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My second 1/72 F-14A Tomcat - Academy this time


Jon020

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Well, having finished my first A model Tomcat using the Hobbyboss kit with some aftermarket and scratch added details, I’ve settled on what will be the next one, and have opened the box on an Academy kit. Plenty have already waded in on the aspects of this kit and I don’t want to repeat what’s already be said, so I’m going to share my thoughts, plans, tribulations, etc as I start, plan and progress this one.

Choosing a model

I’d had a number of boxes open, trying to decide which to start on next, a KA Models one, Hasegawa (I got the retool after ordering an old one by mistake first – oops),  a GWH one, Finemolds (First one I bought and now leaving that until later and maybe doing it with lots of panels open – if something can be done about the wing shape) but when I opened the Academy one,  having read that many see it as a straightforward build, and then seeing the quality of the mouldings, with all the details in place that I’d had to add to the Hobbyboss ones... and with wing panels  that look right (whereas Hobbyboss isn’t – nor are Hasegawa), I thought I’d give this one a go. It looks quite delightful.

50626047556_8689cc0929_h.jpgAcademy F14 project kick off by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Choosing a subject

Ok, this took some time. I wanted a subject that would grab me. I’d planned (and still do) at some point to do a VF84 A model in all over Light Gull Grey, so a popular scheme but with a slight variation... But maybe something less obvious. Pukin Dogs will probably be on the list at some point, but not yet;  another Vf-111, no I want some variation and I haven’t measured the kit’s fin chords yet. I thought about several others such as a Pencil VF31 to accompany the Felix-Bug etched picture that a good freind had passed to me... and many hours were spent going back and forth through the D&S Pacific and Atlantic volumes looking for inspiration. VF1 is my friend’s focus on many discussions, especially the early scheme. Thus I’d ignored the later schemes but some pictures in the D&S books started to catch my eye given that their finish was unusual. The mid 80s onwards saw the move to low vis markings with the wolf on the fin (you don’t need me to cover this) and later on some red schemes re-emerged. But what stuck out was the shade of grey appearing in many photos. Whilst the schemes were described as overall Light Gull Grey (LGG) – Fed Std 595 (FS)16440, many images show the grey as very pale. Clearly, some of this will be down to photograph exposure and film stock (contrast variation) but it seemed that a number of photographers were capturing images of aircraft that looked very pale, almost white. I read Tony Oliver’s discussions regarding his Hobbyboss VF-111 aircraft that eventually went for a paler grey: Light Grey FS36495. I think that Tony made the comment that whilst this probably wasn’t applied, it did tend to take on the look of a pale/washed out LGG that might be seen on an aircraft at the end of a deployment. As I said, there are lots of photos in books, but I’m not reproducing these here due to copyright... but here’s a suitable link to another page – 6th photo depicts the pale finish (and period) quite well

 

 

And

162603_4.jpg

 

 

My go-to paint at the moment is Mission Models, so I’ve some of this on its way; we’ll do a test and see how it compares. The Matt finish might support the “weathered” finish that would suit my wishes.

So, a combination of the pale finish, some colourful but not overstated markings, big colourful star n bars and perhaps a not too often shown scheme appealed. Then it was time to choose a specific aircraft. Of course, once you start looking, you see them (and it) everywhere. There’s even a Hobbymaster model of it although the overall LGG just doesn't look realistic compared to photos of the aircraft.... so that’s not deterring me from Wichita 103, BuNo 162603 that claimed the single F-14 Air to Air during desert storm. As shown above.

Markings will require some planning an sorting, but the main ones can (mostly) be acquired from the DXM set that I already have (using markings for Wichita 111, BuNo 162611, but some others will be needed. Markings wise, the most obvious omission from the DXM set is the markings that adorned the fuel tanks, but photos of the aircraft on operations seem to depict unmarked tanks in most cases, so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The most popular photos show the aircraft back from ranger at Miramar in February 1991 (interestingly, as I’ve only just noticed, 4 days after I first met the lady that became the first Mrs Hughes). The photo depicts the “Hind” kill marking (although of course it was a Hip) Wolfpack flash adorned fuel tanks and Phoenix pallets (the aerodynamic fairing on the port side being Light Ghost rather than LGG). However, there’s evidence of the phoenix pallets not being carried in operation whilst on Ranger. So these could be omitted.

Photos appear in the F-14 Haynes Manual, Tomcat Alley, and The Cutting edge (albeit from years earlier), and the VF1 facebook page is a useful resource too.

Armament

One further variation is that photos of the aircraft, and others from VF1 on Ranger at the time is that they carried four sidewinders rather than two of each of 9s and 7s; with Sparrows on the body positions; so this would give a variation on the usual equipage of the aircraft. The LAU-7 rail looks like it sits on an adapter under the wing root pylon, but details of that will no doubt follow after more research... and the photos in the original detail and scale book help in this regard.

Kit – additional AM bits and fit issues

Right , so I set out looking to see what bits I might need to adapt the kit or improve it. A search online suggested the Eduard Big Ed set, Aries exhaust, Aries seats, and a new product from CMK -  wheels for this kit, Quickboost seamless intakes (which seemed like a good idea) and quickboost ECM/TCS chin pod. I know the kit has this provided, but the Quickboost one is nice (used last time) and I’d lost track of which options were in which kit when I’d been placing my order; I think the GWH just has the small one. Hey ho.

These were ordered and have now arrived. Looking at the Big Ed set, I’m now wondering whether I’ll use much (or any) of it at all. Cockpit wise, I think the panel detail on the kit mouldings looks exquisite so these might suffice (with the kit decals and some careful painting perhaps). I think that the 3D print of companies like Quinta studios and Yahu are likely to end the end the Eduard colour photo etch... but time will tell how they migrate to 1/72. Externally, there’s a few bits that might be useful, but we’ll see. The kit nose undercarriage bay needs some detailing, but I did that from scratch on the hobbyboss, so maybe something similar will be attempted. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the kit noseleg needs some work, but that will be bits of plasticard and bits from other kits no doubt.

