Trumpeter 1/48 T-38A Talon
KIT #: 02852
PRICE: $35.00 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New tool kit


The Northrop T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2013 in air forces throughout the world.

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the largest operator of the T-38. In addition to training USAF pilots, the T-38 is used by NASA. The US Naval Test Pilot School is the principal US Navy operator (other T-38s were previously used as USN aggressor aircraft until replaced by the similar Northrop F-5 Tiger II). Pilots of other NATO nations fly the T-38 in joint training programs with USAF pilots.

As of 2012, the T-38 has been in service for over 50 years with its original operator (the USAF). Other current and previous operators of the T-38 include Portugal, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and Germany. All German T-38s are kept in the US and used to train German pilots.  


After the initial sell out of the Sword kit, we had to wait several years for another T-38 from Wolfpak, and now we have a second within a few months. To be fair, I think many will consider the Wolfpak kit to be short run and this one to be more mainstream. In many ways they are quite similar, though the Trumpeter kit does not have the molding errors (mainly sink areas) of the earlier kit. .

The cockpit comes with two nicely done ejection seats, and this time there are photo etch belts included. Instrument panels have raised detailing with no face detail, relying on decals for that. Side consoles are the same way. I should point out that these are not the 'glass' instruments of the T-38C so you cannot do that verson and remain true to the prototype. Rudder pedals, control sticks and such are provided for the but. There is also detail behind the seats. One has to decide when building the cockpit whether they want the canopies open or closed as the mechanisms are installed at this time. Side panels are also included to fill out the tub assembly.  Under the cockpit tub fits the one piece wheel well. There is room in the nose for weight if you feel the kit needs it. None is shown in the instructions.

Intakes are a left and right side with a separate lip piece. On this kit, the intakes are not see-through. There are main gear well inserts and no lower fuselage insert, which I know will please most builders. The kit has single piece wings, and horizontal stab. The fin is two pieces with the small flat piece atop the fin is molded in place. Trumpeter has provided a single piece exhaust so no need to fiddle with separate exhaust. It also includes a bracing plate between the two. Landing gear is well done and are the appropriate thin tire version that is typical for a T-38.

Gear doors have separate actuators as do the speed brakes. The one thing I don't like about the kit is that Trumpeter has already opened the holes for the travel pod that is included. These planes did not always carry this so one will have to fill holes if not using it. I do with Trumpeter would get with the program on things like this and leave the holes flashed over so the builder can decide if they want to open them. The only other bit included is a travel pod.

Instructions are well done and include color information using Gunze paint references. Markings are provided for two planes. One is the box art aircraft from the 7FS/49FW at Holloman AFB. The other is a Portuguese T-38, Portugal being one of the few to buy new build T-38s, most other nations getting them second hand. I should mention that both aircraft are gloss and despite Trumpeter's color markings and painting guide showing them with 'Spanish school' panel lines, the black aircraft were a uniform color. Markings are well done and those who want something different have several aftermarket sheets to choose from including some recent ones from Caracal Models.


At an SRP of half that of the Wolfpack kit sells for, I can see this one doing very well and a number of modelers, myself included, wishing I had just waited a while. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the kit, but I'm betting it is darn close with only the zealots noticing anything amiss. Undoubtedly Trumpeter will see this as an opportunity to branch out into other boxings should this one sell well.


March 2014 

Thanks to me for picking this one up.

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