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KIT REVIEW


Kitty Hawk # 32014 T-28B/D Trojan
1:32 Scale

The T-28 Trojan was a U.S.-built, early Cold War trainer flown by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, and more than two dozen other countries often in roles that went well beyond pilot training.  While it is a very well known airplane, it’s received less attention from kit manufacturers.  The 1950s-era Monogram mold has been offered in many boxings as recently as 2013 in a Revell reissue, though far more modern 1:48 and 1:72 scale kits have been produced by Roden/AMG, AZ Models, and Sword.  In 1:32 scale, ID Models did a vacuform Trojan while Collect-Aire produced a limited run resin kit and could be considered hard to find and not necessarily easy to build.  In early 2016, Kitty Hawk released a 1:32 T-28B/D, again bringing a long-neglected subject in 1:32 scale into the mainstream plastic model kit world.  In this review, we sit down with their large-scale Trojan.

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Following the end of WWII and the emergence of jet aircraft, a new U.S. primary pilot trainer was called for since the T-6 Texan just couldn’t provide for student pilots in the transition from piston to jet-powered airplanes.  In September 1949, the North American XT-28 first flew, and by 1950, the T-28A had been evaluated by the USAF and garnered positive appraisals.  A seven-year production run was initiated, and a total of 1,948 Trojans were manufactured over four major variants.

Nearly 1,200 T-28As were produced for the USAF and were powered by an 800 hp Wright R-1300-7 radial engine with a two-bladed propeller.  The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps accepted 489 T-28Bs which sported a more powerful 1,425 hp Wright R-1820-9 radial engine, and could be further visually distinguished from the T-28A by its three-bladed prop, higher profile canopy, and perforated speed brake on the bottom of the fuselage.  The T-28C was based on the B-model but with a beefed up structure and tailhook to accommodate carrier landings.  The T-28D was a B-model converted by the company Pac-Aero beginning in 1962 that brought out the Trojan’s latent air-to-ground capability.  Some 320 D-models flew combat missions spanning forward air control, counter-insurgency, and search and rescue during the Vietnam conflict with the USAF and the South Vietnamese Air Force.

An Air Force T-28D held the distinction of being the first US fixed wing attack aircraft lost over Vietnam in 1962.  Trojans were also employed in the Secret War in Laos and flown by the CIA in the Congo.  Surplus T-28s found their way into the inventory of some 25 nations, from Argentina to Haiti, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay, and Zaire.  T-28s were used for close air support by the French Air Force during their conflict in Algeria, was employed as a bomber by rebels in the 1989 coup attempt in the Philippines.  Indeed, the airplane’s history goes far beyond its initial role as a primary trainer.

In USAF service, the T-28’s heyday as a flying classroom was in the 1950s, but Navy and Marine Corps T-28s were such solid teaching platforms that they kept on training pilots and conducting other duties into the 1980s before they were surpassed by the T-34C Turbo Mentor.  The final active duty Navy T-28 was retired in 1984.  Later, many T-28s were sold to private individuals and more than 100 still fly today.  You can find a host of reference material on the T-28B and C here:

http://detailandscale.com/t-28_trojan_(usn_and_usmc_service)_gallery.html

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Kitty Hawk’s 1:32 scale T-28B/D kit comes in their typical sturdy box with all the sprues and other parts snugly situated inside.  The five main styrene sprues are each bagged separately, and contain total of 339 light gray parts.  A pair of white metal nose weights rounds out the part count.  The panel lines and screws/rivets are recessed and not overdone.  The clear parts sprue comes in its own separate box, and contains another 14 parts.  Two small photoetch metal frets supply another 46 parts (i.e., shoulder harnesses, buckle fittings, air scoops).  Two decal sheets provide markings for seven different Trojans: 

  1. T-28B, VH-ZUC 91576TL (CN 174-429) "Just Dreamin"
  2. T-28 (variant not specified) Thailand AF, Tango Squadron
  3. T-28D Fennec, French Air Force
  4. T-28D 51-766, "Zorro's Mistress" USAF
  5. T-28D, 15th Strike Squadron, Philippines Air Force, 1975
  6. T-28B Japanese Air Self Defense Force, 1965
  7. T-28B, BuNo. 138294, VT-6

Strengths:  In terms of size, shape, and proportion, the Kitty Hawk T-28 appears to do well in terms of dimension and shape.  I test fit the fuselage halves and wings, and they revealed a virtually perfect fit.  If there’s any fit issues, they are imperceptible at this level. The kit is also quite impressive in other respects, too.  There are a lot of parts and this has a lot to do with the level of detail this kit achieves.  The engine, accessory gear, and firewall are really a highlight of the kit and, fortunately, the engine access panels can be built hinged open to display all that detail underneath.  The cockpit isn't perfect, but in general, has nicely molded raised details for buttons, switches, and instrument bezels that are well executed, giving modelers a good basis to do some good detail painting.  All the flight control surfaces are separate pieces and can all be positioned as the builder would wish.  For the T-28D, there’s range of underwing ordnance that are supplied in the kit, from a pair of Mk. 82 slicks to LAU-3 rocket pods, bomblets (smoke markers, I believe), 100 lb. napalm bombs, and two different .50 caliber gun pod versions.  Nicely done sway braces are also included.

