Hasegawa 1/72 T-33A Shooting Star
KIT #: JS-038
PRICE: 300 yen (about $1.00) when new
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star is an American-built jet trainer aircraft. It was produced by Lockheed and made its first flight in 1948, piloted by Tony LeVier. The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 starting as TP-80C/TF-80C in development, then designated T-33A. It was used by the U.S. Navy initially as TO-2 then TV-2, and after 1962, T-33B. While there are no more military T-33s still in active service (unless it is with someplace like Bolivia), the type is very popular with the jet warbird crowd. Many T-33s spent over 40 years on active service before being retired.


Hasegawa's offering of the T-33 was in their initial batch of model airplane kits. Hasegawa tended to concentrate most of their efforts on planes that were either flown by the JASDF, or were based in Japan, something that still seems to be part of their program. As with most Japanese model companies, the majority of their sales are in Japan so it is only logical that they play to the home market. The T-33 was one of those types that not only allowed Japan to enter the jet age when it was allowed to have an Air Force again in 1955, but also lasted well into the 1980s and even the 1990s before being retired.

Typical of their kits at this time, the majority of detailing is the raised panel line variety. The main gear wells are somewhat open as is the nose gear, providing basically a place to attach the strut. For a cockpit there is a tub, a pair of seats and a rear instrument panel. Two pilots are included to hide the lack of other detail.

The cockpit is trapped between the fuselage halves and a tailpipe section is inserted near the end of the build. Intakes have separate splitters and are quite shallow. These are also the biggest fit issue areas on the kit. A separate nose piece is provided and while the instructions do not show it, one does need nose weight. Tip tanks are separate two piece assemblies and the tailplanes are a single piece on eich side. There is a rather thick one-piece canopy. The frame lines are very hard to discern, making masking a bit tricky.

The landing gear are fairly well done with the nose gear having an integral wheel. Both inner and outer gear doors as well as separate speed brakes are provided. There are no actuating rods for any of these items. The gear itself is a bit fragile when one is done as I have broken many over the years.

Instructions are nicely drawn and provide written steps for each diagram. Generic color information is given in the overall markings guide. Though a USAF plane is shown in the instructions, my kit had only the JASDF decals. These are generally unusable anyway due to age, but there are a lot of aftermarket sheets out there. The plane is shown in an overall unpainted metal finish with black anti-glare areas on the nose and the inside of the tanks.


This was a fire sale kit...literally. The kit came from a collection that was involved in a fire so in this case, there was no box. The sprues were quite short on the end that saw the heat, providing a trapezoid shape rather than rectangular one. I checked over the parts on this and another similar kit to see if any of the bits were damaged. There was on the other kit, but this one seemed to be in good shape aside from the runners so I plunked down my $2.00 and took it home.

Construction starts on this one with the assembly of the wings and the tip tanks. I then cleaned up a lot of flash from the seats, painting them and the interior in dark gull grey. The seats got red head rests. I did nothing about the gigantic sink hole in one of the seats and glued those into the interior. This was followed by the rear instrument panel. There is no detail on the panel nor is there a decal for it. This was painted black.

I then installed the cockpit into the right fuselage half and after adding some nose weight just to be safe, glued the halves together, again, after removing some flash. Then the intakes and splitter plates were installed. The fit of pretty much all the parts can best be described as 'eh'. In other words, treating the kit like a short run kit is the best approach. While good by 1971 standards, most of the detail has faded and the molds have definitely become worn, so all parts need to be test fit and all joins will need filler and then sanding.

When it came to attaching the wing, I discovered that the fuselage was too wide in this area. Thankfully, I had a set of Blap Productions super sanding blocks that I reviewed a short time back. This set made pretty quick work out of reducing the wing root width. I've used these blocks on a number of other projects and have found the very firm, flat, and rather broad surface to work just great for a number of situations. Eventually, I got the wing on and discovered that I had enough nose weight to keep it from tail sitting so attached the nose cone.

Then I spent some quality time smoothing things out and that included a sink area near the left horizontal stab. The stabs were attached and then the nose. The canopy was next and it really doesn't fit all that great, but it isn't terrible. Much of the fit issue is in the front and that is due to how thick the clear plastic is. I filled the gaps with clear paint. The landing gear struts were installed and the canopy masked (not an easy task as the frame lines are quite indistinct).


