Wednesday, August 26

Review: FineMolds 1/72 F-14D Tomcat / Model Graphix combo kit – Part 4

The parts of the puzzle are complete - Gary can now set off with his build of the excellent Finemolds F-14D Tomcat in 72nd scale. This model is being delivered thru the unusual method of a monthly release in a supplement with Model Graphix magazine. Let's look at the lats pieces in depth before Gary takes off with his build...

Model Graphix September 2015 Magazine Kit 1/72 F-14D Tomcat vol.3
by Model Graphix
152 pages.
Code: MDGMAG1509
Price: ¥2,130/ USD $17.17/ €15.72
Available from Hobby Link Japan

Other parts of this review series:
Part 1 Modelgraphix & F-14 (engine nose & cockpit)
Part 2 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Fuselage)
Part 3 SA Magazine & F-14 (stores + Modelkasten Pilots)
Part 4 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Wings & Stores)

Part 5 Gary’s finished build gallery of Finemolds 72nd scale Tomcat

Part I of the build of this kit
Part II of the build of this kit
Part III of the build of this kit
Part IV of the build of this kit
Part V of the build of this kit

Today we complete our multi-part review of the brand new tooled F-14D Tomcat in 1/72 from FineMolds with the release of part 3 which is co-packaged with the September 2015 issue of Model Graphix magazine.

If you missed our reviews of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this release I suggest you take the time to read them and come back and join us for this final Part 4.
As a reminder the new FineMolds F-14D kit has been split across three issues of the Japanese Model Graphix magazine and these are now all available for purchase via HLJ (July, August & September). An optional F-14 weapons sprue (also made by FineMolds) designed for this kit has also been included in the July (7) issue of SA Scale Aviation magazine.
So let’s get down to business. In this review of the final sprues I’m going to take a detailed look at what we get with the September (09) 2015 issue of ModelGraphix.
Just like the previous parts, this latest installment is shipped with the magazine in a thin sturdy cardboard box that contains 3 sprues. The kit has been broken down and supplied in such a way to allow builders to work on each sub assembly while waiting for the next installment.

Once again the sprues are carefully packaged in their own bags for protection in transit. 
The assembly instructions are provided as pages in the magazine itself (in English too). This third installment contains the sprues that have parts for the wings, vertical and horizontal tailplanes, external fuel tanks and all the assorted mounting pylons and adapters used on the F-14. Also included is the clear sprue containing the canopy and windscreen.

Assembly of Part 3 begins with the wings, which as you can see do not offer the option of lowered flaps. This is perhaps a little surprising given the level of detail that FineMolds has gone to with the rest of this kit but not the end of the world as far as I am concerned. Now is also the time to decide which fuselage spine you will be using, the open (detailed) or closed option. I also think its curious that FineMolds provides separate parts for the wing glove vanes (parts E26, E27) as the D (and B) model Tomcats had these vanes deleted entirely. Perhaps this is a hint of things to come from FineMolds with an A kit coming in the future??
When you are ready to click the wings into place with the fuselage you need to make a choice on swept or extended which you pretty much can’t change after the fact. This is because you need to install the appropriate option for the over-wing fairing airbag in its inflated (F3, F4 extended wing) or deflated (F9,F10 swept wing). Assembly now continues with the undercarriage, nose sensor pod. Note that all these parts were supplied in Parts 1 & 2 but are only now assembled and attached to the model.
The final stage of assembly of the airframe is to decide what maintenance panels you will have open, including the radome and canopy. Step 26 includes a support stand (presumably for under the tail) but I think adding some weight to the nose will do just as well.
The very last task, once you decide you weapon and stores lead-out is to assemble the correct pylons and adapters and attach these to the appropriate station on the aircraft. Remember that weapons (and pods) were supplied in the Scale Aviation SA magazine reviewed previously here
So that’s the assembly instructions (which none of you ever follow verbatim anyway, right ?) Let’s now turn our attention to the actual plastic we get with Part 3. Sprue F contains the parts we need for the wings, vertical and horizontal tails and the two options (inflated and deflated) for the over-wing fairing airbags.
Most of the F-14's structure is made of aluminium, a light-weight metal. Its strength and fatigue characteristics are more than sufficient for most of the structure. Only structural parts such as wings, wing box, and landing gear which are commonly placed under heavy loads are made of steel or titanium. (source:

