Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

HobbyBoss 1/48 scale F-14A Tomcat

There’s a lot of detail in this model kit, including good gear bays, a radar dish in the nose, an exposed cannon, and a full array of air-to-air weapons, including big Phoenix missiles.

Kit:No. 80366 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$99.99
HobbyBoss, from Squadron Mail Order, 877-414-0434
Fine fit and finish; multiple options
Instrument panel decals are too big; sparse direction for colors
Injection-molded, 441 parts (33 photoetched metal, 4 vinyl), decals
Grumman’s F-14 Tomcat gained a special place in history and in the hearts of many aviation buffs as an overarching symbol of American airpower. Sadly, the only place you may still see one flying is in Iran — Grumman’s last Big Cats were retired from U.S. service in 2006.

HobbyBoss’ 1/48 scale kit is well packed, with various parts — such as the weapons, wheels, and fuselage halves — in separate boxes. Further versions of the Tomcat may be in the offing, as the box contains bomb racks, BOL rails, a LANTIRN pod, and several other features found on later variants.

This particular boxing can only be built as an early Tomcat, though, with one chin pod, suitable only for early-block aircraft, and beaver-tail parts that do not include the ECM fairing found on later jets. Including these items would have multiplied the airframes possible. Color schemes for two jets from the mid-1970s are supplied; both the VF-41 Black Aces and VF-132 Swordsmen schemes are gloss light gull gray over gloss white.

Construction presents few problems, as fit is good and requires very little filler. The cockpit is nicely detailed, even if the instrument panels are a bit clunky. Decals for the instrument panels are much too big, though. The seats include photoetched-metal brass straps and crisply molded detail. Color callouts are a little sparse; you’ll need more research.

Instructions are for the undercarriage legs to be assembled into the wheel bay “boxes,” then mounted in the fuselage. To avoid breaking them during the build, I installed them only after painting and decals. I had to shorten the locating pins, but that did not affect the alignment or strength of the undercarriage. Squeezing the nose leg into place was a little tricky but doable. The vinyl tires fit well.

I also modified the swing-wing pivot mounts. HobbyBoss would have you pin the wings in place, then mount the upper fuselage half. But this would make painting and handling trickier. You could finish the wings before installation, but there are seams to fill where the fuselage joins the wings, and painting, too. I cut a portion of the wing mount “doughnut” so I could slide the wings onto their pivot pins later.

Building options are plentiful: wings can be posed at any sweep angle; there are two wing bladders provided for either swept or forward swept positions; the in-flight refueling probe can be open or closed; you could model a later jet with the main IFR probe door removed; and a fairly complete Vulcan 20mm cannon is included, with separate doors. Detail on the engine exteriors won’t be visible on the finished model, so I left these pieces off. You can elevate the nose cone to show off the AWG-9 radar. Adding the dipoles to the radar dish was a challenge; next time I will use something other than super glue and leave a little of the fret on the photoetched metal for a better attachment.

Don’t forget to weight the nose, particularly with the wings swept back — it will sit on its tail! There is ample room behind the forward bulkhead for several large fishing sinkers.

I airbrushed Tamiya TS-26 pure white decanted from the spray can and thinned with Tamiya lacquer thinner. The light gray is Testors 36440, with the gloss finish coming from Tamiya gloss lacquer, again decanted, thinned, and airbrushed. The gloss black is also Tamiya spray.

The kit-supplied decals behaved well indeed! The quantity is daunting — one Phoenix missile has about a dozen decals! I spent several long nights with hundreds of small decals.

HobbyBoss has outdone itself — good fit and detail, many options, and the promise of more versions to come. A few more parts would have greatly multiplied the kit’s possibilities, but that is not much to complain about. I enjoyed every minute of building it, and I plan on adding another one (or two) to my stash!
Read and share your comments on this article

Want to leave a comment?

Only registered members of are allowed to leave comments. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.


Essential finishing techniques for scale modelers.
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.