For this one, I wanted to do a bare metal plane. I have Superscale 72-608 that showed two bare metal planes, one from VX-4 and the other from the 52nd FW. The placement sheet gave little information on the planes and so I did an inquiry on the forum and was fortunate enough to have a reader scan photos from a book of these two planes. The VX-4 was not bare metal but overall light gull grey so it fell to the other option. This aircraft actually has red outer wing tanks with the last section in black. It also looks like the underside of part of the fuselage is ADC Grey. Finding photos of this paint scheme proved to be nearly impossible, but I did find one that showed at least some of this grey extending as far as the back of the nose gear well. Since little could be seen on the underside of the intakes, I made a big assumption that this only extended a short width on the underside.

First step was to primer the model. This showed a spot or two that I missed so that was dealt with. I then sprayed the left side with Alclad II Aluminum and the right with Vallejo Aluminum. I could see little difference in the two except that the Alclad II seemed to go on a bit smoother. One thing I noticed when using the Vallejo paint on unprimered or smooth surfaces is that it was easy to rub it off. I sanded down some spots with 2000 grit and then sprayed the entire airframe with Alclad II dark aluminum. This provides a relatively smooth surface and is a bit glossier than the standard aluminum. Next I sprayed on polished aluminum as I wanted a bright finish, but not one that was too bright.

When that had dried, I masked off sections of the underside and the tip of the tail, painting those with ADC grey. Later research, based on the aircraft hanging from the ceiling at the USAF museum, showed that pretty much the entire underside was painted this color as was the underside of the tailplanes. I had to do a bit more masking, but this was later taken care of. The image I used also showed the upper portion of the flap to be this shade so that was duly painted as well. The nose radome was also masked off and painted black. The tip tanks were painted white with the outside then painted red. The rear of each tank was masked and painted black. When this had dried, the rest of the tank was masked so the inner section could be painted matte black. Painting one side of cylindrical objects is one of many skills as which I am not very good. I know there must be a way to do these properly, but mine generally are either not even or have a slight wave in it. I wasn't sure if the nose anti-glare panel was OD or black so chose black and once masked, that area was painted.

That pretty well took care of all the painting. Those who have built these first generation Hasegawa kits know that one of the down sides of them is that the plastic is quite hard and so a lot more brittle than most of what we are used to today. It was inevitable that I'd end up breaking something and in this case it was the nose gear strut. I patched it by drilling it out and inserting some very thin wire. I also managed to lose one of the nose gear doors so had to substitute one out of plastic card.

I glued on the main wheels and started attaching gear doors. For the wheel wells, I went with a green shade as that is what the reference aircraft seems to have in the wells. The gear doors were left in bare metal as that seemed to be more of the norm. Actually, the gear wells could also be in silver/unpainted metal, so you can not really be wrong. I believe most of the Canadair built planes had them painted silver. Speedbrakes were then glued on. Again, these could be a variety of colors on the inside. The ones I have seen back when the T-33 was still on active duty were unpainted on the inside.

After all this, it was time to apply the decals. As mentioned earlier, I chose a plane from the 52nd FW that was used for spoofing and carried pods on pylons under each wing. The kit has no pylons so I did not bother trying to duplicate this feature. I was a bit anxious about using the decals this as the sheet is old and suffers from some registration issues on the tank markings. However, I started by applying insignia. These are considerably smaller than the photo, but not a problem. A problem is that the sheet has no USAF markings for the wings. I have an ancient Scalemaster sheet which has these and while the only ones left are a bit large, don't look out of place. I clear coated the kit decals and used the wing walk markings. The red turbine warning stripe came from a Microscale stripes sheet as the kit sheet's disintegrated and the Superscale sheet did not have one. Eventually, I got all the markings in place, the last ones added were on the tip tanks. Naturally, the forward end was too small, not reaching around to the black inner part of the tank. Nothing to do but grab a brush and some white paint and fill in the missing portions. I added the small lower radome with a brush load of black paint, added the black edge to the upper fin and glued on the landing light. The masking was removed and that was it.

The end result is a fairly nice shelf moldel. To be honest, the Hasegawa kit is well past its prime and I'd suggest either the Heller or Platz kit for those wanting a better T-33 in this scale. The Superscale decals were a real disappointment and it seems the folks producing the sheet had not really looked at photos of the plane. The insignia and unit badge are too small, the USAF for the wings is missing, and the presentation of the serial on the sheet is wrong. The instructions also fail to include the proper colors of the wing tanks and the wing tank markings do not fit. I can understand their missing the underside grey as it took a bit of sleuthing to get that part right. The sad truth is that non-ANG markings options for US T-33s are sadly lacking and we really could do with a sheet of training unit and unit hacks, but I doubt there is a demand for it. If you have the Hasegawa kit, build it and be happy. If you do not, spend your money elsewhere.

As a side note, this plane was later transferred to the Republic of China Air Force and survives as a display plane on Taiwan.



January 2016

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