The F-14 Tomcat will likely be the greatest fleet defender known by my generation. Although retired now, the F-14 was ready from the start to carry an array of weapons including the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-54 Phoenix (the ultimate missile of the US arsenal, which is also now retired), various bombs, and an internal 20mm Vulcan cannon. The 64 foot, 1.5 inch long wings could be swept to 38 feet, 2.5 inches or overswept for storage to 33 feet 3.5 inches. The plane was 62 feet, 8 inches long and 16 feet tall weighing 40,104 pounds empty, and 74,349 pounds at maximum takeoff weight. Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney TF-30-P414A turbofans (with 20,900 pounds of thrust each), the F-14A never reached its full potential, as the D-model would later with General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofan engines (with 23,500 pounds of thrust each).
Serving aboard two aircraft carriers during my time in the US Navy, I had the privilege of viewing Tomcats from several different squadrons, especially as a member of the original crew on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) as different air wings were briefly attached during our early sea trials. The first carrier trials of the F-14D also took place on this ship, and I was fortunate enough to view the most impressive flight display I have ever seen as the pilot demonstrated the capabilities of the “new” breed of cat.
This new release from Scale Aircraft Conversions (SAC) is the second item that I have worked with from that company, although they have been in business for several years. The beauty of the white metal they use for their gear is that it will hold up to the weight of larger aircraft, and the metal is soft enough to allow for some final positioning if that is needed to square up the gear. Scale Aircraft Conversions does not use lead in their white metal mix, so the builder does not have to be concerned with that. In looking at the company’s web site, the intent is to provide stronger landing gear, not to make better looking gear if what’s in the kit is already accurate.
There are no directions contained within the set, you simply swap out the kit-provided plastic parts with the new white metal items. I purchased the HobbyBoss F-14A Tomcat kit (80276) for two reasons, the first being that I did not have one in my stash (the Tomcat is one of very few subjects that I have multiple versions of), and because I got a deal on the kit. This is not a review of the HobbyBoss kit, but I will plug it and mention that the detail is very crisp, and the assembly is less complex than some other Tomcat kits available. Anyway, it is very easy to find the corresponding kit parts for the four items included in this set. The kit main gear parts are items 26 and 27, and the front gear is either item 1 (if building the gear collapsed as it is prior to launch), or item 4 for the extended gear. All of the parts are located on the “A” sprue. White metal can be cleaned like plastic with files and sanding sticks, or your abrasive of choice. Although paint will adhere to white metal alone, it is recommended that you prime the parts first, and the parts will need to be installed with your favorite CA.
For my hits of this landing gear set, I will start by mentioning that it really will be nice to have a heavier duty landing gear beneath my HobbyBoss F-14 (although I think the gear would also fit on some other releases as well), especially as some nose weight is needed to set a Tomcat properly. The folks at SAC do a nice job with their level of detail, as it can be challenging to get reasonably crisp detail in white metal. All of the items in this set are clean, and will provide no issue with being installed into their proper places on the HobbyBoss kit. For this review, I photographed the SAC parts next to the items that they will replace in the HobbyBoss kit to allow the reader (and potential buyer) to see how they vary.
My only miss with this item is that the packaging states that the gear is for the F-4 Tomcat. Scale Aircraft Conversions realized the mistake when this was sent for review, and I have been told that this has been corrected since that time. Although not a miss, two of the parts came out of the container with slightly bent items, but these can be easily straightened.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend this landing gear set from Scale Aircraft Conversions to anyone owning the HobbyBoss F-14A or other variants available by them. The white metal will provide a stronger base for the aircraft to rest upon for years of viewing enjoyment. The ease of installation should make the set user-friendly for nearly any model builder wanting to add landing gear with improved strength to his project.
I would like to thank the folks at Scale Aircraft Conversions for providing this detail set to the IPMS for review, to Steve Collins, who runs the review corps, for selecting me to assess this detail set, and to you for taking the time to read my comments.