1/32 Revell-Monogram F-14A

By Jeffrey Brundt

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There's not much I can add to what hasn't already been said about the Tomcat. Born out of the F-111 fiasco the F-14 emerged to be one of the premiere fighter aircraft in the US Navy's inventory. Many years ago, in college, I built a 1/32 Tamiya F-14. Though the Tamiya kit is still considered the best Cat in 1/32nd scale you can still build quite a nice model from the R-M kit. I donated the Tamiya F-14 I built to my Alma Matter's display case in the Aviation Technology building at the SIU-C airport in Carbondale, Illinois. Fast forward to this year and here I am at the local hobby shop and I see the R-M Tomcat set way up high on the display shelf. I had heard vague rumblings this kit was hard to get and had been discontinued. Knowing it would be highly unlikely I was going to spend $95 for a Tam kit I bought this one on impulse for a mere $35. I understand you can get this exact kit from Revell-Germany at a much higher price of $75. However, for that much I'd go the extra few dollars and get the Tamiya kit.

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The kit itself is molded in a medium grey plastic and comes in a big sturdy box. You can tell these molds are old and tired because there was lots of flash everywhere. To be fair though, the detail was still crisp and the engraved panel lines are very nice. The clear parts were a bit scratched from moving around. They're not packed in a separate bag. However, it's nothing some micro-mesh couldn't fix. The wings are designed to swing just like the real one and the meshing gears are molded in. You learn once it's assembled it's easy to get the mesh out of alignment and it takes some finessing to get them back. More than once I had to do this. The GRU-7 seats are very nicely detailed as are the instrument panels. The layout on the panels matched to the reference photos I had. I know there are detail sets out there for the cockpit (seats and panels) but I was building this one strictly OOB. I couldn't see the justification to spending a lot of extra money for those details. The kit also has the old seats from a previous issue of the kit. If those were the only ones in the kit then I probably would have gotten some aftermarket ones. It looks like R-M has done some updating on this kit since the first issue. (They did however, change the tires from molded rubber to plastic….bummer)

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The stabilators are connected to each other with a rod so they can pivot up and down. I started out by keeping this feature but in the back of my mind I had a feeling it wouldn't last. (I was right…the stabs ended up being glued in place) The general parts fit is OK but you're going to need putty, files and sandpaper. The lower joint between the forward fuse and the main body is horrible. Oh well. Nothing I'm not used to. I've come to expect this from most every model I build so I don't get my nose out of joint when I have to putty and sand. The assembly was very straightforward and uneventful. It was nice while the main fuse putty job was drying I could assemble the missiles. The kit includes 4 Phoenix, 2 Sparrow and 2 Sidewinder AIM-9L missiles. The under-fuse Phoenix fairings are included as separate pieces so if you want to model a bird without them you can. The surface engraving is there so if you leave the fairings off you still will have detail. The landing gear is OK. You could add some wire detailing for hydraulic lines, etc. but I didn't go that far. The fit on the main gear halves is not the best and you'll need to file and putty to get the seams somewhat respectable. It's most noticeable on the drag links. I couldn't get mine perfect since there are a lot of inside angles that are on the impossible side to get a file in.

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Before you glue the radome on you'll need to add nose weight. About 2oz is needed. I had to add mine AFTER the radome was installed (Doh!). I went thru the nose mounted ALQ-100 ECM unit by drilling a hole and feeding in solder until I could get it to stop tail-sitting. I wasn't too worried though since R-M includes the optional upgraded TCS/ALQ-100 camera unit that fits over the fuse molded one. I did change the pitot probe on the nose. The kit includes it but if you've been building these models for a while you know they don't last long. There's a small hole on the front of the radome for the pitot. I drilled this up to .062" and inserted a brass rod until it hit something and stopped. I then left about .300" exposed and cut the excess off. I then slipped a piece of .047" music wire into the brass rod all the way and then cutoff the excess leaving about .300" of it exposed from the end of the brass. Once I had things aligned and straight I wicked thin CA in and firmed everything up. I then used putty to fair the sections together with the proper conical transitions. I now have a pitot tube you can stand the plane on.