Wheels. Ok, these went back to the big H as the resin castings had air holes in them. I wasn’t pleased. I have a spare set of Armoury wheels which are nicely flattened and i’ll use these for the mains and either use the same for the nose wheels or see if I can get some like those I used on Miss Molly which I think were True Details.

Seats.

Ok, so the Aries seats were my product of choice as what I used before. Painted and adorned with some of the Eduard PE they look quite nice. Horror! The seats don’t fit in the Academy cockpit tubs. Drat (or something like that)

The seat themselves aren’t too bad detail wise; a bit basic but probably improvable with some PE... but they’re a bit thin, or perhaps I mean narrow. Time for some alternatives. I dug out the GWH kit and looked at those seats. Does it really need 5 pieces to make a seat(?) Anyway, these are slightly nicer and but lack the ejection handles top and bottom... I have those in the Eduard set, so no problems. I tacked one together and measured it against the Academy tub, and the Aries seats against the GWH tub:

Academy cockpit tub base 7.4mm across; Academy seats base 6.9mm across; Aries seats base 7.89 mm across.

GWH cockpit tub 8.3mm across;  GWH seats at base 7.1mm across.

So the plan is to save the Aries seats for the GWH kit and put the GWH seats  in the Academy tub. Sorted. They’ll need some detailing and I wish I’d though about fettling and thinning the seat sides before assembly, but I’ll do what I can afterwards. They’re not as nice as the Aries ones, but they’re a better start point compared to the academy ones at least.

50626044356_abc6b59796_h.jpgSeat swapping. by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Exhausts

Aries – as before, with one open and one closed nozzle (parked). The Academy kit has a very nice pair of locating pins in the rear fuselage to give a good solid build. The kit exhaust cans are quiet short. Hmmm... is this an issue.

By putting one of the exhaust cowlings onto one of the two rear fuselage halfs, measuring the distance aft of the securing stud to the fuselage rear face – 14.41mm. The length of the exhaust cowling is 10.81mm. This is the key distance, because the Aries exhaust, which comprises the nozzle, tube and fan, will have the tube face flush with the opening of the cowl, onto which the exhaust nozzle will attach (just like the Hobbyboss one)... although the cowl inner diameter will need opening it to remove the securing lip.  Aries exhaust tube is 24.36mm long, the fan has a lip height of 2.38mm. So, the kit clearance is about 25.2mm; the Aries exhaust is 26.7mm. So, whilst it not fitting is a little annoying for a part that’s marketed for the kit, I think that by shaving a little off the locating lug and the back of the fan piece, it will fit... just... but it’ll be close. But close, is good enough (I hope).

Wings

Now this has prompted some thought and discussion with a friend... and comparison with other kits. The attachment of the wings is great – onto those little stubs, wouldn’t it be nice to do dirty wings. Thoughts at the moment are whether the different wings could be adapted to fit on the same slot (cut a slot and add framing) so two sets could be made. Then whether another wing set could be adapted to fit the donor kit (possibly). Some thought and planning will go into this to see if it’s worth ending up with two wing sets for this one.

The plan isn't finalised and will need some further thinking and considering... at the speed at which I build these, there's no rush.

 

Other thoughts on the Academy kit, whilst I see that Tony O addressed it, the kit is supplied with two temp probes, the one that sits on the starboard side of the nose (aft of the smart probes) and one on the port side at the front of the cockpit section near the windscreen. This is only evident on early aircraft, so it’ll be ignored and the hole filled. This really ought to be highlighted somewhere. But overall, it looks crisp, shape's not bad at all - and it's not too complicated (although I seem to be making it so... such is my way eh!).

So... that’s the plan. Academy F-14A as VF1 162603 on the squadron’s last cruise, on Ranger in the Gulf. Painted a lighter colour that LGG (which will give some variation to Miss Molly and other aircraft to follow)

Anyway, let’s see how this goes...

Thanks for reading

Jonathan

Edited by Jon020
typo fixed (there will be others)
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On 22/11/2020 at 14:39, Gene K said:

Outstanding post, Jonathan -- really looking forward to more!

 

Re the Quickboost Seamless Intake -- is the kit weak in this area?

 

Gene K

Hi Gene. I don't think it's weak, it's just that you may wish to spend some effort cleaning up the seam between the two halves after they've been joined.... or cheat and use a resin single piece that therefore won't have a seam inside.... we'll see how that goes.

On the seats, a little detail has been added to what I presume is the missing harness tensioning piston and some additional area between the forward leg cushions upon which the ejection hoop is placed. Anyway.... I've started

GRU-7A Ejector seats. GWH detailed for academy F14

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok, so the last post covered what I’d done to the GWH seats and whilst I have now moved along, it’s either been just putting a few bits together or spending a while sitting looking at how to improve or modify a few bits, and as this is different to the Hobbyboss kit, each time, some thought is needed. I suppose the best positive step at this stage with the Academy kit is that the “A” shaped frame behind the RIO’s seat is included, and very well structurally attached to the rear of the RIO seat tub, so that all that’s needed is a little detailing with some bent wire (0.4 and 0.8mm) to represent the air duct and conduits.

The cockpit central coaming was, IMHO a little disappointing in that it lacks quite a bit of detail that wouldn’t be too difficult to cover in the mould , or include as a separate part. The most obvious bit is the frame handle  on top of the coaming that the RIO would hold onto when the aircraft is manoeuvring and a lookout is called for. I decided to slice off the central rear piece where the handle representation was and then beef-up the sideframes with two pieces of microstrip. The handle (and buttons either side of the handle) were made from small pieces of stretch sprue. It’s sall quite difficult to see at the moment, but I’m hoping that a little primer will unify the colour/finish and show it off a little better. On the right side, I added another small piece of stretch sprue and some bent 33swg wire to represent the small wiring harness that connects to the buttons. I wonder what the buttons are?  Someone will know.

