u m m a r y
||12400 Yen (Japan), $167 USD retail
|Contents and Media
||Injection molded plastic, metal
screws, and rubber tires
||New ordinance is very nicely done.
Extra LANTIRN pod.
||Still decals for the cockpit. High
scale F-14A Tomcat "Black Knights" may be ordered online from Squadron
Reviewed by Dave
As the United States Navy
upgrades its F-14 fleet, Tamiya periodically reissues its venerable old F-14A
Tomcat kit with new parts to keep pace with the changes.
When first released about
20-odd years ago, the kit represented an early F-14A which was devoid of
unsightly ECM bumps and had the original “grill” style gun gas purge vents.
In 1994, Tamiya reissued
the kit as what they called the “1994 version”. This boxing of the kit added
the undernose Television Camera Set (TCS), changed the gun gas vents to the
later NACA scoop style, and added the ECM bumps under the wing gloves and on the
beavertail. New sprues were added with more detailed Pratt & Whitney exhausts
and, in a nod to the aircraft’s emerging air-to-ground role, underfuselage bomb
racks and four Mk.82 bombs with Snakeye retarder tails.
A disadvantage of the
“1994” kit is that the air-to-air weapons were unchanged and included AIM-9Ds as
the only Sidewinder version, even though that version of the missile was long
out of USN service by 1994. This new release of the kit updates the previous
“1994” version with the addition of the LANTIRN targeting pod and the inclusion
of Laser Guided Bombs.
While Tamiya’s F-14 kit
contains some nice detail in areas such as landing gear and the exhaust nozzles,
which can be shown either open or closed, the basic kit is an older kit from an
era different than the kits we have been used to seeing from Tamiya in the last
10 years or so. Some of the design features in this old kit may come as an
unpleasant surprise to modelers expecting a quality lever similar to Tamiya’s
excellent F-15 and F-4 series kits. The criticism most often mentioned is the
use of decals for the instrument panels and side consoles, which many feel is
less than satisfactory for a kit of this size and price.
Also, the surface detail is
a strange mixture of panel line styles with the forwards fuselage and wings
featuring recessed panel line detail and the rear fuselage featuring raised
panel line detail. Finally, for those who remember the raised “battle damage
repair” patches on Tamiya’s F-4 kits, the trend may have started here with a
couple of raised panels on the forward fuselage which gives the appearance of
appliqué armor. Unfortunately, these areas are unchanged in this release of the
This kit is the previous
“1994” boxing with two new sprues, “X” and “Y”. The new sprues are molded
together and two of the combined sprues (parts code 0226017) are included in the
kit. The new sprues contain the following parts:
2x GBU-24 with
2x GBU-16 with
2x AIM-9 L/M
2x LANTIRN with
AIM-54 Phoenix pylon
2x BOL Sidewinder
bomb pylons with separate sway braces.
main wheel chocks
The kit also includes a
couple of new parts mixed in with the old sprues. Specifically, a new port
nosewheel door with a base for the new antenna bulge and RWR bumps for the
forward wing glove leading edge have been added to sprue “A”. In addition,
seekers for the GBU-24s have been added to clear parts sprue “G”.
The overall molding quality
of the new parts is very good. The new weapons are well done although, like the
weapons in the Academy F/A-18C kit, all of the bombs are smooth and lack the
rough thermal protection coating of shipboard USN bombs. The LANTIRN pod is
broken up into a number of detailed parts including a separate forward section
and a separate seeker head, similar to the breakdown in the Hasegawa 1/48
Weapons set “D”. Although this parts breakdown could, in theory, allow the
forward section and head to rotate, the parts have tabs that fix them in place
to show the seeker in the normal stowed position. A little surprisingly, the
optic windows are just recessed shapes and no clear parts are provided, although
this isn’t a big problem with the seeker head in the stowed position as most of
the windows are covered anyway. Phoenix adapter pylons as included to go
underneath the wing glove pylons allowing, for the first time on the kit, to add
the AIM-54s underwing. This is a welcome addition is it is not uncommon to see
current F-14s carrying only a single Phoenix missile, on the port underwing
pylon. A nice result of Tamiya using duplicated sprues is that you get two
complete LANTIRN pods and pylons, two underwing Phoenix pylons, and two GPS and
nosewheel door antennas. As only one of each is normally carried, the extras
can be used to partially upgrade another kit, although you are on your own for
the AIM-9L/Ms and BOL rails as the kit only contains enough of these items for
One item not updated for
this kit is the cockpit, which unfortunately still uses decals for the
instrument and console detail. The result is that the kit does not contain the
LANTIRN control stick on the port RIO console, and only contains the original
round Tactical Information Display (TID) instead of the newer square
Programmable Tactical Information Display (PTID). It is a little disappointing
that Tamiya didn’t address the cockpit in a kit of this price. Molding a couple
of new instrument panels and some side consoles that could be placed on top of
the blank consoles of the cockpit tub seems a simple solution that would have
greatly enhanced the kit. Those who want to do something about the cockpit are
forced into buying an aftermarket set, of which the Teknics set is the only one
currently available. For this kit, my recommendation is to buy the F-14B
cockpit set (TK32012) as this set contains the LANTIRN console and stick, and
both the TID and PTID.
Decals are provided for
five aircraft, four from VF-154 “Black Knights” based on the USS Kitty Hawk, and
one from VF-14 “Tophatters” from the USS Enterprise. The four VF-154 birds are
in FS 36320/36375 with black anti-glare panels and vertical tails.
The markings for the four
aircraft differ mainly in the Modex and whether the stripes on the tail are in
red or gray, with one of the aircraft being the CAG bird. The VF-14 aircraft is
in overall FS 36375. The decals are standard Tamiya, crisp, but thick.
Stenciling for the weapons and the LANTIRN pod are included on a separate decal
sheet. Also included is the sheet of paper remove before flight tags from the
“Bunker Buster” release of the F-15E.
It is good that Tamiya has
modernized their old kit, but the fact remains that the kit is an older kit with
the price of a brand new kit. At a US retail of $167, the kit is a few bucks
more the “Bunker Buster” F-15E, the latter being a modern tool kit with a
detailed cockpit and recessed panel panels lines throughout. The Tamiya Tomcat
is also more expensive than the new Academy Hornet kit which is arguably more
detailed and contains many more parts.
One is almost obligated to
buy the Teknics cockpit, which adds another $48 to the price one must pay to get
a detailed large scale F-14 kit, resulting in a total price of over $200 if full
retail price is paid. There aren’t a lot of alternatives, with the Revell F-14A
being the only other available kit in 1/32 scale.
Although the Revell kit is
less detailed overall, it does have a cockpit with raised detail and is
considerably cheaper than the Tamiya kit. Given that the Tomcat is being
replaced by the F/A-18 and is expected to be phased out by 2007, the prospect of
a major manufacturer making a new tool Tomcat is probably not in the cards,
although I’d love to be proven wrong on this.
Sample kit courtesy of my
ever dwindling bank account.
Review Copyright © 2003 by Dave
Page Created 27 June, 2003
Last updated 15 August, 2003
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