Hobby Boss 1/72 T-6G Texan
KIT #: 80233
PRICE: $9.95 MSRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES:  

HISTORY

 The North American T-6 was one of the most important training aircraft of World War II and beyond, and the plane continued in military service worldwide for many years after the war, both as a trainer and a combat aircraft. Later, most available airframes were rebuilt to later standards, as T-6G and SNJ-7, and these were used in the training sequence until the late fifties.  Large quantities were built in Canada or were exported, and other variants were produced in Australia. Two fighter developments also existed.  Many survived into the fifties and sixties to be sold as surplus, and civilian examples were used in such varied roles as racing, cloud seeding,  and skywriting.  Others were modified to look like combat aircraft for various movie roles, and many are still active today, mainly as warbirds, looking better than they ever looked when they were in active service.  Some were extensively modified for specialized roles, such as crop spraying, and the T-6 warbird is not an uncommon sight at fly-ins throughout the country today.  The airplane has a unique rasping sound that, when flying over, cannot be mistaken for any other aircraft.

 When the first North American trainer prototype, the NA-16,  first flew in 1935, it was a modern looking low wing fixed gear open cockpit trainer powered by a 400 hp. Wright R-975 radial engine.  A canopy was later added, and the type was eventually produced for the Army as the BT-9 basic trainer. Later developments led to a higher powered version, the BT-14,  and subsequently the BC-1  ďbasic combatĒ trainer.  A later development, the BC-1A, led to the AT-6, which in slightly modified form, served throughout the war in U.S. and foreign units. At that time, the training syllabus called for primary flight instruction to be carried out in a slow, rather forgiving biplane, followed by steps into more complex and higher performing basic and advanced trainers.  In many cases, the advanced trainers were merely older combat types, but with the onset of more modern aircraft in the 1930ís, it was seen that trainees needed an airplane that would approximate the flying characteristics of modern fighters. Therefore, training aircraft were designed NOT to be stable and forgiving, but they were tricky enough to weed out those students who could not master the instabilities associated with high powered tailwheel airplanes, including ďPĒ factor and torque.  After all, there were no two seat P-36ís, P-40ís, of P-51ís, so the trainee, after mastering the AT-6, was expected to just get into a single seat fighter, and after a cockpit check, fly it.  This could be a scary proposition, but most trainees survived, and after some flight experience, became competent pilots.  And the T-6 was the stepping stone. 

 Research and Sources

There is a lot of material available on the T-6 series. The  Squadron ďIn-ActionĒ # 94 gives a good account of the planeís development, along with some color.  The best source Iíve found is the new book  ďNorth Americanís T-6Ē by Daniel Hagedorn, an epic study of the plane well worth having in any serious modelerís collection.  The old Profile series had coverage, and there is a lot of material available on line. You could build a hundred models of T-6ís and never duplicate a single one.

The kit depicts two postwar T-6Gís;  one  is a Korean War 1952 aircraft of the 6147 TCS, at Seoul in 1952,and the other is a Chicom aircraft, probably an earlier model taken over from the Nationalists in the late forties, although how they would have gotten a T-6G at that time is open to question.  Maybe it was flown over later from Taiwan by a defector.  I passed on both of those, since I usually donít build anything past the World War II era.  I had always wanted to do an AT-6 in OD and neutral grey, and had never found enough documentation to do one accurately.  There was a photo of a similar BC-1A in Dana Bellís  ďAir Force Colors Vol. 1Ē, but the tail markings were unreadable.  I contacted the author (aviation folks are remarkably friendly and helpful, I have found) and he sent me a useful blowup of the plane, along with a couple of photos of some more interesting aircraft, one of which I used for my model . This got to me four hours later! And now I discovered that the Hagedorn book had photos of a number of BC-1A/AT-6 types in camouflage. I just might have to build another one.

Any kit of the AT-6/SNJ/Harvard can be used to depict any of the variants starting with BC-1A, At-6A, SNJ-2, and on up to the late model types.  There are some differences in canopy form, rudder, propeller, and avionics carried, but they are all structurally similar, and should present no serious problems to the serious modeler.  The fabric covered fuselage models would be a little more difficult, but are several  Wirraway kits available, as well as the old Airfix Boomerang if youíre really inclined in that direction.  And the old Hawk kit has its possibilities, as I converted one into the NA-16 prototype a few years ago. 