The clear parts are gorgeous. Cast in a slide mold, there are no seams on the windscreen and canopy parts, and they are crystal clear – the optical quality here is tops!  I also found the decal sheets to be very well printed, from the nose art to the airframe stencils.  

Weaknesses:  The Kitty Hawk T-28B/D is not quite perfect, and several observations come to mind.  First, the surface of the kit features recessed rivets, while the real airplane is covered in ALL raised rivets with a few recessed screws here and there. This is obviously inaccurate, but there’s plenty of excellent surface detail to bring out in a wash; I’ll leave it to others to debate the virtues and drawbacks of raised versus recessed rivets in 1:32 scale kits.  As mentioned earlier, the cockpit is good, but the instructions call for a decal (again, nicely printed) to lay over the instrument panels, as the dials and gauges have no surface details for detail painting or drybrushing.  The builder will have to be very precise in making sure the decal lines up perfectly with the raised instrument faces beneath. One can then only hope that the alignment was executed correctly, because if not, once the decal softening solution begins to work you could have gauge faces snuggling down off center or even between between dials.  Alternatives to consider include using a punch and die set to punch out each individual dial decal and then apply, sand flat the instrument faces and just drop the decal in, or replace with photoetch metal aftermarket parts.

A few other irregularities came to light: there’s a small access panel on the port side of the aft fuselage that I’m pretty sure should not be there.  This is the location of the battery access panel on the T-28C that was moved forward from other versions.  Parts for a three paddle-bladed prop are also included.  I’m not sure where these fit into the broader scheme of things, as they are not the shape of the T-28A or C props (and the A has a two bladed prop; still, are these two last points an indication of future releases of different variants?)  

A good number of the ejection pin marks are not depressed features but are projecting spokes to varying degrees as molten plastic seems to have seeped up around the metal injection pins themselves in the molding process. While most of these are hidden out of sight, some are really quite large on my sample and will require cleanup for assembly to proceed. The engine exhausts are good but not particularly deep, and hollowing them out further is recommended.  Also, if you’re building the T-28B, there was only a single pylon mounting point.  You’ll need to fill the inboard and two most outboard pylon mounting holes for the T-28B.  Further, if you want to build the French Fennic, do note that those airplanes had the taller canopies of the T-28A, and the kit part does not do the job.  Lastly, some T-28Bs had a green glaze atop their canopy – check your references.

Another potential gripe (and it’s not really that serious) is that neither a decal nor a stencil was provided for the black “exhaust stain catchers” on the sides of the fuselage.  It would have been a nice touch.  The R-1820 engine spewed a lot of exhaust out onto the side of the Trojan’s fuselage, and the area was subsequently painted black so as hide as much exhaust residue as possible so that the staining would be less unsightly.  Any scale modeler with basic skills can mask the areas off and paint.  Yet…it can get a little tricky ensuring that the same identical curvilinear shape you paint on one side is reproduced identically on the other side.  I’ll probably just make my own template and mask, and that approach is probably best, anyway.         

The Kitty Hawk T-28B/D Trojan is a genuinely interesting and engaging kit that appears to be very well made and generally accurate.  It’s great to see Kitty Hawk producing models such as this in 1:32 scale, too. About the only thing stopping me from starting mine right away is that I am looking forward to aftermarket decal manufacturers to come out with some alternative markings. That is not to say the kit-supplied markings are bad (they are really quite good choices), but they do not include some of what I might consider the more interesting or historic T-28B markings in Navy and Marine service, such as overall yellow schemes, drone controller schemes, or Bicentennial markings.  Hopefully, such decals will be forthcoming, and when they do, they’ll join a series of Eduard photoetch sets recently released for the Kitty Hawk T-28B/D.  Just out of the box, this kit has the potential to be a great model in the hands of many modelers.  This is probably one of Kitty Hawk’s best kits to date and it does represent the best Trojan available in any scale.

Sincere thanks to Glen Coleman and Kitty Hawk Models for the review sample.  You can find out more about them at www.kittyhawkmodel.com

.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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