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Harvey R.
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Tamiya F-14B, 1/48. The Jolly Rogers.

July 15, 2021 · in Aviation · · 27 · 5.3K

The need for speed finally hit me and I decided to work on jet subject, today its the F-14A kit modified into an F-14B of sorts. As far as I'm concerned this is among the best kits out there in the world of modelling, great details, great fit, great engineering and all in all a fun kit to build.

The Build

Why did I choose this kit? Well with DCS being released sometime last year, during the hype I decided to buy myself a kit and there was no better choice in my opinion than the Tamiya kit. With the great fit and detail promised by modern Tamiya, along with a snazzy wing fold mechanism, it blew the AMK kit out of the water in my opinion. It didn't help AMK that I'm personally not the kind of modeller that benefits from having every flap, slat, and spoiler being able to be mounted opened. The AMK kit is good for some, but for me who likes in flight models and thinks a swing wing model should have a moving swing wing it meant that I just wasn't the target audience for the AMK.

Regardless of that, looking back to where I was when I bought this kit I'm not sure I had even finished my first Tamiya Corsair, so I wasn't sure whether I wanted to make the VF-103 F-14B I wanted to or the easier option of an out of box VF-84 F-14A, hence why I got the A kit. It would have been a lot easier (and cheaper on aftermarket) to have got their F-14D and backdated it.

In the end the kit went together without flaw, filler was used but is extremely minimal and located mostly in the two halves of the nose. The fit is unsurpsingly perfect, the wing fold mechanism works great as expected, I honestly can't think of any major flaws beyond the lack of a wheels up option which sadly isn't a surprise with modern kits, and the fact that one undercarriage door isn't moulded with any detail as its meant to fold against the fuselage and be unseen when the wheels are down.

For painting I used a lot of MRPand I really enjoyed using them, so much so I've moved round the entire room to get better ventilation as they're far more toxic than the previous paints I used. The colours were great and sprayed on beautifully, I shaded a base coat of all the paints with a slightly lighter mix in the middle of the panels, a darker mix in the panel lines, followed by a base unmixed coat to tone it in and it worked great. Talking of products I'm a fan of, MIG Oilbrushers were used extensively to recreate the weathering found on some cats. This plane should really be a lot cleaner due to it being a CAG bird, but I wanted to go for something less weathered than a combat aircraft but more interesting to look at and paint than a beautifully kept plane. Oilbrushers worked really well and their colour, 'starship filth', really worked out nicely on the plane, I'll be using these products more in the future as normally I hate using oils but quite enjoyed this.

Decals were from Double Xcellent Models (no, I hadn't heard of them either), as they are the only VF-103 F-14B decals I could find as no companies offer a F-14B beyond Hasegawa who also seem to have no stock in their non-current release kits. They actually worked very well, but that's no surprise as their are Cartograf. HGW decals were used for the missiles, these are the removable film kind which I hated using on a precious F4U-4 build. I had some issues here, but found that the less decal solution I used especially after the initial Micro-Set was applied the better the result was. I wouldn't say I prefer these decals over normal decals, and I still think Eduard's removable film decals work better, but I'm willing to give them a second chance on another kit.

For a base I used my standard method of an acrylic base, with a brass rod in it. More often I use acrylic rods nowadays, but this is quite a heavy kit and could use with the extra support. A hole was drilled right into one of the holes for the AIM-7 Sparrow's fin, and the rod was bent with plyers to give the Tomcat an angle as if it was climbing using all the thrust those engines give it, though as you can see it can give it some interesting poses depending on the position of the jet.

The Issues

The biggest problem I had with this build was the good ol' motivation running out. In the end I chose this kit more because I felt I should try something different and to clear a big box from the stash, at the time I bought it I wanted to build it but a year and a bit later I wasn't quite there. During my previous Spitfire builds I started to develop a motivation to do the Tomcat, but by the end of those builds I wanted to stick with WWII. I'm glad for this reason I built Tamiya, as there were several times I praised the kit for going together so well as if it was the more problematic AMK kit I'd probably have moved on to something else.

