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T-28A in 1/32 scale
with some help from Collectaire

by Frank Mitchell


North American T-28A


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As some on the list will recall, I have not always been a big fan of this manufacturer. However, a couple of years ago, I ended up with two of the more recent 32nd kits: the F-80, which I have talked about before http://hsfeatures.com/features04/f80fm_1.htm, and the T-28, which is the subject of this dissertation.

I have always thought that the T-28 would make a nice 32nd model; not sure why, it just looks kind of interesting. Unfortunately, while the Collectaire kit will help the process, it wonít be easy.


On the good side, the fuselage aft of the cowling is accurate and well molded and, as with the F-80 kit, two canopies are supplied, which is a nice touch. The gear and other small parts are white metal, and the decals are very useable. Although there is some interior supplied, with those large canopies, a healthy dollop of additional detailing is called for (see below). There are, however, two very real problems with the kit that could be a deal-breaker for some: the cowling and the wing.

The wing is a one-piece molding that is much too thick throughout its length and has almost no dihedral. Since a major part of the very characteristic look of this airplane is the significant dihedral (10 degrees) along with a relatively thin wing, this is not good. Because the wheel wells are a part of the one-piece, correcting the dihedral would be a difficult process, and thinning the entire wing would be very messy, to say the least. In addition, when the wing was compared to several sets of drawings, the shape appeared to be wrong in plan view as the "sweep back" of the leading edge is incorrect, which throws the whole wing out of shape.

The cowling, which is nicely shaped, appears to have been made for a somewhat larger scale kit. It is about 1/8 inch too tall in the vertical plane, and in plan view, it also bulges out and is too large.



It would take a major effort to correct this problem, and I even have some doubts it could be accomplished. I have to wonder if whoever made the master tried to fit the two parts together.





After some thought, I decided that the easiest way to attack this kit would simply be to scratch-build a new wing. In the long run, it was far less time-consuming than trying to correct the extremely inaccurate piece in the kit. Since I was doing a scratchbuilt project at the time, I carved out a mold for a new wing from balsa and vacuum-formed that along with the other modelís parts. However, I then had the even brighter thought that I could save some trouble and simply cut the wheel wells out of the Collectaire kit and graft them into the new wing. Bad idea. Took for bloody ever to get it all done, but it looks right, if, that is, it is not inspected too closely.


However, in a burst of misplaced ambition, I then made one of those decisions that sounded good at the time; i.e., if I was going to make a new cowling anyway, why not do a T-28A? Sounded good, so a new cowling was also carved from balsa and vacuum-formed. I then learned that there is a lot of work in a T-28 cowling, regardless of what version the aircraft might be. Scoops, doors, and exhausts all over the place, plus, of course, I had to scratchbuild a new two-blade propeller.


There was a fair amount of detailing that needed to added after the conversion/correction work was done. As with most of the Collectaire kits, there are a fair number of bubbles, pinholes, and rough surfaces that have to be dealt with, and the cockpit needs lots of attention, even though the basics are supplied. It is not that the kit parts are the wrong shape, they just tend to be the wrong size. The consoles, for example, donít come up the walls far enough, the seats are too wide, and the area behind the rear seat needs lots of work. On the other hand, the instrument panels and canopy parts are very nice.


All of the control surfaces were also cut and re-positioned, mainly because you just donít see pictures of the T-28 with the flaps up. Not surprisingly, the scribing needed to be re-done because of all the changes I made.



Painting and Markings


I chose an overall gray finish, simply because I had done three natural metal models in a row, and could not face another one. I therefore picked a National Guard aircraft that had been (as were most T-28As) painted light gray.



The paints are Gunze, with the final finish being a combination of Floquil Flat finish with some areas further coated with Testorís Dull coat both with and without some tinting.

The decals were mostly from the stash since the kit markings were fine, but for Navy birds.





Was the model worth the effort?

Not really, but I just couldnít see throwing away an expensive kit, regardless of the quality. I added to my own problems of course, but since I have a habit of doing that, there is nothing new there.

In summary, these kits, as with many aftermarket kits, need to be considered carefully before purchase. If you are willing to put in the required effort, a good representation of fairly rare subjects can be obtained, but whether that distinction is balanced by the work and expense involved is obviously up to the individual.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Frank Mitchell
Page Created 29 August, 2006
Last Updated 21 February, 2007

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