Witty Wings 1/72 F14A Tomcat, VF-41 Black Aces

The bulk of my own die-cast model collection rest with military vehicles and aircraft.  I was pleased therefore when I got to see my first example of a 1:72 model by Witty Wings, and it is this one, an F14A Tomcat from the Black Aces, VF-41, aircraft AJ-107.  I can say I have been instantly impressed but more on the model itself in a moment.

The F14 was the first of the US 'teen' series of aircraft, whose design followed on from the US military experience during the Vietnam war.  Experience had shown that while a single, multi-role aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom was not a bad idea, it still left some gaps in the US military capability.  So a new series of designs came into being, and the US Navy were the first to benefit in the form of the F14A Tomcat.  Tomcat was large for carrier operations, but with a swing wing that meant it didn't have the need or ability to fold the wings for on-board stowage it proved itself over many years of service.  The first examples operated from the USS Enterprise in 1974, and the Tomcat was only withdrawn from operations in 2006, some 28 years later.  It also went back to including a gun within the airframe, the 20mm M-61 Vulcan cannon, reversing the idea that only missiles were needed.  Air to air combat experience in Vietnam had proved the need for it.

I remember I saw my first one at International Air Tattoo in the hot summer of 1976, while still held at RAF Greenham Common.  I will always remember it for being about 2/3 of the way down the runway and when the F14 sat at the far end of the runway, the engines spooled up, the brakes released and she started down the runway.  It never got as far as me.  At about the half-way point the pilot lifted the nose, got the wheels off the deck and pointed the nose straight up and 'went ballistic'.  In a cloudless blue sky I watched and marvelled at seeing the Tomcat just climb vertically into the sky.  I was impressed, and have been so by the F14 ever since.

It soon got movie exposure in the film 'Final Countdown', with Martin Sheen and Kirk Douglas, along with the USS Enterprise.  The plot was a bit contrived as the carrier went back in time to December 6 1941, but the film showing a pair of F14s over-flying a small motor cruiser whose occupants had to watch these large jets, flying at speed over their heads, machines that they had not even dreamt of at the time.  As for when the same pair fly between a pair of Japanese Zeros, well for that I'll let you imagine it, or of course dig out the film on a DVD.  From that film alone I really must find the Witty Wings model of the VF-84 Jolly Rogers markings.  That of course was later followed by 'Top Gun', the Tom Cruise film that thrilled many of us I am sure, and one that earned the Tomcat a special place in Hollywood history.

I have already mentioned that the F14A was armed with an internal M-61 Vulcan cannon.  On the hardpoints beneath the fuselage it was the one aircraft to carry the large Hughes Phoenix air to air missile,  one with a range in excess of 100 miles.  In one experiment, 6 were fired from an F14 within very short periods between them, against 6 separate targets.  Four were hits.  Other missiles usually carried were the AIM-7 Sparrow and the AIM-9 Sidewinder.  Some 479 F14As were built and delivered to the US Navy.  They were used operationally during Desert Storm in 1991.  Today the only operational combat machines remain in the service of the Iranian Air Force, from a batch supplied to them by the US when the 2 countries were still on friendly terms.

Now to turn to the model from Witty Wings.  Beautifully packaged in a smart dark blue box, the aircraft in securely held in the main plastic tray, while another inside the box lid holds all the under-wing stores to be fitted into place.  You have a choice of fitting the landing gear doors closed, for an in-flight display, or open doors and gear down for one on the ground.  That is my preferred option.  The main wings do swing forward, and the tail planes move as well.  On the twin the tail, the rudders can be moved, as can the air-brakes both above and below the rear fuselage, along with the arrestor hook.  The cockpit canopy can also be opened or closed.  As for the stores, you have electronic countermeasure pods, a couple of sidewinders, a pair of Sparrows, two fuel tanks and then 4 Phoenix under the centre section.  Colours and markings are beautifully done, including the stenciling on the Phoenix.  The whole thing feels solid, and the movable control surfaces which are included are neatly done.  Scale wise it is good, and just capture the look of the Tomcat a treat, along with the under-wing stores.  All you need to set this one off would be a carrier deck base to stand it on.

If you haven't seen one of the Witty Wings models before as I hadn't, I hope the set of photos I have included below will give a good idea of how much I like this one, and why.

Like this? It is available in our Modelenium store - here