Tamiya 1/48 F-14D Tomcat Kit First Look
|Date of Review||September 2018||Manufacturer||Tamiya|
|Kit Number||61118||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit, not over-engineered||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$124.00|
The F-14D was designed to be the state-of-the-art multi-role fighter. Incorporating the same GE F110 engines of the F-14B, the F-14D received the APG-71, a naval version of the F-15's APG-70 which allowed for look-down engagements over land (a weakness of the AWG-9). The F-14D also incorporated digital avionics, glass cockpit, Link 16 datalink, ASPJ ECM, NACES ejection seats, and a unique dual sensor on its chin with an infrared search/track set alongside the television camera. While the aircraft was the best fighter in the fleet, Grumman had evidently become the target of then-SECDEF Dick Cheney's wrath and not only was the F-14D program scaled back, Cheney sought out a new fighter to replace the Tomcat from a company 'not Grumman'. As the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets came online, the F-14 was phased out of service, with the last squadron standing down in 2006.
Nearly two years ago, Tamiya released their 1/48 F-14A kit, representing the early-production variant of the A-model. The kit has been a strong seller because it nicely fills that niche of a detailed model that provides the basic features of the aircraft. Unlike the Hasegawa 1/48 Tomcat kits, the Tamiya kit doesn't offer the wings with the flaps and slats extended nor the nose gear strut kneeling for catapult launch. The Tamiya kit's wings are hinged and interlocked to provide synchronized sweep movement. The fit of the kit parts is excellent making the F-14A (and this F-14D) a fun build. With such buildability, you will be tempted to build a number of the Tamiya kits to render some of the more interesting subjects for your scale flightline. If you've seen the variety of aftermarket decals available for the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits from companies like Furball Aero-Design, you'll need a crate of kits.
Out of the box, the engineering is the usual Tamiya 'outstanding' and it is molded in gray styrene and presented on 12 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts (duplicate parts trees not shown). Among the features and options:
- Nicely detailed cockpits
- Nicely detailed NACES ejection seats
- Nice pilot/RIO figures with lightweight helmets
- Optional crew restrains provided as decals should you opt to leave out the figures
- Positionable boarding ladder
- Molded-in details on the panels and side consoles are crisp and ready to paint
- Panels, consoles, and sidewalls are molded separate of the cockpit tub so they can be replaced as needed for newer Tomcat variants
- Positionable detailed canopy
- NACA vents on gun door
- Like the earlier Tomcat kits, this kit has synchronized movable wings
- Unlike the earlier Tomcats, this kit also has exchangeable parts so wings can be displayed full forward or fully swept with no gaps in seals/airbags
- Wing glove roots are provided separately to render proper detail differences (none in this case)
- Positionable air refueling probe
- GE F-110 compressor faces and afterburner nozzles
- Dual-sensor chin pod
- Nicely detailed landing gear and wells
- Late-type beaver tail
- Positionable stabilators
- Early and late AIM-9 rails included
- Optional bomb shackle adaptors for the ventral pallets
External stores are offered in this kit:
- 4 x AIM-9L Sidewinder
- 4 x AIM-7F Sparrow
- 4 x AIM-54 Phoenix
- 2 x external tanks
- 1 x TARPS pod
- 2 x LANTIRN targeting pod (only 1 used)
- 4 x GBU-12 Paveway II
- 2 x GBU-16 Paveway II
- 2 x GBU-31 JDAM
- 1 x ALQ-188 (not used in this kit)
The kit's TARPS is by far the nicest rendition of the reconnaissance pod I've seen to date.
The sprues actually have four AIM-7E and four AIM-7F/M on the sprues, but you'll only want to use the AIM-7F as shown in the instructions. Save the AIM-7Es for other projects.
The kit also provides an ALQ-188 pod which is carried by USN/USMC adversary and USAF aggressor aircraft. Not used in this kit, the parts indicate that another F-14 variant is coming in our future.
Tamiya provides markings for four examples:
- F-14D, 164602, VF-214, AJ/214, USS Theodore Roosevelt, 2006, CAG
- F-14D, 164342, VF101, AD/164, 2004
- F-14D, 163894, VF-2, NE/100, USS Constellation, 2003, CAG
- F-14D, 163904, VF-11, NK/100, USS Carl Vinson, 1995, CAG
The suggested retail price might give you pause as the price of new-tool kits continue to climb, but if you shop around the street price is in the mid $90s in the US or mid-$80s from Japan, plus postage
With the release of this kit, Tamiya has rendered the Alpha and Omega versions of the Tomcat. Now that most of the essential parts are tooled, hopefully Tamiya will release the F-14B and late F-14A versions as well. What's more, we have state-of-the-art airframes to render any of those spectacular schemes that have been released in the aftermarket, and if you still have the desire to have that one Tomcat with everything hanging out, you still have your choice of Hasegawa kits out there. AMK was supposed to release their F-14D a few years ago, but now that Tamiya has beaten them to market, we'll have to see if all of those nice details that appeared in their CAD drawings made it to plastic. Hopefully they didn't make the same mistake as their MiG-31 kits and produce the landing gear in scale, as that left the struts so weak that the gear would collapse under the weight of the model.