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T-6 Texan

Kitty Hawk Models 1/32 T-6 Texan Build Review

By Kelly Jamison

Date of Review February 2016 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject T-6 Texan Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32001 Primary Media Styrene
Pros First styrene kit of this subject in this scale Cons A few minor glitches (see text)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $79.95


For a brief discussion of this subject and a look at this kit out of the box, look here.

The Build

The past few years have been a golden age for 1/32 scale modelers. The choice of injection moldings in that scale has skyrocketed well beyond the vac-u-formed blobs that were the only thing available for that chosen scale. Many companies have stepped up with superior engineered and accurate kits. Kitty Hawk steps up our selections with such kits as the F-86 series, P-39 Airacobra, the much welcomed T-28 Trojan and two kits I never thought I would see in 1/32 scale. The OV-10 Bronco and the amazing OS2U Kingfisher! But the kit that I think is most welcome is the unbelievably successful T-6 Texan. This is where Kitty Hawk seems to be a leader.

The kit comes in a sturdy box with a heavy cardboard bottom and beautifully adorned artwork for the top. The sprue is cast in a medium grey and the parts trees are logical and individually bagged. You get a nice little photoetched fret for seatbelts too. The glass parts are placed in their own box for safety and the decals are packaged very nicely too. The parts are packed tight with no movement within the box prior to opening. I saw absolutely no damage from shipping as every square millimeter of box space is used.

Opening the parts bags and a close inspection showed some parts to be undershot. I have heard that Kitty Hawk has fixed this problem a long time ago and there should feel safe to purchase a new kit without this problem. This kit was early in their production run. (Yes it has taken me this long to finish a kit at no fault of the kit and total fault of the builder!) There are also a few push pin marks on conspicuous areas but we will just deal with that when they come up. Sometimes those push pin marks are a function of the engineering of the molds and cannot be avoided without distorting the part being cast. They are simple to fix and most times can be done in just a few minutes. Everything got a bath of warm soapy water, a rinse and dry in the old dish drying rack.

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While the parts trees were drying, I thought I would look over the directions to see what direction I wanted to take the Texan and what choke points I might find. They are well done in a 60 degree isometric view with optional parts clearly marked and painting instructions at each point needed. Modified or cut parts, decals and any other special notation is presented during the construction with no confusion. In the center of the instruction pamphlet is a color profile painting and markings guide. There is no question to where every single decal of eight choices of schemes goes with this compressive guide.

Well the very first step commits you to what choice you want to take. The Harvard control loop yoke or the more traditional control stick? I had to make a decision. I have always thought the South Africa Air Force scheme to be a colorful and unique one. With a little internet search, the aircraft I wanted to do actually exist and still flies so there were plenty of useful pictures to help me along. SAAF T-6 Texan it is! So I used the traditional control sticks and started building up the cockpit. Detailing it out was easy. I added a few wires and cleaned up a few parts. I decided to put the seat belts in at the end of the build and using a fine brush I painted the dark green decal instrument panel a more conventional flat black color. The rest of the assembly went on with no problem other than having to drill out a couple of holes to fit the rudder control pedal sub assembly to the side panels. I did install the rollover cage only to break it off twice! The second time, I just left it off to the end of the build. You might not be as ham fisted as I am and can continue the build with it in place. Everything got an airbrushing of Model Master Acryl Interior Green with other details appropriately painted to reference.

T-6 Texan

At this time I made another decision. To me the whole cockpit firewall forward was not necessary for my build. I wasn’t going to open up that area and it looked like I could leave out a lot of the assembly not needed. So the oil container, junction box was left off the firewall. I also nixed the larger Harvard exhaust tube but the collector ring and short exhaust stack was assembled, filled and sanded. Then I took Mr. Surfacer 500 and let it get a little tacky then stippled it all over the exhaust with an old brush to change the smooth surface and give the exhaust a little texture. The engine is well detailed but there were these casting tabs that had to be cut off so the parts could be fit together. I also spent a little time getting all the parts lined up. Pay attention because the assembly of parts from step 9 to step 15 is very important if you want to build up the whole assembly. Even if you don’t want to use the engine mounts and the detailed area aft of the engine mounts, you need to see how the exhaust collector ring, fire wall and coverings work together.  I assembled the engine and put it off to the side. It really looked good sitting there. Super detailers would have a good time in this area.

