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Kitty Hawk 1/32 scale T-6 Texan

Kit:KH320001 // Scale:1/32 // Price:$79.95
Kitty Hawk
Nice detail in cockpit and engine; well-printed decals
Some fit issues; not accurate to any one version; ejector-pin marks on cockpit frame
Injection-molded, 252 parts (6 photoetched metal), decals

The North American T-6 Texan, or SNJ as it’s known in the Navy, holds a special place in my heart because it was the very first model I ever built — the Hawk 1/72 scale SNJ back in 1959.

Originally designated AT-6 (for advanced trainer), the Texan has probably been used by every country in the world at one time or other. Many of them live on today as privately owned planes performing at air shows or just for recreation — a rich man’s toy.

To my knowledge, this is the first injection-molded kit of the T-6 in 1/32 scale. (I seem to recall a resin release back in the day, but don’t hold me to it.)

Molded in medium gray plastic, the kit features finely engraved panel lines and rivet detail. You get a fret of photoetched-metal seat belts, but no instructions on where or how to install them. It’s pretty easy to figure out, though.

Two sheets of decals provide options for seven aircraft. The three U.S. aircraft don’t look like regular military — more like privately owned planes photographed at an air show — but the foreign aircraft look legitimate.

A heads-up about the decals: They will suck down immediately. You have to use lots of water and apply them as close as possible to their final position because they’re hard to move.

The kit seems a little like a hybrid. One odd aspect is the canopy glass: The three center sections don’t have vertical bracing on the side panels. That type of canopy didn’t appear until the production of the T-6G and SNJ-7. It is accurate for the Italian version, however.

Steps 1-7 deal with the cockpit. You have a choice of joysticks for U.S. and foreign, and decals for the instrument panels. They actually fit pretty well, but, as I said earlier, they want to stick right away. When you finally pull all the components together, take your time — there are a lot of locator holes. 

Leave the rollover tower that’s supposed to be installed in Step 7 off until final painting; it’s easier to mask the cockpit area that way.

In Step 8, you must decide on which exhaust outlet you want: stubby or extended, depending on your version.

Step 9 puts the basic engine together, and there are a few color corrections needed: Part A7’s directions call for painting the gear housing and push-rod sleeves gloss insignia blue, but the gear housing should be gloss Navy gray Federal Standard 16081. The push-rod sleeves should be gloss black. Same goes for parts F45 and A11; they should be black, not blue.

Not all the parts in steps 11 and 12 are needed because you won’t see any of it. The coaming in Step 19 doesn’t fit very well, so I just glued it down. 

You are instructed to install the engine mounts in Step 14. But when that whole assembly is attached to the forward cockpit bulkhead, it doesn’t line up and the engine assembly doesn’t line up with the forward fuselage opening. I ended up ripping out all the motor mounts and parts A14, A15, and F38, then just gluing the basic engine assembly onto the forward fuselage.

To simplify: Just use the engine from steps 9 and 10: the bulkhead (Part A5), exhaust ring, intake, and manifold (Part F25). Combine these two steps and glue it to the fuselage; make sure all the parts are lined up. All those other engine compartment parts? Toss them.

The only other major issues are in Step 19. Part D5, the top piece for the compartment in front of the cockpit, needs to be clamped in place; it fits with no filler but it has to be clamped. Part D6, the top panel between the rear of the cockpit and the tail, is undersized. I had to fill, sand, blend, and rescribe all the way around. Also, depending on which version you are building, you may need to fill some holes.

The three center canopy pieces are meant to be closed. If you want to pose the canopy open, you need to trim off the locator tabs on the corners of parts GP4 and GP5.

The kit provides an assortment of gun pods, bombs, rockets, and a centerline fuel tank, none of which I used. But they’re there if you want them.

For markings, I chose Option 2, a Navy plane with yellow wings and dark gray fuselage. Paint callouts point to a tan prop, but I’ve never seen one painted that color; I painted mine flat black. I found the landing gear is too far inboard (by about 1⁄8"), but that’s not a fatal flaw.

It took me only 19 hours to build this Texan. That’s pretty quick, considering the engine-mounting difficulties. A beginner might get crossed up by some of the problems I found, but intermediate modelers should be able to work their way through to a decent model. Kitty Hawk’s kit looks nice when it’s complete — even if the canopy doesn’t go with the variants depicted and the colors don’t resemble standard military schemes.

Now I want an all-yellow SNJ.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2014 FineScale Modeler.


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