Minicraft 1/48 Cessna T-41 Mescalero
KIT #: 11646
PRICE: $19.95 from GreatModels
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


In 1964, the Air Force decided to use the off-the-shelf Cessna 172 as a preliminary flight screener for pilot candidates and ordered 237 T-41As from Cessna.

The T-41B was the US Army version, with a 210 hp Continental IO-360 and constant-speed propeller in place of the 145 hp Continental O-300 and 7654 fixed-pitch propeller used in the 172 and the T-41A.

In 1968, the Air Force acquired 52 more powerful T-41Cs, which used 210 hp Continental IO-360 and a fixed pitch climb propeller, for use at the Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs.

In 1996, the aircraft were further upgraded to the T-41D, which included an upgrade in avionics and to a constant-speed propeller.

Beginning in 1993, the United States Air Force replaced much of the T-41 fleet with the Slingsby T-3A Firefly for the flight screening role, and for aerobatic training, which was outside the design capabilities of the T-41. The T-3A fleet was indefinitely grounded in 1997 and scrapped in 2006 following a series of fatal accidents at the United States Air Force Academy.

The Air Force now trains through a civilian contract with DOSS Aviation known as Initial Military Flight Screening which makes use of the Diamond DA20.

Three T-41s remain at the Air Force Academy in order to support certain academic classes as well as the USAFA Flying Team.

A number of air forces, including Saudi Arabia and Singapore, purchased various civilian models of the Cessna 172 for use in the military training, transport and liaison roles. While similar to the T-41, these aircraft were not T-41s and were powered by the standard 172 powerplants available in the model year purchased. These included the 145 hp Continental O-300 in pre-1968 aircraft and the 150 and 160 hp Lycoming O-320 in later 172s.


I could have sworn that this was one of the small fleet of civil aircraft released decades back by Bandai, Entex and others, however the date on the sprues is 2006, so perhaps I'm in error. The molding is just as good as on any current kit with engraved panel lines and the usual engraved rivet detail. This latter feature is probably more than is needed as the skin of these planes is not pockmarked with rivets and screws when one looks at it.

The kit includes the spats for the later civil Cessna 172 variants in case one wants to do one of those. However, one is on their own when it comes to civil markings. Like the Bandai Super Cub I built many years back, this one also has a complete engine with separate cowling. Showing this feature will negate any possibility of having this sit on its nose gear as the plane is VERY tail heavy. The interior is very nicely done with four nicely done seat and a jump seat in the back, which has to be for luggage as having 5 or 6 people in this plane would probably not allow the 4-popper powering it to get it off the ground. The clear bits are nicely done and a bit thick, but not too much so. Landing gear is well done and quite scale. One will have to fill the holes that would take the struts for the floats, but nothing most cannot easily do.

The decals are superbly printed by Cartograf and include markings for a USAF and a US Army plane. The former is the box art plane and the latter is in OD and white with International Orange bits. They are listed as Flourescent Red, but that color was replaced by International Orange several years before these planes entered service. Instructions are well done with large construction steps and lots of parts help, including listing what each part actually is.


I think this one will be a success with those who like light civil aviation and those who like trainers. Nice thing is that there are a number of nations who use these planes in their air force, so there are many possible markings for it.


September 2008

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