With a sharp blade I cut a vertical seam in the plastic representing the forward fabric cover, and added seams to two edges too.. along with some fastener (dints) with a pin in a pin vice. It’ll do. To the forward coaming I just removed the plastic moulded bit representing the camera and added a shaped bit of microstrip to (slightly) better represent it.

50680200892_571add7305_h.jpgCockpit coamings and frame; GWH seats by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And a test fit of it all in the tub

50680122471_8808046488_h.jpgAcademy cockpit pieces; GWH seats by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I then moved down underneath the cockpit to the nose gear bay and added a few spare resin bits and some PE from the Eduard Big Ed set... and some thin plastic strips to represent wiring harnesses on the other side of the bay (not visible here). On the Hobbyboss kit, I added much more detail in here, but afterwards realised that you don’t really look at it... so this will do for this one.

50680205782_3542485995_h.jpgNose gear bay details by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Nose leg... well, it’s got some bits missing hasn’t it. It looks as though Academy planned for a separate piece for the retraction jack and for the two control rods that sit either side of the oleo and connect to the scissor link... and (I guess) to the catapult strop... pulling this downwards as the nose gear is compressed for takeoff – I guess these might be the catapult strop links, but I am guessing. Anyway, it matters little as they’re all missing. Looking at the leg, there’s a “pin” piece for the retraction jack to connect to, just no jack. Other kits have done this similarly with separate pieces provided (GWH, Hasegawa and FM)... so these needed creating. As Tony Oliver has mentioned previously (and as he set out to remind me this week and then saw that I’d done it already 😉 I used the spare hobbyboss  leg from the last kit – the compressed leg , and relieved it first of its retraction jack. Cleaned up, I drilled a hole across the end (where the pivot would be) and a similar hole in the leg and joined with a piece of 0.4mm wire. At the moment the wire is “long” so I can hold the bits for painting; I’ll trim it later. But it works.

50680126646_18a789f8b9_h.jpgImproving the nose leg. Hobbyboss retraction jack added by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

You’ll see in this picture the two pieces of wire added to the upper link of the oleo scissor and to the pivot of the catapult strop. This is where those other links are needed.

I contemplated making these from scratch... but how? I considered robbing another kit (Hasegawa, FM or GWH) in case I wanted to make one of those gear up... but there had to be a better way. I don’t know if it was a better way; it tried my patience and care, but I went back to the hobbyboss spare noseleg and mutilated it a little more; what was there to lose?

50680211737_e4b9a44808_h.jpgHobbyboss noseleg scavenging bits by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So yes, on this one it’s moulded as a solid piece and thus a bit crude, but the edges look about right (ignoring the bulging rear end that I sliced off afterwards). I cleaned this up to leave me with this:

50680136861_8ae0dc0f05_b.jpgCleaned up control rod piece by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

All i then needed to do was cut just under 1mm in from each side to give me two <1mm thick control links. Yea... a great idea. What could go wrong? Well apart from messing it all up and slicking my fingers... So, I popped a brand new Swan Morten No.11 blade in the handle, and carefully (whilst not breathing) lined up the blade and pushed down... then went to the forward end (angled upwards) and did the same... three careful cuts later and I had a control link. Then I did the other one. Then I cut the bulbous ends off and shaped the ends to the right length, and drilled a small (0.3mm) hole in each end of each... then just trial fitted them onto those small bits of wire.

50680216802_a3017057f5_h.jpgOuter slices of control rod piece cut, drilled and fitted to leg by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

and

50680141496_e6b5aa03c3_h.jpgNose leg details Inc hold back spring by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Yup, that worked. Quite pleased. A good evening’s work. Visible here also is the small microstrip slithers on the upper oleo scissor link and the wire piece representing the hold back tensioning spring (?) and yes, I opened out the end of the moulded tensioning connector piece. Note that I’ve drilled out and straightened the lightening hole in the lower scissor link too. There is an Eduard PE piece for this... but that’d be flat; the scissor link isn’t flat. My mate Brian was showing me some resin pieces he’d received of these in 1/48... yup, inspiring stuff. I try to show such stuff in 72nd, but I’d need new eyes for that level of detail.

Right... then I did a test fit of the tub and nose gear bay in the two fwd fuselage halves and yes, they go together quite well. This reminded me of the other idea I’d had for this one. I think I’ve decided to depict the aircraft as it would have been serving on Ranger rather than after return to the states... so armed with 4 sidewinders and 4 sparrows... short range interceptor fit I think it’s called, and the fuel tanks shown in use at the time are devoid of markings (which solves the problem of not having those special wolf’s head and stripe in decal form) but, in operation, air to air refuelling would be the order of the day, and on the basis that the knuckle joint of the USAF tankers hose/drogue units tended to clobber the probes and probe covers, the probe door cover would often be removed (before it got broken). Thus the probe is visibly stowed and bay open to the elements (well, the main bit anyway). So, the panel lines on the kit are good and using this as a guide (and cutting well inside them) I removed the necessary material (drilled and cut with a sharp blade) using a bit of dymo tape stuck along the panel line to stop getting too close. Cleaned up (carefully) this eventually looked sharp enough. One problem with this kit (if it’s a problem) is that the upper edge of this bay would be the kit glazing piece ... so it’s an open sided hole. And that will need boxing in...

50680219707_74bae98dfe_h.jpgDrilled out panel for refueling probe bay by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

Boxing this in wasn’t too tricky using a couple of widths of plasticard to form the “box”, the thinnest being used for the top “roof” of the bay... all added in with tamiya thin and a drop of my old sprue goo in places to reinforce. It needed a little fettling behind to alloy the cockpit tub to still fit, but that was sorted easy enough.

You can’t see the front of the probe when it’s stowed – it’s behind the forward door buried in the nose... os I just needed a bit of bent plastic rod to represent the probe. I measured this dimensionally against the GWH kit part and dropped it in to see if it looked ok – compared to period photos. I did consider using the GWH kit part (as it’s finer) but this has the clips that go around the probe to secure the door to the probe and photos show the clips removed and a smooth probe, so I’d have to remove them – seemed pointless, when the plastic rod seemed to do the job. I might add a few more bits of detail in there – but need to give that a few minutes thought first and question whether it’ll need it.

