by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
BackgroundDeveloped from America's first operational jet fighter, the P-80/F-80, the Lockheed T-33 was at first designated the TF-80C and took to the air in March 1948, beginning a career that continues to this day, with a small number still in service. With over 6,500 T-33s built between 1948 and 1959, the classic trainer servered at one time or other with more than 40 airforces.
As well as production by the parent company, Lockheed, T-33's were built under licence in Canada and Japan, Kawasaki supplying 210 Shooting Stars for the Japanese Self Defence Force in the 1950s, the type finally retiring in Japan in 2000, marking 45 years of service.
The kitPlatz's new T-33 arrives in quite a striking top-opening box, adorned with a colourful painting of the aircraft on the lid and a photo of the built-up model on the side. The kit comprises:
59 x grey styrene parts
1 x clear part
Decals for 9 x colour schemes
The parts are crisply moulded with no signs of flash or sink marks on the review sample. Ejector pin marks are mostly light and they are kept out of harm's way. The exterior surface is a very smooth "satin" finish, with neatly engraved panel lines, a few lightly raised panels and fairings, and embossed fasteners. The fuselage is split into front and rear sections, as per the original aircraft, and the inside is rather intriguing, because it features quite comprehensive moulded ribs and stringers - so, while there's no option at present to display the model with the rear fuselage removed to reveal a jet tail-pipe, it clearly looks like a future plan. Even the interior bulkhead has locating holes ready for an engine at some stage...
Test fitDry fitting the main parts is very encouraging. The fuselage halves clip together securely, and the front and rear sections are a nice snug fit. The wing features impressively thin trailing edges, and an excellent fit at the roots. The stabilizers are a little loose in their slots, but match the profile of the fin precisely. The air intakes are rather cleverly designed to interlock along panel lines, with separate splitter plates, and include a section of moulded-on interior trunking to help avoid a see-through look.
A few detailsThe cockpit is quite simple, but should look fine in this scale. There are just a pair of seats and control columns to fit into a one-piece tub, plus front and rear instrument panels that include integral rudder pedals. There are raised instrument bezels on the panels, along with side consoles in the tub. The bezels do look a bit soft, but this is countered by the inclusion of sharply printed decal alternatives (side consoles are provided too). There are even stencil decals for the ejector seats, so it's slightly surprising that harnesses weren't also included on the sheet. (Note: Platz have just announced a colour photo-etched detail set for the kit produced in collaboration with Eduard. Item # M72-23 costs 470 JPY.)
The undercarriage features crisply moulded wheels and legs, and the wells are convincingly deep. The doors have detail on the inner faces - and stencil decals again - but purists may want to thin them down a bit for a more scale appearance.
The only stores provided are a pair of wingtip tanks, which have a short airfoil-section locating tab that matches the wings' profile perfectly.
Rounding everything off is a crystal clear canopy. It fits beautifully, but is moulded firmly closed, which may disappoint anyone wishing to show off a detailed cockpit. However, it does seem thin enough to slice off the windscreen if you're careful... Something that Jessie Cooper pointed out when we published news of the kit is that the canopy has an internal frame between the cockpits that is somewhat unusual on T-33s. As she discovered, checking photos on the Internet shows it isn't a figment of Platz's imagination - it's certainly evident in shots of Japanese-built T-33s, as well as a few others, but it would be wise to double check your references if you intend to build your Shooting Star in markings other than those provided with the kit.
Instructions & decalsPlatz break the construction of their T-33 into 11 stages, and although the assembly instructions are basically all-Japanese, the simplicity of the kit, combined with very clearly drawn exploded views means no-one is likely to have any problems. Colour matches are given for Gunze Sanyo model paints, along with FS numbers.
As usual with Platz kits, the decals are custom printed by Cartograf and are quite superb. Along with the cockpit details and stencils mentioned above, the sheet includes a comprehensive set of external servicing stencils and markings for no less than 9 JDSF schemes:
1. s/n 81-5360, 304th TFS, Tuiki AB, 1992
2. s/n 61-5206, 305th TFS, Kiyakuri AB, 1978-1992
3. s/n 91-5406, 103rd TFS, Chitose AB, 1959-1968
4. s/n 81-5378, 3rd AW, Komaki AB, 1959-1968
5. s/n 81-5360, 304th TFS, Tuiki AB, 1977-1995
6. s/n 81-5360, 301st TFS, Hiyakuri AB, 1973-1985
7. s/n 61-5206, Agresser Group, Tuiki AB, 1981-1995
8. s/n 81-5378, 5th TTS, Komaki AB, 1978-1995
9. s/n 91-5406, 203rd TFS, Chitose AB, 1964-1995
ConclusionThis looks to be a great little kit of the archetypal post-war Western trainer. It's simple enough to be suitable for modellers of all abilities, but offers an excellent basis for superdetailing. I can imagine further releases will include markings for the myriad of colours schemes worn by T-33s around the world and, as a possible hint of things to come, I notice that two of the sprues are labelled "P-80/T-33", so a single-seater is on the cards too. Recommended.
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