Azur 1/72 NA.57 (BT-9)






Three Aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Short run with resin and vac canopy`



For a look at the kit in the box and a short history, please visit the preview.


Construction starts with the wings. They had the ejector pins snipped off, were glued together, cleaned up and set aside until needed. Then the interior was worked on. This basically involved gluing the seats onto the floor pan. This assembly and the interior walls were then painted US interior green using Model Master's enamel. While this was drying, the cowling halves were glued together and the resin bits cut off their resin blocks. Some of the resin parts are very fine and will either break or go flying off into the aether!

With paint dry, the forward instrument panel was glued in place, but not after being severely trimmed to fit. There is a back cockpit section and that was glued in place. The second instrument panel was glued onto the housing for the back seater. Fit was good. The two control stubs (the stick parts broke) were glued to the cockpit floor with superglue. The floor was then glued to one sidewall and the fuselage halves glued together.

The floor did not fit at all well and needed some shims and lots of superglue and accelerator to where it fit semi-well. All the seams were given filler (some more than once) and then the tail was glued on (again, filler needed). With the tail in place, the wings were glued on. Well, this was after the fuselage wing roots were sanded down as the fuselage was too wide to accommodate the wings. In addition, the rear part of the wing attachment is all wrong for an NA.57. If you look at the box art, you'll notice a fairing that juts down to the wing. The kit does not have this. In fact, it is more like a T-6 or a Wirraway where the rear of the wing is flush with the bottom of the fuselage. I suspect that the Wirraway fuselage was used as a master.

After a considerable amount of sanding and such, the wings were mated to the fuselage. Again, multiple applications of filler were needed. The tail planes were next attached. More filler was used. I now had a pretty complete airframe so turned my attention to the wheel spats.

The NA.57/BT-9/Yale, had fixed landing gear in semi covered spats. Well, my kit had one of the wells partially filled in where it should have been more open. A hassle, but not unexpected from a short run kit. This required some time scraping out the excess plastic so that the wheel could actually be put into the spat.

With that complete, the landing gear and tail wheel were glued to the bottom of the wing and fuselage respectively. Fit is good. Thankfully, I use a pretty 'hot' glue so it helps melt the part in place! Then the engine and cowling were glued on. First the engine was glued to the firewall and then the cowling glued on. You need to align the cowling properly as it need to match up with an intake that will go on the top and the exhaust that exits the cowling. There is a dimple to show where the exhaust will go and that helps. When the cowling is glued on, then attach the carb intake (which to my mind is way too large) and a small exhaust scoop.

Moving to the interior, the aft instrument panel and anti-glare shield were test fit. I had to do quite a bit of trimming of the instrument panel to get it to fit. Before gluing this in place, the roll over assembly needs to be attached behind the pilot's seat. It is then painted a very light grey. With this in place, then you can install the aft instrument panel.  There is a small head rest that fits in the roll over assembly for the pilot. Getting it in place was a chore, to say the least.

Now for the 'fun' part. Installing the canopy. I trimmed this thing the best I could and glued it on with superglue (non-fogging). To say it doesn't fit too well should not surprise most of you. I have a terrible time with vac canopies and would feel much more confident about cutting them if there was a spare; which there isn't. Once it was glued in place, the gaps were filled along the bottom edge and it was masked. Pretty it isn't, but it is in place!

Then on to masking. Not my favorite job on a kit like this. There must be 50 panes on the NA 57. After a good hour or two of masking, the job was done and with some tissue stuffed in the engine area to keep most of the paint out, it was time to add some color and hide all that filler!


Because of a total lack of aftermarket decals and a nearly equivalent lack of references, it seemed as if the only options were those provided by the kit decal sheet. Now those are really quite good, giving a nice variety of markings for the plane. The most colorful are the Vichy markings as shown on the box art, but I wasn't quite in the mood to paint all that red and yellow. Not wanting to do a Luftwaffe version, I took the cowards way out and chose the overall silver version. This meant that the plane had to be undercoated with a gloss enamel. This is mainly to hide scratches and provide a universally smooth 'primer'. I used some left over Xtracolor dark earth, and while generally lighter colors are preferred, it should work well enough.

Once that was dry, the Testors Metallizer Aluminum (non-buffing) was applied. Thanks to the enamel undercoat, the stuff didn't come off on my hands and can be masked with no real trauma. When it had dried, the nose area was masked with Tamiya tape and painted flat black. The tape was taken off and it was time for the decals.

Decals for this kit are made by Cartograf in Italy instead of the usual Propagteam. Unfortunately, the blue is still too light a shade. I'm not really sure why it is that Azur insists on having the blue too light. It is obvious from period color photos as to the proper shade of the blue in the roundel and fin stripes. Heck, they even get it right on the box art! Anyway, the overall silver aircraft is pretty devoid of any special markings. Just roundels, fin stripes and aircraft numbers. You have the option to paint the fin stripes as serial numbers are provided separately, which is a nice touch.

The decals are much tougher than those from previous sources. I used Champ setting solution and was able to fuss with the decals for several minutes. With others, it is an almost immediate reaction. In fact, the fin stripes needed three applications before they finally succumbed and conformed. Same with the black walkway stripes. The fin stripes fit fairly well as they are oversize in the horizontal so some trimming kept the overlap to a minimum. In the vertical, however, they were a touch too short. Not a problem as there are two sets of fin stripes and I just cut a segment out of the other set to fill a gap on the lower part of the rudder. BTW, the decals have misprinted 57 as S7. French coded things with the first line being the manufacturer and type; NAA - North American Advanced (Trainer). The second line is the type and number of places; 57-P2. The third line is the serial number; 105


With the decals on, it was time to do some touchup painting. This included the tires and engine. I also drilled a hole for and installed the wing tip pitot tube. Two are provided, for some odd reason, but only one is used. There are two venturi tubes, but one went flying off into the ozone when I initially cut it off the sprue, so only one was glued in place. The exhaust was glued on and then the prop attachment hole was drilled out on the engine.

The prop was painted black with an aluminum hub area, the exhaust painted Burnt Iron, the engine drybrushed with aluminum and the venturi and pitot tube painte aluminum as well. When the wing tip lights were dabbed with clear red and green, that completed all the painting. The last step was to outline the control surfaces with my Rapidograph drafting pen, and the kit was complete.


These short run kits are really deceptive. You open the box and see that there is just a single sprue and only a few other resin bits and a vac canopy. "Can't be too hard", you think. Well, easy they really are not. At least not for me. I really like the unusual subjects and that is why I build them, knowing that they will not be contest models and that they will frustrate me at least once during the building!

All of that aside, this really is a neat kit. I like the T-6/Harvard family of trainers and this is a sort of younger brother to those. If you wanted to do a Yale, it seems that all you'd need to do is replace the rudder with a later version. For a BT-9, I'm not really sure how much difference there is, but it can't be that much. If you have experience with short run kits this one will be no different from the others.

January 2002

Review kit courtesy of my kit collection.


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