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The clear parts got micro-meshed then dipped in Future. The inside surface of the windscreen's center panel was lightly sprayed with Tamiya's transparent green. The windshield was glued in place. The clear portions were masked then it was puttied and sanded to fair into the fuse. The cockpit area was then masked and covered for what always seems to be like an eternity until all the painting is completed. When I finally remove this masking it always reminds me of the scenes in those movies when they remove the bandages from someone's face after plastic surgery. The model was then prepped for paint. The paint scheme shown on the box is for an all grey bird from VF-111, the Gunfighters, out of NAS Miramar. The kit decals are of the hi-vis variety. I didn't particularly care for this scheme, however. My previous Cat was done up in the scheme of VF-84, The Jolly Rogers. Although I like VF-84 I've always had a soft spot for VF-1 Wolfpack's markings. VF-1 is also the first squadron to take delivery of the F-14 back in 1973. Plus I would be able to do a hi-vis color scheme rather than just plain grey.

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CAM produces an excellent set of markings for VF-1 in 1/32 scale. I also ordered CAM's hi-vis data sheet for the F-14A. With these two sheets I would be able to relegate the kit decals to the spares file. I painted all the white areas with Krylon gloss white straight form the can. Now the fun begins. Masking. I masked all the white areas off (and there are A LOT of those) then sprayed the model with Humbrol light gull grey. The leading edges of the wings, stab and verticals were masked off and sprayed with Testor's aluminum metalizer lacquer. And lastly the afterburners were masked off and sprayed with Testor's steel and then highlighted with Testor's titanium lacquers. The forward end of the radome was masked off and hand painted with Humbrol radome tan and the anti glare panel and windshield frames were hand painted with acrylic craft paint flat black after masking. That's a lot of masking and painting but the end result was well worth it. After removing all but the canopy and cockpit masks the model was then given a coat of Testor's semi-gloss and prepared for decal application.

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The decal process took several evenings. There were some areas that required micro-sol (most notably the post side ventral fin where the ECS inlet cooling duct is located) and those took very well. After the decals had set and the little bits of trim painting (nav-lights, wing tip slime lights, etc.) were done another coat of semi-gloss was applied. Now came the moment of truth as I removed the cockpit masks. The end result is quite stunning. The seats and control stick were glued in and the canopy was glued in place using Mighty-Tacky craft glue (just in case it needs to be removed later for transport or other things). The missiles were installed last. The AIM-9L's and Sparrows were rather easy to do. It's the Phoenix missiles that took the longest. I had masked and hand painted their radomes with Humbrol radome tan but as anyone knows that's ever seen a Phoenix will tell you is that they are covered with placards and markings. In 1/32 scale the omission of these would be quite obvious. Since no one makes any marking for the Phoenix I was on my own. Fortunately I have a scan of Phoenix markings from an Estes model rocket decal sheet. Thought they are way to big a little editing in Photoshop fixed that. I sized them correctly and printed a master out with enough marking for six missiles (have to allow for fudges) and took them to the local Kinkos for laser copying on some of my decal paper stock. Then began the long process of applying all those decals. Once again the end result was worth it. The missiles were all attached using Mighty-Tacky craft glue (just in case they need to be removed in the future) and it was done.

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I really enjoyed building this plane. Total construction time was about a month and the sheer size of a 1/32 F-14 is quite impressive. I always knew the F-15 was a big plane but the Tomcat is slightly bigger and more imposing. She looks mighty fine sitting next to my 1/32 F-15E. If you're on a budget then I highly recommend the R-M Tomcat. It's a great value for what you get. With a bit of work you can have a very nice bird to add to your collection.

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© Jeffrey Brundt

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This article was published on Wednesday, July 20 2011; Last modified on Saturday, May 14 2016