Above: An overview of the whole diorama. Inspired by the movie "Top Gun", this diorama has the
major aircraft depicted in the movie. For "our side", the fabulous Grumman F-14A Tomcat. For the "opposition"
in the war games, on the left is one of the most durable and adaptable aircraft designs in history, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk
(to this day my favorite jet). To the right, a Northrop F-5 Tiger II "Freedom Fighter", painted in Russian
"Aggressor" squadron colors. Included in the diorama are various weapons systems carried by these aircraft, including
the Phoenix missile (on the trailer behind the truck), AIM 9L Sidewinders (on the F-5 wingtips), and Sparrow AAMs on the lone
trailer in front of the Skyhawk. The truck is a small metal toy I got at Wal-Mart and converted for this diorama; the winch
and rear section of the truck are scratchbuilt. This diorama is dedicated to my family, as the Tomcat is named after
me, the F-5 after my sister Rica, and the A-4 after my brother Jacques. MP's can be seen in front of the Skyhawk guarding
the three aircraft. In the center foreground, Navy personnel prepare literature (the paper is real and has print) for
the expected crowds of spectators. Posters in front of the tables describe the aircraft. The area is cordoned off using chain
link neckchains painted yellow. The posts are pellets from a pellet gun with earring posts glued on top of them.
Above: The F-14A Tomcat. The latest, but hopefully not last, "cat" from the Grumman stable, this plane was
the staple area defense aircraft for US Navy carrier groups until the recent advent of the F/A-18 Hornet. Fast, maneuverable
and carrying a heavy payload, the Tomcat was the right plane at the right time for our country. Able to engage multiple targets
at once, the Tomcat's Phoenix missles can engage and down aircraft at a range of 100 miles. This model was extensively
modified from a Monogram 1/48 kit. I made so many mistakes, I had to buy 4 kits to get replacement parts. The leading edge
slats in front of the wing were cut out from the original wing and added in the open position. The gun compartment did not
exist in the original model, and I cut it out and built the General Electric rotary cannon from scratch. The nose section
was cut off, and the Hughes radar built from scratch and added. The tailerons are mounted on metal rods inserted in a
rubber tube lubricated with oil, and they rotate freely with hydraulic precision. To add to the detail on this aircraft and
all my others, I trace the panel lines and rivets in pencil to make them stand out. Removable panels are painted a slightly
different shade and small aluminum paint "nicks" are added to show normal wear and tear. Total time for just the F-14 was
well over 100 hours.
Above: The scratchbuilt gun and gun compartment. The GE rotary gun was built with small metal tubing, wrapped
around assorted parts made from sheet platic and junk plastic parts. I had good pictures to work from, but the assembly was
tedious, and the fuselage had to be cut out just right to fit the homemade compartment. Hoses and control panels were made
from dollhouse wiring and spare parts - I used the same to super detail the front landing gear compartment. The gun and fittings
took about 15 hours, cutting out and sanding the fuselage for fitting took about 2-3 hours.
Above: The Hughes radar behind the nose section. This compartment is also scratchbuilt, as is the radar.
The radar is mounted on a swivel from a lego toy, and it moves freely back and forth, as well as up and down. The swivel is
mounted behind the wall. The nose cone is removeable, and held in place by a rubber band that was inserted around the compartment
opening and painted. The nose cone fits snuggly in place over the rubber band and can be easily removed.