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Help looking at a Tomcat scheme

So I posted on the “other” modeling site and got some mixed answers. I have kinda switched horses in mid stream and plan (unless I don’t…!) on making this VF-154 F-14A from my years in CAG 5 aboard USS Independence. The decal instructions show a standard tactical paint scheme, but I have a hard time picking it out. I have added pictures of 154 birds from the same era (1995) and can see the scheme better. So my question, same scheme, just much cleaner, or a different scheme? I have lots of pictures from my cruises, but only have the nose of this aircraft!

1 additional image. Click to enlarge.


24 responses to Help looking at a Tomcat scheme

  1. ok…cast the jolly rogers aside…now would you get on with it

  2. I have been researching Tomcats for a while for an upcoming build. As far as I know, the two camouflages on your photos are not the same. The photo showing the dirty planes is the tactical camouflage, the one with the colorful Tomcat is the early 80s light full grey variant, used only for a few years before switching to the low visibility tactical camouflage. However, that light gull grey variant returned to CAG birds in the 90s, together with the colorful squadron markings.

    • Agreed 100%

      I clearly remember going through this discussion in the early & mid 80’s. Every issue of Koku Fan seemed to contradict the previous one.

      You could find dirty and clean (overall) Light Gull Grey machines next to freshly painted TPS aircraft on the same carrier on the same day.

      Very confusing times – But our friend is completely correct in his colour refs.

      Best from NZ.

      • That’s one of the things that I liked about the ’87 VF-84 markings, very easy to tell the “non standard” TPS paint and shades. I have some great pictures of 84 in my cruise book from that year, sadly for some reason I did not get a 96-97 cruise book from Indy.

    • That clean bird definitely ain’t an overall gull grey plane but rather just a nice (for a change) clean CAG bird. Very likely a photo-shoot of a freshly painted bird. Gull grey is much more warmer grey compared to the one in the picture which is cold.
      I am researching Tomcats for close to three decades and can for sure say there are at least 3 variations of TPS – standard lt. ghost bottom, dark ghost mid and medium grey top, hard edged one going straight to the fuselage and lt. and dk. ghost grey without medium grey. There’s also a possibility of single tone (either lt. or dk ghost grey) TPS but it’s hard to say, as colours are VERY similar and when they start to fade, you’ll have a really hard time discerning them.

      Also the above scheme was carried in 2001, loooooong past the overall gull grey scheme.

  3. The light gull grey was FS16440, while the low vis variant’s usual colors were 36375, 36320 and 35237. In some cases only two or even only one of these colors were used on low vis planes.

  4. Csaba, I think that is entirely possible I just don’t remember seeing any birds in an overall monotone color scheme other than our Hawkeyes, and I always looked at them with a modelers eye. Also, there are people that worked on the VF-21 CAG bird from ’95 that say it was standard TPS, just very clean and kept that way since it was a show bird. I have a very clear picture I took of that bird while we were out to sea, and darned if it doesn’t look like it is just one color, so????. LOL, maybe I should go back to VF 84!

  5. Interesting, I will follow your build to find out more!

    Sometimes I am surprised how unsure we are about the paint jobs, even if the planes are not too old and (relatively) well documented on color photos. It was also a surprise to learn the huge variation in F-14 camouflages, when I started to research this topic. Previously I thought that there were the “colorful” and later the “grey” Tomcats. Well, reality was slightly different. 🙂

    Let me look into my books when I get home after work, hopefully I will find photos for you.

  6. Cool! I also looked at 154’s Facebook page, their cover photo shows 161621 going off the bow on Indy, looks totally different than the picture I posted. It does look like the “classic” TPS with high viz markings. I won’t post it since it is theirs. I also reached out to a fellow Senior Chief Petty Officer who was in 154, he might know. Whatever the outcome there are at least 2 more Tomcats in my future….oh….maybe 4, there is that F-14 from VF-2 when I was on Connie during Iraqi Freedom….I need to retire wealthy!

  7. I always thought that in that time period that the squadron ‘show’ bird the gloss gull grey, and the rest was tactical. These are from 1989, so it might be too early, good luck.

    2 attached images. Click to enlarge.

  8. Hi Rob, what time frame on your projects, I may be able to shed some light on the schemes for each squadron you wish to build.

    • 1996 on Independence, VF-154 and VF-21 both used the “standard” TPS on their aircraft. 161621 was their CAG bird, looks like from 94 through at least 97, and I can count 3 possibly 4 CAG paint schemes. The picture I have shows red numbers on the nose, but a grey tail, so I don’t know if this was during the painting process, or if it was a 4th scheme, there are 3 for sure two with black tails and red modex, one with a grey tail and black modex. The question comes from how clean the bird was in most of the pictures.

  9. I went through my book, but no luck. Unfortunately have not found anything useful about VF-154 in that era. However, the other forum members might be right, it is not clear whether that plane is TPS or gull gray. According to my books, there were examples of colorful squadron markings on TPS painted planes.

  10. I had some luck on the Independence veteran’s page, it looks much more TPS in the pictures they posted there, most were taken at sea and she’s not as clean as her Atsugi “Wings” airshow pictures. I think TPS it is! Man looking at the picture I posted and the pictures on the Indy and 154 FB pages, is almost like looking at two different aircraft! I believe the picture I posted was taken when she was freshly painted for either “Wings 96” or “Wings 97” she carried this livery, with just slight differences to the tail paint during this time frame.

  11. Not much to add other than my own experience with cruise books.

    My books from the Ike (late 80’s through Gulf War) contain a mixed bag of photos taken during the deployment and “stock” photos from previous deployments stretching back at least ten years. These Ike books are definitely not to be relied on from a modeling/accuracy perspective.

  12. Well shucks, the BIG problem here is I started looking closer at details…..My build has the wrong gun vents….. It all started with ECM bumps, those are easy peasy…. NACA gun vents not so much once you are as far along as I am…..The bright side? I have a Monogram kit I can convert so I can build this, and I still have my VF 84 decals, and some VF-21 decals………

  13. Many years ago I saw a scheme for VF114 -the Aardvarks. It was short lived, but had the Johnny Hart’s BC cartoon of the “Eat-anter” on the fins in orange. Otherwise it was fairly plain grey over white (Early 70’s, AFAIR)
    (Why the “eat-anter? “What shall we call that thing?”… “Well what does it do?”…. It eats ants.”… “I know, let’s call it an ‘eatanter’.”

    Brett

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  14. I do like the look of that VF-154 CAG bird Rob… have to find a way!
    Mind you the tactical birds look pretty cool too…

  15. Well, I ended up ordering a set for the COs bird for VF-84 from Theodore Roosevelt. I made sure the gun vents and lumps and bumps matched what I have. Man I can’t believe I missed that detail until now!

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

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