Hobby Boss 1/72 T-6 Texan
Aftermarket decals. mild conversion
The T-6 was a very popular and widely used trainer aircraft that came into
service just a bit before World War II and trained many Allied pilots. In
the US it was called the Texan and elsewhere was more commonly known as the
Harvard. Like many planes that are simple and well designed, this one had a
very long life. Apparently the last military user was the South African Air
Force, right up until 1995. They are still popular at air shows (and sadly
there was a nasty crash a few years ago that killed a prominent warbird
pilot). They are cool to see at airshows because although hardly fast, they
are incredibly noisy and give out an unholy racket when they fly past. At an
airshow I heard - not sure how, given how loud these things are - the
commentator say that the noise comes from the prop tips breaking the speed
of sound (the only thing on that plane that would ever come close to doing
Wikipedia has a long list of countries which used the T-6 and it includes
one starting with just about every letter of the alphabet. Strangely enough,
the People's Republic of China is not on that list, but elsewhere I have
seen it speculated that the PRC took some Republic of China (ie Taiwan) T-6s
after 1949 and pressed them into service.
This is one of the HobbyBoss Easy Build series of kits. Thanks largely to
the dreadful Spitfire Mk V in this series, they have a bit of a mixed
reputation, especially given that in the West they cost close to what an
Airfix kit of a similar subject might cost. But in China they are about half
that price, which changes the equation a bit. And, in truth, most of them
are pretty good. I've built about six or seven and enjoyed them just as
as other brands. If you are not seeking a very accurate and precise model,
but you just want a Mustang, Fw-190, or other warbird on your shelf, you can
certainly do a lot worse. The series is great for punching out models in a
weekend. Just avoid that Spitfire.
This particular one was
previewed right here on MM a few years back . Another MM reader did a
nice job of this kit in a review a few years back, too. You can see that
Like most of these HobbyBoss easy kits it's pretty basic, with less than the
usual amount of detail you'd expect in the cockpit. It does have proper
seats at least. The decal options are a USAF version from the 6147 TCS in
Korea in 1952 and a PLAAF version, the one you see here.
Well, they don't call these "Easy Builds" for nothing. Unlike most kits of
planes like this, instead of two fuselage halves, you get a single piece
fuselage, and instead of two wing halves, you have one big wing section. So
with just two parts, you have already assembled the model, really. Add the
tailplanes and engine and it already really looks like a T-6. Of course, you
can spend a bit of time tidying things up, notably a bit of a moulding seam
here and there and also at the join between the fuselage and wing parts at
the front of the wing (just beneath and behind the engine). But that doesn't
take long. In the cockpit area, you just need to install the seats.
This version comes with the large black streamlined antenna for the area
behind the cockpit. You should look at pictures if you're trying to make
this a bit more accurate, because not every T-6 had that bubble on it. The
undercarriage is probably simplified but at least it's easy to assemble and
it fits squarely in place thanks to larger than usual fitting holes.
The canopy fits neatly too. There is no way to open it short of performing
plastic surgery, and given how simple the interior is, that's probably for
the best. A couple of pilot figures would probably be the best way to spruce
the interior up, but I didn't have any handy.
I used Tamiya gloss aluminium from a spray can for this, and brush-painted
matt black Tamiya paint for the black areas. The prop spinner was done a
nice bright Tamiya gloss red.
The decals are pretty generic in a lot of these Easy Build kits and
especially this one. It's just six People's Liberation Army Air Force
insignia (the little symbol in the middle is the Chinese character for an
top bit) over the character for a one (the horizontal line). That
refers to August first, 1927, the day the PLA was established. In Chinese
it's called Ba Yi (bar yee, or literally eight one).
Hobby Boss decals are great in my experience and these lived up to the
reputation. They come off easily in water, slide nicely into place, are
thick enough not to break when you move them around, but thin enough to go
nice and flat with a bit of Mr Mark Softer. The yellow border on the lower
"bars" of the Ba Yi are maybe a bit narrower than those on the top but it's
a close call. The tail red and white stripes are also a decal and were a bit
trickier to put in place.
Cheaper than the Academy kit, at least in my part of the world, and an
easy neat build. What's not to like?
28 November 2017
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