Last Dog On The Deck! VF-143 Pukin’ Dog’s Last Ride…….
There are some models we all have on our “to do” list….In my life they always seem to be superseded by other builds. Reviews, commissions and lack of time at the bench all contribute to this. That was the case with this project- For years I had wanted my very own model of a Tomcat in the markings of the World Famous VF-143 Pukin’ Dogs. I decided that now was the time to make it happen and treat myself to something special.
This United States Navy Fighter squadron has a rich, proud history and its exploits are well known in the Military, Naval Aviation community, as well as amongst the Military historians, aircraft enthusiasts and scale model builders of this world.
My fascination with the Pukin’ Dogs began when I was a kid, I saw the famous winged dog insignia on a F-14 when I was reading aircraft magazines and thought these jets looked so cool-I even had a VF-143 Coffee mug that my Dad brought home from one of his trips overseas.
Want to know how the Pukin’ Dogs got their name? It is said that one of the founding officers of VF-143 drew the squadron emblem on a napkin at a party, it was supposed to be a winged griffin!
However one of the officers wives pointed out that this design looked more like a Pukin’ Dog!
The rest, as they say is History……
The project is a go!
I knew how I wanted my finished build to look-On the deck of an aircraft carrier about to launch off the ‘cat.
For this I needed a kit of a F-14B Tomcat with posable flaps and slats on its wings. I went straight to the Hasegawa 1/48 F-14B. Now this Hasegawa kit may be showing its age, but I have a soft spot for it….It was my first Tomcat kit and with a little elbow grease it can still hold its own against the Tamiya and AMK kits out there. This Hasegawa kit has the advantage of posable flying surfaces, nose gear and has crew figures too.
My next task was to choose a set of decals-For me this was an easy choice. What better way to pay tribute to the Pukin’ Dogs Tomcats than to show one off in it’s “Last Ride” scheme. I managed to find this sheet from Fightertown Decals:
This sheet was a great find as it featured the nose art painted onto the last of the Pukin’ Dogs Tomcats at the end of their last Tomcat deployment aboard the USS George Washington in 2004.
I choose the markings for “Dog 100” which featured this great artwork on the starboard side of its nose……
Construction of this kit was quite straightforward, I only needed to do the extra task of re-scribing the airframe as this kits moulding is showing its age now. I did need to update this kit with other parts to make it an accurate, modern F-14B though. For this I purchased the Wolfpack Designs Bombcat conversion for the Hasegawa kit and the Aires resin afterburner cans.
I built, painted and detailed the cockpit and front fuselage of the airframe, to which I added two modern US Navy air crew from the 1/48 Tamiya F-14D kit.
I also fabricated some seat harness’s and added helmet squadron markings to the figures-A nice little touch I thought!
The building was the easy part! I was more concerned with painting and weathering the very distinctive US Navy Tactical paint Scheme, its three tone scheme of US Navy Grey/Blue, Dark Ghost Grey and Light Ghost Grey with the dirt and grime of carrier deployments added to it!
Here are some photo’s of the Pukin’ Dogs Tomcats to demonstrate this paint scheme:
I was researching photographs of Tomcats with this scheme and I also studied how other scale modellers went about approaching this subject-Its a bit of a puzzle when it comes to doing this scheme as there is to my mind no sure one way solution to paint and weather this scheme accurately.
The best demonstration that I have come across for this scheme was featured in Spencer Pollard’s book Let’s Build: The Tamiya 1:48 F-14A/D Tomcat. For his build of the F-14D he uses a layering technique of laying weathering effects over each over each other utilising weathering stencils.
Its a great reference for building the Tamiya F-14’s and well worth a read.
I armed myself with these stencils from Uschi van der Rosten-They are perfect for adding weathering effects to 1/48 and 1/32 airframes!
I primed the model in Tamiya Nato Black, then I misted on a very thin mix basic colours on the middle and lower surfaces, Mig Ammo’s Dark Ghost grey over Light Ghost Grey. Now I added my own mix of a lightened Blue/Grey from Tamiya acrylics to the upper surfaces. This was then weathered by spraying Light Brown through the weathering stencils.
I then spayed Mr. Hobby US Navy Blue/Grey to the upper surfaces and afterwards picked out the edge of each panel in my own mix of lightened Blue/Grey.
All other colours were masked off and sprayed to finish the paint scheme and I then sealed everything in with a clear gloss varnish.
The decals having been applied to the model with great care were treated with Micro-sol to pull them down onto the airframe surfaces. Again a clear gloss coat was applied to protect this work from the weathering process.
The weathering was a patchwork created with Mig Ammo Blue Dirt panel line wash, AK weathering pencils and Tamiya Weathering Master powders.
With the models canopy seam line removed, the afterburner cans painted and assembled, the model was armed with its ordnance and almost mission ready. It was around this time that I was contacted by Former US Navy Aviator and former Pukin Dog Tomcat Driver Jon Shoemaker-He told me that he flew the actual Tomcat I was building!
Jon was very kind to me taking time to answer my questions about “Dog 100” and all things related to the Tomcat. It was such an honour to chat with Jon and he is a very cool guy. Thanks again Jon! Your help with this build was invaluable!
I wanted to do something special like I said in the beginning of this post, so I contacted my good friend Paul Thompson and commissioned him to build me a custom display case for this build.
He did not disappoint! I painted the base of the display case as a modern US Navy carrier deck and drilled out tie-down points and scratch built a catapult plate and shuttle. To add some extra interest to the scene, I converted some old Hasegawa USN deck crew figures to show them in modern uniform and realistic poses.
The final touch was to adorn the display with squadron patches, Navy Wings and a plaque.
After a photo shoot with the finished model and display I contacted Jon Shoemaker as I wanted him to be the first person to see it! His reaction was was very posiive- He loved it! To receive such a reaction from the man who flew the aircraft I have modelled was fantastic!
For me, it does not get any better than that!
Here is my build of the VF-143 Pukin’ Dogs F-14B Tomcat, Callsign “Dog 100” on her last Tomcat deployment in 2004 aboard the USS George Washington CVN-73
“LAST DOG ON THE DECK”
Now the finished model stands on display in my studio and reminds me that there was a time when Tomcats ruled the skies………
I hope you have enjoyed this build, take care and until next time…….