50680144881_5f3f339515_h.jpgBent rod added into boxed bay by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

On the other side of the nose, I drilled out the shell chutes and boxed those in (as I did with the HB kit previously) and then added a cannon muzzle (again as I did with the HB kit)

50680223732_c45c50bde2_h.jpgRefuel probe bay boxed; shell chute holes boxed; canon muzzle added by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

I assembled the cockpit tub bits (loose fit) and popped it all together to see how it fits, yes, well enough. Note the glazing piece just plopped on to check fit – had I got it right? I think it’s ok for now.

50680233827_685ca63955_h.jpgCockpit tub in nose trial assy by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

And finally a test fit of the cockpit tub on its own. I’m not going to use the Eduard PE in the cockpit – the raised detail is too nice to just file off. So I’ll paint this all up, add the decals and then a little more colour... and yes, some PE handles as you’d expect. But so far... whilst progress hasn’t been quick, I’m pleased with the way that this all sits.

50680230192_b13e646e70_h.jpgCockpit panels ready for priming by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

So.. that’s it for now. Thanks to Tony O for the support (as always) and to my mate Brian who keeps my ideas balanced and will (I hope) tell me when I’m going wrong.

Anyway – it’s Friday night and beer o’clock... it's been a long week. Cheers all.

Jonathan

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Inspiring progress, Jonathan. Thanks.

 

It would be great if other manufacturers would follow Academy's lead in how they molded the windscreen!!. Modelers have only been suggesting that for decades

 

Gene K

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5 hours ago, Gene K said:

Inspiring progress, Jonathan. Thanks.

 

It would be great if other manufacturers would follow Academy's lead in how they molded the windscreen!!. Modelers have only been suggesting that for decades

 

Gene K

Hi Gene. I know what you mean. To be honest, the last jets I made had this... the Airfix Phantom FG1 and Hobbyboss F-14, but I too wish the "better" manufacturers would follow this. 

Thanks for the kind comments  

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Good morning, so it’s a wet and cold Sunday morning and given that outside activities are thus less enticing, I thought it would be a good time to see where the last week has got me with this project. In short, apart from engaging with some useful and enjoyable dialogue on Nick’s forum thread build of an academy F-14A as an earlier Wichita 103,

it’s been a week of looking at resin bits and experimenting with fettling and fittings to see how they can be integrated into the kit. Essentially, this includes intakes, exhausts and pylons. Some of the following is a little out of sequence in terms of when the work was done (due to parts availability) but rearranged to keep the subject focussed.

 

Intakes

So let’s start with the seamless intakes that are available to replace the kit parts (in two halves) that need the join seam blending carefully so that a uniform finish is presented to the insides. The easiest available part on the market is made by Quckboost, and it was these that I acquired to work with. Having worked with a few resin items on previous kits, I was ready with my small saw ready to remove the resin base and flash, but the material used in this (and some of the other parts for this model) were a lot softer (and thinner) than the usual material, and I was able to cut the unwanted parts with just a sharp blade. However, I was a little disappoint to find that once the front fan disc was attached and it dropped in for a test fit in the intake parts, that there was a gap on the No. 2 part. The image below shows the parts dry assembled with the ramp parts too (no glue hence loose general fit) but whilst the no.1 side sits nice and square, the no.2 side has a gap to the inboard edge, almost as though it was a bit of a short shot (although there was no evidence to suggest this was the case; maybe a slightly distorted mold?

50709514456_023843005b_h.jpgQuickboost seamless intakes test fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

On looking down the intakes, the gap isn’t really visible, so it’s not a disaster, but it did seem that the part that could have made a 100% improvement has only achieved 80% due to some failure in manufacture or inspection. Anyway... it doesn’t matter too much.

50708777883_220f6682b0_h.jpgIntakes view by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

So, having said all that and had a few conversations with our forum Tomcat guru, I was lucky enough to be supplied some early prototype items that will soon become commercially available from AA Productions. The first parts in question are AAP-RA2, Seamless intakes for the Academy kit, so this allowed an interested comparison with the Quickboost items that i mentioned above. As with the Quickboost items, the material was not as hard as some resins of parts I’ve previously used, but the AAP parts were more robust that the Quickboost items. Importantly, the attachment of the fan and insertion into the intakes is much more positive and snug, giving a more robust assembly, as seen here. Also evident is that they butt nicely against the intake lip and upper intake panel.

50709541696_951d72e66d_h.jpgAAP resin seamless intakes... a much better fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

As a further comparison, here are the two products side by side, with the Quickboost item on the left and the AAP product on the right. The thin-walled nature of the Quickboost item is apparent. This should present no problem once assembled, but the AAP part is a more robust part that wont “flex” when handling, which I think puts it ahead of the current parts.

50709545121_4b638b567c_h.jpgSeamless intakes comparison. Quickboost (L) AAP (R). Very thin on left, better on right by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Of course... I still need to get some confidence in where the white/grey demarcation lines are within the intakes on the aircraft I’m depicting (Wichita 103 162603); but that’s an item to research later (when I know what colour I’m using and how the colour inside the intake would differ to that exposed to UV on the outside of the fuselage.

 

Exhausts

As with my previous builds (Hobbyboss Tomcat and Airfix Phantom) I opted for the Aries exhausts sets. As this will be another parked aircraft, I chose the 1 open/1 closed set as would depict an aircraft having undergone the usual engine shutdown process. As with the quickboost intakes, it was quickly apparent that rather than being constructed from the usual tough resin, most of the parts in the set were of a softer composition. Each set includes two of each of resin rear face fan, exhaust tube and exhaust nozzles, and; a pair of photo etch reheat rings (2D not 3D). So the first check is that the exhaust tubes will sit within the kit cowl parts. No. It looks as though Aries has reduced the overall OD of the exhaust tubes, but the lip inside the kit cowl still needs to be opened up (a bit) to allow a push through snug (ish) fit of the tubes. Ok, that’s simple enough to resolve. However, when I then came to test fit the fans in the exhaust tubes (the tube has a small lip in the inside) it seems that the fad face OD had not been reduced to fit the revised exhaust tube.

