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Mark Jackson

1/32 Trumpeter F-14A Tomcat

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When the test shots cam out a few years back some drooled others were rivet critical and a few thought that this would be the ultimate Tomcat kit.  There is no denying that as a package this model kit impresses before you open the box.  A box which is so robust and protective that they even provide a carry handle built in so you can transport it like a piece of luggage.




I've built several Tamiya and Revell big cats over the years and both of these had their good and bad points so I was eager to see what Trumpeter had come up with.  The first thing to hit you is the packaging inside, everything seems to have its own niche with the more delicate parts such as canopy, intakes etc having their own box.  







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For those of you who have not made a 1/32nd scale Trumpeter kit before you will need to prepare yourself  for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  I am sure that tucked away in a design studio Trumpeter have employed two designers to create each kit.  One of these chaps is on the ball, his work is excellent, accurate and is a credit to Trumpeter.  The other chap is either partially sighted, in a rush or couldn't care less; his work will jump out at you and leave you wondering how so much good can be mixed with so much bad.


Here's some of the good stuff:







Right, on with the build.




The kit has two cockpits included, one for the "A"  version and the other for the "B" version (Although the "B" engines are not supplied).  You get a main tub, bulkheads, sidewalls and instrument panels.  What you don't get are pedals or throttle handles, there is a sausage-like thing sticking up which might have been the throttle levers but that's it.  You also get GRU-7A seats consisting of over 8 parts, unfortunately the main body of the seats suffers from excessively raised details and it would be tricky to remove it and make good.  So in this build I chose to use two resin seats from Eduard, the cheaper ones with pre-moulded harnesses on them.






After looking at the cockpit tub it was evident that it was lacking detail so I decided to spruce it up with some home made instruments and switches.  I also decided to use the F-14B tub just in case things didn't work out.





The consoles were sanded down but the instrument panel and the shroud/combing (F-14A) looked like they were from different kits!  There are no recesses for the pilot's circuit breakers in the foot well.






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There is no such thing as the perfect kit, but some you at least trust to be consistent with their accuracy - this is not one of them.   :hmmm:

Just when you get going on a particular sub assembly or area you walk head-on into a void or totally inaccurate part, more of these gems later on.






I scaled and printed F-14A placards on to thin photo card then sprayed a light mat varnish over them.  These were cut out and the edges lined with black marker before being fixed in place with cyanoacrylate glue.  Then using a large needle I made holes in the card where the toggle switches should be (the F-14A has loads of them) before using a micro drill to create a fixing well for each switch. The toggle switches were cut from wire and attached with cyanoacrylate and then painted, the other rotary dial, knobs, buttons and switches were cut from either plastic rod or strip and pre-painted before being glued in place.




You can see in the above photo how much better the bulkhead behind the pilot's seat is beginning to look.








Now the problem areas:










The two displays for the pilot should have slight angles (upwards) to them, the kit part is flat.







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Moving away from the cockpit to the AIM-9 rails.












There still a few more details to add to each rail and I am considering a partial fill of the hollowed out nose section so that RTV moulds can be made from them.  I've recently bought a Tornado GR1 and F/A-18C Hornet in 1/32nd scale and it seems pointless having to go through this process each time.

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Great Work Mark, been following your build on ZF for a while now.



I knew I could hear footsteps behind me  :ninja: .  Don't follow me though - I haven't got a clue what I'm doing or where I'm heading.   :P





I bought some Airscale modern cockpit bezels, placards and instrument dials.  They're very good but a tad too large; the 1/32 instrument dials will not fit any of the F-14's blank bezels, I ended up buying

another set in 1/48 scale and some did fit - some were still a bit large.


This is the aircraft that I intended build, the CO aircraft of VF-33.



It was Bureau Number 159428 which fell within the production block 75 but the second batch of 75 airframes which saw the major change of boat tail to the standard type with a slight hump in it.  The late block 75's had revised tail tips; different strengtheners (like finger shaped pieces) and slime lights which appeared on all block 75 aircraft.  The small temp sensor under the port windscreen has gone and it would have originally left the factory with no nose pitot.  This photo is from the early eighties and it would appear that this modification has taken place or the aircraft received a new radome.  Either way, the only modification that the kit will need is a backdate of the gun gas purge vents to the seven separate ones.  


The kit part provides:




Here's the tail fin tip showing the finger-like strengthener:






Another kit feature is the in-flight refuelling probe/bay which can be shown open or closed.  Again it has that Trumpeter twist where it tempts you with a nice detail but when you take a closer look you realise that it is lacking and is even more work.  I do like Trumpeter - honest.  




Guess what?  There are other areas which tempt you but fall short of detail or accuracy, the forward fuselage has the full gun bay/ammo drum bay just waiting be detailed.




You get a seven part M61A gun and ammo drum but no feeder belt.  Then you get two more open panels one of which has some nicely moulded avionics in whilst the other has, erm.. potential perhaps if you remove the overly thick partitioning.  I'm still contemplating showing these bays open with extra details added, although the nose lightning bolt decal might be tricky to cut and fit.  Talking of decals here is what comes with the kit:








The VF-1 wolpack is a bit naughty, you'd need the either the original boat (beaver) tail or at least one with the dielectric panels removed.  Also the fin tips of the tails would need to be different.


VF-84 is a mid-production airframe and will be okay for the standard kit.


VF-111 maybe  :hmmm: correct in that the airframe will require no mods but I'm sure that this CAG bird on this Bureau Number never carried full-colour national insignia and it also had the CAG colours as thin stripes on the leading edge of the sunburst rays.


So I've opted for CAM decals 32-0072.


Can somebody tell me why I am doing this at 4:50am  :mental:

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