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Building the Bombcat - The DML F-14D in 1/144th Scale


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#1 baxojayz

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Posted 31 July 2003 - 07:34 AM

SMALL SCALE AIR FORCE
by Frank C. of the Brooklyn Plastic Modelers Society, as submitted to the BPMS Bulletin

Building the Bombcat - The DML F-14D in 1/144th Scale

The F-14 Tomcat has been the US Navy’s pure fleet air defense fighter for more than 20 years.  With the retirement of the A-6 Intruder, it has now become a carrier-based strike aircraft with Paveway precision guided bombs and LANTIRN night attack capability.  I used the DML 1/144th scale F-14D to build a Bombcat of my own.  The basic F-14D kit has nice details but a mediocre fit.  While it requires no major conversion work, it provides good lessons in small-scale model construction and kit-bashing.

The DML F-14 has been issued several times with different decals and detail parts.  The F-14D kit has low-visibility markings for squadron VF-31 and the later tailpipes and nose sensors to represent the GE engines and television/infrared targeting aids of the ultimate Tomcat.  An alternate beavertail eliminates some of the bumps and nubs of the F-14A, but the rest of the kit remains unchanged with Sidewinder, Sparrow, and Phoenix air-to-air missiles, and drop tanks.

Like most Tomcat kits, the DML F-14 has movable swing wings.  I fixed these near their fully-swept, high-speed position so I could fill the ugly gaps.  The aft fuselage top and bottom sandwich the wings, and a little tube glue on the pivots allows you to fix them at the desired angle.  I dabbed white glue around the wing gloves to fill the openings but leave the impression of a gap where the wings slide in and out.  

With the big the tailpipes installed, you can see right up into the body cavity.  I plug the emptiness with two small blocks of dark gray weatherstripping foam.  

The prominent engine inlet walls are way too thick and blunt for this small scale.  Some careful filing is necessary to sharpen the walls.  Some more careful filling and sanding is needed to eliminate the seam  at the side junction under the wing and before the tail. Care must be taken to be sure the vertical tails stand up straight.

The forward fuselage contains two pilotoids.  In this scale, a swipe of dark gray paint decorates the cockpit, and a little green and white detail the flight crew.  I like to use fast-drying Apple Barrel acrylics for hand-brushing.  Once the forward fuselage is assembled and sanded, it can be glued to the aft fuselage.  The canopy was fixed with a tiny dot of tube glue on the aft edge, then when dry sealed with white glue applied all around the periphery and wiped away with a wet Q-tip.

I built my F-14D wheels-up.  While the main landing gear doors fit with only a little putty, the nosewheel doors have to be sanded flush.  I drilled a hole in  the tunnel between the air intakes to accommodate a wire base.  
The big Phoenix missile pallets under the F-14 are important to the Bombcat, but they fit poorly and require some putty and sanding.  Likewise the shoulder pylons for missiles have no good locating holes and require careful positioning.  Use drawings of the real aircraft to be sure things are lined up.

With the basic F-14 built, I needed Bombcat ordnance.  For night attack, the F-14D now uses the same LANTIRN night vision pod  found on the Air Force F-15E and F-16C.  DML included a LANTIRN pod in their A-10 kit, but the simple Warthog never used the sophisticated targeting aid.  Cutting the pod off the stub pylon gives you a perfect LANTIRN pod for the right shoulder pylon of the Bombcat.  The Sidewinder missile rail goes on the side of the LANTIRN pylon just like a standard Tomcat.

LS 1/144th scale weapons Set No. 1 has Vietnam-vintage Paveway I laser-guided 2,000 lb bombs.  The F-14D carries the 1,000 or 2,000 lb Paveway II, so I cut the bomb fins down to simulate the later fold-out fins and I added a lengthwise wedge to each bomb to simulate the adapter that holds bombs to the Phoenix pallets.  The bombs are hand-painted with Apple barrel colors, green tails and seekers and a Dove Gray center to approximate the fire-retardant coating on Navy bombs.

The Bombcat community is proud to say “No Escort Required,” so I loaded my F-14D with two 2,000 lb bombs on the belly pallets, two Sidewinders on the shoulder pylon rails, plus the LANTIRN pod on the right pylon and a Sparrow missile on the left.  Another Sparrow went into the tunnel between the engines.  

DML provides FS numbers for a three-gray tactical scheme with.  I find Tamiya acrylics the most trouble-free acrylics for airbrushing, so I used Tamiya Sky Gray, Dark Sea Gray, and Light Gray.  Color separations were masked off with small strips of paper tape.  Tamiya gloss finish can crack, so I glossed the airplane with Testors gloss for decals.

The comprehensive low-visibility VF-31 decals have Felix the Cat on a gray background.  The decals include small warning markings and stripes and are actually a little too complicated for their own good.  Most go on pretty well, but the slanted air wing number for  one side of the nose disintegrated in water and had to be replaced with almost-the-same font from a Mitsubishi F-1 kit. The Vinson markings broke and had to be retouched with a fine marking pen. Given the aggravation of replacing small markings, I suggest overcoating the decals with Squadron Film.   Overcoating the decals with Testors gloss and flat gave a nice overall appearance.

The 1/144th scale Bombcat is a handsome and timely addition to a small-scale warplane collection.

For more of Frank's work and his SMALL SCALE AIR FORCE go to:
http://members.aol.com/rotorfrank/

submitted by baxojayz

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