With its sleek lines, aggressive stance and variable-sweep wing, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat is one of the most universally admired airplanes of all time. For modelers, however, the complexity of the F-14 has made it one of the most difficult models to buildóuntil now! I was so encouraged by the performance of my F/A-18 Hornet Park Jet (see the July 2005 issue of Backyard Flyer) that I wanted to develop a simple F-14 using similar foam-construction techniques. The result exceeded all of my expectations! The F-14 Park Jet is easy to build, offers excellent flight performance and looks remarkably scale in the air. The variable-sweep wing works well in flight and makes this model especially thrilling to fly.
One of my primary goals was to capture the scale looks of the F-14 as much as possible in a simple sheet-foam construction. This required a few minor changes to the scale outline. I also enlarged the vertical tail surface about 20 percent to increase directional stability for improved small-field flying characteristics. Most of the airframe is 6mm-thick foam, while the wing-swing mechanism is made of 1/8 -inch-thick poplar ply (lite-ply). I used carbon tubes (available at most kite shops) for wing spars. As on the real F-14, differential stabilators (tailerons) control pitch and roll. There aren’t any flight controls on the wing (the full-size Tomcat has flaps and spoilers but no ailerons). Rudders can be installed, and they provide better aerobatics and improved control during slow flight, but they aren’t required; this model flies fine without them. The wing features a simple, flat, sheet-foam airfoil with rounded leading edges and tapered trailing edges.