Revell 1/48 AT-6/SNJ Texan Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2009||Manufacturer||Revell|
|Kit Number||5251||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice kit straight out of the box||Cons|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$16.00|
North American developed one of the most successful training aircraft in the history of aviation. The initial version was the Model 16 (NA-16) that first flew in 1935, then modified into the NA-26 to compete for the Basic Combat (BC-1) trainer contract for the USAAC. Not only did North American win this competition, they supplied 400 o the RAF which became Harvard Mk.I.
The BC-1 and update BC-2 were again updated with new slightly swept wings and other distinctive aerodynamic changes to become the Advanced Trainer - AT-6 Texan for the USAAC and the SNJ for the US Navy. The Texan would continue to evolve into a number of training configurations and remain in production well into the 1950s, with nearly 15,500 examples built.
The aircraft did serve outside the training mission as well. During Korea, the AT-6 saw combat with the USAF as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) aircraft, and other air arms around the world adapted the stable gun platform into the Counter Insurgency (COIN) mission.
Numerous T-6s continue to fly today, not only as warbirds, but as air racers, surrogate combat aircraft for the movies, and frequently running around the airshow circuit. The role of surrogate combat aircraft reached its peak with the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! and the conversion of the T-6 into several different configurations, most notably as the A6M Zero. These Zero 'veterans' continued to fly air combat missions in the TV series 'Blacksheep Squadron' against actual F4U Corsairs (which had to keep their flaps down to better match up their airspeeds) and most notably against the F-14 Tomcat in the movie 'Final Countdown'.
Here is a Monogram classic kit - their 1/48 T-6 Texan. This kit was first released in the 1970s and is still a nicely detailed model by today's standards. This re-release is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clears. Some in the hobby industry say that model kits of trainer aircraft never sell, but clearly there are exceptions since this is still one of the more popular toolings.
Construction starts off with the cockpit and Monogram scores big with its nice portrayal of the tubular structure that makes up the inside of the fuselage and surrounds the cockpit. As you'll see in some of these photo references, aside from the tubular interior, there isn't too much detail inside the aircraft since the majority of these airframes were unarmed trainers. Instrument panels become more populated with different instruments as the later model trainers.
The flight control surfaces are all molded in the neutral position, though the landing flaps are provided separately and are positionable.
The kit provides a nice set of clear parts to allow for the easy portrayal of the front and rear cockpits being open or closed.
The kit provides markings for two interesting choices:
- AT-6A, 41-524, Luke Field, USAAF, 1942
- SNJ-5, 51978, NAS Glenview, 1956
The Monogram kit is not the only T-6 available in 1/48 scale. Ocidental released their version a number of years ago, though my favorite boxing of that kit was done by Modelcraft who included an awesome decal sheet with the kit. Which one is better? Both have their strengths and weaknesses, depending on the degree of AMS building you want to accomplish. Both kits build fine straight out of the box, but the best Texans I've seen were made by combining the parts out of both kits. However you prefer to build your T-6, SNJ, or Harvard, the Monogram kit is still aces in my book. If you never build another subject, you will never run out of color schemes for this subject.
[War Story Alert] When I was learning to fly in the early 1970s, I heard an unusual rumble whilst I was doing a preflight on the Cessna 140. Coming up the taxiway was a LONG parade of T-6s that had flown into Santa Barbara for a 'gathering'. Mixed in among the usual array of warbirds and racers were some eye-catching mods - of course the Japanese 'Zeros' were there, along with another Texan slinging a torpedo underneath. The Fw 190A Texan was good for a look, but it was the Yak Texan trainer with the bulged canopies, tip tanks, and a NOSEWHEEL that was the clear winner in silver paint and red stars.
This is a fun subject and is worth stashing a few in your collection (if you don't have several already). And I'll never tire of the dogfight scenes out of 'Final Countdown' with a 2v2 of Tomcat versus 'Zero'!