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Giorgio N

The most famous Grumman fighter ever: Fujimi 1/72 Tomcat

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I know, it may sound a bit boring. What, another Tomcat ? There's already plenty in this GB, don't you have a Guardian in the stash ? Or an Albatross ?

Yes, it's true, the problem is that the Tomcat is more than an aircraft, the Tomcat is a religion ! And I admit I am a faithful follower ! Anything coming from Bethpage before the Tomcat is important as paved the way for the mighty cat, but once this took to the air all the previous types were just like prophets preparing the coming of the only true Messiah.. and after this came, was the last to come til the end of the world, reason why Grumman ceased to exist as an independent aircraft manufacturer.

Hope I have not offended anyone with an introduction that may sound blasphemous, but really the Tomcat is still today followed by an aura that very few types have. For this reason I may add a few more religious references along the thread...

As a devoted follower of this sect, I realised that I could not avoid building a Tomcat for a GB dedicated to Grumman ! And for this I chose to build a kit coming from the location of the Japanese chapter of the Tomcat cult: Shizuoka !

Here in this city, that may not be Holy but is really one of the world capitals of our hobby, in the year 1988 AD, or 18th year of the Tomcat era, two group of men, all no doubt devoted followers of the Tomcat, competed to give other followers a proper plastic kit of the Mighty Cat in 1/72 scale. So it was that these 2 kits were both issued and presented to the modelling community, thirsty for a new Tomcat kit. These 2 kits were from then on known as the Hasegawa new tool and the Fujimi Tomcat.

The work of both was praised by all, and the 2 kits both suddenly made any previous kit obsolete, if not ancient. In the longer run the men working for Hasegawa got more praise and their Tomcat kit was bought by most but the one made by Fujimi also continued with a smaller following and is still available today.

In more recent years others have added their work in praise of the Tomcat and all followers can now choose from many good kits and books.

 

I have in my stash several Tomcats in various scales but when it comes to 1/72 scale my favourite are the 3 Japanese ones: Hasegawa, Fujimi and Fine Molds. The reason is simple, these are the best around. They are not just better than the competition, they are in a league of their own ! The Hasegawa and Fujimi kit are 30 year old and yet they are today much better than most other kits issued in 1/72 in the last few years. This gives an idea of what these kits meant when they were first issued. None is an easy kit to build but with care and patience they can be built into great models without any aftermarket.

Of the two I decided to build the Fujimi kit, for the simple reason that it's less common on these pages and I think it may be good to show this kit for once. The box I choose is a relatively rare one from the mid '90s, that focuses on CAG aircraft with black tail

 

307933a6-c1e5-46a1-a505-f5e07ac043f2.JPG

 

The box is not in great conditions but the artwork is IMHO great ! Shows one of the aircraft included in the decal sheet, the CAG for VF-32. The other option is for VF-21s CAG aircraft around the Gulf War era.

 

9980a35a-642f-46fa-beb5-c572b3755341.JPG

 

My plan is to build a VF-32 aircraft, maybe this one or maybe the CO aircraft during the Gulf War, for which I have a Superscale decal sheet. A lot will depend on the decals... I don't know if the Fujimi decals are still Ok after all these years and I don't know if the Superscale decals will fit on this kit (they may have been designed for the hasegawa offering).

Now I've said black tail, but IIRC the two VF-32 birds had dark blue tails... anyway, this will be sorted later.

 

Although the model was preowned, all parts came in their original bags:

 

541f6f69-c2ea-4077-b1af-48d8c29183c7.JPG

 

016a7cde-789e-43d2-91bc-067649a64baa.JPG

 

504fec0e-d329-469c-9196-ac530d6c3812.JPG

 

The kit includes parts not only for the Tomcat but also for two complete TF-30 engines and the relevant dollies. Options include deployed flaps and slats and the front landing gear in the position taken when ready to launch from the catapult, with the oleo compressed and the connection bars attached to the catapult shuttle. Also included are an AN/AWG-9 radar antenna in an opened radom and the extended ladder and steps. Personally I will not use any of these parts, my model will be built on the ground with wings at maximum sweep and closed canopy.

Plastic is typical Japanese style, hard with very well moulded details. This kit is a bit less detailed than the Hasegawa offering but is still very good even today.Contrary to the Hasegawa kit, missiles are supplied in the kit. I don't think I'll use any but I may change my mind.

