Kitty Hawk Model 1:32 North American T-6G Texan
Refer to TMMI Issue 240, Oct. 2015 for the full build article.
The North American T-6/SNJ “Texan” was an advanced trainer for most Allied air forces from World War 2 thru the mid 1950’s. During World War 2, flying the T-6 was usually the last step in training before a pilot was assigned to a fighter or attack squadron. Built originally for the U.S. Army Air Corps, the “Texan” was also flown by the U.S. Navy and it was designated SNJ. It also served in all of the British Commonwealth Air forces, China, and in several Central and South American countries as well. The Australian Air Force modified the T-6 during the early stages of WW2 with additional .50 caliber guns to create the stopgap “Wirraway” fighter. During the Korean War, T-6 “Mosquitos” were used by the U.S. Air Force as spotter and tactical air control aircraft. Initially, they carried weapons such as rockets and machine gun pods under the wings but they were ordered to be removed later. It was possible having weapons made the pilots felt more inclined to attack ground targets themselves instead of doing their intended job.
This is the last model kit I bought from Uncle Rick at his hobby shop in April, 2014, just a scant few weeks before he passed on. I have known Rick since 1989. He was a friend and the best kind of Modeller to shoot the craps with over beers. He loved scale modelling so much so that this hobby was quite literally his life. How many people do you know actually gave name himself after a famous WWI fighter pilot? In a way, I envied his job because he gets to build models during his work hours. One year, he finished over 50 models while many of us can barely finish 5 in a year. Over the time I knew him I had bought so much model stuff from him that I had ensured I will have a model to build till I pass on. I dedicate this model to the memories of Richthofen (AKA. Uncle Rick) Chin.
The kit by Kitty Hawk Model provided a detailed cockpit complete with fuselage framing and a detailed engine bay. The amount of details tempted me to think about opening up a section of the fuselage skin to show off some of the details. The set of photoedge seat belts provided in the kit looks very nice, but I opted to not use them because photoedge seat belts do not fold naturally due to their thickness. I made a new of seat belts from wine bottle wrapper. The seat belt buckles were cut from thin styrene cards. I used a set Eduard photoedge seat belt buckles as the template to do the cutting.
Once I glue the fuselage halves together the construction proceeded very quickly. The fuselage halves generally fit very well together. The fit up of the cockpit to the halves was very tight and I had to apply pressure to press these parts together while the glue was drying. Same pressure fit was required to minimize the gaps between the top deck of the fuselage to the instrument panel. Despite my best effort, a bit of putty was required to smooth out the gaps at these locations. The wing fit perfectly to the fuselage.
I fill most of the gaps with thick cyanoacrylate glue and sanded them smooth. To prepare the model for a natural metal finish, I buffed all the joints with 3800 and 6000 grit polishing cloth until all the scratches were removed. Then the model was primed with a light coat of Alclad Grey Primer. This primer is a lacquer based primer and thus this paint grips onto the styrene very well. However, the lacquer is a fast drying medium and thus it leaves a grainy surface when the primer dried. I polished the model again with a 4000 grit cloth until the primer is smooth.
I selected the colourful Italian Trainer aircraft from the decal sheet as it gives a nice combination of natural metal finish and a nice bright yellow surfaces. The kit decals depict the privately owned T-6G aircraft I-SSEP as shown in the photo above. To properly build this aircraft, one should not follow the kit’s drawings and attach the black direction finder ‘football’ on the rear fuselage and instead should scratch build a whip antenna.
To avoid damaging the aluminum paint by masking tape, I painted all the yellow surfaces first. I used Model Master enamel Chrome Yellow to paint the yellow surfaces. I buffed the paint surfaces with 6000 grit polishing cloth after each coat of paint for a beautiful smooth finish. After two days of drying, I masked off the yellow surfaces of the wings and the tail surfaces in preparation for the aluminum paint. I painted the model using Alcad Aluminum paint. To get different sheen to simulate different aluminum panels, I painted the removable fuselage panels with Polished Aluminum and buffed. Although the real aircraft is kept pristine clean, I choose to weather the model a bit to make it more interesting by hand brushing streaks of black-brown wash along the panels near the engine to simulate oil leaks. This is done very lightly and carefully as I do not want to beat up this aircraft. Finally, I scratch built a whip antenna and painted it white and attached to the finished model. I choose to add the kit’s external fuel tank for interest sake.