A real airplane, in many ways, is just like a model kit that builds up out of many intricate parts. At least, that was the thought that ran through my mind when I first walked up to an F-14 on the assembly line at Grumman’s Calverton Operations Plant 6. I recall how one of the jets 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 more in-depth maintenance cycles for operational Tomcats or when something broke.
Kazan Model Dynamics has been making waves with their release of several 1:48 scale aftermarket resin and photoetched metal detail sets. These include sets for the interior of the F-14’s spine, forward avionics boxes, and landing gear (reviews of which can be read HERE). Kazan’s first F-14 Spine Set was designed for use in the 1:48 scale Hasegawa F-14. Hasegawa’s Tomcats are classics, but they have aged when compared to the much more modern and easier-to-built Tamiya Tomcat in 1:48 scale. Here, we get the same spine detail set, but it is retooled and resized just a bit to fit the outstanding Tamiya F-14 family of kits.
This set (KAZ48008TAM – 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 parts feature 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, this detail set contains the left and right electronics bays that resided underneath the top of the wing glove 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 that I have seen in a long time. It provides an awesome opportunity to open up your Tamiya F-14. You’ll be able to show off as never before some really distinctive and impressive details and highlight some of the complex mechanics of the venerable Tomcat. It’s also unique. No aftermarket detail manufacturer has ever done anything like this before, and that adds even more appeal – this is 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. Kazan might be a relatively new manufacturer, but their standards are as high as their execution: it is elite. 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 look perfect. This demonstrates an outstanding attention to detail that is really admirable. Other subtle features also resonate, such as the raised fasteners on the separate spine panels. The fasteners are raised because that is how they sit above the surface of the panel when they are loose and the panel is off.
Moreover, I have gone through my F-14 references and photos and I am deeply impressed with the accuracy in this set. 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 and a little patience. To me, I think the most challenging item here is freeing the control rods from their casting blocks without breaking them. Finesse and a well-planned 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. Also, Kazan Model Dynamics has an outstanding tutorial and guide to the assembly of the Hasegawa spine set (the Tamiya set is essentially the same) 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 the spine hardware was unchanged across all F-14 variants, this set is applicable for any F-14A, B, or D. Two items of note: one of the spine panels features the GPS dome antenna. Thus, consider the timeframe of the F-14 that you are building. The GPS antenna was a late-life addition to the F-14, and if your subject predates the GPS antenna mod, just sand it off. Also, one of the spine panels was a little warped, but hot water and a little pressure fixed the issue.
Sincere thanks are owed to John Bubak at Kazan Model Dynamics for the review sample. You can 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