50708788138_309e513035_h.jpgInitial fit ... it won&#x27;t by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Which was a little disappointing.

I therefore had to set about with a “swiss” diamond file to remove the outer diameter of the fan face so that the face OD was reduced from 13.9mm to 12.7mm as shown. An unnecessary faff. I couldn’t help wonder whether the wrong part had been picked or the revised diameter tube had gone through the design team on a Friday. Either way... frustrating, but solvable.

50709601712_4c8b5c006e_h.jpgAries exhausts fan size... too big by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

One other measurement concern is the positioning of the two well thought out rear fuselage mounting lugs which give a very positive fit to the rear end. However, recognising that the kit exhaust tubes have a semi-conical appearance for a forced perspective led me to check some dimensions and yes, the reason for this is that at full length, the edge of those mounting lugs are close where the rear fan should sit; the kit’s foreshortening of the tube is intended presumably, to put the fans further aft so there’s no interference. A measurement check made it look as though the Aries parts would almost fit... but not quite. This was based on my assumption that the Exhaust nozzles would, as with all previous ones I’ve used, only be a butt fit to the exhaust tube, so not very positive. But for measurements, that meant that the Aries exhaust tubes (when fans fitted) could not protrude from the rear face of the cowls... so space needed to be made to allow them to sit (just inside) for clearance. To do this I thinned the depth of the fan disc piece (below) and then removed the rear-most edges of the mounting lug cylinders on the top and bottom fuselage pieces.

50709605282_66f1d782c7_h.jpgFan disc material removal by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Seen here, I did the left engine side first to see how it went – first cut(s) before it was finished and then tidied up – but to give the idea.

50708785608_f2a6659818_h.jpgRemoving mounting lug&#x27;s rearmost material to provide space for exhausts by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

When this was all done, I used the kits (Spare) exhaust cowls (the ones for a B or D – so I could just grab them and not worry about causing any damage to the bits I’d use) and held it all together ... and yes, the exhaust tube will now sit “inside” the rear face – so that’s enough clearance sorted.

50708791398_72f945a813_h.jpgFettled... test fit with spare exhaust cowls, shows revised fit, exhaust tube clear of front face by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

But then, just when you think you’ve found a solution, you realise that maybe, this time there wouldn’t have been a problem because Aries have provided a lip inside the exhaust nozzle so that it sits on the tube (no longer just a butt fit – yippee) but also provides more space inside; so maybe I didn’t need to remove the material inside the fuselage or off the fan piece. Either way, it doesn’t really matter as the fit hasn’t been affected; I just de-risked it a bit. Nice of Aries to add that mounting lip; shame there was no clue in the instructions and it was only evidence once the part was sawn off (yes in this case, the resin was back to the usual toughness – which is good).

50708793978_85029fdecc_h.jpgExhaust nozzle found to include lip (at last... they listened) to make fit better and improve fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Once these were all cleaned up and the right cowls inner lips opened up a bit (B/D nozzle in background) they seemed to sit ok. Cruel close up of dust on top of laptop cover that I needed to clean up. Not resin dust – just dust that’s a bi-product of spending too much time in this room (it’s my work-at-home) office too, or the other side of it and desk is. I must sort that all out before I start to think about paint.

50708795843_ab2ad1bf46_h.jpgExhaust tube bits in kit cowls by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

And finally, a look down the back end to see the material that had been “scraped” away, but plenty left to provide a good bond.
Oh, and an important point to make. These lugs (and the ones at the front in the wing roots) are made to be a very snug fit. Do not do any test assemblies before opening out the hole in the female part, otherwise you’ll not get them apart again. So, the kit’s made to provide a very positive connection, but not to allow test fits... just worth considering before you’re stuck with two bits you then can’t get apart.

50709616727_29f4179546_h.jpgLooking in..  where material was removed by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

 Whilst we’re still on the back end, I cut out and prepped the rear fuselage upper and lower faces that taper down to the beaver tail and did some trial fits. These quite surprised me because everything else in the kit is a really good positive fit and these are just left to hopefully snugly butt-up to the fuselage parts. It’d probably be ok, but possibly fiddly to get it to sit in place with there being no positive contact point. At this point, I recalled others mention of needing to add some tabs, (and I realised that it was this that they meant) so I cut out some pieces of plasticard strip and added these as shown (with Tamiya thin)

50708803278_bcee7637c1_h.jpgPlastic strips added to aid fit if rear fuse pieces by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Thus when attached, there’s a good positive level of engagement; shown dry assembled only.

50709540036_bdda92ef32_h.jpgAssembled by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Finally, back to the A exhaust cowls, with the beaver tail loosely attached, to get a good alignment, some material needed removing on the inside faces (where it touched the beaver tail) so that the outer edges lined up better. I held them in place and used a pencil to mark where this was and then just filed that part down a bit = a better clearance fit.

Note also that the inner lip has been filed out a bit – just enough to take the Aries exhaust tube

50709536946_48e00563e1_h.jpgMaterial removed on cowl (between pencil lines) to improve fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

A slight diversion

Having always thought that a few additional bits help lend scale to a completed model and acquired a few Reedoak figures (only two painted so far) I’d always fancied a carrier deck vehicle. The Verlinden item seemed quite rare but I eventually secured on off a well known auction site. Slighly battered box but all parts intact and protected... I’m not a collector so the box does not bother me at all. Instructions are “old school” but the parts seemed quiet crisp with only a small number of very small air holes that can be sorted. Something to make up when I need a distraction from the main build(s).