 

 

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Following .... :Tasty: :beer: :popcorn:

 

Ciao

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3 hours ago, giemme said:

Following .... :Tasty: :beer: :popcorn:

 

Ciao

 

Thanks ! Just don't expect much, this will be built mainly OOB, apart from a few modifications to remedy some problems of this kit.

 

In the meantime let's start from the potential subject and try to understand something about the markings...

According to Fujimi this is F-14A Bu.No 162701. There are several pictures of this aircraft on the web, however they all show several differences in the markings, just compare this pictures with the box art:

 

https://www.dstorm.eu/pictures/nose-arts/f-14/162701_5.jpg

 

I'e then found pictures of VF-32s CAG aircraft with the same markings of the boxart but captioned as being carried by 159611, for example this one:

 

https://www.dstorm.eu/pictures/nose-arts/f-14/159611_1.jpg

 

now there's a potential problem as 159611 would have the older style gun grilles. The problem is that 159611 doesn't seem to have ever served with VF-32. The aircraft in the picture above also seems to have the ECM fairing on the boattail, that was never carried by 159611, so what's the matter ? After some research I found that the aircraft in all pictures was always 162701 but the two different markings were carried at different times.

The markings shown on the boxart were carried from 1988 and were those originally carried during the deployment to Iraw for Desert Shield. When Desert Shield became Desert Storm, both the CAG and the CO aircraft received a coat of grey paint to make them less visible, only retaining the yellow sword and AC markings on the tail, until even the sword was covered in grey.

After the end of the war the CAG aircraft was returned to the original scheme but with the revised markings seen in the upper picture above. Mistery solved.

And what about 159611? Simply this Bu.No. was used for some reason by Superscale in one of their decal sheets and the information has been reused on the web over the years. In reality 159611 spent most of her life with VF-124 at Miramar, with a couple of assignments to VF-24 and one to VX-4 in between.

 

A word on the black tails: I have checked and I remembered correctly, the tails were dark blue and the dark areas around the canopy were also dark blue but with a black antiglare panel... pretty interesting and unusual detail ! Now I really want to finish the model in one of these schemes, only have to decide which of the two

 

 

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Having put the academy kit together over the last couple of days, salivating to see how nicely this will go together in comparison 

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Nowt wrong with another tomcat build.

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On 1/5/2019 at 12:11 AM, PhantomBigStu said:

Having put the academy kit together over the last couple of days, salivating to see how nicely this will go together in comparison 

 

Hmmm... if it's an easy build you are looking for, I can already tell you that this is not the kit for you. The way the fuselage is designed makes assembling pretty complicated. Actually as much as I'm a Tomcat fan, I believe that this aircraft in general does not suite an easily fitting kit, only Tamiya seems to have been able to make a Tomcat kit that can be assembled without serious work

 

18 hours ago, Jabba said:

Nowt wrong with another tomcat build.

 

Thanks, you're totally right ! 😁

 

Work on the model started over the last few days and it's now time to show some pictures. As often happens, I started from the cockpit. This is well detailed and the instrument panels and consolles in particular are very realistic. The walls of the pit don't have the level of detail of the hasegawa kit but for a closed canopy build really the level is good enough. Painting all raised details on the panels and consolles takes time but can lead to nice results.

 

4927ed46-8a27-4df7-9962-7a4c7134d68a.JPG

 

That however are quite hard to capture in pictures once everything is closed in the front fuselage halves...

 

c66a357a-f705-4434-8560-1dc7fc5aaf2e.JPG

 

I have not yet glued the front IP in place because Fujimi suggests a location that is too far forward. For this reason I will glue it later together with the IP coaming.

 

The seats are made of 4 parts and are decently realistic, although resin replacements would be much nicer. Still, with some paint and a wash they don't look too bad

 

56d27ca2-a1e0-4c88-9773-823aba68795d.JPG

 

While waiting for paint to dry on the various cockpit parts I also started building the other end of the model, with the exhaust cans. These are given at full length, the representation of the turbine is nice but could have been more realistic. Hasegawa kits here give some of the best turbines I've ever seen in 1/72 scale through the use of both plastic and PE parts, but for most the Fujimi alternative will sure be good enough.

Exhausts on the Tomcat are in white, to which I added a black wash and some streaks following pictures of the real thing.

 

f0c595b0-2331-4b8f-8051-809354c43fdf.JPG

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And now let's look at the main structure....

