Airfix 1/72 T-6G Texan/Harvard
Two kits are built, one in
kit’s own decals, the other in Carpena RNZAF decals
Almost certainly the most
extensively used trainer of all time with more than
17,000 built by North
American and others,
the Harvard was derived from the N-16 prototype first flown in April 1935. A
cantilever monoplane with fixed tail wheel landing gear, open cockpit in tandem
and power provided by a 400hp Wright R-975 Whirlwind radial, the type after
official testing received a production order under the designation BT-9.
The T-6 Harvard which is a
descendant/evolvement from the BT-9 has made up several generations of military
pilots the world over. The type was also built in
before the war as ‘OAK’ (allied code name) and utilised by Hitler’s Luftwaffe
till November 1941. This
aircraft, after its wartime useful life, has been
roaring the skies in five continents with trainee airmen at the controls until
the years 1980s. The sharp rasping sound that the propeller made when a Harvard
is in the air could not be missed and is very enjoyable to the ear. The Harvard/
Texan was also used in its capacity as a light ground attack aircraft. Harvards
were used as hack aircraft at Ta’ Qali and Luqa airfields, Malta, during the war
years and after and these were camouflaged in dark earth and green.
Early production aircraft were
during the RAF expansion programme being named Harvard 1s and deliveries began
in 1938. Production switched to the improved Harvard IIs that became the RAF’s
standard advanced trainer from 1940 until after the war. The
Army Air Force also flew the Harvard where it was known as the AT-6 while the
USN knew it as the SNJ. After the war the USAF adopted the name Texan and the
designation T6. The T6G introduced the R-1340-AN-1 engine; increase fuel
capacity, improved cockpit layout, steerable tail wheel and other improvements.
These entered service with the USAF and USN and during the Korean War, 97 were
modified to LT-6G configuration for deployment in battlefield surveillance and
Forward Air Control roles. In addition to Texans, export to
and many other air arms received surplus aircraft from RAF, RCAF and USAF
stocks. The type remained in service with some air forces in the turn of the
The new Airfix kit is in fact the
same old Heller one that was a better kit than the original one issued by
Airfix. This is now released in a new boxing displaying a colourful art cover of
a Texan in South African Air Force markings. Although this so to say new release
by Airfix came a couple of years ago the moulds go back to 1978. It is a very
good kit at 1/72 scale of this popular aircraft. The 42 part finely moulded kit
in yellow plastic are accurate when checked against known dimensions. The
revised 8-page A4 size instructions have easy to follow stages of construction
and also full markings for three different aircraft liveries.
One of these is a T-6G Harvard in silver and Day-Glo serving with SAAF;
another is a SK-16C Harvard of Swedish F in camouflage of olive green upper and
neutral grey lower; and a North American LT-6G Harvard in service with the
Austrian Air Force. This is a good offer for a nice selection of three liveries
from an endless variety that the T6 carried during service. Details appear to be
of high quality and yet it yearns for a detail set that we find in resin form
for the interior sidewalls in particular.
Construction starts with the sub
assembly of the engine/cowling/propeller and these consist of 8 parts. The next
stage is assembly of the cabin floor, seats, control stick and all items are
correctly styled and even the control column has the right angle at the top. The
cockpit was painted interior green; details to sidewalls added using printed
side panel structure. Kit instrument panels fixed to both crew coamings. These
were carefully painted in black with white dials. The bottom half of the wing is
in one piece and there is a blanking plate over the wheel wells which fits very
well. Be careful with the joint around the wheel wells and the wing to fuselage
as the components have a thin section at the joining part and can easily snap if
improperly glued and should therefore be held tight while it is fixed. Any gaps
in the wheel wells that may be noticed are blended with white glue. Aileron
control links are provided and appear to scale however these have to be reduced
in section thickness before fitting in place. It is surprising how the extra
detail to the engine
particularly at the front can make to the overall
appearance of the model. A one-piece 2-blade propeller is provided with an
optional spinner none of which is needed for any of the three versions being
Since I opted to do the SAAF
Harvard I did some research for clear photos of the aircraft, which I found in
www.airliners.net. These proved to be
very clear photos and on close examination I noticed that SAAF Harvards differed
in detail from one another. The version I picked to conform to the registration
that comes with the kit required a number of detailing additions. These are as
1. Remove the outer two under wing
rail points and retain the inner two.
2. The gun pack marked impressions
under wings are removed by smoothening.
3. Stiffener strips added across
mid wings on each underside. These were made from thin plastic card cut in
rectangular shaped strips.
4. Add seat straps.
5. Add two loop shaped aerials to
rear sides of fuselage made identical from bent metal wire.
6. Drill 0.4mm diameter access
holes one to each side at aft fuselage to take lifting devices.
7. Add whip aerial and blade
antenna that do not come with the kit.
8. Thin down section of aileron
9. Add more detail under fuselage
from stretch sprue cut into bits.
10. The small intake duct (item
39) was deleted and the locating hole for it was faired over with filler.
11. Rear end of cockpit modified
and added cover at rear, made from plastic cut to shape.
12. Cockpit canopy replaced with
one from Vac-form Falcon set which is more clear and thin in section.
13. Exhaust pipe outlet opened by
14. Added a shallow hump or
fairing right in front of the cockpit starboard side only. All SAAF machines
appear to have it, possibly a modification made to the type.
Of the three aircraft I opted to
do the Silver and day-glow and dark grey wings scheme on the SAAF Harvard, which
represents a T6G of No 40 squadron
based at Dunnattar, Transvaal 1980. This kit was built alongside another Heller
T6 but in RNZAF colours and decals that came from Carpena anniversary sheet set
No 72-03. Both Harvards did not need the machine guns gun pods, SNEB rockets and
rocket rails normally fitted to attack aircraft. The kit decals of SAAF are of
correct size and colours however an important advise is to give them a coat of
Future before cutting them as the carrier film is very thin and is bound to give
trouble of unattended. They adhere well and there is stencil for each type.
Including decals for the prop blades. I have used a mix of silver, a few drops
of white and clear varnish which were mixed, thinned, and airbrushed and for the
bright orange I used Revell Day-glow. The new
Harvard had bright orange areas and I found out that the most suited was a Model
Master Italian red.
This is a very good kit to build.
With the correct reference material and small amount of additional work and
extra effort in masking it can make into a very pleasing model and this is my
suggestion to add a T6 if you do not yet have one in your collection. I made 10
so far and all in different liveries.
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