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military MOC: US Navy F-14A Tomcat


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#1 Ralph_S

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 09:50 AM

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I don’t quite remember when I first saw the movie Top Gun, but it was a few years after it came out in the cinema. I’ve seen it again not too long ago and came to the realisation that it is actually quite cheesy. However, the air-to-air combat scenes are top-notch and I just love seeing Tomcats.

I’ve had LEGO models of Tomcats longer than some members of Eurobricks have been alive. One of my Tomcat models was in brickjournal a few years ago and the first MOCs I posted on Eurobricks  almost five years ago were models of US Navy jets. Since then I have built several more. For instance, I have built a whole range of aircraft models representing aircraft that served with Carrier Air Wing 8 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in 2001. Despite having two Tomcats in my collection (an  F-14A in the colourful 1978 markings of VF-84 Jolly Rogers and a black F-14D that was flown by VX-9), but felt I could do with one more, because none of the two I had were in the right markings for Carrier Wing 8 in 2001.

I chose to build an all-grey F-14A that was assigned to Fighter Squadron 14, also known as the Tophatters.
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Toned-down Tomcats often had a very weathered appearance. Exposure to the moist and salty conditions at sea meant that maintenance crews fought a constant battle against corrosion, often patching up the paint scheme.  It isn't immediately apparent from these pictures, but in order to recreate that look on my model I used both old grey and newer medium stone / light blueish grey parts for this jet. The mix isn't completely random. Most of the upper surfaces are old grey; most of the lower are new grey. Another reason for using two different colours was that the the parts I used to build my other Tomcats simply aren't all available in either old or new grey, which meant that unless I was willing to completely change the design I had to use both.  
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When the Tomcat first entered service with the US Navy it was exclusively used as a fighter aircraft with air-to-air missiles only. When the US Navy's A-6 Intruder long-range bombers were retired in the early nineties it left a gap that couldn't completely be filled by the F/A-18 Hornet, the only attack aircraft left in service. To make up for this gap. Tomcats squadrons started performing the air-to-ground mission as well. In the aircraft's last years in service, they mainly served as long-range attack aircraft. The weapons on my model are typical for attack missions. The jet carries two laser-guided bombs under its belly, two external fuel tanks under the jet intakes and a total of four air-to-air missiles (a single AIM-54 Phoenix, a single AIM-7 Sparrow and two AIM-9 Sidewinders). To guide the laser-guided bombs to their target, the jet also carries a LANTIRN targeting pod.  
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For flight at lower speeds and for maximum agility, the Tomcat's variable geometry wings are spread.
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Here you can see the new model together with the older model in the colours of The Jolly Rogers.
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More photos of all my Tomcats (including some really old ones) are on flickr. The design is basically a copy of my existing Tomcat models, but I wanted to share it regardless.

Cheers,
Ralph

Edited by Rufus, 05 July 2011 - 06:17 PM.
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#2 L-space

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:51 AM

Yet another amazing MOC.  :thumbup:

I have been a fan of this airplane to such an extend that even Top Gun could ruin it. In fact it is the one modelkit that survived my moving house  :laugh: .
And this one looks stunnning.

Great work Ralph.  :sweet:
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#3 Dennimator

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:53 AM

Stunning! :wub:
I love every single detail on it, from the cockpit solution to the wings!

Again, great job! :thumbup:

#4 lightningtiger

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 01:11 PM

'Let's kick the tyres and light the fires !' :grin:
FANTASTIC and the wings move in and out of attack position - SWEET ! :grin:
OMG ....weapons ......lots of weapons .......COOL ! :grin:
'Ralph_S' you are the bomb.... that is total MOC genius ! :sweet:  :grin:  :laugh:
AWESOME work and keep on bricking ! :laugh:

#5 Legostein

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 08:16 PM

Hello Ralph!

This is a fantastic creation! Very large and so well-designed. Most people don't realize how long such a Tomcat is compared to the pilot. You got the shape perfectly as usual, only using basic pieces. Your approach is truly unique and superior to all new big wedge sloped form pieces. :classic:

Thanks for sharing this with us!

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#6 Ralph_S

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:14 PM

View PostL-space, on Jan 24 2010, 12:51 PM, said:

Yet another amazing MOC.  :thumbup:

I have been a fan of this airplane to such an extend that even Top Gun could ruin it. In fact it is the one modelkit that survived my moving house  :laugh: .
And this one looks stunnning.