The wings in the kit allow the aircraft to be shown with flaps and slats extended, that is a very nice option and allows a nice diorama to be built with the Tomcat ready for launch. The current lack of any 1/72 catapult base unfortunately means that this is not so easy but at least it's possible.

The wings how they are moulded however need some modification to reproduce flaps and slats in the more common retracted position. Sorting the slats is easy, just cut the relevant rails. The flaps needs some more work and the instructions don't explain this well.

The method I suggest is this:

- cut the protrusions on the upper surfaces of the trailing edge of the wing

- thin from the inside the upper and lower surfaces of the trailing edge of the wing, so to make more room for the thickness of the flaps

- sand slightly the rails on the leading edge of the flaps to remove their thickess.

The modified parts will look like this

 

c1e7883b-ebff-4e55-8ffd-18ff350b1908.JPG

 

It will only take 10 minutes per wing to sort everything, with these steps completed it's then possible to glue all flaps and slats in place

 

ce9b6993-d0de-4528-a07a-622434437dbe.JPG

 

Notice how Fujimi opted to allow for the wings to move... at least if the slats and flaps are not extended. I don't like moving wings as once the model is completed I'm not going to change the sweep angle of the wings. The inflatable bladders behind the wing are also moulded in two configurations, wing fully open and wing fully closed so it makes little sense to move the wing. Anyway for those who like this feature, Fujimi offer it, Hasegawa for example don't.

 

And let's see the rest of the fuselage... these are the parts needed to complete only part of the fuselage

 

0f2cc3b8-fdcf-475f-ab0b-c0a09a1b3cd8.JPG

 

One part for the top (here seen from its bottom side) and three parts for the bottom. In addition the engine nacelles are made of two parts each and then there's two parts for the boat-tail... this arrangement has always given reason for heavy criticism of this kit. Personally I find that the parts shown here fit decently, its the nacelles that give problems....

 

 

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Nice progress, G! :clap: The seats look more than decent, given the scale! :goodjob:

 

Ciao

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As often happens, progress comes with the weekend...

One picture I forgot posting was this one, showing the way the engine nacelles are reproduced in this kit:

 

ea819393-eafd-4d1d-8c08-c46fa367a341.JPG

 

Two sides, with the exhaust area and a part for the compressor first stage trapped in between. The arrangement is not as realistic as what Hasegawa and Fine Molds offer, where the intake ducts are properly represented. I considered  modifying this but in the end decided against this, I'd like this to be a quick OOB build... well, as quick as a Tomcat kit allows...

 

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Back to the build...

Positioning the front instrument panel took some work and with this done it was time to glue the coamings in place. At that point I had to decide how to assemble the fuselage...

It took me a while to weight the pros and cons of the different possibilities and in the end I decided to first glue the front fuselage assembly to the top of the rear. In this way I could focus on getting a decent fit at the top and sides of the junction. This wasn't easy, as the contact surfaces aren't really that large. Still, with some care, patience and the use of an inner reinforcement made from a plasticard strip, I managed a robust assembly with only a very slight step, step that I duly removed with fine sandpaper.

With the partial fuselage assembly drying, I prepared the engine pods. One of them went together pretty well, the other had a certain difference in plastic thickness between left anr right side. Here I decided to align the outer side, leaving the step inside the intake. I've now almost eliminated this but I may go for another round of sanding. Notice how in the intakes I had to remove the alignement pins, as these would have been visible from the outsite... bad engineering decision from Fujimi !

The compressor faces are not in place yet as I have to finish painting the intakes before fitting them. However I kept them in place while gluing the pods, so to keep the right distance between the parts.

One last detail visible, I started gluing the rear flexible covers for the swing sweep area. In the picture only one is showed, the other will follow.

 

f3940317-734d-4c66-8f66-e1662d49e013.JPG

 

I already showed a picture of the completed wings, here's another that shows one small modifications:

 

d3ce1950-03c5-45ea-8052-d3970c15d134.JPG

 

The "channels" used to align the wings with the pins inside the fuselage have been deepened. The reason is that while Fujimi gives these channels to allow fitting the wing in place after the fuselage is complete, with the channels as they are the wings end pushing the wing glove parts apart, so opening a gap. By deepening these channels I can now slot the wings in place more easily. Of course they will now be a bit less secure, but i can always glue them in place if I want.

