This is my tribute to the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
There are some aeroplanes that we dream about as young boys that we build models of and often know inwardly that we will probably never get close to them. One such boyhood dream for this once young man was the Grumman F-14 Tomcat.
The Tomcat was the ultimate cold war warrior. Grumman designed something revolutionary with the F-14’s multiple geometry wing, power plant, avionics and weapons system. For fleet defence, there was no better aircraft. And for up close and personal dog fighting the Tomcat cold hold its own any time. (baby!) With the later upgraded F-14D, Tomcat became the ultimate multi mission carrier launched fighting asset. Ask anyone who flew with or worked on a Tomcat and I bet they will smile. Yes, she really was that good!
In the early 80’s I would spend pocket money on aviation magazines that featured the latest fast jets. I would marvel over the futuristic looking aircraft and want to learn more about them. The first time I saw a Tomcat I fell in love.
The Tomcat was painted in fantastic squadron markings, they became famous for their beautiful CAG birds that flew in the late 70’s and early 80’s. VF-84 “Jolly Rogers” VF-111 “Sundowners” and VF-143 “Pukin’ Dogs” were among my favourites.
Over the years, I could never get near a Tomcat or see one in flight. This weighed heavily on me when it was announced that they were being withdrawn from US Navy service. Now I had no chance of ever seeing one. Sure, there are films like Top gun, The Final Countdown, documentaries, books and of course, models. I had built my fair share of Tomcats over the years, mainly for over people as it turned out. I wanted one just for me. A good one!
Up until then the best game in town was the 1/48 Hasegawa kit. I have built a few, great on detail but complex to work with. And that landing gear…….Don’t get me started! I had built the Monogram and Italeri versions too. I never really liked them either. So they are on someone else’s shelf somewhere, hopefully still enjoyed.
My desire for building a Tomcat was long gone by the time I found myself in 2012 planning a visit to the USA to meet up with my good friend Frank. Also a keen aviation enthusiast and a very talented scale modeller. I was planning to spend my birthday there and Frank had asked me if I could go see anything, what would I love to see? I said it was my life long dream to see a F-14 Tomcat one day. Months later we were on our road trip in the USA moving from state to state and we arrived in Michigan to visit the Air Zoo at Kalamazoo, MI.
We were greeted by the museum curator and escorted into one of the exhibit halls, and there she was- My dream come true a TOMCAT!
Frank had arranged an exclusive tour of the aircraft and I was allowed to explore this cold war warrior up close! I was overjoyed and almost couldn’t believe my eyes! A F-14A in VF-84 “Jolly Rogers” markings. It couldn’t get any better!
This truly was one of the best days of my life. The trip, the museum, the Tomcat, Everything! To my friend Frank and his Girlfriend Katie I will be forever grateful to them for arranging such a wonderful day.
From that day on, I wanted a VF-84 Tomcat all to myself! Frank and I often chatted about what kit, which aftermarket parts best to use, what decal sheet etc….As time went on I would often think in between other builds that one rainy day when I have the time, I’ll build that Tomcat.
When Tamiya Japan announced their new tool 1/48 F-14A Tomcat the scale modelling world it was set alight and fans and reviewers alike scrambled to get one! I was very lucky, my buddy Frank had scored a couple of kits on the first release. One for him and as a very generous birthday gift, one for me! To say I was happy would be an understatement! I was delighted beyond words!
I think by now that scale modellers everywhere would agree that this is by far, the best 1/48 Tomcat on the market. If you have been living under a rock for the last three years, check out the reviews! If you love Tomcats-buy one!
Tamiya’s modular construction and model moulding’s have presented the model builder with an accurate, finely detailed kit that fits like a dream. The cockpit, and it’s crew figures of Pilot and RIO are nicely detailed. The addition of squadron insignia decals for the figures was a nice touch too. The ordnance included in the kit is nicely moulded and extensive decals are provided to add detail to them.
Here’s how the build came together:
This is the kit cockpit with decals and hand painted details.
The kit seats.
The airframe has been primed in black and then given a light grey marble coat. This will add depth to the paint.
The US Navy Light Gull Grey for the upper surfaces is provided my Mr.Hobby paints. I think it is a great colour match. Tamiya Flat White was used for the under surface.
Burn, baby Burn! Tamiya gives options for open or closed engine exhaust nozzles. I chose to pose my Tomcat with the one open, one closed as most Tomcat’s at rest are found. These were painted with various metallic tones to achieve a worn look.
Here we have the model with its decals on and the weathering process has already begun. I applied enamel washes over a clear gloss surface and added more interest to the model by adding oil paint to certain high wear area’s. The key to this process was to add a little wear at a time as early Tomcats were not heavily weathered.
The weapons loadout: Sidewinder, Sparrow and Phoenix Missiles with two external fuel tanks.
Here I have added lines to the landing gear to mimic the real aircraft.
The finished landing gear installed on the model:
More oil rendering weathering on the skin of the aircraft:
The finished model: Tamiya 1/48 Grumman F-14A Tomcat. VF-84 “Jolly Rogers”
This is the model of a VF-84 Tomcat I always wanted. I can’t really say any more than that. My heartfelt thanks to Frank for giving me the opportunity to build her.
Here’s to the F-14 Tomcat, the F-14 community and everyone who ever admired or dreamed…….
BYE BYE BABY!
Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed this post and the model. Take care and Happy Modelling!