Tamiya F14B, VF-103 CAG Bird
Greetings folks, another day another built. After dusting myself off from the recent Spitfire builds, cleaning the desk, and giving myself a days break the itch to build immediately returned. After much internal debate between whether I should build a Corsair or F-14 from the stash, or buy a Hurricane and make that I’ve decide to finally work on this Tamiya F-14 I’ve had sitting around for a while. In the time I’ve had it I’ve been buying a plethora of aftermarket goodies for it, in the hope of building an F-14B
Why a F-14B?
I’ve mentioned before I have a long term goal of building one of every version of the Corsair, but I also have a mini-goal of building one aircraft from each of the Jolly Roger squadrons. Naturally VF-17 gets a Corsair, but for VF-84 I’d stupid if I wouldn’t build a phantastic Phantom as the representation. This leaves VF-103 as either being the F-14B or F/A-18 Hornet. In my humble opinion, the Cat > Bug, so the choice was easy.
Now, I’m not expert on the Tomcat, but I think it’s a great plane. My area of interest is largely WWII aviation but even so I don’t think there is a plane that is as cool as the Tomcat and that’s probably down to a few famous movies. So for this build don’t consider this an in-depth, rivet counter conversion, but I will try my best to get the obvious differences out of the way.
For this build I chose on the Tamiya F-14A, the reasons are simple.
1. I’m admittedly a Tamiya fanboy.
2. The best kits on the market are either an F-14A or D, and the AMK F-14D didn’t appeal to me due to the cost, fit issues, and having lots of extra parts I don’t care for.
3. Why would I want to build a swing wing plane, without a swing wing?! That’s the major reason I chose this over the AMK static design.
As for choosing the A over the D, I decided that the A would be best as a lot of Bs were converted/upgraded from As and if they could do it in real life I can probably do it on a kit. Also, if I wanted to I could always just build the F-14A VF-84 Jolly Roger included in the kit.
The kit itself came out in 2016 and looks to be a typical Tamiya kit, beautiful details and fit, a well-engineered but not overly complicated design, with all the extras you’d want in the form of enough weaponry for various loadouts and two pilots for those like me wishing to add some sense of scale. As with most of my builds this kit will be done wheels up, and as with all tamiya kits since the 80s this will have be modified as the kit doesn’t come with a wheels up option. That being said generally Tamiya isn’t too hard to work with in this regard.
This kit will be my first kit that isn’t a propeller plane since my 2 ever model after re-entering the hobby, which was a Revell F-105 which I hated and almost made me quit the hobby as I really did bite off more than I could chew. I’m feeling much more confident with this kit, but it’s a far cry from the 3-4 sprues I’m normally accustomed to with a Warbird. For those curious, here’s all the sprues included. Enough plastic to make a good number of my beloved Tamiya Corsairs I’m sure.
A conversion can’t be done without some sort of aftermarket, for this we have a decent few bits, these are:
Eduard’s F-14D Brassin engine nozzles, they aren’t a perfect for the kit being slightly smaller than the F-14As nozzles, but I’m sure I can get them to fit. This is one of the major differences between the A and B as they had different engines.
An Aries F-14B style chin pod, the second major difference between the versions.
Some aftermarket decals for the F-14B, not cheap I’m afraid.
Some brass pitot/AoA tubes, why not?
And of course, the ever useful Eduard canopy masks.
And, this time I want try and magnetise some/all of the weaponry. I’ve never done this before but I’ll give it a go.
Goals and Problems
Some builds I like to do for fun, often applying as much knowledge as I’ve learnt as possible which was really what the Spitfires were. In most builds I like to learn or try one new thing. For the F-14B this will be the first time working with any resin beyond the occasional wheel, and hopefully will build up some confidence to work with much more resin intensive projects in the future. I’m also going to be working on a different subject to normal, and a different colour palette to normal. One challenge will be replicating the weathering that can be found on a plane over twice the size of a WWII fighter, with a service life considerably longer than any individual aircraft during the War was expected to survive. I could go basic and just make it a nice shiny CAG bird, but a bit of weathering will make it look far more interesting.
As with most kits, step 1 of 45 is to begin work the cockpit. A few parts were glued into the ‘tub’, but a majority of parts were removed from the sprue and recieved an XF-2 base followed by an XF-19 Sky Grey for the interior colour. Typically I can’t be bothered to use a fancy and smelly primer for the internals, XF-2 black is what I used to prime with in the past and continue to do so for internal and small parts. With the grey put down, next step will be the good old fashioned hair on a stick, otherwise known as an airless airbrush, or simply a brush to paint on the finer details. The black panels will painted such, followed by each of the many buttons in a white, grey and silver where required. For this model I’ll be using the DCS F-14B module for a lot of references, my logic is that the sim has such an amazing replication of a Tomcat and that I’m sure a team of researchers can research more than I can. It also helps see the nooks and crannies of a cockpit that would otherwise be hard to see in a photo.
I also put together some random parts, notably the wing sweep mechanism as I wanted to see how it works. The thing about this build as it seems like several sub assemblies turn into a final kit, the nose, the body, the wings, and the weaponry. Expect some jumping about in the instructions as paint and glue dries on each part.
Regardless, this is shaping up to be a nice build so far. I already feel a lot more enjoyment building these first steps than expected, as I was so close to choosing another kit. Stay tuned for more updates soon, though I reckon painting the cockpit will take a few nights!