It was important to have the wings removeable while proceedind to the following step in the fuselage assembly: gluing the lower parts of the wing glove. With the wings in place it was possible to glue these without any risk of "flattening" the joint, something that would make inserting the wings impossible. To be completely safe, I also glue a small wedge where the wing gears end, to keep the lower part of the wingl glove properly separated from the top

 

ae331f12-5243-4065-99da-fbe814aa02c8.JPG

 

You may also notice that I removed the inner ECM bulges from the lower part of the wing glove. This because Fujimi moulded these incorrectly and in the wrong place... but the same Fujimi offers corrected parts to be glued in the right place, so no problem here. For an earlier F-14A all ECM bumps shout be removed completely (and the same for an F-14D)

Edited by Giorgio N

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Good afternoon Giorgio

 I take a seat to follow your build ..very good start ..

Cheers

Patrice

 

 

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This build really looks like a lot of work... :worthy:

 

Ciao

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Looking forward to seeing this progress.  I'm making the first issue (I think) Airfix 1/72 Tomcat (white sprues) but with the second issue 'Tophatters' decals.  Just can't seem to get it finished though and making silly mistakes. Thanks. 

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On 1/14/2019 at 10:20 PM, Geoff Mapes said:

Looking forward to seeing this progress.  I'm making the first issue (I think) Airfix 1/72 Tomcat (white sprues) but with the second issue 'Tophatters' decals.  Just can't seem to get it finished though and making silly mistakes. Thanks. 

 

I know that kit and while it's simpler than the fujimi and Hasegawa "superkits", it's still not an easy one. Really IMHO no Tomcat kit is easy to build, but hope you can sort your problems with this kit and get to the end. No collection is complete without at least a Tomcat.. 😁

 

Finally sorted the engine nacelles ! All completed, intakes painted in white and grey, fans glued in place and now both nacelles have been glued onto the top fuselage

 

75d28c17-0276-4cc7-9667-fdca48e9d180.JPG

 

Notice how I glued palsticard on the front fuselage, this will help filling a gap with the final lower fuselage part. Similar plasticard bits have been glued to areas of this part, hopefully I will be able to limit the quantity of filler needed...

The nacelles on the other hand don't fit that bad... mind, I've had to do quite a lot of preparation work to achieve this. Hopefully I'll only need some sanding here and there

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Coming along nicely. I have only built one of the Fujimi kits ( although have a few in the stash, mainly for their markings) and did not like it particularly when compared to the Hasegawa one. I had a look at the latest Detail and Scale digital book on the Tomcat and there are a few pictures of the black tails going grey in there.

 

I have also tried to find some 1/72nd line aircraft decals for this Sqn in this time period, but with no luck so far.

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Looking really good. I really like the plasticard idea, never thought of that before, I've normally been quite free with the putty.  One thing about the Tomcat I like is that there were so many different variations of paint schemes both afloat and on shore-based stations that no one can say your scheme isn't historically correct, if it's not quite as the box art. Ha!

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15 hours ago, Jabba said:

Coming along nicely. I have only built one of the Fujimi kits ( although have a few in the stash, mainly for their markings) and did not like it particularly when compared to the Hasegawa one. I had a look at the latest Detail and Scale digital book on the Tomcat and there are a few pictures of the black tails going grey in there.

 

I have also tried to find some 1/72nd line aircraft decals for this Sqn in this time period, but with no luck so far.

 

Agree, the Hasegawa kit is nicer. None is a simple build but the level of detail and accuracy achieved by Hasegawa is higher. I've yet to build my Fine Molds kit, maybe that will become my favourite.

Decals for line aircraft in that time period are hard to find for every unit. Today 1/72 decals are also increasingly hard to find, maybe we have to hope that Tamiya issue a kit in this scale, may raise the interest of decal producers.

 

2 hours ago, Geoff Mapes said:

Looking really good. I really like the plasticard idea, never thought of that before, I've normally been quite free with the putty.  One thing about the Tomcat I like is that there were so many different variations of paint schemes both afloat and on shore-based stations that no one can say your scheme isn't historically correct, if it's not quite as the box art. Ha!

 

A plasticard strip is a very good solution when filling large gaps. Not that it necessarily replaces filler but if the gap is wide the strip will fill most of it so reducing the need for filler. Wide gaps also can lead to filler not gripping well or the filler could sink in the gap. With plasticard none of this happens.

I share your interest in the many schemes carried by the Tomcat ! Not to mention the many markings... there have been units that changed markings almost every year !