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It was quickly time to put the cockpit assembly. I had to clean up a few push pin areas on the fuselage halves but on hindsight they would have been hard to see from the open cockpit on final inspection. The two halves went together with no problem with the usual rubber bands, clothespins and clamps. The forward area right of the front of the cockpit is a bit thin and care should be taken lining it up. A few extra minutes here will save you time later. I also glued the forward firewall on at this time. This is a real departure from the instructions sheet and you might not want to do this depending on your skill level and what you want to with your kit.

Then one of my first mistakes, I didn’t notice that my version of the SAAF T-6 had the bulge on the right side of the forward cowl. This is step 17 where you have to put what type of cover you want. This caused me grief when I figured it out AFTER gluing, sanding and puttying the cowl into place. So I cut the bulge out of part D4 and grafted it in causing myself a few days of work just for my inattentive following of the instructions. I could not get a good fit for part D6. I had to shim it up a bit to get it to line up with the spine and I also left the clear parts off until the end of the build along with part F13, intake scoop and the little foot holds that go on the left side of the fuselage, parts D61 and E61. I also left the rudder off since it would be painted silver and is not needed for any other camouflage patterns.

All flight controls were assembled and left for silver paint later. Step 20 calls for the engine cowl to be assembled. It was tricky getting parts A18 through A20 to line up properly. I needed some kind of jig to get them in a perfect circle shape while drying. It happens the small Humbrol paint tins is an almost perfect match for the inside diameter of the assembled cowl. So it became my jig. I left off all other antennas at this point too and glued on the tail planes from step 20. So the fuselage is now without engine, cowling, any pesky antennas, clear parts or flight controls and is set off to the side while I turn my attention to the propeller in Step 22.

My version doesn’t have a spinner so that goes into the spare parts bin. I glued parts A29 and A30, propeller hub, intentionally not sanding the seams to replicate the two parts that are bolted together to retain the blades. The whole assembly got painted silver and put off to the side for later. The props were sanded smooth and the back sides were filled a bit to give the proper shape then painted Model Master Acryl Black Chrome. The tips were masked off and painted Model Master Acryl Chrome Yellow. A gloss coat, decals and a flat coat finishes them off. Then they get glued on along with the propeller regulator and flyweights with a different shade of aluminum to help in contrast of parts. Again, the prop got put off to the side with the other subassemblies.

The landing gear is scale accurate but a little spindly. I would probably go with some SAC Conversion metal gear had I known. There is also a push pin mark on the oleo strut that is a bit of a pain to fix. On hindsight, I would have just cut this area out and used small sections of aluminum tube polished out to replicate the strut. It would have been much better. I did not like the wheels and tires at all. They just didn’t look right so a set of P-51 diamond tread resin from True Detail were used instead. Most of the True Detail wheels look underinflated so I sanded down the bulging sides a bit and gave them a coat of black. One trick I like to do is to use a fresh sharpie Silver marker to “paint” the detailed wheels. I like the look. It is easier for me to get a sharp edge on the rim and I think they look really good. You might disagree or have a better technique that you use that works for you. Here is yet another subassembly to be put off to the side for later complete.

The wheel wells were glued into place, parts F21/F22, and the upper wing panels glued to the lower panel. I did not put the landing gear, covers or flaps onto the center wing section in Step 26 preferring to hold off until later in the build to help in handling, painting and final assembly. I glued the upper and lower wings together with the landing lights needing a little modification. The left landing light has two lights. The normal larger landing light and a smaller red landing light while the right landing light needs only one light so the smaller light was cut off and sanded smooth on the right side only. I did not put the glass in until after painting and added it to the list of things to do during the final assembly. The wing did something peculiar during assembly, the tip of the wing does not have anything to rest against. I didn’t notice this at the time I clamped the wing tip together and caused a large depression that had to be filled in and sanded since the two halves were solidly glued together at this time. You might want to shim up this little area or just not put a clamp at that point of the wingtip. I caused myself more work than needed once again. Also, my SAAF version did not have these tip formation lights on them so they were cut off and sanded smooth. I also left off flaps, flight controls and Pitot tube for later assembly.