50709618422_9e72d2ce8e_h.jpgVerlinden tractor by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Pylons

So... today’s final chapter covers the wing root pylons. It seems that there’s no 1/72 kit that offers a missile fit that matches the “Short-Range Interceptor” configuration of 4 AIM-9H/L/M Sidewinders and 4 AIM-7E/F/M Sparrows. All kits are able to configure the aircraft with up to six AIM-54 Phoenix or six Sparrows, but only two sidewinders. The only kit we’ve immediately found that offers the 4 sidewinder fit is the Tamiya 1/48 kit. So that’s (almost) no use... I say almost because if you’ve a friend who’s just acquired one, they can find the bits and photograph them next to a steel rule for scale.  This was helpful to try to put the photographs of so-equipped aircraft (and let’s be honest, there aren’t too many) into context and scale. The kit only comes with the two AIM-9 Sidewinder rails (LAU-7), which are attached laterally to the side of the upper part of the main pylon (above the join to which a AIM-7 or AIM-54 lower pylon (or the AN/AAQ-25 LANTIRN pod pylon) attach, so as these were still needed, two more LAU-7s were needed. There’s also an adapter “shoe” onto which the lower LAU-7 will sit.

Again, AA Productions parts come in handy here, and again, I was fortunate enough to be provided with some prototypes to check out.  The two parts used are AAP-RU3 which is a universal fit (any kit) empty rail which has some nice resin detail only normally seen on photo-etch equipped components. This is a standard (side fitted) LAU-7 so, the joining pylon piece was sliced off (carefully) leaving just the rail to be attached to the adapter shoe mount piece that’s provided by AA Productions part AAP-RU2. This part has a nice plan profile but once attached to the pylon it gave too much of a nose-up tilt to the LAU-7 rail, so I simply re-profiled the rear edge a little (probably about 1/2mm) to provide a nice snug fit to the LAU-7. Remember these are only prototype parts, but they’re invaluable! It was possibly my mistake in having done something wrong with the side pylon, but once fitted, the two rails should be parallel. There’s a slight toe-out of the lower LAU-7 that needs to be provisioned when attaching this so that when the pylon is attached to the fuselage, the rail points along the forward axis of the aircraft and doesn’t point in to the aircraft’s nose (!)

Here the kit pylon (with filler in the lower slot and injection marks) with the kit LAU-7 fitted at bottom, Universal Dual LAU-7 mount AAP-RU2 (middle) and the Universal empty LAU-7 rail with the attachment pylon cut off, so it could attach to the mount (top).

50709632687_d605a00662_h.jpgAAP LAU7 adapter piece and additional LAU7 rail for 4xsidewinder fit by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

A view of the two pylons with the dual LAU-7 mounts fitted. The rear one has been re-profiled (and I took too much off at the front so I added a little plasticard to build it back up and cleaned it up afterwards - I was experimenting after all) but shows how much I removed for this one – 5 minutes work.

50709552731_3f125046f9_h.jpgAdapting AAP part profile a little by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

Once fitted, and with the LAU-7 lower rail positioned correctly – use photographic references – the lower one should sit just forward of the side one. As mentioned, there aren’t  a huge number of photographs of the aircraft operating with this weapons fit, although VF1 flew with this set up in the first gulf war and before so there’s plenty to see there, and CJ Heatley’s “The Cutting edge” is a good reference for them earlier in the 80s. Bert Kinzey’s Detail and Scale Series Colour and Markings of US Navy F-14 Tomcats Part 2 has plenty of useful side elevation photos of VF1 aircraft (and others) with the dual LAU-7 rail fit. It seemed quite common if the Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI) pod was fitted too. Here, the rails are all glued in place to the pylon, the pylon is just dry fitted to the fuselage and a kit AIM9L balanced on the rail.

50708819853_0619ed650c_h.jpgTest fit rear quarter by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

And another view from the side; I think this will do nicely. As the kit comes with two AIM-9Ls and what I presume are two AIM-9Hs, I’ll need to source two reasonable (and comparable 9Ls or Ms). Looking at a number of photos again, a mix of two 9Ls and two 9Ms seemed common, so I’ll either find two pairs that look good enough from kits, or break open the Finemolds missile set and paint those as two 9Ls and two 9Ms – it comes with details for both. But, that’s a long way off yet.

50709641152_03095ac100_h.jpgLAU-7 twin rail test fit side elevation by Jonathan Hughes, on Flickr

 

So... a week or so of fettling and experimenting has identified some promising new parts to give us some more options to work with, which is good. My thanks got to Tony for the test pieces and to Brian for the photographs of the Tamiya bits and for keeping me engaged when I found the next “now-what” moment... it’s all very much appreciated and nicely continued as an evening "forget about work for a hour or two" project.

Thanks for reading.

Jonathan

 

Edited by Jon020
I misspelt my name - can you believe that(!)
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Looks awesome Jon!

 

The Quickboost intake on my kit has the same issue you described. Leads me to think that this problem afflicts all of the intake sets. I agree that it essentially negates the time saving of using the Quickboost set in the first place. The ventral fin set worked well, on the positive side.

 

Exciting to know that there will be a set available to configure the Academy Tomcat in "4x4". That seems to be one of the few features that Academy left out. It is otherwise a rather flexible kit.

 

Thank you for sharing your process!

 

Best,

 

Nick

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2 hours ago, npirnia said:

Looks awesome Jon!

 

The Quickboost intake on my kit has the same issue you described. Leads me to think that this problem afflicts all of the intake sets. I agree that it essentially negates the time saving of using the Quickboost set in the first place. The ventral fin set worked well, on the positive side.

 

Exciting to know that there will be a set available to configure the Academy Tomcat in "4x4". That seems to be one of the few features that Academy left out. It is otherwise a rather flexible kit.

 

Thank you for sharing your process!

 

Best,

 

Nick

Thanks Nick... good to know there's consistency at least 🙂 I do have a set of the ventral fins somewhere and yes they do drop in, but I think I'll be doing the same as I did last time and use the spare GWH set (from the other kit I have) that are quite nicely detailed with the addition of the tow bar units at the rear; they're a bit fatter at the front end so needed sanding a little but that was solved quite quickly and they can now sit in the slots.

Yes, it's good to know there are more options becoming available; we've a good selection of good 1/72 kits for the big cat available now and aftermarket parts and decal options continue to improve too. The future's bright, as they say 😉

thanks

Jonathan

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Very detailed update, thank you! I will probably need to go over it again to ensure I have digested all of it. 