THE KIT

The hobby Boss Kit is the latest in a series of 1/72 scale kits of the T-6 that have appeared over the years.  In the late fifties, Hawk produced a rather rudimentary but reasonably accurate model of the T-6G/SNJ series, complete with embossed insignia and little interior or wheel well detail. In fact, the drawings issued with the kit were actually first prepared by North American.  Airfix followed later with a kit depicting the British Harvard, and this was an improvement in some ways, but it still lacked detail.  Hellerís kit, introduced in the eighties, was much better, and Academyís offering about 10 years ago seemed to complete the array.  And now, Hobby Boss entered the picture. Their kit is copyrighted 2007.

The Hobby Boss kit consists of 31 parts, including a canopy and two landing light covers.  It follows the usual pattern of a major wing assembly, a fuselage assembly, a forward cowling and wheel well assembly, an engine and cowling assembly, and the usual tail unit, landing gear, and, antenna. There is very little flash, but some mold lines need to be removed, and some filler is required, especially around the forward wheel wells, which lack any kind of detail.  The floor and two nicely done seats constitute the interior, and there are no sticks or instrument panels.  The fabric detail is a little overdone, consistent with all 1/72 scale Hobby Boss kits.

 A major problem is the one-piece wing unit. There is not enough dihedral in the outer wing panels, and the only solution is to build the kit without much dihedral, or saw through the wing joint lines outboard of the center section.  I chose this route, and it required some major surgery to get the gaps filled in.  The final result is acceptable, but it required a lot of work that could have been avoided if the wing had been properly formed. 

The kit suffers from the usual Hobby Boss lack of real detail.  The engine cowling looks slightly too large, or maybe it is the forward fuselage that is too narrow. The engine is abstract, and the cylinders look toy-like.  There is no ignition harness ring in front like all respectable R-1340ís had.  Two DF loop antennas are provided, and the drawings show a short mast BEHIND the loop, something Iíve never seen on a T-6G.  The prop can be trimmed down, with the round counterbalances added on the hub. The tailwheel  juts forward if you press it all the way in, but if you donítí it looks a lot better. The gear doors are incorrect in shape, and the wing underside lacks correctly shaped aileron hinges. The horizontal stabilizers attach to the rear fuselage with a large gap that is difficult to eliminate.  And quite a bit of filler is required in the forward fuselage area, not to mention where the wing dihedral was corrected. A good set of three views is essential for building this kit.

The interior is sparse, but can be improved.  I added some sidewall  detail, and also made some instrument panels to install.  Control sticks were also made, but these are almost invisible through the thick canopy. However, with some work, an acceptable model can be made.  This kit is not hopeless; it is just one that requires a lot of work to correct the errors. For a look at the sprues, check out the preview done earlier this year.

CONSTRUCTION

The assembly process itself is a snap.  The parts can almost be thrown together from the other side of the room, as is common with Hobby Boss kits.   I liked the scoops on the fuselage, as they were well designed. Some filling is needed, but the overall result is something that looks a lot like an AT-6.  I added some interior details, but left things pretty much as they were, except, of course, for the wing. On this particular aircraft, the photo shows  a small fairing underneath the right wing, similar to a shell ejector case on the Monogram P-36C model.  Thatís what I used. I also added a radio mast ahead of the cockpit, which was standard on this model.

COLORS & MARKINGS

I decided to do an early World War II aircraft, from a photo provided by Dana Bell.  It is an AT-6B-NT, AF 41-17093, Coded  #504, which was operated by the 2nd Aerial Gunnery Training Group, Laredo Army Air Field, Laredo, TX, during May, 1943.  The aircraft was olive drab over neutral grey, with yellow serial and ID numbers.  The cowling was white, except for the OD anti-glare. The prop was entirely natural metal, with no black rear blade faces or yellow tips.  From the photo, the airplane appears to be pretty well used, so weathering was a must.  Decals were from the spare decal box.

CONCLUSIONS

 For a young modeler, this might be a good start into American training aircraft. For the serious modeler, however,  there are too many problems.  I would suggest getting the Academy kit, or maybe the old Heller kit. Youíll get a lot more detail, and the conversion possibilities are there for doing any of the earlier versions. Not recommended. 

 Thanks to my depleted wallet for the review kit.

Brian Baker

July 2009

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