Academy 1/48 T-33A Shooting Star

KIT #: 2185
PRICE: @$20.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES:  2000 boxing


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, the type is very popular with the jet warbird crowd. Many T-33s spent over 40 years on active service before being retired.


As with a number of Academy's kits from this time period, this was originally released in a Hobbycraft box. However, until the GWH kit arrived on the scene, it was considered to be the best T-33 in this scale, far surpassing the older Hawk kit. If the kit has any major flaws, it is a rather basic cockpit, though there are aftermarket fixes for this.

The cockpit tub consists of a pair of somewhat generic seat, instrument panels and control sticks. There is some raised detail on the instrument panels and side consoles. The kit provides the options for nose guns or a blanking plate so do your homework to see which is applicable. The nose gear is a single piece and the intakes are shallow, ending in a blanking plate. The kit requires 8 grams to stay on its nose, but there is lots of room. A single piece exhaust is provided before you close up the fuselage halves.

Wings are a single lower piece into which the main gear well is attached. There are holes in the lower wing for pylons and rocket stubs, but frankly, I don't recall seeing any T-33 photos where they are carrying bombs or rockets. I'd leave them closed and use the weapons on another project.

You can pose the canopy open or closed, though the whole thing is a bit simplistic. Landing gear and wheels/tires are fairly well done and are the later variety. You can also pose the flaps lowered if you so wish. Wing tip tanks are provided and those will simply attach to the ends of the wing.

Instructions are well done with generic color references along with some RAL and FS 595 information as required. The decal sheet is very nicely done and offers markings for three planes. First is a Korean War aircraft with the 18th FBW as shown on the box art. I built my GWH plane two years back using these markings from an Aeromaster sheet so we know where Academy got this. You also have a bare metal version with the South Korean Air Force. The third option is with the Bundeswaffe in the green/grey/silver-grey scheme.


Despite having been superseded, it can still be made into a very nice model for your shelves. I need to mention a couple of things. One is that you cannot do the Korean War plane out of the box as this is a late T-33 with all the additional vents added to the nose gun panels. You can, of course, sand those off or fill them as required. Secondly, I guess Academy thinks that these planes don't require pitot probes as none are supplied. Early planes have one under the nose in front of the nose gear well. Later had two, one on either side of the fuselage beneath and forward of the windscreen. The kit is also lacking radio antennas, but these are easy enough to make from scrap. As always with older Academy kits, check references if things like this are important to you. 

April 2018

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