 

Concerning your question of where the grey/white demarcation lines are within the intakes, I can say from the Tomcats I have seen, not that many and all being in the later grey scheme, the line starts at the bottom of the intake just behind the silver covering on the lower lip of the intake and goes up at about a 45 degree angle ending at the rear of the ramp/diffuser. The best picture I could find was in the Verlinden F-14A/B book by Willy Peeters on page 21. Having said all that I fully realize that on the scheme that you intend to finish your model in may be different.

 

Incidentally did you know that 162603 scored the only F-14 aerial victory of the Gulf War? It downed an Iraqi Mi-8 "Hip" helicopter with an AIM-9M sidewinder.

 

Also I started looking over my Academy F-14 kit last night with an eye to begin construction, after of course my current build is finish. :)

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19 hours ago, Billy54 said:

Very detailed update, thank you! I will probably need to go over it again to ensure I have digested all of it. 

 

Concerning your question of where the grey/white demarcation lines are within the intakes, I can say from the Tomcats I have seen, not that many and all being in the later grey scheme, the line starts at the bottom of the intake just behind the silver covering on the lower lip of the intake and goes up at about a 45 degree angle ending at the rear of the ramp/diffuser. The best picture I could find was in the Verlinden F-14A/B book by Willy Peeters on page 21. Having said all that I fully realize that on the scheme that you intend to finish your model in may be different.

 

Incidentally did you know that 162603 scored the only F-14 aerial victory of the Gulf War? It downed an Iraqi Mi-8 "Hip" helicopter with an AIM-9M sidewinder.

 

Also I started looking over my Academy F-14 kit last night with an eye to begin construction, after of course my current build is finish. :)

Hi Billy. Yes, I was aware of the situation with it claiming the only F14 "kill" in the first gulf conflict, the Hip, although carrying a "Hind" zap, because that's what they thought it was. Initially, the kill marking carried the Iraqi flag over the top of the helicopter symbol (not too many photos of that though), so I might add that too . But yes, it helped steer the choice of aircraft to "do" and gave a little more specific interest to the aircraft.

13 hours ago, Tony Oliver said:

The general rule with intakes (unless you can find a photo of the specific jet you’re building)

 

White belly = full white intakes. 
 

All over gull = 45 (ish) degree angle is the norm although before this there was a brief period of a vertical demarcation in line with one of the ramps. 
 

TPS = 45 (ish) degree angle. 
 

Again with repairs or unit repaints have seen photos of different stuff. Eg a TPS jet with vertical demarcation around the second ramp or so. This is noticeable on some early TPS planes, where they have been repainted by the unit from its original gull scheme. 
Any grumman/factory TPS on a new build would be 45 degrees. 


Tony

Thanks Tony... I knew we had it somewhere (or you'd know of course ;-).... something to mask up before assembly commences. Always good to compare real photos of course as you always find out too late that the one you're depicting was the one they did differently to all the rest. Yup... had that before.

 

Cheers both 🙂

Jonathan

Edited by Jon020
Correction pointed out by Billy... Only F14 kill rather than USNavy kill.
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17 hours ago, Tony Oliver said:

Glad to hear the intakes are a good fit :) 
 

As for the dual adapters - they are more of an ‘advanced modeller’ part. Not plug and play so to speak. I did think of refining them more but too much work for minimal return. 
 

As in it would take too much time and effort to make a load of kit specific/variation parts with their own location pins or lugs to set angles, and then the corresponding areas on kit pylons that need to be removed or filled etc. This is due to all kits glove pylons having different lower surfaces where they would go and most pylons themselves all sit differently on their respective kits, in terms of angle of lower mating surfaces to body (eg perpendicular when viewed from front) and toe in/out in regards to centre line and the actual thickness and/or taper of the kit pylon when viewed from below. 
Plus any work I did on these kit specific adapters could then be nullified by the actual spare lau-7 rail and its mating surface that the modeller decides to mount on it. Making my adapter ‘faulty’ and getting bad press for making rails sit at funny angles. 
 

So I guess these are more of an old school approach to aftermarket as in do your homework and a bit of (minimal) elbow grease. 
 

Tony

You mean we have to do a bit of modelling 😉 I think some of us can cope 😄 But yes, a valuable and useful addition to those wanting a neat short range interceptor fit.

Thanks for the opportunity to try them out

Jonathan

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11 hours ago, Jon020 said:

You mean we have to do a bit of modelling 😉 I think some of us can cope 😄 But yes, a valuable and useful addition to those wanting a neat short range interceptor fit.

Thanks for the opportunity to try them out

Jonathan

 

One thing that I forgot to mention and one of the most irritating parts of the kit imho: the wing pivots are a bit "short" when you position the wings in oversweep (72 deg). Meaning that you can see a gap between the wing and the pivot recess unless you build up the wing pivot a bit (extend it forward and inboard). I did this with tamiya filler and CA, then sanded to shape. It struck me as particularly annoying since the airbags are appropriately, in my mind, set for 72 deg oversweep, but the wings don't quite support it. Tomcats had their wings set to oversweep about 90-95% of the time when parked (and 100% of the time on the boat unless they were undergoing serious maintenance), so it seems odd that the wing pivots would be molded so that this gap is visible.

 

Anyway, it is more convenient to note this problem before the wings are painted. :)

 

-Nick

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16 hours ago, npirnia said:

 

One thing that I forgot to mention and one of the most irritating parts of the kit imho: the wing pivots are a bit "short" when you position the wings in oversweep (72 deg). Meaning that you can see a gap between the wing and the pivot recess unless you build up the wing pivot a bit (extend it forward and inboard). I did this with tamiya filler and CA, then sanded to shape. It struck me as particularly annoying since the airbags are appropriately, in my mind, set for 72 deg oversweep, but the wings don't quite support it. Tomcats had their wings set to oversweep about 90-95% of the time when parked (and 100% of the time on the boat unless they were undergoing serious maintenance), so it seems odd that the wing pivots would be molded so that this gap is visible.

