Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Three years ago today, the twin-engine F-14 Tomcat finally left service in the US Navy, after being the prime air-superiority fighter since September 1974 - 32 years of continuous service. The Tomcat had no real carrier-based combat rivals and, with a top speed of Mach 2.3-plus, was the ‘Top Cat’ of navy aviation throughout its service life. The multi-missile (Phoenix, Sparrow and Sidewinder) weapon load, backed up with a Vulcan cannon, kept it ahead of the pack and - though it was no dogfighter - the swing-wings and ‘centre-pancake’ fuselage design meant that it had good turning ability when needed. In all, 712 Tomcats were built.

In the model word, manufacturers have churned out F-14s for three decades, and the ones on the market today are probably the best ever. Heading the pack seems to be the complex Hasegawa 1:48 kit, though the Italeri F-14A Tomcat-Plus to the same scale is cheaper, and a careful build can result in a very impressive model. If you want some fun, it’s back to Hasegawa, with its cute little Egg Plane kit - we love EPs at SMN, and think no shelf should be without one.

Kits are available in model stores and online.

View Hasegawa 1:48 F-14 here, Egg Plane here, and Italeri F-14 here.