 

Now let's see if my plasticard strips have eliminated the gaps... well, not really but they helped. The lower fuselage part is in place and I've also added the boat-tail. This gave me problems, and I had to thin the inner side of the lower part for a better fit.

 

47a9da22-9098-4706-b003-ae066bc5012b.JPG

 

Let's see the gaps on the front fuselage.. I'll need some more sanding on this side...

 

42df2a85-08e9-4e7b-8c87-72f89dc15f49.JPG
 

This side now is pretty good, just have to rescribe a couple of panel lines

 

1946cfd1-c7e2-447e-9c5d-3065c98d03a3.JPG

 

The white area is not filler but thin plasticard. I ended up with a step on this side, with the upper fuselage protruding a bit from the lower. My mistake, I had considered gluing a wedge into the lower fuselage part to spread the part out a little and avoid steps, I didn't and in the end I had a step.

To sort it I glue a rectangle of 0.13 mm thick card and then sanded carefully to bring everything level. Sanding through very thin plasticard must be done with care as it's easy to rip through the material if working too vigorously or using rough sandpaper. So it was 500 grit paper, plenty of water and a light hand. The result looks rough in the picture but it's actually pretty smooth to the touch. A coat of primer will hopefully blend everythin in nicely.

Why did I not use filler ? Mainly because a couple of panel lines must be rescribed here and plasticard takes rescribing much better than filler. Using plasticard is also faster, as there's no need to wait for the filler to set and no need to apply more than one coat. Just use card of the right thickness

 

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Nice progress, G! :clap: I'm totally with you about using Plasticard to fill big gaps and steps, great going! :thumbsup:

 

Ciao

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Nice work! I like your intro, too!

 

I also use plastic strip to shim parts and close gaps. As you note, it really is quite effective.

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Coming along brilliantly.  There is so much more detail in this kit than the old Airfix one I'm doing.

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On 1/19/2019 at 10:05 AM, Geoff Mapes said:

Coming along brilliantly.  There is so much more detail in this kit than the old Airfix one I'm doing.

 

When this kit was first issued it was one of a few that moved what was then the state of the art of plastic kits. They were sometime known as "superkits", kits with so many parts and so much detail that modellers were amazed and scared... I remember a comment on a magazine stating that the difficult thing with these kits would have been not to ruin them while building ! Ok, maybe exagerated but really the impact that these kits had on the modelling community was huge. That kits like this and the even better Hasegawa offering are still today on the market and are still considered among the best around 30 year after their release tells a lot. There are companies out there that in early 2019 have yet to issue a 1/72 kit as good as the Hasegawa Tomcat...

 

Now this is not the Hasegawa kit and the more I move along the build the more annoying things I notice. This is not my first Fujimi Cat but for some reason I had missed them in the past... anyway, at least the model is progressing ! With the main fuselage sorted, I decided to glue in place a few other parts before priming so now the tails, radome and windscreen are attached to the fuselage

 

c9549bf8-2bed-4c57-87b3-2157dd0b6245.JPG

 

The canopy is not glued but I'm keeping this in the right position to properly align the windscreen. NOt that it's really needed, as fit of this part is good.

On the lower side it was time to add the Phonix launch pallets

 

f5eee0b1-0409-4974-9747-787a3b512156.JPG

 

I have removed the pins from the rear pallets as my plan is to add a standard 2X2X2 load, meaning 2 Phoenix on the front pallets, 2 Sparrows on the pylons and 2 Sidewinders on the shoulder rails. This was the most common load carried by the Tomcat in times of potential combat. In peacetime generally Tomcats carried only one Phonenix for QRA missions, often with one single Sparrow. The Phoenix missile wasn't actually always carried as in certain theatres its use was not allowed due to rules of egnagement.

I have to say that with the 2 Phoenix load the rear pallets were not always carried, I'm leaving them because I like them anyway...

I now only have to glue the ECM fairings and the TCS pod under the nose and it will be time to prime. Wings and horizontal tailplanes are already primed and ready for a coat of paint

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Nice progress G, it really started looking like a TOMCAT now :clap: 

 

Ciao

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Hi Giorgio!

 

Are you progressing with this build out of the GB?

 

Which scheme did you settle on? 

I would be interested in acquiring the vf32 CAG decals if you’re not using them to correct my hobbyboss build if possible...

 

Tony

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