 

Anyway, it is more convenient to note this problem before the wings are painted. :)

 

-Nick

Hi Nick. I had to do a dry assembly of bits to try to see what you meant here as id not seen reference to this elsewhere... but if you meant inside the front corner, just behind the root sweep fairing, I think I see what you mean. With the wing fully slid in on its tab it seemed fine, but pulled out a little and the gap is visible. I suspect under certain lighting it'll be more obvious. Photo attempts here

Mind the gap

 

Was that what you meant?

Yes, a little careful building up and filling of the inside corner should do it.

 

Thanks for pointing this out.

Jonathan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jon020
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Nice to see that in David F Brown's 12 Tomcats of Christmas on his Facebook feed, last night featured 162603 as having been delivered on Dec 16, 1985. Two nice photos too.

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20 hours ago, Jon020 said:

Nice to see that in David F Brown's 12 Tomcats of Christmas on his Facebook feed, last night featured 162603 as having been delivered on Dec 16, 1985. Two nice photos too.

That's interesting! I hadn't thought about it too much, but that explains why VF-1 had so many light gull grey jets when other squadrons were sporting mostly TPS schemes. It seems that VF-1 managed to get the last production F-14As and pretty much all F-14As were delivered from Grumman in light gull grey. They would start delivering jets in TPS with the F-14A Plus (later redesignated F-14B).

 

In fact, delivery in LGG is what led to the colorful CAG/CO jets in the 80s/early 90s. So all F-4 squadrons had transitioned to the F-14 by 1984 (VF-21 and VF-154 being the last) so the USN decided to spread the FY83 production aircraft (received by squadrons in late 84 and early 85) among the whole fleet with each squadron receiving at least 2 jets (and mostly 2 jets). Because these were delivered in LGG and most squadrons were transitioning to TPS schemes, the USN allowed each squadron to paint 2 aircraft in full color schemes. Most overall repaints took place at NARF, so the first repaint would lag delivery by at least a few years.

 

It seems that VF-1 managed to receive a large number of the final block 135 production jets, so it makes sense that so many of their jets stayed LGG.

 

This website contains some handy photos from Desert Storm: https://dstorm.eu/pages/en/usa/f-14.html

 

It shows that all the block 135 jets in VF-1 are LGG, while the older jets are TPS (except NE110 - but I suspect the BuNo is wrong since it shows early gunvents and no bumps for the ALQ-126. It is probably a block 85 jet). Seems to be the same for VF-2 which also received a several block 135 jets. This is sort of surprising since VF-1 and VF-2 were set to be the first west coast squadrons to receive the F-14D. Seems like these squadrons must have good connections to get brand new F-14As shortly before being scheduled to receive F-14Ds. :)

 

Sadly VF-1 was disestablished before this could happen, but VF-2 did transition in 1993-94 to the F-14D.

 

Best,

 

Nick

Edited by npirnia
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Forgive me if this has already been covered elsewhere but I believe the Quickboost seamless intakes are intended for Academy's earlier kit of the F-14A Tomcat. I don't think they have got around to developing a set for the brand new Academy kit yet. This could explain the poor fit of the parts (not a normal Quickboost trait, it has to be said).

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2 hours ago, npirnia said:

That's interesting! I hadn't thought about it too much, but that explains why VF-1 had so many light gull grey jets when other squadrons were sporting mostly TPS schemes. It seems that VF-1 managed to get the last production F-14As and pretty much all F-14As were delivered from Grumman in light gull grey. They would start delivering jets in TPS with the F-14A Plus (later redesignated F-14B).

 

In fact, delivery in LGG is what led to the colorful CAG/CO jets in the 80s/early 90s. So all F-4 squadrons had transitioned to the F-14 by 1984 (VF-21 and VF-154 being the last) so the USN decided to spread the FY83 production aircraft (received by squadrons in late 84 and early 85) among the whole fleet with each squadron receiving at least 2 jets (and mostly 2 jets). Because these were delivered in LGG and most squadrons were transitioning to TPS schemes, the USN allowed each squadron to paint 2 aircraft in full color schemes. Most overall repaints took place at NARF, so the first repaint would lag delivery by at least a few years.

 

It seems that VF-1 managed to receive a large number of the final block 135 production jets, so it makes sense that so many of their jets stayed LGG.

 

This website contains some handy photos from Desert Storm: https://dstorm.eu/pages/en/usa/f-14.html

 

It shows that all the block 135 jets in VF-1 are LGG, while the older jets are TPS (except NE110 - but I suspect the BuNo is wrong since it shows early gunvents and no bumps for the ALQ-126. It is probably a block 85 jet). Seems to be the same for VF-2 which also received a several block 135 jets. This is sort of surprising since VF-1 and VF-2 were set to be the first west coast squadrons to receive the F-14D. Seems like these squadrons must have good connections to get brand new F-14As shortly before being scheduled to receive F-14Ds. :)

 

Sadly VF-1 was disestablished before this could happen, but VF-2 did transition in 1993-94 to the F-14D.

 

Best,

 

Nick

That's fascinating reading Nick. Thank you. I'll do some more digging. I wonder if the late factory delivered A models then had a different composition of light gull grey that faded differently in service. More to read up on 😉

Thank you

1 hour ago, Tiger331 said:

 

Forgive me if this has already been covered elsewhere but I believe the Quickboost seamless intakes are intended for Academy's earlier kit of the F-14A Tomcat. I don't think they have got around to developing a set for the brand new Academy kit yet. This could explain the poor fit of the parts (not a normal Quickboost trait, it has to be said).

That's fair enough and I'd not appreciated that having not considered the earlier kit; I assumed (always a mistake) that these were new parts intended (and timed) for the new kit. 

Perhaps it would be useful if retailers made that a bit clearer (unless I missed it). But thanks for that point. So, the only seamless intake parts intended for the new tool academy kit are the AAP parts. Good to know. Thank you

Jonathan

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