Hobby Boss 1/72 T-6 Texan

KIT #: 80233
PRICE: 28 yuan
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: 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 so).
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 much 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 here .
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 eight (the 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?

Richard F

28 November 2017

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