FineMolds has faithfully reproduced the F-14 wing including flaps, slats and spoilers. 
Surface detail is excellent and those panel lines should stand out nicely under a suitable wash.
The all-moving horizontal tail is hinged in the center just like the real thing. This will allow the modeler to easily position the tails as needed.
Here we see the lower surface detail of the wing. Note the delicate hinge detail on the trailing edge. 
To allow the modeler to display the Tomcat with wings swept or extended FineMolds have provide alternate parts for the over-wing fairing airbags. Here we see the parts for the airbags in the inflated state for when the wings are extended. 
When the wings are swept back against the fuselage the airbags automatically deflate to accommodate the wings as the move back over the fuselage.
Here we see the bottom of the upper wing. The lower insert for the wing does not include the flaps, these being integral to the upper wing as seen here. 
A close up of the wing tip detail. Navigation and formation (slime) lights are present on the very tip of the wing. The interior detail of these lights are provided as a decal in the kit. 
Sprue G is the final plastic sprue to form part of this kit. This sprue is reserved for the external stores such as fuel tanks, weapon and general purpose pylons. 
The AIM-54 missile rail was originally designed to carry only the Phoenix missile. The F-14A/B use the LAU-93 missile launcher, whilst the F-14D uses the LAU-132 which is little different except for a few electronics upgrades. When not carrying the AIM-54 the rail can be equipped with different adapters to carry numerous weapons and pods, including:

•         Various bombracks
•         AN/ALQ-167 ECM Pod
•         Expanded Chaff Adapter
•         CNU-188 Baggage Container
•         TARPS (DI) pod

Even in the air-to-ground configuration the F-14 is still equipped with the Phoenix fairings, since these fairings help disrupt the air flow and allow a cleaner separation for air-to-ground stores. (source: 
Two under-engine nacelle mount points are provided for external fuel drop tanks carrying an additional 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) of fuel. The external tanks are provided in the kit as two halves, top and bottom.

The attention to detail by Finemolds is consistent across the whole kit with even the pylons sporting fine surface detail.  Seen here in extreme close up is Part 14 which forms the left half of the AIM-54 adapter when used with the general purpose wing glove pylon (1B or 8B)
Parts G16 & G17 form the LAU-92 adapter designed for use with the AIM-7 Sparrow when it is fitted to the shoulder stations 1B and 8B.
This photo of a VF-1 Wolfpack F-14 shows the Sparrow & its LAU-92 adapter mounted on station 8B with an empty LAU-7 launch rail on station 8A.
Part G1, G2, G3 and G4 assemble into the two (left and right) general purpose pylons which are located under the Tomcats wing glove. There are two stations (1A+1B and 8A+8B) on each pylon. The horizontal station is reserved for AIM-9 or TACTS. The vertical station can be configured to carry a larger range of stores and weapons and each has a purpose built adapter.
This photo shows to good effect the general purpose pylon seen from the rear. The two stations (vertical and horizontal) are clearly evident.
Sprue H finishes off our tour of the Finemolds F-14D sprues. This small sprue contains the main canopy, windshield and assorted smaller clear parts. As can be seen the parts are clear and free from blemishes. A fine moulding seam is present along the top of the canopy and this will need to be sanded out. The canopy framing is very sharp and should make masking a simple task.
We have now covered off all the plastic sprues provided in Part 3 of the new FineMolds F-14D kit which comes co-bundled with the September 09 issue of Model Graphix magazine.
As mentioned before, the magazine is written in Japanese but it’s also full of interesting builds and reviews of all manner of scale modeling subjects. The September issue is no exception with loads of goodies related to the F-14 kit and some other sci-fi and Gundam related material.
One article that caught my eye was a conversion set by ModelKasten which is designed to backdate your F-14D to an F-14B.  From the picture here it looks to contain replacement IP’s, ejection seats and chin pods. I’m not sure of the availability of this set as it does not appear on HLJ at the time writing.
Even if Star Wars or Gundam is not your thing you have to appreciate the skill evident in these models.

So that’s a wrap for the box review of the new 1/72 FineMolds F-14D. Next up will be my build where I’ll finally start getting the glue and paint out and see what’s really what with this kit :-)

Gary Wickham

Other parts of this review series:
Part 1 Modelgraphix & F-14 (engine nose & cockpit)
Part 2 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Fuselage)
Part 3 SA Magazine & F-14 (stores + Modelkasten Pilots)
Part 4 Modelgraphix & F-14 (Wings & Stores)

Part 5 Gary’s finished build gallery of Finemolds 72nd scale Tomcat

Part I of the build of this kit
Part II of the build of this kit
Part III of the build of this kit
Part IV of the build of this kit
Part V of the build of this kit

Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for sending us the magazine/ model kit combo – look for the other parts of this magazine very soon and then a full build of this exciting new little kit.