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How to Build Tamiya's F-14A Model
by Glenn Hoover -- CreateSpace Publishing

As scale modelers, we all know that there can be glitches, oversights, nuances, and occasionally poorly thought-out elements to the instructions included in a kit.  Often, this owes to the manufacturer compressing assembly steps into as few steps as possible motivated by the need to make instructions short and inexpensive to print.  Personally, I always consult the instructions.  At the same time, it is also necessary to re-order, modify, or alter the sequence of assembly.  Sometimes this involves leaving off an antenna or two until the very end of the project (though the instructions might have you putting that on in Step 2), or it spans more significant issues regarding fit conflicts between entire subassemblies.  Deviating from the instructions can be a smart idea but may carry elevated risks and potential headaches.  In this series of books, Glenn Hoover takes a systems engineer’s look at kit assembly.  He considers all the potential issues in kit assembly and how to solve them – so you don’t have to.  Here, let’s take a look at his book on the 1:48 scale Tamiya F-14A Tomcat.


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Glenn Hoover spent six years in the U.S. Navy followed by a 35-year career as a systems engineer in the aerospace industry.  Over that timespan, he has written hundreds of user manuals, test instructions, systems requirements, and system design documents.  He is also an avid scale modeler and brings systems thinking to the process.  This background led him to begin publishing this very helpful instructional series.

Hoover’s process begins by briefly summarizing the F-14’s history and design.  He then photographs the box and each individual sprue sheet along with any photoetched metal frets or other detail parts if they are in a kit.  Applicable aftermarket detail parts or sets are then added to the mix.  From this, Hoover carefully scrutinizes each instruction step as he builds a detailed and logical checklist illustrated by the pertinent element of the manufacturer's instructions.  Once the checklist is complete, he builds the kit, making any adjustments or further corrections as needed, from small little improvements to making sure you are aware of major fit issues or items omitted by the instructions.  Accompanying this narrative are lots of photos of the assembly process and the finished model.

Hoover’s 141 page-long F-14A volume takes on the 1:48 scale Tamiya version of the legendary Grumman fighter in the mid-1970s high visibility scheme flown by VF-2.  In this project, he includes as alternate building options four Eduard photoetched metal detail sets (#48909, 48910, 49805, and 49086 [the sets for the Tamiya Tomcat exterior, engines, interior, and STEEL seatbelts, respectively]).

Following the detailed, sprue-by-sprue look at the kit and detail set contents, Hoover gets ready in sections called “Get Organized” and “Build Flow.”  He then lists all the paints one will need (nearly all in the Tamiya line), applicable MIG and AK Interactive weathering produts, and lists the typical list of tools (and where you can get them) needed for the job at hand.

The next 111 pages of the book cover the sequential process of the modified build itself and is illustrated by a mix of construction photos and annotated versions of the kit instructions amounting to 136 figures.  The build process, including the incorporation of relevant aftermarket parts, is broken down into 1,105 individual steps falling into the sequence of

  1. Cockpit and nose gear wheel well
  2. Forward fuselage
  3. Main landing gear wells
  4. Wingsweep mechanism
  5. Intakes
  6. AIM-54 pallets
  7. Fuselage painting
  8. Engine exhausts
  9. Wings
  10. Bottom decals
  11. Landing gear
  12. Tail hook
  13. External stores/ordinance/pylons
  14. Drop tanks
  15. Top decals
  16. Vertical and horizontal stabilizers
  17. Ejection seats and pilots
  18. Canopy and boarding ladder
  19. Antennas, airbags, and sealing plates  

Squeezing over 1,100 steps into these 19 areas sounds like a lot, but all these steps are there in the kit and aftermarket instructions, and they are broken down and reorganized into these single, individual processes. 

Any incorporation of aftermarket parts (here, the Eduard PE sets mentioned earlier) is highlighted in yellow, and if you don’t have those parts, just skip the highlighted steps.  There are also some valuable reference photos of the real thing added here and there.  The book is then capped off by informative photos of Hoover’s build of the kit itself and his completed F-14A model.  I saw it firsthand in at the Richmond, Virginia, Old Dominion Open contest in early 2018, and it’s a great build.  Just one technical note:  the finished model has the nose gear launch bar in the lowered position while the nose gear is in the extended position.  With the way those parts articulated in the real thing, the launch bar could only drop down in compressed, or kneeling position.  FYI.  

Overall, I found Hoover’s build guide on Tamiya F-14A kit to be absolutely spot-on.  It’s a smooth build with virtually no problems.  I also really enjoyed the book as it demonstrates the most optimal way to incorporate all the great Eduard photoetched metal parts. 

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I really have no substantive critiques, but as an observation – the book is published in two formats - one spiral bound, and one spine-bound.  While it costs a little more, I suggest the spiral bound edition – it is FAR more workbench-friendly and can be laid flat with complete ease.

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Glen Hoover has done a great job in producing this build guide for Tamiya’s F-14A.  Hoover’s book is clear, detailed, and consistent.  The logical flow is impeccable, and it really represents the most optimal way to not just build the quarter-scale Tomcat from Tamiya, but also how to incorporate the Eduard detail parts in the best way possible.  This guide will serve builders well as a valuable companion through their build.  Looking forward, I am glad I will have this book when the time comes to start working on one of the half-dozen copies of this kit awaiting me in the stash…Tomcats forever, baby!      

Sincere thanks to Glen Hoover for the review sample.  You can find out more Glenn Hoover’s other titles and more at  This book and the others in his series are available at

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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