Testors/Hawk 1/48 T-33A Shooting Star

KIT #: ?
PRICE: $10.00
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Bagged kit. No decals.

The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star (or T-Bird) is a subsonic American jet trainer. It was produced by Lockheed and made its first flight in 1948. 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. The last military operator of the T-33, the Bolivian Air Force, retired the type in July 2017, after 44 years of service. Dozens are still being flown as warbirds, the majority of those are Canadair built planes.

Hawk was one of the older American kit makers, and produced a wide variety of kits, including this T-33A. The company was bought by Testors who continued to reissue the kit until they decided they'd had it with kit production in the late 1990s. I'm not sure who bought the tooling, but I'm, sure it will resurface some time in the future. There is no lack of these kits available on the second hand market.

Typical of kits of the time, the overall shape is good, but the detailing leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, this one is not a rivet monster and actually has an interior, something often not included in kits of the day with pilot heads molded onto a flat plate for the cockpit. It includes a cockpit tub, instrument panels that use decals for instruments, control stick shapes and seats that sort of look like the ones in the plan. Crew figures are included to fill the emptiness.

The kit also includes a full engine and a stand for the rear fuselage. This means the fuselage is in four parts with two on each side so you can display the engine. The cockpit is trapped between the two fuselage halves and for those who will install the tail sectio, you'll need weight in the nose. Intakes are shallow and there is a separate canopy and windscreen. The canopy glass is separate from the framework and you can post it open.

Wings are a single lower piece with two upper halves. There is no gear well and you need to install the main gear legs prior to cementing the wings together. Tip tanks are an upper and lower half and oddly, are engraved where the rest of the kit is raised panel lines. Landing gear is quite hefty as are the pegs for the wheels. Gear doors are overly thick and have the part number embossed on them.

Instructions are quite straight-forward. Had this kit come with decals, they would have come with markings for the 57th FIS in aluminum with da-glo areas on the nose, tail, and wing tanks. My kit came with the clear bits for a P-51, but a reader was kind enough to supply the needed T-33 parts so I could build the kit.


The kit has a lot of ejector pin marks and sink areas on it, so it is not surprising that much of the build was spent taking care of some of those areas. This pretty well wiped out any detailing and I made little effort to replace anything that was so lost. I started by assembling the cockpit, tip tanks and the bit of the exhaust I was going to use. I cemented the front and rear sections of the fuselage together as I wasn't going to use the removable rear section option.

After the cockpit was painted up it was installed except for the seats. If you are ever going to build this kit, do not glue in the interior until after you have the fuselage halves together, otherwise you may find it doesn't fit square in the fuselage. I glued 20 grams of nose weight into the nose cavity as I found 10 grams wasn't enough so went with overkill.

When I assembled the wings, I installed a plate over the gear well with plastic card that was sufficient to keep you from staring at the inside of the fuselage. It is not surprising that most of the seams were large so the majority of the build was spent dealing with those and the aforementioned sink areas.

Eventually, I got the airframe together, minus the tip tanks. I added tape belts to the seats and installed those. The canopy and windscreen were attached and masked. I noticed that the windscreen was narrower than the area of the canopy frame to which it should have mated, but I wanted a closed canopy on this one and that is the price one pays.


I mentioned no decals, but that wasn't an issue for me as I have a nice Caracal Models sheet for ANG T-33s. These are easy to paint as they are overall ADC Grey. However, you do have to paint the anti-glare panel, nose radomes and the inside of the tip tanks. I made the latter job a little easier by choosing a 146 FIS, Pennsylvania ANG plane which had all black tanks. It also had a black tail section and surround to the canopy and that required some careful masking. I used Testors enamel for the ADC Grey and Tamiya X-18 black for the other areas.

Eventually, I got all that done and glued in the nose gear. I had lost the nose gear doors but made new ones out of some appropriately thick plastic sheet. The gear doors were painted grey on the outside and aluminum on the inside, while the gear wells were painted zinc chromate green. Then the wheels were attached. All the gear doors are butt joins with no placement guides. I then clear glossed the outside of the tanks and the fin for the decals.

For this job, I used Caracal sheet 48016. The decals are printed by Cartograf and took a very long time to come free of the backing paper. When done, the areas glossed were given a semi-matte finish and this was also applied to the nose anti-glare panel and the wing walk decals. Masking was removed from the canopies and that was it.

To be totally honest, of the three 1/48 T-33 kits out there, this one ranks last. Many of the parts are overly thick, there are gaps pretty much everywhere two parts are joined, the interior is very basic and I feel that the windscreen/canopy are not the right shape. Having said that, the end result looks fairly nice and while it will not be a contest model by any stretch of the imagination, it does look nice on the shelf.



9 April 2021

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