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DECAL SHEET REVIEW


Furball Aero-Design 48-053 Bombcat Weapons Set
1:48 Scale



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The Grumman F-14 Tomcat started out life as a long-range fleet defense interceptor, armed with the famous the AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder, and an internal M61 20mm cannon. For scale modelers, the stores configuration was certainly simple. The retirement of the A-6 Intruder in 1997 represented a major gap in strike capability for the U.S. Navy.  The decision was made to bring out the dormant air-to-ground potential that existed in the F-14 since its earliest days.  At least one early Grumman prototype flew with racks brimming with Mk. 82 bombs. The F-14D PDU (Pre-Deployment Update) program in 1992 validated a stores configuration with four MK.84s fitted to BRU-32 adaptors fitted Phoenix missile pallets and a pair of AGM-88 HARMs on the glove pylons. While the F-14 never became a SAM hunter, it’s air-to-ground capability really burgeoned by the mid-1990s with the LANTIRN targeting pod (the AN/AAQ-25 FLIR/laser designator pod originally developed for the F-15E) cleared for flight on the F-14.

Tomcats, by then quite informally nicknamed “Bombcats,” demonstrated a tremendous flexibility, range, and firepower beginning in Operation ALLIED FORCE over Kosovo.  Along with the B-2 Spirit, it was the F-14 that led the charge into Afghanistan in 2001, as they had the greatest range and greatest precision strike capability of anything in-theater.  In 2003, F-14s participated widely in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. A special land-based detachment of five jets from VF-154 were tasked as forward air controllers and close air support for Special Forces operators, and garnered the highest praise from the elite operators on the ground.  The F-14 was a great fighter, and in its “Bombcat” incarnation, the F-14 shaped the course of conflicts in ways that it could not have done previously as a pure fleet defense interceptor.
           
In this 1:48 scale decal sheet, Furball Aero-Design provides a comprehensive decal sheet for F-14 munitions that were carried during the “Bombcat” era.  Furball literally covers everything in the F-14’s air-to-air and air-to-ground inventory from the mid-1990s onward. These decals cover:

This is a very useful decal sheet as it provides definitive and accurate markings for F-14 munitions.  Decals for alternate paint schemes are provided for most of the air-to-ground ordnance including for inert training rounds.  I find that to be a really neat touch.  Do know that the number of decals for each type of munition vary, as there’s markings for four AIM-54s, four CATM-54s, eight Sidewinder rounds, four GBU-10s, six GBU-12, two TARPS pods and two AN/AAQ-25 pods, and so forth.

The quality of the decal design is top-notch, and the printing by Cartograph is impeccable. Beyond the gorgeous printing, it’s the attention to little details that impress, such as the NavAir stenciling on the bombs. There is one small accuracy error: the SERNO (serial numbers) on the AIM-54s and CATM-54s are identical to each type and are repeated.  Every single AIM-54 had a different SERNO stenciled on the guidance section of the missile.  The number variations held pretty important meaning: the unique SERNO was tied to a unique frequency that the F-14’s fire control system used to talk to and guide a Phoenix missile to a target.  As an example, if two missiles had the same SERNO, it would not matter if you simultaneously acquired and shot the missiles against two radar contacts. If they shared the same frequency, they would improperly guide to only one shared target.     

Many thanks to Furball Aero-Design for the review sample, and thanks to Jim Rotramel and Gerry Whiteside for the enlightening discussion on AIM-54 serial numbers.

You can find Fubrall Aero-Design on the web at http://www.furballaero-design.com/default.asp and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FurballAeroDesign/?fref=ts

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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Just Released!

JET FIGHTERS
OF THE U. S. NAVY AND MARINE CORPS
PART 1: THE FIRST TEN YEARS
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Detail & Scale Special Edition Books

U. S. Navy and Marine Carrier-Based Aircraft of World War II
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Attack on Pearl Harbor, Japan Awakens a Sleeping Giant

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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 1: Atlantic
Coast Squadrons
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Colors & Markings of the F-102
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Colors & Markings of U. S. Navy
F-14 Tomcats,
Part 2: Pacific
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