegawa used to frequently put photographs of actual aircraft on their box art to indicate the version they were providing in the box, for example a few of their early F-14 Bombcat releases showed bombs or bomb shackle adaptors under the fuselage and a LANTIRN pod installed, but those parts were not in the box, just the decals to replicate the paint job onto their vanilla Tomcat kit. They did this frequently with their F-16 kits citing an F-16A MLU (for example) but none of the MLU-unique parts were included. In this instance, the unknowing buyer sees the F-14D on the catapult with the slats and flaps down and the nose kneeling and engged on the catapult shuttle. While this is really nice box art, this kit has no provisions for lowering the slats and flaps nor a nosegear strut in the kneeling position.
Revell has stepped up their decals as this kit features two nice CAG options plus a nice array of airframe maintenance stencils, walkways, and even weapons stencils. The two subjects featured in this release are:
- F-14D, 163894, VF-2, NE/100, USS Constellation, CAG's aircraft
- F-14D, 164348, VF-213, NH/100, USS Carl Vincon, CAG's aircraft
This is still a nice kit and while the molds are starting to show their age with the flash, the kit is a bargain in today's market. Looking at street prices, the Revell kit is going for around $17 USD, the Academy kit is around $38, and the Hasegawa kit at around $68. This is a nice kit for the less experienced modeler and in the hands of an experienced modeler, it can be a very nice model.