Grumman F-14A Tomcat; VF-41 Black Aces (FineMolds 1:72)
F-14 Tomcat doesn’t need special introduction. Being the main star of a Top Gun movie, the aircraft was designed in late 1960’s after the failed F-111B project. Featuring twin tails, twin widely spaced engines and swing-wings, this fleet defender entered operational service just in time to witness the evacuation of Saigon in 1975. Since then it became a backbone of US Naval Aviation serving from its carriers across all the world’s seas. It first drew blood in 1981, when two VF-41 Black Aces Tomcats shot down two Lybian Su-22s and later in 1989, two F-14As of VF-32 Swordsmen again bloodied themselves of the coast of Lybia, this time downing two MiG-23s. It’s fifth and last kill in US Navy service came in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm when an F-14A of VF-1 Wolfpack shot down Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter. The only other Tomcat operator, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force achieved in excess of 130 kills with the venerable fighter against the Iraqi aggressors. With years came the upgrades, first the A+(later redesignated B), replacing its troublesome engines and a whole new package with D, which retained the B engines but had new avionics and radar installed. With the end of Cold War, Tomcat also changed its role from fleet defender to Bombcat, and again VF-41 being the first squadron to bomb targets in anger in 1995, earning the squadron motto “First to fight, first to strike!”.
I have to admit right away that I am a HUGE Tomcat fan. I’ve build a few Tomcats in the past and my long term plan is to build at least one aircraft from each squadron that flew it… During the past few decades I managed to acquire decals to build around 150 Tomcats from almost all squadrons. But that also brings a problem – which Tomcat to build next? Hearing nothing but positives about the Finemolds kit and since it’s been a while since I last built a Tomcat, I wanted to build something special. To build one of the Tomcats I have seen for the first time in person.
In June 1997, USS John F. Kennedy, became the first carrier to visit Slovenian port Koper. Aboard her were two full squadrons of F-14As, VF-41 Black Aces and its sister squadron VF-14 Tophatters. As a huge Tomcat fan, that was like the heavens descended upon me and after a gruesome summer waiting queue of 8 hours, I was finally on a boat towards the carriers fantail.
19 additional images. Click to enlarge.