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Julien

F-14D Tomcat "Pumpkin Face" - Ace Combat 1:72 Hasegawa

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F-14D Ace Combat "Pumpkin Face"

Hasegawa 1:72

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The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was a supersonic twin engine / seat variable sweep wing fighter aircraft developed for the United States Navy. Grumman designed the fighter to fill a gap created by the collapse of the then FB-111B programme. Grumman were able to produce the unique swing wing design fairly quickly due to their earlier experiments with the XF10 Jaguar. The aircraft first flew in 1970, with the first deployment in 1974.

By the late 1980s the Tomcat was starting to show its age. The first major upgrade at this time replaced the Tomcats engines with GE F-110-400s and an ALR-67 Radar Homing & warning system was fitted. Initially called the F-14A this was later re-designated F-14B. In the late 1990s 67 of these aircraft were further upgraded to extend airframe life, and to improve both offensive and defensive avionics; thus becoming known as F-14B Bombcats.

The final upgrade to the Tomcat was the F-14D or Super Tomcat, the first being delivered in 1991. The original engines were the same as the F-14B, the GE F110-400. The F-14D featured new digital avionics including a glass cockpit. The original AWG-9 radar was replaced with a newer APG-71 system. Other upgrades at this time included new NACES Ejection Seats, an Airborne Self Protection Jammer, Tactical information System; and an Infra Red Search & Track system.

Despite the F-14D being considered the definitive Tomcat not all Squadrons received them. The programme was subject to considerable political infighting. Some considered the aircraft basic 1960s technology and in the end the project was cancelled with only 37 new D models being built, and 18 A models being upgraded; where as the Navy had asked for a total of 132 aircraft. The US Navy retired the Tomcat finally in 2006.

Ace Combat
Ace Combat is a Japanese hybrid arcade-simulation flight action video game published by the Namco Bandai Games company. Most games take place in fictionalised worlds loosely based on real life location, events and even wars. These games have been released on many different gaming platforms from 1996 up till the present. Over the years in Japan typical aircraft model kits have been detailed after aircraft used in the games. Hasegawa tapped into this market in 2000 with the issues of some 1.144 resin model kits, and has continued to do so ever since, as they have done so with the Idolmaster series as well, giving them another outlet for plastic model kits.

The Kit
The D model Tomcat is one of Hasegawa's later toolings and as such features finely engraved panel lines. On opening the box the first thing that grabs your attention (apart from the colour of the plastic!) is that the box is packed with plastic. You get five large sprues in one bag, five smaller sprues in a smaller bag, the canopy in its own bag, and a small sheet of photo-etched parts.

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Assembly starts with the cockpit, well its an aircraft after all. Here the side and quarter panels as well as the ejection handles all get treated to some finely detailed etch. The cockpit on the F-14 seems much better than some Hasegawa kits and instructions are very detailed as to where you would use decals or photo etch for your cockpit. Care must be taken to use the right ejection seats as both the newer ones for the D model, and the older style are included. come in no less than 5 parts with nicely detailed side panels and have seatbelts moulded in to the cushions. These later seats also do not use the overhead ejection handles supplied on the PE fret.

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The fuselage make up consists of a font section that houses the cockpit, a centre section made in top and bottom halves then the rear end housing the airbrakes. Surface detail on the fuselage is refined and crisp with panel lines and rivets being included. The nose includes a pilot access ladder and foot plates that can be open or closed. The kit is quite complex in assembly, as the parts are engineered this way to get the complex shape of the F-14 correct. This I would feel makes it no kit for a novice modeller.

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The intakes are designed very well including the variable inlet ramps and full internal intakes right up to and including the engine fan. The assembled intakes mate on to the lower fuselage half which is previously mated to the upper surface.

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Exhaust assembly is again quite complex with 13 parts per exhaust for the open state, or 6 for the closed state. The later GE F110-400 exhaust being supplied with this kit.

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The nose section according to the instructions, simply fits to the centre fuselage, however I suspect its not quite as simple as this! Vertical tail planes and stabs are then attached. Care must be taken to use the right tails as again early and late ones are included. I suspect most modellers will leave the stabs off until later. Exhausts and the rear airbrake are also added at this time.

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Assembly of the wings look straight forwards, although you need to decide on your sweep configuration. If you decide to have the wings swept, obviously you will need the flaps retracted but you will also need to cut a part off the internal locating mechanism where it sits in the wing glove. As with the fuselage, surface detailing is superb.

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The undercarriage is beautifully detailed and captures the shape and intricacy well. Two nose gear options are included; normal, or compressed as you would see it when lined up on the cat. The main wheels come with separate hubs to aid painting.

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Hasegawa show different weapons configurations on the instruction, however no weapons only drop tanks are included with the kit. They helpfully suggest you buy their "Weapon Set III" if you want to arm the aircraft. From looking at images on-line the Ace Combat aircraft seem to be armed with the usual weapons used by the USN F-14's.


Canopy
The large canopy of the F-14 is on a fairly comprehensive clear sprue. The parts are very clear, but due to the limitations of the moulding technology there is a larger centre seam in the main canopy which will need to be removed. Other clear parts include the HUD glass, nav lights, and nose camera lenses. Some of these parts are very small so care will be needed. The photo etch in the kit will really enhance the canopy should you wish to display it open.


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Photo Etched Parts
A small fret of photo etched parts is supplied with the kit. This contains canopy rails, cockpit instrument panels, engine parts and ejection seat handles; along with some airframe grills.

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Decals

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Decals are provided for the Ace Combat Pumpkin Face aircraft only. The main face decals and the zig-zags on the win are provided as decals, however most of the orange of the pumpkin needs to be painted by the modeller. Hasegawa provides full colour instructions for this.

The green stalk areas around the cockpit are also provided as decal, though I suspect most modellers would want to paint this. Cockpit panels and instrument panels are also provided as decal if the modeller does not want to use the supplied photo etch.


Conclusion
While this might look at first to be one for the collector, if built then this boxing of the F-14 will look anything than the ordinary, and certainly stand out from all the US Navy Tomcats you will see. Recommended if you want to build something different.


Review sample courtesy of
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