Czech Model 1/48 UC-78/JRC-1/T-50 'Bamboo Bomber'

KIT #: 4819
PRICE: $59.95 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short run with photo etch and resin parts


The Cessna AT-17 Bobcat was a twin-engined advanced trainer aircraft designed and made in the United States, and used during World War II to bridge the gap between single-engine trainers and twin-engine combat aircraft. The AT-17 was powered by two Jacobs R-755-9 radial piston engines. The commercial version was the Model T-50, from which the AT-17 was developed.

Thirty-three AT-8s were built for the Air Corps, and production continued under the designation AT-17 reflecting a change in equipment and engine types. In 1942, the Air Corps adopted the Bobcat as a light personnel transport and those delivered after January 1, 1943 were designated UC-78s. By the end of World War II, Cessna had produced more than 4,600 Bobcats for the Air Corps, 67 of which were transferred to the United States Navy as JRC-1s. In addition, 822 Bobcats had been produced for the Royal Canadian Air Force as Crane 1s, many of which were used in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Dubbed the "Bamboo Bomber" by the pilots who flew them, it was one of the aircraft featured in the popular television series "Sky King" of early to mid-50s. The aircraft was replaced in later episodes by the T-50s successor, the all-metal Cessna 310.

Post war, surplus AT-17s and UC-78s could be converted by CAA-approved kits to civilian standard aircraft allowing their certification under the T-50s original Type Certificate (ATC- 722, issued 3-24-1940).They were used by small airlines, charter and "bush" operators and private pilots. Some were operated on floats. By the 1970s, the number of airworthy aircraft had dwindled as they were made obsolete by more modern types and by the maintenance required by their aging wood wing structures and fabric covering. Since then, several have been restored by antique airplane enthusiasts. In August 2009, FAA records show 378 T-50s, 10 AT-17s and 30 UC-78s are licensed in the United States. It's believed that the vast majority are not airworthy.

In the post-war years, Bobcats continued in military service with Brazil and the Nationalist Chinese. 


The molding on this new Czech Model kit is just as nice as it was on their previous 1/32 F-80 Shooting star. Plastic is used for the major pieces while resin is used for the detail bit. This includes both engine types, wheels and a number of smaller items like prop hubs and prop blades. The kit also includes a pair of very nicely done etched frets, one of which is in color. However, the photo etch is not required to build the model, something those with PE-phobia will appreciate. Other resin bits available in plastic are the props, main wheels, and the tail wheel assembly. Molding on these pieces is first rate with no sign of air voids or other possible resin glitches.  The plastic parts are also nicely done with the usual ejector towers on the large parts and the need to generally clean up parts before assembling them.

The photo etch includes both styles of instrument panel, rudder pedals, throttle quadrant, seat frames, faces for the various radios (in the military versions), as well as a number of other enhancements for the interior and exterior of the plane. These look like Eduard's work, though it is not noted on the frets.

As you can build either the 'Songbird' or two military versions, one needs to make a choice from the start as to which is going to be done. This is because several of the parts are different and modifications need to be done. For instance, the military versions have the seven cylinder R-755 engines, while the Songbird has the nine-cylinder Lycoming R-680s. The area above the windscreen in different. The military versions don't use the spinners and have bare prop hubs. The military versions also have a radio suite that involves the modification of the rear seat to accommodate the radio shelf. The kit has a clear door for the left side and if you wish to use the 'solid' one, you'll have to cut the clear part out of the clear door. There are a few others but they are clearly denoted in the instructions.

Instructions are full color and superbly done. The color reference provides generic and, where applicable, FS 595 reference numbers. Czech Model has done their research on these, and especially on the Songbird. It is difficult to differentiate colors from old black and white TV shows, but they feel that the trim on this plane was red, though others suggest blue. The superbly printed decal sheet (Cartograf, of course), provides the red trim items, and though the cowling decals have slice areas to fit on the forward cowling, one might want to consider painting these on and using the little 'arrow' sections from the sheet. Decals also provide bulkhead trim for the Songbird, and several font and color registration markings. The FAA regs at the time stated black registrations, but red ones are also provided if you feel those are more to your liking. The sheet also includes seat belt decals. For the military options it is just insignia and serials. The Army plane is in a festive OD over Neutral Grey and the Navy is in a most fetching tricolor scheme of two blues and white.


I'm one of those people who really likes to see kits like this. It is about time some of the hard working secondary types get some sort of recognition in plastic. This is not a kit for the beginner, especially if they want to use the photo-etch, however, any modeler with experience should have no trouble at all doing this one. I've already started on this one and have found no problems (well, I've only glued a few bits together, but it is going well). If these sorts of aircraft are on your list of things to do, then this is one you seriously should seek out.


September 2009

My thanks to Squadron Products for providing the review sample.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly , please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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