Platz Hobby 1/144 T-34 Mentor JASDF Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2014||Manufacturer||Platz Hobby|
|Subject||T-34 Mentor JASDF||Scale||1/144|
|Kit Number||PF-21||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice details||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (Yen)||¥2,160|
The T-34 Mentor was privately funded development by Beechcraft to offer a more economical flight training platform over the T-6 Texans still in use by the US military services. The design was based upon the engine and wing of the Beech Bonanza with a narrower tandem-seating fuselage and conventional tail. Frist flown in 1948, the Mentor entered service in 1953 and production ran through 1959. The basic design is still so sound that Beech offered an updated Mentor in 1973 powered by the Pratt and Whitney PT6 and entered service as the T-34C with production spanning 1975-1990.
The first time I saw the T-34 up-close was in 1973 with a pristine T-34B on the Navy Aero Club's ramp, but I still didn't have enough flight hours to get checked out in the type at that time. When I saw that aircraft again in 1977, I had the hours and ratings to get checked out and flew the aircraft as often as possible. When I arrived in at Davis-Monthan in 1981, there was a T-34A on their Aero Club's ramp and yes indeed, I flew it until someone (not me) forgot to lower the landing gear for landing. When last I saw that aircraft, the airframe was perched on 55 gallon drums...
What's the difference between the T-34A and T-34B? According to the Navy, the T-34B had a few extra degrees of dihedral in the wing. Operationally, the T-34A had a carbureted engine while the T-34B was fuel-injected (slightly different start procedures). From a modeler's perspective, aside from the paint job, the T-34B had a small triangular notch removed from the bottom of the rudder where the T-34A did not. All had two-bladed propellers in operational service. You'll find a variety of mods in the warbird market with three-bladed propellers and wingtip fuel tanks among the additions.
Platz has released several new subjects in 1/144 scale including this new-tool T-34 Mentor. This kit represents the piston-powered T-34A/B as operated by the US Air Force, US Navy/Marine Corps, and the Japanese Defense Forces. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on a single tree of parts plus a pair of clear parts (canopy and tail stand), and a in-flight display stand molded in black. As with most of the Platz 1/144 scale kits, there are actually two complete kits in this box.
The kit features a simple two-place cockpit though you won't see much through the canopy as it is molded closed. The landing gear can be built up or down, if you build it up, you can use the optional flight display stand whereas if you build it with the gear down, you can use the clear tail stand to keep the model on its landing gear. I'm not sure if you can get sufficient ballast in the nose to offset the tail-heavy center of gravity.
Markings are provided for eight examples which include:
- T-34A, unknown, JASDF, 1954
- T-34A, 7109, JASDF, 1954
- T-34A, 109, JASDF, 1954
- T-34A, 7109, JASDF, 1954
- T-34A, 41-0323, JASDF, 1973
- T-34A, 41-0297, JASDF, 1960
- T-34A, 61-0390, JASDF, 1970
- T-34A, 0781, JASDF, 2014
This is another nice release from Platz Hobby and I hope they'll consider producing this subject in 1/48 scale as well!
For more information about this set and the other releases from Platz Hobby, visit their website at http://www.platz-hobby.com.
My sincere thanks to Platz Hobby for this review sample!