At this time the outer wing panels were glued the to the already installed center wing section out of order from Step 29 and 30 of the pamphlet. The tail wheel also got dressed out and put off to the side to keep from breaking off and losing to the carpet monster. Steps 31 through 37 are weapons and drop tank options not used on my SAAF T-6 so they went into the parts bin. Now back to painting.

I was really never a big fan of Tamiya paints. They were okay but I didn’t use them much until a friend turned me on to the right way to do it. I use their Tamiya Lacquer thinner to thin the Tamiya Acrylic paint. It is not your off-the-shelf lacquer but is formulated to work with the Tamiya paint. It has changed the way I paint. I can’t say enough about how nicely they spray now. My chosen color for the fuselage and flight controls is X-11 Chrome Silver. The cowl interior, flaps, flight controls, landing gear and covers along with the most of the framing of all the clear parts got a coat of the Silver.

For the wings and antiglare panel to include the forward windscreen, I used Vallejo Model Air Dark Sea Green 71.053 for Medium Sea Grey FS318c/637. This color looks spot on to me but it seemed to conflict with other color swatches I was looking at. I got to the point that I did what looked right and not what was called for by the instructions. I also used Model Masters Acryl International Orange but I have seen the aircraft painted dayglow orange and safety red but they almost all are faded with white patches showing through the unstable color in the harsh African sun.

T-6 Texan

The decals were a great surprise! The clear large wing numbers were very transparent against a coat of Future Floor Wax diluted 50/50 with Isopropyl alcohol. Each decal went down with no problem. The white is a bit translucent against the bright orange on the tail and dark sea blue on the wings but not bad at all. It was a bit of a search to find all the different decals I needed on the sheet but for most part they were grouped well. They reacted very well with SuperScale MicroSet. I didn’t need the hotter MicroSol for any of the decals.

T-6 Texan

It is time to put the T-6 on its gear. The tail wheel is accurate but is also very flimsy. The main gear didn’t have a positive feel to them when the gear stubs were inserted into the wing lugs. I made a couple of little jigs out of old credit cards; you know those fake ones they send you in the mail all the time? They make great scrap plastic for one time jigs and interior bracing. For free!!!! Once I set the plane on its gear, you could see it being shaky on the thinner parts of the gear. The plane is fragile in this area. Other parts got glued on such as the air scoop on the left side, seat belts, roll over cage, the antenna marked D25 on my particular version of the T-6, prop, engine cowling, Pitot tube, fuselage foot-steps, flaps and flight controls to include the hinge points for the ailerons.

The clear parts are very nice. On my scheme, the forward windscreen gets painted the Dark Sea Grey while the rest of the framing on the other clear parts are silver. I needed to use clear part #GP2 found on step 19 for my aft canopy version. Your version might be different so be aware of the two choices. The main canopies seemed too narrow for the fuselage cockpit opening for me. I am wondering if I missed something earlier in the build causing the cockpit area to be spread too wide. I didn’t feel like anything was wrong at the time but those canopies sure seem too narrow.

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The kit does need special attention to certain build areas, a little clean-up here and there and close fitting prior to gluing. You need to know what version you want to build. It would not be too hard to switch versions in mid build if needed. Just the control yokes, exhaust, front cowl along with a few antennas are all you need to do. But the underwing stores are another subject. The undershot part trees did cause some extra work but that has been addressed. It looks fantastic and a real eye opener on the shelf. I think Kitty Hawk gave us a good selection of kits to build but with the amazing amount of different countries and versions of this aircraft, you could take it anywhere you want.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!