Great work Ralph.  :sweet:
Thanks. I used to have a Tomcat model kit (a VF-84 Jolly Rogers aircraft). I suck at painting though, which is part of the reason why I make my model aircraft out of LEGO  :classic: . Top Gun came out when I was barely a teenager (yes, I am that old) and I probably didn't even know what a Tomcat was. I know that by the time I first saw the movie a few years later I was already getting more interested in military aviation and owned a book on Tomcats (Tomcats Forever) and loved the jet's looks. Seeing them in action wasn't really possible in the days before video-on-demand and youtube and Top Gun was probably the first time I did, even if it was all simulated and scripted. I still love that movie just for that.

View PostDennimator, on Jan 24 2010, 12:53 PM, said:

Stunning! :wub:
I love every single detail on it, from the cockpit solution to the wings!

Again, great job! :thumbup:
Thank you. The cockpit solution is something that I used to be criticised for on a fairly regular basis. It isn't LEGO after all. I have been experimenting with brick-built windows for a lot of different MOCs lately, including aircraft, but for a large canopy like this using plastic still seemed like the best option. Star Wars canopies simply don't have the right shape.

View Postlightningtiger, on Jan 24 2010, 02:11 PM, said:

'Let's kick the tyres and light the fires !' :grin:
FANTASTIC and the wings move in and out of attack position - SWEET ! :grin:
OMG ....weapons ......lots of weapons .......COOL ! :grin:
'Ralph_S' you are the bomb.... that is total MOC genius ! :sweet:  :grin:  :laugh:
AWESOME work and keep on bricking ! :laugh:
It simply wouldn't look right if it weren't armed to the teeth  :laugh: I'm glad you like it.

View PostLegostein, on Jan 24 2010, 09:16 PM, said:

Hello Ralph!

This is a fantastic creation! Very large and so well-designed. Most people don't realize how long such a Tomcat is compared to the pilot. You got the shape perfectly as usual, only using basic pieces. Your approach is truly unique and superior to all new big wedge sloped form pieces. :classic:

Thanks for sharing this with us!

~ Christopher
They are big beasts indeed. They're massive; bigger than many twin engined bombers from the 2nd World War. It's one thing to know the measurements, it's another to stand next to one. Sadly it was pretty rare to see them in Europe and now that they've been retired probably rarer (I have no idea whether any museums in Europe have one). I saw a Tomcat at a Dutch Air Force open house day years ago. The day took take place at a time when a US carrier happened to be near and they sent over a few Hornets, a Prowler and a Tomcat. Not completely by coincidence, the Tomcat was a VF-14 'Tophatters' machine  :sweet: The second time I saw a Tomcat was on a trip to the US at the Wings over the Rockies museum in Colorado. There I had the opportunity to really get a close look at it. I was there on a week day outside of a holiday period and it was very quiet. This gave me the opportunity to get really close, just short of crawling underneath and poking my head into the wheel wells. Great fun.

Thanks for your comments on my build technique. I built planes long before there were various types of wedge plates, so sculpting their shape out of plates and using half-stud offsets seems the natural way to do things for me. Wedge bricks can be nice, but it's rare to find one that has just the right curvature for my needs.  

Cheers,
Ralph
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#7 Dennimator

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 11:20 PM

View PostRalph_S, on Jan 25 2010, 12:14 AM, said:

Thank you. The cockpit solution is something that I used to be criticised for on a fairly regular basis. It isn't LEGO after all. I have been experimenting with brick-built windows for a lot of different MOCs lately, including aircraft, but for a large canopy like this using plastic still seemed like the best option. Star Wars canopies simply don't have the right shape.
Well, I´m no purist, and you´ve done a great job with it.  :thumbup:

#8 Fumoffu

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 12:13 AM

Beautiful MOC.  Thanks for sharing.  I haven't kept up with fighter jets for a long long time now but the Tomcat is my favourite.  You done a fantastic job ... wish I have the bricks to build one for my study.

I think I'll go wikipedia the Tomcat.  Didn't even know its not in service anymore.

#9 Mac-K

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 05:02 PM

Hi Ralph_S, I just wanted to compliment you on this absolutely gorgeous work! :wub: Before I joined here I really looked forward to seeing a creation of yours, your renderings of military vehicles in Lego are superb. :thumbup:  I really don't know what else I can say that hasn't been said, this F-14 is just perfect, it really is. I was most surprised by the detailing of the belly of the jet. It looks quite nice, and the whole package of the armament hard points and fuel tanks really give it that "filled out" look that the F-14 has. Thank you for sharing this, I can't wait for more builds from you. :classic:

Oh, I also agree about Top Gun. Cheesiness aside, those flight scenes still leave me awestruck, and really wishing there were more air shows near where I live.

#10 Ralph_S

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 11:15 PM

View PostFumoffu, on Jan 25 2010, 01:13 AM, said:

Beautiful MOC.  Thanks for sharing.  I haven't kept up with fighter jets for a long long time now but the Tomcat is my favourite.  You done a fantastic job ... wish I have the bricks to build one for my study.

I think I'll go wikipedia the Tomcat.  Didn't even know its not in service anymore.
Thanks. The last ones were retired in 2006, sadly. They were simply too costly to maintain. However, the navy is facing a 'fighter gap' with older Hornets running out of fatigue life and the JSF being delayed. The only Tomcats left in service fly with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force  :wacko:

Because of spare parts from the Navy's Tomcats finding their way to Iran in the past, most retired Tomcats are already being scrapped. There are only a few dozen left :thumbdown:

View PostMac-K, on Jan 25 2010, 06:02 PM, said:

Hi Ralph_S, I just wanted to compliment you on this absolutely gorgeous work! :wub: Before I joined here I really looked forward to seeing a creation of yours, your renderings of military vehicles in Lego are superb. :thumbup:  I really don't know what else I can say that hasn't been said, this F-14 is just perfect, it really is. I was most surprised by the detailing of the belly of the jet. It looks quite nice, and the whole package of the armament hard points and fuel tanks really give it that "filled out" look that the F-14 has. Thank you for sharing this, I can't wait for more builds from you. :classic:

Oh, I also agree about Top Gun. Cheesiness aside, those flight scenes still leave me awestruck, and really wishing there were more air shows near where I live.
Thank you. The weapons fit is one of the things that distinguishes Tomcats in their last years in service from those from earlier times, so I felt it was important to get them right. It also makes the machine look menacing.

I just popped my Top Gun soundtrack CD in my player :-)

Cheers,
Ralph
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#11 Artizan

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 11:45 AM

totally awesome. i can suggest new tractor windscreens for the cockpit?
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#12 Ralph_S

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:49 PM

View PostArtizan, on Jan 26 2010, 12:45 PM, said:

totally awesome. i can suggest new tractor windscreens for the cockpit?
Thanks, also for the suggestion.
I've looked at all kinds of options to see whether I could do this in a purist fashion. If I were to build a fictional jet I'm sure I could use them for the canopy because I could design the aircraft such that they would fit. For this thing, however, they are too angular and too short. I also wouldn't be able to make the canopy open properly.
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The only purist solution that would give me approximately the right shape would be to sculpt it out of transparent bricks, plates and (cheese) slopes. It would probably mean that I'd have very little space for an interior, heavy and expensive.

Cheers,
Ralph
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#13 Mark Kelso

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:59 PM

Another absolutely beautiful work, Ralph.  At every angle you seem to have captured the proportions of the form just perfectly.  I've never asked you this, and I don't recall if you've said elsewhere, but have you had an opportunity to display these insane creations to the public?
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#14 Ralph_S

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 06:17 PM

View PostMark Kelso, on Jan 26 2010, 02:59 PM, said:

Another absolutely beautiful work, Ralph.  At every angle you seem to have captured the proportions of the form just perfectly.  I've never asked you this, and I don't recall if you've said elsewhere, but have you had an opportunity to display these insane creations to the public?

Thanks Mark. I have displayed my aircraft models to the public on a number of occasions. I'm a member of The Brickish Association and through them I've been to a number of different events. The reaction is always great. People who build with LEGO always seem to appreciate them (or even know them or me from having seen them on the internet). In some respects taking them to non-LEGO events is even more fun. Last year I had a few models on display at a large model building event in Brighton for model railways, airplanes, cars, RC tanks that sort of stuff. Brickish had a display for which I took some of my jets among other thinsg. Some people who saw them there were amazed that they were actually LEGO  :sweet: .

Welcome to Eurobricks BTW.  :thumbup:

Cheers,
Ralph
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