This is also far from a definitive F-14B, there's a few issues and some missing lumps and bumps. As stated a smart person would use the Super Tomcat as a base for the modifications but I am not a smart man in this case.

There were several times I wanted to put the kit down and do another project, but I knew this would cause issues in the future as well as maybe causing the kit to just sit unfinished for a ridiculous amount of time after I'd put it down. So I pushed through, and I'm very happy with the result. Perhaps the lesson to take away is to build what you want to build, not build from the stash if you'd rather build something else.

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

The Tamiya Tomcat is one of the best kits I've ever built, whilst I think Eduard has eclipsed Tamiya on details these days they sure have a long way to go before they get near to the level of engineering and quality Tamiya have. This Tomcat, alongside their P-38G both stand out as two expertly designed kits that I thoroughly recommend. I can't criticise a kit based on 'I would rather build a vintage warbird at the time', but I can praise a kit for being enjoyable to work with despite a lack of motivation. I'm very curious what their F-4 Phantom release this year offers as I'm sure that kit will only build upon the fantastic design we've always seen Tamiya have, but especially show in the last 10-15 years.

If you're a jet jockey, or a novice in the world of propeller-less aircraft like I am, this kit is a great choice. Despite how it may seem it really isn't a complex build due to its engineering, though some parts may get tedious (missiles, I'm looking at you). I'd highly recommend it, maybe one day I'll approach the Tomcat again as the Iranian scheme is very nice though I'm sure another WWII fighter will take priority.

Full build thread over at the Work In Progress section, see y'all in the next build.
Reader reactions:
23  Awesome

10 additional images. Click to enlarge.

27 responses

  1. Congratulations Harvey! This is one of the best Tomcats I've ever seen! The flying statue adds even more to its dramatic looks. Weathering is simply stunning!
    I also had the utmost pieasure of following your detailed thread; thanks for the ride!

  2. Amazing mate!
    It looks fantastic in flight.

  3. Professionals built, tremendous work and a beautiful rendition of the Tomcat in flight. Two thumbs up!
    Read yesterday that Tamiya is to release their F-14 A in a small vignette display it on a catapult

  4. Beautifully done, weathering is great!

    • Thank you! Far overdone for the real CAG bird, but much more fun to do than leaving it cleaner. Hopefully it's in the middle between combat jet dirty and CAG bird clean.

  5. Great work! Thank you for the very comprehensive write up. I really enjoyed hearing this model's "story." A Tomcat just looks natural in Jolly Rogers markings. Kind of like a shark mouth on a P-40.

  6. An absolutely awesome build, Harvey @scalerambush
    The build, the scheme, the weathering, everything is just perfect.
    The location where you spilled a bit is repaired perfectly, not visible anymore.
    Thanks for sharing the detailed building progress.
    Well done.

  7. Beautifully done , looks great on the stand, when I was stationed at NAS Oceana, the Jolly Rogers, VF-84 were flying F-4B's and VF-103 had F-4J's. They had a starring role in the movie Final Countdown with their F-14's.

  8. Well that certainly turned out Double Excellent!

  9. That is one great looking Tomcat.

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed following your build, Harvey, and it's great to finally see it here in headlines as well.

  11. Really a stunning presentation of an F-14. One of the best I have seen. Really a beautiful job!

  12. Very nice work, Harvey, and a highly realistic result - you could take a bit of PhotoShop magic to get rid of the base and convincingly tell people it's real.

  13. Well done, Harvey (@scalerambush). It was a pleasure following along with the build. I agree with Tom: hide the base and it would like a real plane.

  14. That looks amazing! Love the weathering - I just watched a video on Liquitex acrylic inks that are surmised to be similar to what the Oil Brushers are, and am chomping to try them. I'm also a big fan of in-flight display (only way I build), and love the sleek look of your Tomcat in its natural posture!

  15. Wow Harvey. What an incredible, realistic build. I’d love to build the F-14 and when I do I’m definitely coming bask here for some inspiration. Absolutely beautiful

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