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1/32 first operational Tomcat launching Phoenix

Gallery Article by Alexander Breunig on June 26 2009

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Yeeeeeees I know, the early VF-1 machines may never have carried such a load, less the early drop tanks but I thought this would be a nice way to illustrate all the differences between the early Tomcats and my big Vandy as the very last ever produced Tomcat. Actually Tomcats would have been able to be launched from a carrier with such a load but the recovery was impossible with such a load due to weight restrictions. Such a load would only have been an option if the cold war would have become hot and one could be sure to get rid of the missiles before returning. Hence pilots called such a configuration “doomsday load”. What a fitting name! I just had to go with that as the title for my “little” display.  

Let’s just assume this birdy here was flying from Miramar between or prior to the first cruises aboard the Big E for a little test shooting. 

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Thanks to Dan Pentecost who actually transferred the first Tomcat from Calverton to Miramar into operational service in 1973 I received a lot of valuable info and most importantly confirmation on the BuNo and modex of the very first Tomcat to be transferred to VF-1 and thus to enter operational service. So here “she” is: BuNo 158627 “Wichita 101” the “first fightin’ one…Baby”! 

Since there are no decals for this particular aircraft and no resin parts to accurately backdate the existing kits to the early standard, a lot of conversion work on the frame as well as on the markings had to be done: 

Base was again a REVELL kit. Actually all six missiles are converted Revell missiles. I actually used a Tamiya cockpit but further “improved” it a little by adding further cables, wires, mirrors etc. The seats are also Tamiya with a little extra wire here and there. The pilots are from Legend and were further customized by adding a self made visor and doing a little repositioning to the RIO, by giving them some VF-1 shoulder patches and of course by customizing the helmets. I know it’s cheesy but I just had to add this little memory plaque right of the pilot’s controls. Something like that would be one cool souvenir!  

I rebuild the complete intake as the way the parts are cut by Revell but also by Tamiya are quite “unfortunate”. Fans and turbines of the engines have been exchanged with correct TF-30 parts and further enhanced by extra details from Eduard. All grids had been drilled up and replaced with photo etched parts and the climate control openings on the lower hull received a little something imitating the vents. Expelling holes for the cannon’s bullets had been drilled up and the tail hook was further enhanced. The glove vanes were constructed to be moveable. The wing base received extra panels and cover plates and something I’m really a little proud of (I know self praise stinks!), are the flexible wing seal bags. I think that’s about it. Oh yes, of course, one missile is depicted while being launched…..obviously ;D!  so here we go!

The major part was of course converting the beaver tail into an old style boat tail and turning the TCS into an IRST-nose pod. The gun vents have been altered into old style vents as well and an extra sensor was applied to the left side of the pit. Position lights have been traded with cut clear parts. Decals are mix of Phoenix and old Revell decals (the tail code is not correctly tilted on the Phoenix decals!). I also used CAM high-viz stencils but had to do a lot of extra stencils myself. BuNo, crew names and modex are also DIY I don’t know how many thousand screws and rivets I have pressed in the hull. The obligatory extra panel lines had to follow. Oh yes and not to forget, the drop tanks had been converted to early style by adding extra winglets.

Alexander Breunig

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Photos and text © by Alexander Breunig

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