The first time I walked up to an F-14 on the assembly line at Grumman’s Calverton Operations Plant 6 is something I will never forget. Among my first impressions were the sheer complexity of the airframe, how good the Tomcat looked even in pieces, and how the step-by-step process of aircraft assembly paralleled that of a really complex model airplane. I recall how one of the early F-14Ds nearing final assembly check-out had the entire spine of the jet open, and there was a lot of hardware just under the skin – multiple control linkages, extensive wire and cable bundles, pipes, a few pumps, and all the way aft, the F-14’s emergency hydraulic generator. The spine would occasionally be opened up during the more in-depth maintenance cycles for operational Tomcats or when something in there broke.
Kazan Model Dynamics has recently been making waves with their release of a 1:48 scale aftermarket resin and photoetched metal detail set for the interior of the F-14’s spine, from just aft of the aft canopy edge all the way down into the boat tail. This set is designed for use in the 1:48 scale Hasegawa F-14, since it was under development before the Tamiya Tomcat was released in the late summer of 2016.
This set (KAZ005HAS – F-14A/B/D Tomcat Spine Detail Set; MSRP: $59.99) contains 55 cast resin parts and 22 photoetched metal parts on a single fret. The spine interior features the spine floor, sidewalls, the individual control linkages, individual pipes, prominent cable bundles, and various hardware, all of which are provided as cast resin details. Each of the removed panels themselves are also cast resin parts with interior and exterior details. The photoetched parts mostly consist of the panel frames but also feature a few other detail elements. In addition to the spine detail, this detail set contains the left and right electronics bays that resided underneath the top of the intake walkways.
I’ve worked with aftermarket superdetail parts for almost 30 years and this has got to be both one of the more exciting and well done sets I’ve seen in a long time. It provides an awesome opportunity to open up your Hasegawa F-14. You’ll be able to show off like never before some really distinctive and impressive details and highlight some of the complex mechanics of the venerable Tomcat. It’s also unique. No one has ever done something like this before, and that adds even more appeal – it’s not just another engine set or aftermarket cockpit. It will make your build that more notable.
There are many highlights to this set. First, the quality of the parts design, resin casting, and PE metal parts are equally excellent. It’s up there with Eduard. Kazan might be a new manufacturer, but their standards are as high as their execution. These parts are all flawless and richly detailed. There are ribs, bulkheads, wires, raised rivets and fasteners, recessed rivets and fasteners, clamps on pipes, clips on wire bundles, and so forth. The tricky, tapered cylinder-shaped ends of the control rods looks perfect. This all shows an attention to detail that is really outstanding. Other subtle features demonstrate this, too, such as the raised fasteners on the separate spine panels. They’re raised because that’s how they sit above the surface of the panel when they are loose and the panel is off.
Moreover, I’ve gone through my F-14 references and photos and I am deeply impressed with the accuracy in this set. I really cannot identify a single inaccuracy, error, or technical oversight. And I’ve studied this closely. There are various small wires and cable bundles throughout the spine that I would argue have been omitted, but those are indeed best made and added by the scale modeler themselves from fine gauge wire.
This detail set is not for novices. It is complex, requires a good deal of surgery to the base kit, and the parts prep will take some time. To me, I think the most challenging item here is freeing the control rods from their casting blocks. Finesse and slow deliberateness with a brand new No. 11 blade will be involved in my approach.
The instructions are excellent – very well detailed, clearly written, and wonderfully illustrated in color. Also, Kazan Model Dynamics has an outstanding tutorial and guide to the assembly of this set at their website: https://www.kazanmodeldynamics.com/f-14_spine_article.html. For further reference, see the photos on page 140 of Uncovering the Grumman F-14A/B/D Tomcat by Danny Coremans (2006).
As noted, this set is designed to fit the 1:48 scale Hasegawa Tomcat of which there are many diverse releases since the late 1980s. Of course, the Tamiya kit has transcended the Hasegawa F-14 in a lot of ways including avoiding the many tricky and awkward fits of the Hasegawa kit. Yet, the Hasegawa kit is still good and overall quite accurate. I unreservedly recommend Dave Aungst’s series of articles over at HyperScale to help you with the quirks of the kit: http://www.hyperscale.com/features/2001/f14constructiondwa_3.htm.
As the spine hardware was unchanged across all F-14 variants, this set is good for any F-14A, B, or D. Some of us will be tempted to see if this set could also work in the Tamiya F-14. I say experiment at your own risk, but if the photoetched metal airframe panel frames are any indication of basic size, shape, and area similarities, this set could work on the Tamiya F-14. They lay down almost perfectly on the panel lines of the Tamiya fuselage…
Two items of note: one of the spine panels features the GPS dome antenna. Keep an eye out then on the date of the F-14 you’re building. This was a late-life addition to the F-14, and if yours predates the GPS antenna mod, just sand it off. Also, one of my panels was a little warped, but straightening that out under a little hot water should do the trick.
Sincere thanks are owed to John Bubak at Kazan Model Dynamics for the review sample. You visit them on the web at https://www.kazanmodeldynamics.com where you order this set directly, follow their blog, and read the aforementioned article on building the spine set.
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale